For years, one of the leading issues in dealing with the Wizards sucking so hard was their indisputable lack of roster depth. I’m talking a complete wreck. Back in 2013, things would get particularly wild like when Randy Wittman’s substitutions would land a combination of AJ Price and Cartier Martin on the floor at the same time. Garrett Temple and Jan Vesely WHAT? I’ll never forget the ceaseless wishes I had for Eric Maynor to just spontaneously combust before he ever tossed up another floater. Yes, for quite some time the Wizards’ second unit has been the reason any of us ever kept up with America’s Got Talent, but I don’t think you’ll need to find another channel to watch anymore if this new, deeper roster is truly as strong as it seems.
This used to be an Eric Maynor floater. #STAYWOKE
And perhaps it’s actually stronger than it seems. Before I even begin to analyze what’s good let’s take a moment to bear the fact that two critical contingents of this roster — one of which has even been suggested to start a few games this season — have both yet to even bounce a basketball in a Wizards uni. Alan Anderson and Jared Dudley of the Paul Pierce Replacement Initiative have both been nursing injuries since being acquired by the Wizards but both are well on their way to return. And when they do, the Wizards may gradually become one of the more complete teams in the league in terms of their team’s chemistry, their coach’s lineup rotations, and most importantly- their consistency.
But what is it exactly that has given this team increased depth and the propensity to outlast their opponents with any lineup on the floor?
An accommodating system
Randy Wittman bears witness in front of the basketball gods that there is no ball but small ball. He has also offered his confession of not game-planning enough 3-point shot attempts nor encouraging faster pace. It has been six games into the preseason and, seemingly, Wittman’s ideology has truly reformed. The free-flowing, open format style of offense accommodates anyone who plays it in so long as they can use their legs to run, constantly move around the perimeter, and make shots. Bear in mind that this is very, VERY much in contrast to the shallow, excruciatingly stagnant type of play that used to make the Wizards’ half-court offense look less pleasant than dog mutilation videos from the Far East.
Wittman’s been pretty experimental with his lineups in the preseason, especially the front court. DeJuan Blair has been plugged in at the 5 a few times which was pretty cool. He’s been shooting 61% from the field and he ripped 14 boards in 18 minutes against the Bucks. Elsewhere in the front court, Hump and Gortat haven’t had much spacing issues. And when/IFFFF healthy, Nene coming off the bench will make him another benefactor.
Their arms and wrists the projectile weapons. The basketball is their ammo. Their target is the bottom of the net. These are your Wizards marksmen.
It starts with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter who, at this point, you’ve gotta be convinced can hit any good looking shot they take. Kris Humphries is trying but when he and the rest of the first unit is resting, you’ll have Alan Anderson or Gary Neal. At the 4 you’ll have a slower Drew Gooden but a line drive, sharp shooting Drew Gooden. Kelly Oubre may loiter around the arc waiting for a shot. So will Jared Dudley. Oh, Nene extended his range? I’m not buying it.
Here’s an excerpt I wrote about Wall and his royalty on this team:
Though he won’t be playing tonight, for the Wizards so far in the preseason, one thing is clear: as long as there is John Wall, it’s ALL. GOOD. Dealt with a plethora of injuries (Martell, Temp, Anderson, Dudley, Nene, and now Otto), the Wizards have seemingly overcome them, which brings to realization their increased depth. But the one glaring reason why the Wizards have maintained their strong play is undoubtedly their point guard, who gives them no other option. Wall played just 21 minutes in Philly last night, but despite the restriction of playing time he remained charitable to no bound, dishing 14 assists to his teammates. This is not to say that injuries will never be a problem so long as it’s not an injury to John Wall, this is merely reiterating the prestige of our point guard and the utmost significance he has to the welfare of this franchise.”
When we discuss the signings of Gary Neal, Anderson and Dudley, it’s usually on the premise that they are the replacements of Paul Pierce. This is not a falsity by any means. Pierce did need to be replaced. But in doing so the Wizards needed to be sure that he was replaced with guys who will absolutely thrive playing with John Wall. Any combination of Anderson, Neal, or Dudley will get a reasonable amount of burn with Wall, and it will probably be unlike any other previous basketball experience they’ve had.
The continued evolution of John Wall as a bad ass is beneficial to any lineup that includes him, and a primary reason why this team is suddenly so deep.