As we loaf around through some of the quieter times in the NBA offseason — you know, the stretch between the end of the free agency frenzy and the beginning of training camp –- it’s typical for one to resort to other interests with an objective to chip away at the time leading into late-September. Surely, the #BreakingBadBinge on AMC and the NFL preseason may be doing us plenty favors but after all the Wizards have accomplished this summer, you can’t help but yearn to see them on the hardwood soon.
Let’s see, how about a recap (long Ace Ventura inhale): Marcin Gortat gets secured and pampered, Ernie evades a long-term deal for Trevor Ariza and promptly replaces him with a short-term, low-costing Paul Pierce, the frontcourt got a bit heavier with Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair, Otto Jr. and reigning Summer League MVP Glen Rice, Jr. destroyed Vegas so badly they were brilliantly coined the nickname Junior MAFIA, John Wall and Bradley Beal got some burn with Team USA, and to top the summer off with a high calorie maraschino cherry, the Wizards earned 10..count em…TEN nationally televised games this upcoming season.
Whoa. Hold up. Retrace. Reverse. Backpedal. This bagel isn’t brown enough, put it back in the toaster. Paul Pierce? PAUL EXPLETIVE PIERCE!? Yeah, it seems like slow stretches like this can sort of muzzle our excitement about certain forthcoming pleasures, and for that reason, it seems proper to regenerate that excitement, specifically as it pertains to the existence of Paul Pierce in a Wizards uni.
For starters, I hate beginning a sentence with the term “for starters”. What I do not hate, however, is the implementation of a bona fide Hall of Famer and long-range specialist willing to play a secondary role under facilitation of the league’s best — yes, BEST — 3-point assist man. I also don’t hate that said Hall of Famer and long-range specialist still maintains his clutch attributes and still remains an instiller of fear in opposing defenses when the game is on the line. These attributes were evidenced last season in Brooklyn, despite his declining age of 36, soon to be 37.
Pierce had a pretty funny tweet last week when he described a dream he had of a post-basketball ghost seeking to yank his soul.
Woke up and saw the basketball after life ghost in my room this morn they tried to suck me n I said no deal headed to the gym for the 17 yr
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) August 13, 2014
While the humor of his tweet appeased our hearts, it’s important to note the underlying truism it resembles. The fact that while most players at 36 simply play for a continued direct deposit, or to deflect the reality of impending retirement, Pierce seems yearning to prove he can still play, and more importantly, still be serviceable. Yes, I know DC wasn’t his first option for residence, but it was an option. The direction the Wizards are headed in, highlighted by the commanding upside of John Wall made DC an option for Paul Pierce. I’ve said this time and again, John Wall put 22 extra million dollars in Martell Webster’s bank account. He assisted (pun intended) Trevor Ariza in securing his future for at least four more well-paying years down in Houston. He’s helping create a superstar out of Bradley Beal. You don’t think Pierce feels Wall can help churn out a few more productive seasons out of him? You’re goddamn right he does.
One critical element of Paul Pierce’s game is his mastery from the mid-range. One critical element of Randy Wittman’s offense is shooting from the mid-range. So it’s no wonder Pierce skated to the gym for a post-nightmare workout. He’s intent on thriving with his new squad.
Here, glance at this shot chart:
Pierce shoots at an average of 50% from both wings combined and a whopping 67% from around the free throw line. With Nene and Gortat setting screens or giving handoffs, this is a goldmine for Pierce.
This next shot chart shows Pierce a bit weaker from downtown shooting from the wings but much more successful at the top of the 3. I suggest an improvement for Pierce’s long range wing-shooting given Wall’s ability to draws defenses to collapse on him, and allowing Pierce a more comfortable shot from that area. Just watch.
Pierce’s hot shooting from dead on will prove to be vital for the Wizards. One offensive set the Wizards love is the trailing 3 where the ball handler dumps the ball off to a trailing teammate who spots up for a shot. Trevor Ariza will miss it. Paul Pierce will indulge in it.
An improving part of Bradley Beal’s game is his ability to move around screens and pinpoint vacant spot in between defenders for a high percentage jumper, without the necessity of an assist. Well guess what, Paul Pierce is already great at this. His ability to create unassisted offense gives the Wizards another go-to scorer, further enhancing what’s been an oft-stagnating half-court offense.
Pierce won’t be the primary reason the Wizards climb the ropes towards basketball supremacy, but as depicted in the image below, a boss will always be a boss, so don’t be surprised when a good fraction of the games the Wizards win this season come solely at the hands of The Truth.
Two bosses chillin pic.twitter.com/gFxETyEC2r
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) August 17, 2014