December 15, 2019

Washington Wizards 2015 Media Day Need to Know: Using Small Ball to get to Eastern Conference Finals

Below you will find everything you need to know from all of the Washington Wizards players, organized by position. The major theme from all parties, which was presumed by the free agent acquisitions, was that the goal is to get past the second round of the playoffs and the team will follow the trend set out by the Golden State Warriors of going small to spread the floor.

John Wall:

  • Goal: 50 wins during the regular season, into the Eastern Conference Finals, and have home court advantage in the playoffs.
  • Personal Improvements: three point shooting (made a thousand daily), posting up, and floaters.
  • Ranks himself and Bradley Beal to be the best backcourt in the NBA because that is the way he feels.
  • After having “The Truth” Paul Pierce take basically all of the big shots in the playoffs, Wall said he would be the one to take it this year.
  • Although the team has acquired more shooters is Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, and Kelly Oubre, Wall will continue to be whatever the team needs who to be. A distributor to get the ball to the open or hot man or a slashing scorer if others are struggling. Credits the newcomers to not try and replace Pierce but provide the necessary depth.
  • On the wrist injury that kept him out of part of the second round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Wall responded it is “fine” and moved on. He said he thought throughout the offseason what would have happened had he not gotten hurt but said it is time to move on with the start of training camp tomorrow.
  • Wall evaluated the team as being “great at pushing and sharing the ball” which will help get them over the hump.
  • Team will have to do a better job going into and coming out of the All-Star break where the team slumped last season.
  • Learned how to be the leader he is needed to be from certain Hall of Famer Paul Pierce.
  • Credits the job of the front office staff to properly rebuild the franchise from when he first arrived into a contender.
  • Told rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. that is season is going to be filled with ups and downs but has to continue putting in the work he has been.
  • Thinks Otto Porter Jr. will be “fine” in the starting role because his hustle makes the team better.

Ramon Sessions:

  • First time Sessions has had the security of coming back to the team during the offseason and has actually met up with the team, in Los Angeles, to get better for the year ahead. The bonding helps for on the court play as well.
  • Called the Wizards a first class organization.
  • Similar to Wall will be ready to play primarily point guard as a distributor instead of the moments where he would be the backup shooting guard to Bradley Beal, but still confident in his own scoring ability.

Garrett Temple:

  • Goal: Eastern Conference champions.
  • Personal Improvements: three point shooting to become a 40% shot from beyond the arc.
  • Temple talked about being happy to be back with the team after his option was picked up early in the offseason.
  • The LSU product was candid with the possibility of limited playing time but has fully bought into Randy Wittman’s philosophy and is willing to provide minutes when needed especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Bradley Beal:

  • Personal Improvements: ball handling, three point shooting, and floaters instead of long two point jump shots although he said Randy Wittman “loves every shot he takes”.
  • Denies previous reports that the Washington Wizards have offered him a contract extension so far as he is getting ready to enter the fourth and final year of his rookie confidence. Still confident that his agent and Ernie Grunfeld can get something done before the Halloween deadline.
  • Similarly to Wall, Beal responded “me, for sure” when asked now without Pierce who will be taking the big shots.
  • Willing to do whatever Wittman tells him, but is not sure how much faster the team can play from last year. The floor being better spaced will be one factor, partially kidded that Nene is shooting threes.
  • Feels no pressure to be the breakout player he is expected to be this year.

Gary Neal:

  • Excited for opportunity to play close to home including training camp starting at his alma mater of Towson Universty.
  • The small ball lineup will depend on how the shooting in the preseason goes. Method only works if open shots are knocked down to make the defense pay for rotating.

Otto Porter:

  • Personal Improvements: three point shot, extending range out of the corners to the wings and top of the key, strength, and ball handling.
  • Hopes to build off of his playoff performance by continuing to rebound, play team defense, and “be a threat”.
  • Thinks the team know has “enough experience” to get past the second round playoff hump.
  • Does not want to be “handed” a starting role, wants to continue to earn it. Feels confident in his and the team’s other various stretch four options.
  • Advice to Kelly Oubre included to stay in the gym (first one in, last one out).

Alan Anderson:

  • “I am going to play and be ready to play” as an all around player that can handle the ball, shoot, guard, and rebound.
  • Most looking forward to playing with the energy of the Wizards dynamic backcourt of Wall and Beal who he called a “force to be reckoned with”. That and the franchise’s continued movement in the right direction is why he chose to come to Washington.
  • Making sure the team takes care of their body will be a key to getting past the second round of the playoffs.
  • Anderson confirmed that his ankle is NOT 100% after having surgery to remove bone spurs over the offseason. It will probably limit his participation in training camp although he did not seem to worried about it when getting warm wishes for a quick recovery from the media.

Kelly Oubre:

  • Immediately he believes he can provide defense because of his incredible length and the ability to get to the hoop which he said he can do “anytime I want”.
  • Continuing to get accustomed to the advanced scouting reports which during Summer League had teams playing him differently than in college.
  • Likes that there is no weak link on the team and that he has the chance to start winning right away.
  • Enjoys the immediate respect of being treated like a brother by Wall and Beal.
  • Randy Wittman told him to play hard and do all the little things. Oubre is fine with sitting on the bench, while developing early on, as he openly compared to his situation early on at Kansas.

Martell Webster:

  • Slimmed down by 20 pounds and ready to contribute after being ineffective last season when not 100% after a 3rd back surgery.
  • Although he has lost weight, Webster expects to play with the 4’s during training camp in anticipation of logging minutes at the stretch four position.

Nene:

  • Goal: to continue to get better.
  • Has been and is feeling good after an offseason of not picking up a basketball, but is now ready to do what he needs to do in order to get better himself.
  • Learning how to just enjoy the game instead of always being ultra-competitive.

Jared Dudley:

  • Could be ready for the Wizards season opener, contrary to previous though after undergoing back surgery. He “can do everything he wants to on the court”, but is still not cleared for full contact. At most, Dudley thinks he will miss two weeks of the season.
  • Enjoys getting to know the franchise and engaging with fans on the side.

Drew Gooden III:

  • Goal: reach the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals after having already accomplished goal of reaching the playoffs. Also wants home court advantage after losing to the #1 overall seeds the last two years, Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks, where venues played a factor.
  • In order to get off to the same hot start they did last year, the team has to put in the work now during training camp and the preseason before the regular season begins in a month.
  • Likes Oubre because of his hard work and look between Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, has the length with the ability to shoot from the outside.
  • Gooden will continue to do whatever head coach Randy Wittman asks of him and things his versatility on both sides of the floor helps him.

Kris Humphries:

  • Personal Improvements: everything.
  • Agrees that small ball mentality opens the floor up more for everyone to attack the basket. Has been working on his three point shooting to develop into a stretch four option.

Marcin Gortat:

  • Personal Improvements: being a more consistent dominant big man after personal reasons hindered him from doing so part way through last season.
  • Loves the idea of a small ball lineup that give him more space to move around without the ball to find the open sweet spots and even pass out of the post.
  • It will take a healthy, rested, and committed team to make it past the second round of the playoffs.
  • Does not have any personal goals, the way it should be in all team sports.
  • Lost a big time leader in Paul Pierce but brought in non-big time names that are capable of their craft. For example, Jared Dudley is a “point guard with bigger size” who he has a lot of chemistry with going back to their Phoenix days.
  • Credits Wall for playing with “a lot of hear with one hand” at the end of the Hawks series last year.
  • Has switched back to the #13 he grew up with and which is organization is founded around after having to play with Steve Nash and Kevin Seraphin who had already dawned the number.

DeJuan Blair:

  • Took a “really big downfall” last season when seeing his team in the playoffs and “not being able to do anything”.
  • Lost around 30 pounds in an effort to get back in shape and protect his body more.
  • Understands that he may have a bigger opportunity as the backup center now that Kevin Seraphin is gone.\

Washington Wizards Season Long Depth Chart Projection

  • PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions
  • SG: Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple
  • SF: Otto Porter, Alan Anderson, Kelly Oubre
  • PF: Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, Martell Webster
  • C: Marcin Gortat, Nene, DeJuan Blair

This does not mean that Nene and Gortat could not still play together at times, nor that Porter could not play stretch four when the team goes really small. A lot of experimenting will take place during training camp, preseason, and early on in the regular season with and without Jared Dudley.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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