I realize as a fan and a writer, I’m always going to have trouble separating that fandom from the objective clean-cut analysis. Truthfully, I don’t have too much interest in it, but I have a whole lot more to say about the Wizards than I tend to leave in my general NBA pieces and so I came up with this wonderful idea. Continue posting my top-ten and trade machine nonsense on Wednesdays, and dedicate an entire column to the Wizards where I don’t have to cater to the other fifteen or so relevant teams.
So welcome to the first edition of HOUSE OF ZARDS.
The NBA season is eighty-two games and Washington has played three, winning two of them. If they keep up that pace they’ll win 54 games. Not bad, especially in the Eastern Conference, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about what we’ve seen so far.
The “New” Offense
When word started to travel that Randy Wittman was changing the Wizard’s look on offense, I was skeptical. I didn’t believe he had it in him to change his ways. Nene would be demoted to the bench, and replaced with someone who had range. It turns out, that someone was Kris Humphries of all people.
My first reaction was something like, “This is soooooo Wizards,” and then I watched the preseason game against Miami and Humphries quickly hit two threes in Bosh’s face. Okay, I can get behind this.
Looking at the stat line, Humphries is averaging 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 2-for-5 from beyond the arc. This is all in 18 minutes per game. Not bad, especially that shooting, but you can already see that Wittman isn’t sure who that stretch four is going to be.
Jared Dudley has received some time at the four as well and is averaging only 3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a 1-for-three from the three in 22 minutes per game. Granted he’s only played two of the three, and regardless, this is a very small sample size for both.
If we examine both lines per 36 minutes (thanks to Basketball-Reference), we see 11.8 points, 8 rebounds for Humphries vs. 5 points and 7.5 rebounds for Dudley. Again, small sample size, but clearly Humphries is doing a little bit more on offense, hence the starting spot.
If I had to make a guess, though, I imagine Humphries will continue to get that starting nod, but Dudley will continue to play more minutes because of what he offers on defense. He has more experience shooting from distance anyway, and over time that will show in the box score.
I’d really like to see Alan Anderson get some playing time soon, as well as Kelly Oubre. Talk about going small… if you can slot Oubre in at the three and drop Porter to the four, you might lose some easy rebounds, but the scoring in transition might just be INCREDIBLE.
The House of Guards
(All Averages Per 36 Minutes)
Player A: 21.8 points, 6.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 36% from three.
Player B: 23 points, 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 40% from three.
Player C: 26 points, 1 assist, 4.5 rebounds and 50% from three.
Player D: 18 points, 1.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 25% from three.
The first two lines are fairly similar. One is notably better at setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates, but outside of that, the two are almost identical in their offensive production. Player A? John Wall. No surprise here, though I’m disappointed the assists aren’t even higher. Last year he averaged 10 assists per game, 10.1 per 36 minutes of playing time.
But can you guess who Player B is? Ramon Sessions. Wall’s back up.
While Ramon doesn’t rack up the assists the same way, he is actually on par with Wall in terms of offensive production. You could even argue that the assists aren’t there because he doesn’t have people like Beal and Gortat on the floor as often as Wall does. You could also argue that he’s facing less formidable defenses as the backup point guard, and that’s why he’s able to keep pace with Wall. Either way, it’s nice to be a Wizards fan in the land of guards.
Now, in reference to my other couplet.
These two lines are certainly different. Both players aren’t setting up their teammates that well, and are average rebounders, but Player C is having a much better season in terms of scoring. Even through three games, 50% from long range is exceptional. That player is Bradley Beal. Specifically, Head-Band Bradley Beal. Or HB-Cubed. We might have to dedicate an entire MVP campaign to HB-Cubed. It’s my favorite thing since Fear the Flat Top Norris Cole.
Player D? Klay Thompson. Granted, he has a league MVP dropping 53 points like it’s nothing, so his production isn’t quite as necessary. But whatever. This is my opportunity to be subjective. Take that “best backcourt” in the league. WALL AND BEAL FOREVER! BOO CURRY AND THOMPSON!
This is all based on an incredibly small sample size (three freakin’ games), but I like the start so far. The defense will come, as will the rotations, but all in all, it’s good to be a Wizards fan.
Saturday’s game against the Knicks was actually confirmation of all this, despite the loss. Otto Porter is going to struggle against the elite small forwards, that’s why I predicted the Wizards to lose to the Cavs in the second round, but it took a classic game from Carmelo (37 points on 11 of 18 shooting) and few clutch heaves by Langston Galloway to put us away. I’ll disect our problems next week, but until then, why not celebrate a 2-1 start?
Check us out on Wednesday to see if the Wizards remain in the top ten of our power rankings, and I’ll see you next week for some more HOUSE OF ZARDS.