The Washington Wizards start this season in a rather peculiar situation, last year’s second round playoff run was sparked by the decision to play more “small ball”. Moving small forward Paul Pierce to the four (power forward) and the emergence of Otto Porter Jr, something Wizards fans were calling for all season.
Gone is Paul Pierce, he choose to play for Doc River and the seemingly always dysfunctional Los Angles Clippers when he inked a three-year deal worth $10 million. All is not lost for Washington as Otto Porter Jr’s strong play in the NBA Playoffs must have given Washington the confidence that they can recover from the loss of Pierce fairly well. The challenge now is to see if Porter can fill that alternate role of a “stretch four” that multiple teams have come to find and use as weapons in their offenses.
In regards as to the more traditional “Power Forward” position is structured for the Wizards, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that Nene Hilario is going to be the starting Power Forward for the team. Unless of course a trade is mad however unlikely that looks right now, with Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden backing him up. While in the past Nene and Humpries have both been looked at as more traditional power forwards, both have expressed that they are working on adding the three point shoot to there offensive repertoire.
It’s clear that both Nene and Humpries understand the space they’d be able to create by shooting threes, and making them at an efficient enough clip to keep the defense honest. Drew Gooden on the other hand has already had that skill, in a very small simple size of 59 three point attempts and he’s converted 39% of them. If Gooden is going to get the majority of the back up minutes over Humpries, that number of attempts could as much as double over the course of the season.
Of course the Wizards will still have the option of small ball when needed over the course of the season. During the playoffs, Otto Porter Jr. proved to be a pretty reliable rebounder pulling down eight rebounds per game. They’re decision to add Alan Anderson and Jared Dudley (who is out until December maybe longer) give the Wizards several options when they choose to go small. Dudley has proven to be a capable option at the four and that might be where he ends up seeing a lot of minutes for the team when he returns. He spent time at the position last year for the Milwaukee Bucks.
This Wizards team, that has frustrated fans at times over the last two seasons, now seem to have made it a point to create more space. Which could lead to a huge season for their superstar point guard in John Wall, as well as a continued rise to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. With the start of the season less than two weeks away and training camp rapidly approaching, the Wizards new found appreciation to spacing the floor has the making for an interesting season if everything goes to plan.