Wittman 'Still Looking Up Front' for Right Rotation Combination | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wittman ‘Still Looking Up Front’ for Right Rotation Combination

Updated: November 1, 2014

[True: this duo represents the most versatile combination of big men, especially offensively, that the Wizards have had in years. -- via instagram/mgortat13]

[Gortat and Nene, the only duo Randy Wittman can trust right now.]

The only frontcourt combination that Randy Wittman knows, and trusts, right now is Nene and Marcin Gortat. Nene played 1,560 minutes last season, and 63 percent of those were spent next to Gortat. The Wizards finished plus-216 in plus-minus when the two played together.

“They played well together last year, and they feed off each other good. They know each other’s game,” said Wittman before playing the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. “Defensively, they’re in tune with one another, which is important up front to have your guys from a defensive standpoint on the same page.”

Nene was suspended in Game 1 versus the Heat in Miami but played 27 minutes next to Gortat against the Magic in Orlando to the tune of plus-five in plus-minus. But after that frontline combo, in particular with new additions to the team in DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries, and sometimes maybe/possibly Paul Pierce (or Otto Porter) at the 4, Wittman is still searching for what rotation will work, a crowd that also includes Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin.

“We’ve got a lot of bodies up front. I’m trying to take a look and give everybody an opportunity and see how that shakes out. Can’t play six of them,” said Wittman. “Guys that maybe don’t get in the first half gotta get ready for the second half. That’s kind of the luxury we have here with that front line and the bodies we got there.”

Big man combinations over the first two games go as follows:

vs. Miami:

Gortat and Gooden: 34 minutes, minus-2 (*starting 4/5 combo)
Seraphin and Humphries: 8 minutes, minus-15
Gortat and Humphries: 6 minutes, plus-6

vs. Orlando:

Gortat and Nene: 27 minutes, plus-5 (*starting 4/5 combo)
Gortat and Gooden: 9 minutes, plus-10
Nene and Gooden: 6 minutes, minus-1
Humphries and Gooden: 3 minutes, minus-1
Gooden and Seraphin: 2 minutes, minus-6

Blair has yet to make his season debut. He was suspended for the first game, along with Nene, for leaving the bench area during a scuffle in the first preseason game with Chicago. In Orlando, Blair got the DNP-CD, but expect Wittman to get a look at him tonight against Milwaukee.

Wittman has yet to truly play a lineup that features a non-traditional big man at the 4 spot. John Wall, Garrett Temple, Paul Pierce, Otto Porter, and Nene saw less than a minute of action in Orlando. That same lineup, with Andre Miller instead of Nene, also saw court time versus the Magic that can be measured in seconds instead of minutes.

In Miami, Wall, Porter, Pierce, Rasual Butler, and Gortat registered a single minute. Three other small-ball lineups that featured Gortat or Humphries at the five each saw less than a minute of action.

You get the feeling that Wittman is waiting for the necessity, or matchup, to use a small-ball lineup that might benefit his team. That said, a traditional-minded coach who continues to preach defense might not fully trust a small lineup. And perhaps with a big-heavy team, maybe Wittman does not have much of a choice and would rather tinker with what works in the early going — “Can’t play all six of them.”

“Uh huh,” Wittman curtly confirmed when asked before the Bucks if he’d seen enough of Pierce play 4 in the preseason and training camp to use him in the regular season.

It will be interesting to see with an opponent in the Bucks that has size in length, but not necessarily weight, what combinations Wittman might want to experiment with. Rookie Jabari Parker, 19-years-old, is set to start at 4 and matchup against Nene.

“Guys that are playing well, they’re going to play more. Guys that are struggling a little bit, I got another guy to go to,” concluded the coach, simply.


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.