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Preseason Notebook 1, Wizards vs. Sixers: Speed, Space, and Otto!

Wizards 129
Sixers 95

October 6, 2015 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Another pint of Porter, please!

I know it seems bit naive to get so hype and exultant over one meaningless basketball game but let me just say this one thing about the Wizards last night: of course it’s only one meaningless basketball game but if the way the Wizards played last night is in ANY WAY indicative of what’s to come this season, then by all means get turned on.

The beta version of this new-look offense – still very much in production – clicked on just about every cylinder and exceeded our expectations by considerable margin. The objective of this offensive reformation is simple: maintain a speedy pace, spread the floor with shooters, create spacing, take a lot of 3’s. Last night, the Wizards maintained a speedy pace, spread the floor with shooters, created a ton of space, and took a lot of 3’s (almost 30!). If you’ve followed the Wizards for even a fraction of their games in the past, then you should now realize why the hype.

Last night’s performance wasn’t the Wizards simply overcoming Wittman’s typically archaic strategy or gameplan by hitting shots. Last night’s performance was Wittman’s 3-ring playbook binder taken out to the field behind Verizon and promptly set on fire. And then hitting shots. The Wizards played small even when they weren’t technically “small” thanks to the shooting enhancements of Kris Humphries. They shifted Nene out of the starting rotation and played him at the 5 off the bench. The PF-C combinations were either Gortat-Hump or Nene-Gooden. And it was grand. It was so grand. The Wizards were spaced out like they just took a massive bong hit. They were like Brennan Huff and Dale Doback stacking their bunk beds for more activities.


They played with such consistent speed that a referee even bitched about it:

And Otto Porter. Oh man, Young Otto is making everyone feel like a proud dad watching his only son that made it. The evolution of Porter had already been in full swing, but the way it seems this offense fits Otto, who knows just what kind of full-fledged beast it will make out of him. OttoP shot 8-10 from the field, hit all four of his 3’s and a ton of other utility stuff, all in just 24 minutes of burn.

So now that we’ve seen how a modern style of play was a brilliant decision for this team, it’ll be even more interesting to see just how sustainable it is throughout the rest of the preseason and whether or not this style of play will actually be the team’s motif going forward. To be honest, aside from some God-forbidding/DC-cursing injury, I’m not really sure if we should be very concerned about sustainability. Of course I say this as if I haven’t been watching sports in DC for 30 years. But let’s sustain some positiveness at least.

MVP – Otto Porter

20 points, 8-10 FG, 4-4 3PT, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, +25, your girlfriend’s heart


Man, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22. Okay, I get it, it isn’t the most appeasing of analogies when I use Taylor Swift and also not the most polished of photoshops (I’m not @SwedenDC). But composure is a tough thing for me to keep when I get excited over sports and it’s excruciating when said excitement is caused by a great Otto Porter game. Since his establishment in the rotation, Porter has been Mr. All-Purpose for the Wizards. He’s great in transition, he can manipulate the defense off the ball, and he can scrap against any of them. Insert Otto Porter in a revolutionized system that gives him even MORE space to do all that!? How could anyone expect anything less than what Otto did last night?

LVP – This genius

A scorching hot take that is irrelevant and untrue. No one can play basketball while sleeping.

spooky mo

Key Stat

Wizards shooting 15-for-26 from 3-point range

Here’s a real hot take, though:

The Wizards reformed their style of play for one of many reasons, but a key reason to do so was to increase the number of 3-point attempts. There was a point last season where the Wizards were in the top 5 of the league in total team 3-point percentage, but in the bottom 5 of the league in total team 3-point attempts. Wittman’s strategy last season was essentially a deterrent to 3-point shooting and forced a lot of settling for low-percentage midrange jumpers and deprived certain players from utilizing their shooting talents – particularly Bradley Beal. Beal, a one-time 3-Point Shootout participant, was left uninvited to last season’s contest simply because he barely shot a fraction of the amount of 3’s than his counterparts did.

Beal only attempted three 3’s, but big picture here is that we noticed the Wizards’ strong intention to keep at least four shooters on the floor spread around the perimeter, all ready to fire away from downtown. The results were positive. The Wizards had 13 shot attempts from downtown by halftime, a number that was usually right around the total for an entire game last season.

Tweet of the Night

More Thoughts

The Inaugural #WittmanFace of 2015-16

We talked about this during pregame and here it is. Just 30 seconds in, a nerve-wracked #WittmanFace bracing himself for modern-style basketball.

John Wall’s passes are even more deft than before

I’m not really sure how to explain that John Wall’s passes could actually look nicer than they have before but watching the two plays above, you can see a certain degree of increased deftness in them. The baseline pass to Otto was a killer. I mean, it actually looks like he put a spin on the ball as he slung it in between Grant’s stretched arms, delivering it perfectly for a corner 3.

Is Kris Humphries shooting 3’s really a thing?

Hump extending his range was a minor topic/sort of a joke during training camp last season. John Wall joked that the only way Hump would ever be allowed to attempt a 3 in a real game was if he hit 50 of them in a practice. Apparently he’s achieved that milestone in practice this season because Hump fired off 4 shots from downtown last night, hitting two. The shot release is a bit slow which may be a problem if defenders close out on him. But even if Hump doesn’t improve the speed of his release, a simple pump fake and dribble into a midrange shot inside the arc is a bread-and-butter shot for him anyway. Either way, if Kris maintains his distance, it could solidify him as a starter for the season.

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