November 13, 2019

Washington Wizards 2015-16 Season Position Outlook: Power Forward

The Wizards’ power forward position may be the most talked-about position on the team (and perhaps around the league) this offseason. It also may be the biggest mystery. The Wizards experienced success vs. the Raptors and the Hawks in the postseason by utilizing Paul Pierce, Drew Gooden, and Otto Porter as a “stretch 4” alongside Marcin Gortat, rather than putting Nene at the 4 for a more slow, powerful offense.

With the emergence of Porter during the playoffs, the emphasis Kris Humphries has made on shooting 3-pointers, and the acquisition of veteran Jared Dudley, Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman are obviously going for a more modern, stretch 4 design. This Golden State Warriors-esque strategy showed so much success with players like Draymond Green, a guy who could body up in the paint and defend, but also step back and hit from 25 feet.

Based on this preseason, the Wizards will most likely use a committee at the power forward position, and this is far from a bad thing. Most signs point to Kris Humphries taking the starting role to start the season because of his superior rebounding ability and his supposedly improved 3-point shooting.  He and Drew Gooden are similar in size, skill, experience, etc. and will be able to spell each other against a typical 1-2-3-4-5 NBA team. A lineup with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Gooden/Humphries, and Gortat will be the most typical when healthy.

Things get a bit more complicated when Wittman wants to get out and run while also matching up with a team like Golden State with a dynamic, athletic stretch forward. This is where the acquisition of Dudley and the emergence of Porter mix in. Both of these guys are a bit quicker and more athletic than Gooden and Humphries, can defend a more athletic opponent, and can make more plays off the dribble. Dudley will be the main guy tasked to replace Paul Pierce in the now-famous Otto-Pierce lineup that obliterated the Toronto Raptors’ hopes and dreams. Both are going to see action at the 3 and the 4, and could very well be on the court together for long stretches at a time.

So what happens to our good pal, Nene? It looks as if Nene, in his older more injury-prone state, will spell Gortat as the backup center and provide physicality at power forward against a bigger, more stagnant team like Memphis with Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph. Nene is still an asset to the team in the pick and roll game and can step out and make the mid-range jumpers as well. He is just too similar to Gortat to use at the same time on the court, especially when Wittman wants to shoot more from the outside and provide more athletic, dynamic defense.

The power forward position holds the key to this team’s identity. They may not put up eye-opening stats, but whoever is playing at the 4 position will dictate the style and pace of play that Wall & co. would like to run. Humphries will provide superior rebounding skills at the 4, along with solid athleticism and (hopefully) a consistent outside shot. Gooden provides much of the same, albeit without quite the same tenacity on the boards, but a more established outside shot dating back to college. To go along with these 2 11+ year veterans will be the dynamic duo of Otto Porter and Jared Dudley, who give the Wizards a dynamic, fast-paced, athletic look. This position will be scrutinized all year, but if Washington can dial up the right personnel at the right times, they have a chance to revolutionize the offense and create matchup nightmares.

About Seamus Kane

Seamus Kane is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Wizards. A native of Silver Spring, MD, Seamus grew up in the area all his life rooting for the Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Caps, and Terps. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a degree in American History and now lives in Washington, DC. His favorite DC sports legend is Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, and his favorite DC sports moment was Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off in the first-ever game at Nationals Park, a game which he attended. You can follow Seamus on Twitter @ShamelessKane

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