Wizards' Unseld: Beal, Westbrook 'committed to being better' defensively

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New Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has already been in contact with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, and he's confident they're ready to help the club improve on defense.

"I felt like I was talking to the same person, and I say that because the message was clear: They want to be coached, they are looking for the accountability. ... I think they both know offense is not the issue right now," Unseld said Monday, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "There is buy-in right now."

He added: "We are all on the same page as to what is going to be required of them. The best part about that is both of them, as leaders of this team, are committed to being better on that end."

Washington ranked third in the league in points per game last season, with Beal finishing second to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in the NBA's scoring race. The Wizards' high-octane offense propelled them to the playoffs, but the team also surrendered a league-worst 118.5 points per contest. It was Washington's third straight bottom-two finish in average points allowed.

Unseld oversaw the Denver Nuggets' 11th-ranked defense in 2020-21, and Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard believes he can produce similarly positive results in his new role.

"The one thing that has always stood out with Wes is his intelligence about the game, where the game is headed, the modern NBA, and certainly his proficiency on the defensive side of the ball, which is an area which we absolutely must address immediately," Sheppard said. "I think that is something he will deliver on."

Wizards' Unseld: Beal, Westbrook 'committed to being better' defensively
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