These last two weeks of Wizards basketball have been weird. Only two games again for the Wizards, which means they’ve now played the least amount of games of any NBA team up to this point. It’s nice to know that they will be well-rested against the competition, and that Bradley Beal didn’t really miss all that much time, but something tells me we need a few games to polish this rotation. Tomorrow the Wizards start a stretch of nine games in two weeks, a stretch that begins with red-hot Indiana and ends with Eastern Conference favorite Cleveland.
So what can the Wizards do to prepare for this?
Over the course of the past week, the Wizards are 2-0, including a blowout win against the Milwaukee Bucks and a grind out victory against the rising Detroit Pistons. Since they lost three in a row earlier this month, the Wizards have won three in a row, replacing them two games above .500.
What’s most impressive is that in three games without Bradley Beal, and one in which he was barely used, the Zards managed to go 3-1, including that one blow out win. How? They are getting incredible production from their bench.
BENCH POINTS FOR THE WIN.
Otto Porter has been the Wizards best starter the last couple of weeks in terms of consistent production and per Basketball-Reference, the best lineup that features Otto Porter surrounds him with Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple, Jared Dudley, and Nene. All back ups at their respective positions.
Oubre Jr. is Porter’s back up, but as of now Bradley Beal has play more minutes at the three than he has.
That lineup is currently outscoring opponents by 100 points (per 100 possessions), though the sample size is still incredibly small (8:23 of total playing time together). You have to maneuver through eight different lineups before finding the starting unit on that list, currently being out-scored by 11 points per 100 possessions. That sample size? 113 minutes of total playing time together!
Before we react to that, remember that a second unit is generally facing the other team’s second unit, and thus is at an advantage in terms of competition. This is not a problem for the Wizards, but in fact a blessing a lot of teams do not have. If the starters can keep pace with the other starting units, and the bench comes in to blow them out, that not only gives your starts some room for error, but allows you to rest them longer and keep them primed for crunch time. The next two weeks are going to be a real test for the entire roster.
Earlier this season I played with the idea of Dudley vs. Humphries in the starting lineup and so far I’ve agreed with Wittman’s choice to start Humphries. (See: Humphries is a cool guy.) But now that we have a few more minutes under our belt, let’s take a look at the side-by-side again. As always, numbers are based on a per 36 minute basis.
Player A: 9.6 points / 1.5 assists / 6.5 rebounds / 43% from three
Player B: 16 points / 3.9 assists / 10.3 rebounds / 0-1 from three
Player C: 14.2 points / 1.2 assists / 8.5 rebounds / 41% from three
So I threw in a third player for fun, but it’s pretty easy to figure it out who Player B is, Nene, and he has to remain our back-up center because we are that short on big men this year. It’s nice to know we have that there, especially when Gortat gets into foul trouble.
Between Player A and Player C, I’m inclined to say that Player C is performing better. 5 more points and 2 more rebounds more than makes up for a 2% difference in the three-point percentage. Especially when both are shooting over 40% anyway.
Who is Player C? Kris Humphries, so it appears the Wizards are doing what they should be doing for now.
IF THE ZARDS MAKE A MOVE, FOR WHOM SHOULD THEY TRADE FOR?
So Martell Webster is done for the year, and Alan Anderson is still out for while. Two empty roster spots essentially. Instinct tells me to be patient, that Kelly Oubre’s development will come, but remember, we had to wait an entire season before Otto Porter showed up, and with the kind of free agency that’s coming up, the Wizards needs to make a splash in the playoffs NOW. So who could go after or add to bolster the squad?
1. Greivis Vaquez
He’s a sharp shooting guard with size (could potentially play the three in small lineups) and played college ball down the road for Maryland, so he’s familiar with the area. He’s younger than Dudley, but veteran enough that he could still lead in the locker room and on the court. In the scenario here, we’d send Oubre and Dudley to a desperate Clippers team, who’d then ship Lance Stephenson to Portland because they’ve given up on him. Portland would then take on Lance as a project and potential number 2 to Lillard. The Bucks would take CJ McCollum and Mo Harkless as a two-for-one agreement and the Wizards would simply take on Vasquez.
2. Having sent two players away for the price of one, the Wizards could then sign a cheap veteran to help out in a way similar to Dudley. One who’s currently not playing, but I’m sure has something left in the tank. Someone like Danny Granger?
I know, I know, I hate the guy. But sign him to a one year, non-guaranteed deal, and see what he can do. The Heat do this all the time. Look at Birdman and Hassan Whiteside!
It won’t happen, but I don’t see anyone else making suggestions!
Come back Friday for my weekly NBA Power Rankings and Trade Machine Gone Mad, and starting next week, I’m going to alternate HOUSE OF ZARDS with general NBA talk. This way the Wizards play can marinate, and I can talk about other things like why the hell I like the Clippers so much.