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Wizards Basketball Is Back! Here Are Five Things To Watch For

Awwwwwweeeeee sookie sookie now WIZARDS BASKETBALL IS BACK!

When’s the last time you heard THAT phrase? This is the kind of stuff that inadvertently, yet pleasantly blurts out of my mouth when excitement overtakes me. Hence the trio of instructive tweets I fired out on Twitter before 9am this morning to get you motherlovers hype. If you haven’t yet complied, please do so now:

The Wizards have a plenty to share with us this season. Here are five key things to watch for in tonight’s opening preseason match against the Sixers.

The Inaugural #WittmanFace of 2015-16

A first #WittmanFace is like a shitty icebreaker that you hope doesn’t set the tone for the rest of your evening/week/season/life/afterlife. Typically, a #WittmanFace comes pretty early in a Wizards broadcast and, typically, they come after some sort of brainfart play or sequence; something like a possession where John Wall is looking for Marcin Gortat in the post and his bounce pass goes right through Gortat’s hands and out of bounds. Oh yeah. That’s cause for a claaaassic opening #WittmanFace reaction.

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But after a few more shots of #WittmanFace (which is a great name for a shot you order at the bar), that’s when you realize that a #WittmanFace is inevitable. There’s always something that triggers a #WittmanFace and the science behind it is fascinating. The amount of neurons that stream through a #WittmanFace is vast enough to allow him to make a sequence of #WittmanFaces within a #WittmanFace. They have been a great source for memes, gifs, collages and Pic Stitches.

#WittmanFaces are also very contagious – for me at least. By the 4th quarter of most games, you might find my stance locked in a full Randy Wittman posture, which basically means I’m leaning awkwardly with my arms folded and my face frozen with a peculiar expression. Take heed:

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#WittmanFaces don’t tone down for ‘meaningless’ preseason games. #WittmanFaces probably won’t tone down after the departure of Kevin Seraphin. Actually, Snakey was cause for a shit ton of #WittmanFaces so I might have to retract that point. But we might actually see a lot more #WittmanFaces of the gleeful variety, as the Wizards have a whole new offense designed and ready to be implemented this season. More on that in the next segment.

#WittmanFace, whether a good one or bad, is surely a staple of our Wizards culture and the butt of many of our Wizards jokes. The first one we see tonight will set the tone for the many we’ll see after. And it’s going to be fantastic as usual.

A D.C. Revolution

Ah the revolution! The revolution of the Washington Wizards offense will be televised and broadcasted both visually and audibly.

Shout out to Buck and Phil and the #RadioParty.

But wait. There’s more. A subsequent stream of blogs will follow as well.

Shout out to Truth About It, Bullets Forever, WizardsXtra and Wiz of Awes.

Reports out of Wizards training camp is that the team is heavily engrossed in a new offensive strategy, one that conforms to modern basketball styles and standards and one that rendered a lot of success in the postseason last year. The philosophy is easy to understand. The Wizards offense is operated by the league’s fastest point guard, a guy who can not only dictate the pace of the game better than most, but can also get the ball to his wings better than most.

This is where the light bulb FINALLY flickered above Randy Wittman’s untidy combover. The concept of small ball and increased pace became a top priority for Witt and his coaching staff, helping to reestablish their team’s identity this summer. After losing Paul Pierce to the Clips, the Wiz replaced him with three additional wing shooters via free agency and Kelly Oubre in the draft. This gives the Wizards a ton of depth on the wings and gives Wittman a considerable selection of players to rotate between the 3 and 4 positions.

In what will probably the most exciting part of the preseason, the Wizards are looking to unleash a beta version of this offense tonight against the Sixers. There will be plenty of kinks and crinkles in the system that will need to be ironed out so try to hold off calling for heads tonight.

A Growing Panda

Within the DC Revolution comes an evolution. Bradley Beal is committing to eliminating long 2’s, so he says. While #WizardsTwitter has been in full rejoice mode, I’ve harped about this quite a bit myself. Mind you, I’m thrilled about Beal committing to take more 3’s. I’m just not certain he’s capable of limiting any type of shot he feels he can make. And therein lies the key point: types of shots he feels he can make. Bradley Beal is an instinctual shooter. It’s in his genes to look for and create a shot, mindless of distance.

With Beal, there are two primary elements that make up his game: what he’s coached to do; and what he’s naturally capable of doing. Sure, the Wizards will gameplan for Beal to take more 3’s. Look for the bigs to set higher screens that will plant Beal behind the 3-point stripe when he goes around them. Or receiving the ball off deeper curls around the perimeter, possibly setting up a step-back 3. Thanks to the Wizards reforming their strategy on offense, these will be shots that Beal will be coached to take.

However like I mentioned before, Beal has the instincts to create for himself. He’s been working on his ballhandling a great deal this summer with the intention to use those skills to navigate through the defense better and get to the rim or to find a sweet spot on the floor for a shot. If these improvements carry over onto the hardwood during real games, you’ll be witnessing plenty of moments this season where Beal, initially looking to drive the lane, instead ends up pulling back for an open look from any distance and believe me, he will strive to make those shots before he decides to eliminate them.

The importance of this season as it pertains to Bradley Beal is a bit understated. With his health at 100%, and his aspirations of All-Star Game and First-Team All-Defense achievements, Beal has enough work cut out for him to want to ask Ted Leonsis about switching from salary pay to overtime-eligible hourly. Speaking of salaries, those contract extension talks are looming as well. Earn that paper, son!

How much of Martell do we have left?

This man has had more back surgeries than he has music singles, and he’s coming off his third one this summer. A player who banked off a one-year deal with the Wizards back in 2011, Martell Webster elevated his game and reaped the benefits of playing playing alongside John Wall. But since putting up those career numbers and getting that whopping $22 million extension, ‘Tell has be anything but that guy..both on the court and in the locker room. As his back started to deteriorate and his production levels plummeted, so did his playing time. His nature in the locker room was once a joyous one and soon that disappeared too. I miss Martell.

Obviously very un-tradeable, the Wizards have Martell for year 3 of his contract. There has been some supposed improvement in his back and his personal expectation is to be healthy enough to make any kind of contribution. We all know Martell’s game to be quite one-dimensional, with very little else to offer outside of spot-up perimeter shooting. This preseason will be interesting to watch just how involved he is in the rotation and how much he can benefit from this new-look offense.

Who will fill Kevin Seraphin’s shoes?

Okay, this isn’t a REAL thing to watch for. After all, Marcin Gortat already filled in Snakey’s #13 jersey, so there’s that. The bigger question is, who will fill the void in my ‘Wizards Players’ Twitter list and in my heart with obnoxious Instagram pics? Oh well. I still got him on Snapchat.

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But really, the rotation of bigs, particularly Nene, will be very interesting to keep tabs on as the Wizards gradually shrink into a team of smaller lineups. Word on the streets is that Nene may be moving into a backup role, a move that’s very necessary to make if the Wizards plan on being consistent with their small ball strategy. Marcin Gortat by himself is a load down low. The clutter and congestion deriving from he and Nene’s simultaneous existence on the floor has been cause for much of my indigestion. The lack of spacing it creates incredibly stagnates the flow of offense and phases out a lot of talent that actually exists on the floor. With Seraphin out of the big man rotation, Nene can now shift behind Marcin on the depth chart as a backup center, paving the way for a more stretchy rotation at the 4 with Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, Jared Dudley, and…Otto?

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