Well the season hasn’t started exactly as expected for the team and most Wizards fans. 30 games into the season the Wizards sit at 14-16 and stand out as one of the biggest disappointments in the league. Last season the Wiz were 22-9. It’s not just the fact that we’re still below over 1/3 of the way through the season, but the way the losses have played out has been particularly disconcerting. Seven of the losses have been by at least 15 points, and another loss was by 14 points in a game the Wizards led by 9 with 9:45 to go in the game.
Scoring 6 points in the 4th qtr will never lead to success for the team, and for the Wizards the up and down play may lead to some changes to the roster. Here we’ll dive into the top 7 New Year’s resolutions for Washington in 2016.
It’s unfortunate that in previous years we’ve clamored for a more fast-paced offense from the team, better utilizing the talents of Bradley Beal and John Wall, and now here we are wanting to see the defense of seasons past.
The Cory Joseph game winner in November was just one example of many instances of poor execution on defense. While setting the defense in the final timeout, I’m sure everyone expected DeRozan to drive to the basket and either pull up for a jumpshot or take the contested layup as he’s done in similar situations previously. Instead the Raptors ran one of the simplest plays you’ll see in basketball. This play has been run and perfected from the middle-school level all the way up to the NBA, and yet the Wizards still managed to fall for it. It’s one thing to give up the pass to the corner, but not having anyone within 5 feet of the shooter is unacceptable. The Raptors changed up the play some by keeping Kyle Lowry in the backcourt, essentially running a 4 on 4 play, and this proved beneficial as the entire left side of the floor was wide open for Joseph.
One positive in the last month has been that despite the injuries, the team had two losses by 15 versus five in the first month of the season. Still the opponent shooting percentages two months in are tough to stomach.
Opp FG% – 5th worst
Opp 3P% – 3rd worst
2. Hiring some additional shooting/offensive coaches
While the Wizards are 5th in three-point shooting and have the second best 3PT shooter in the league in Jared Dudley, The team as a whole has gone through prolonged stretches of not being able to score points. 30 games in the team is 11-7 when scoring over 100 points, and 11-4 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than the opponent, and has to figure out a way to have more of their games end up with them winning at least one of these categories. Additionally the team has shot below 50% in 22 of the 30 games and are 7-15 in those games. If the team is going to rely on outside shooting to run the offense, the shooting percentages are going to have to rise.
3. A reduction in turnovers
The Wiz rank 23rd in the league in turnovers, giving up 15.3 per game. What is especially concerning about these turnovers is that many have been unforced, instead coming from dribbling out of control, inaccurate passes, leaving the floor for passes, and dropped balls. These turnovers have helped teams on their way to 12.3 fastbreak points per game. The core of this team has been together for three years, and the team focused on improving the team chemistry this summer, with Wall leading a three-day practice session out in Los Angeles in July. Between that time, training camp, preseason, games and practice, the numbers haven’t improved much and it seems that with the lack of on-court success this far the players may be forcing things.
At the beginning of the season John Wall told assistant coach Howard Eisley that he would pay him $100 for every game in which he had more than two turnovers. 30 games in Wall has 24 games of more than two turnovers, and is averaging 4.3 turnovers per game, the highest amount in his career, half a turnover more than he did in his rookie year, while playing the least amount of minutes in his career. A high turnover number is to be expected from the guy who leads the league in touches per game, but it is still concerning considering how unnecessary many of the plays are. Wall’s on pace to pay Eisley $6,560. I just bought an Xbox One. I really should have asked Santa for Wall’s turnover payments from now on.
4. Someone, anyone to grab some rebounds
The injuries have really limited our big man rotation but the team has got to do better in this department. Looking at the rebounding comparison the Wizards are 7-4 (63.6%) in games they win the rebound battle and 7-12 (36.8%) in games they don’t, but only having more rebounds in 11 games means that the Wizards outrebound their opponent 36.6% of the time. Either the team needs to rebound better, or win a better percentage of the games they are outrebounded. The #2 seed Hawks by comparison have only outrebounded their opponent in 11 of 34 games but are 9-2 in those games. Cleveland has led in rebounds in 21 of their 30 games and is 16-5 in those games. Part of the small ball movement means giving up any rebounding advantages we had with Nene and Gortat side by side, but the team must work on the current strategies. Washington’s Rebounding Statistics (out of 30):
27th in defensive rebounds per game
27th in offensive rebounds per game
27th in rebound percentage (the percentage of rebounds the team has gotten over the season)
30th in second chance points (points scored after a team gets an offensive rebound)
The last two games in November
5. More John Wall drives
Coming into NYE, John Wall ranks 19th in the league in drives per game (not counting fast breaks), and is currently 8.3 drives per game. While this is up almost two per game from November, he can certainly still raise this number, or at least pass Derrick Rose and Ish Smith! Looking deeper, of these 8.3 drives, only 3.1 are leading to field goal attempts. As the point guard of the team we want him to drive the ball and kick it out to shooters in the corner, but with the offense struggling often we need him to raise both his drives per game, and field goal attempts off of drives. Wall is currently passing on drives 43.6% of the time. If Wall can get his drives per game up to around 10 I can live with the current percentage. As John’s jump shot has improved in his career, he has increased the number of pull up jump shots he takes per game, and so far this season he is averaging 8.3 pull up jump shots a game and only connecting on 34.9% of these shots.
Wall is also currently averaging 1.6 free throws per game on drives, and it would be great to increase this statistic. Some of what makes the best players in the league so great is getting to the free throw line, getting easy points and putting the opposing team into foul trouble. With his constant minor injuries, we don’t want John taking too much of a beating, but when the offense is struggling as it did in Charlotte, a John Wall drive is still one of the Wizards’ best options on offense.
6. More John Wall FTs
Building off of the sentiment above, I’m hoping to see Wall get to the free throw line more often. He is currently attempting 4.7 free throws per game, ranking 33rd in the league. His FT percentages have been up and down this year, including two huge missed free throws at the end of the 1st Raptors game, but any struggles don’t seem to come from outside distractions, as seen yesterday in Toronto.
7. A Healthy Squad
We need to see less of this:
And more of this:
Sticking to your resolutions is seemingly impossible, but if it was guaranteed, I’d surely add getting a KD or DMC on the list this summer.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!