The Washington Wizards have had six players test positive for the coronavirus halting play. Washington has struggled mightily before the stoppage and Wizards guard Russell Westbrook is only averaging 19.3 points per game (lowest since 2009-2010), while playing the most minutes of his career. (Courtesy Photo)
By Daniel Kucin Jr.
Special to the AFRO
Last season, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver engineered a revolutionary concept to have all players compete in one location to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA “Bubble” allowed the players to be safe and finish the season where no coaches, players, or personnel contracted the virus. However, Silver opted to have this season played in a traditional format in the team’s respective venues, but the spiking virus has not produced the same effective results.
One of those teams affected is the Washington Wizards, who have not played their last four games spanning from Jan. 13 until Jan. 16 (as of Jan. 18) due to COVID-19 protocol. Washington did not practice before a game against the Utah Jazz on Jan. 13, and the organization has now had six players test positive for the coronavirus.
Until the organization can get the spread under control, they will not play. The postponed games will be scheduled as make-up games later in the season. As far as the virus’s impact across the league, Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard is not surprised.
“It is just an unfortunate set of circumstances,” said Sheppard. “If you follow our track really going back to when we played Chicago , almost every team we’ve played, a player tested positive. The next day the next day, multiple players at some places. It was inevitable.”
Some of the game’s brightest stars have contracted coronavirus this season, including Minnesota Timberwolves Center Karl-Anthony Towns and Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, but the season is still in motion.
“The numbers reflect what’s going on in the country, we knew it was going to happen, we sure didn’t think it was going to happen to us, but we can’t look backwards,” said Sheppard.
“You just have to keep moving forward and keep the spirit of camaraderie, that, ‘hey we are all in this together.’ I think four teams have missed multiple games, and so far, I would think that’s a small victory considering what’s going on out there around the league.”
Sheppard affirmed that none of the Wizards’ staff has tested positive and believes that they ‘have done everything right in their facility.’
Since the pandemic has halted the Wizards’ progress moving forward, Washington is 3-8 and have struggled since trading John Wall to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook.
While Westbrook is only averaging 19.3 points per game and playing the most minutes of his career here in Washington. However, he does lead the team in assists (11.3) and rebounds (9.7).
Wizards star guard Bradley Beal continues his dominance on the floor this season, averaging 34.9 points, 5.3 RPG, 5 AST, and 1.4 STL per game.