An Awful, Awful Play (Or: Why John Wall is sad?)
Usually this feature is called “Perfect Play” and breaks down an exceptional Wizard set from the game. Well, after last night’s blowout loss to the 76ers, business as usual just feels unnatural. It was a depressing performance from a team depressed by the impending trade of Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to Atlanta.
The following play is one I would argue is exemplary of the reason the Wizards looked so terrible. It would be facile to just show Wall tossing a three off the backboard or an ugly Blatche isolation. The truth is, there is often real motion in the Wizards offense, it just doesn’t yield anything faintly reminiscent of teams like the Boston Celtics.
The Wizards were going through their offensive actions, but with no production, with no meaning behind the motion. It took eight frames to document this play from the beginning of the fourth quarter, I hope you stick around for the end, I’m sure you’ll be disappointed with the result (but hopefully not with the analysis).
On the floor for the Wizards: John Wall (2), Nick Young (1), Josh Howard (5), Trevor Booker (35), and Kevin Serphin (13)
On the floor for the 76ers: Lou Williams (23), Evan Turner (12), Andre Iguodala (9), Thaddeus Young (21), and Marreese Speights (16)
1) Wall pushes up the right wing and Young tries to engage some early offense. Seraphin is game to get something going too, except none of the screens really achieve anything.
2) Lou Williams, who is tracing Young across the court, easily glides through the action and follows Nick to the block.
Iguodala slips under the high screen for Wall from Seraphin.
Two smart early offense tactics have had absolutely no effect. Howard’s position on three point line extended (instead of the corner) and Booker’s presence on the weak side elbow makes driving an impossibility for Wall.
The spacing is awful. This will be a theme.
3) As Young cuts through the paint and sets up on the block, he points at Howard like something else is supposed to happen. No one flinches.
The Wizards manage to get all five players in a space not much bigger than the palm of you hand.
4) After Booker gamely tries to screen a defender who is not in his area because Howard hasn’t set up the cut, Howard catches two feet behind the three point line with no entry-pass angle to Nick Young, who is being guarded by the smaller and presumably vulnerable Lou Williams.
5) Booker makes a valiant effort at setting a ball screen for Howard, but Young has been pushed off the block (and won’t vacate the side), so there is literally no way for Howard to use the screen. Also, Thadeus Young is now directly between Nick Young and the ball.
Again, the spacing is horrendous.
Howard swings to Wall who is edging to the weak-side.
6) Unfortunately, Booker follows the ball, so there’s no spacing for Wall to operate. Instead, he goes over the screen to get the switch and force Thadeus Young to defend him on the perimeter.
On the weak-side, Howard fades to the corner and Young tries to spring him with a back screen. Unfortunately, all he really does is allow Turner to switch onto him, which takes away his advantage over Williams down low.
Kevin Seraphin wanders up the lane but Wall is already passing the ball as he sets up a “screen.”
There are eight ticks on the shot clock when Young pops to receive the ball on the wing.
7) Tick. Tick. Tick.
Young is running out of options and doesn’t want to feed Booker against the long and strong Iguodala.
Howard cuts through to clear out the side, and Booker soon does the same to open up the baseline for Young to create a shot.
Unfortunately, Iguodala stays put on the strong-side block, so Young’s only real option is to create something mid-range.
8) Young takes two dribbles to his left and raises up over Turner, who is in excellent defensive position because he knows Iguodala has his back on the block.
All other Sixers are practically in the paint, with pretty good rebounding position.
With four seconds on the shot clock, Young’s fading attempt clanks high off the rim.
To recap: In this one possession, the Wizards set six screens, reversed the ball three times and got nowhere. The typical markers of successful motion-filled offense are present, but there was no intensity or conviction in the execution. In this instance, spacing was clearly a major impediment. The ugliness was somewhat understandable given the circumstances, but boy was it hard to watch.