Revising the Wizards Guide to Loving Yourself | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Revising the Wizards Guide to Loving Yourself

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Updated: December 5, 2014

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While doing research for this article, I came across a quote from a smoothly marketed and tolerably-colored self-help book called “Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life,” by Lori Deschene. That quote read, “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” I have no idea whether this is true. But it sounded true. Or, at the very least, it sounded wise. As my anxiety about the man I have become washed away, this pearl of wisdom, inimitable and golden-aura’d, settled me. I really wish that I was more organized. And more ambitious. And better at challenging myself to get better at things I’m not already good at doing. I’ve always known about these weaknesses, so this paragraph alone is proof enough that productive introspection is also a weakness. One day, my furtive avoidance of bettering myself will cost me a rare opportunity! It probably already has.

Which is why watching the Wizards offense these last two seasons has been baffling.

For most of last season, and until Monday’s game against the Heat, the Wizards, in the midst of all of the keen intelligence and athletic brilliance that goes into executing basketball plays for 48 minutes, have often seemed committed to slyly withholding any presentation of one of their major strengths: 3-point shooting.

To aid in understanding this phenomenon, I made a line graph.

graph (1)

As of today, the Wizards are the second best 3-point shooting team in the NBA. In November of this year, the team took 14.9 3-point shots per game. That was good for the third least of any team in the NBA. And it was nothing new! Last season, the Wizards were the fourth best 3-point shooting team in the NBA but took just the 19th most attempts.

Last season, the team’s three most accurate and prolific 3-point shooters were Trevor Ariza (40.7 percent), Bradley Beal (40.2 percent) and Martell Webster (39.2 percent). Despite Beal’s injury, Webster’s ongoing injury, and Ariza’s departure, the team hasn’t missed a step in the accuracy department. Which is incredible, and seemingly defies all reason (especially when you consider Wall’s 3-point accuracy has dipped this season). Who is responsible? Mostly Rasual Butler, who is 22-for-39 (56.4%), but also Drew Gooden, who is 7-for-16 (43.8%) and Otto Porter, who is 7-for-18 (38.9%).

Butler’s accuracy and Porter’s emergence as an outside threat made Beal and Webster’s absence more than palatable as the team raced out to its best start in decades.

With the advent of December, and the cementing of Beal’s return (both to the active roster and the starting lineup), the attempt drought may be subsiding. Beal’s 3.4 attempts per game, hitting at a clip of 48.1 percent, have further buttressed an already excellent 3-point shooting team. Even Randy Wittman, who tends to bristle at the very notion of specifics to the media, mentioned that the team needed to find more corner 3-pointers to supplement their offense.

Sometimes knowing a thing should be done does not inspire one to actually do anything. But in Washington’s last two games, wins against the Heat and the Lakers (19 attempts in both December games), their total 3-point attempts have leapt ahead of their November average (14.9).

That’s still not very many, unfortunately. Milwaukee is currently ranked 23rd overall in 3-point attempts with an average of 19 attempts per game.

Is there a correlation between 3-point attempts and points per game? Of the top five offenses (measured by points per game) in the NBA, only one team shoots fewer than 25 3-point attempts per game. That team, the Toronto Raptors, shoots 23.6. Of the top ten offenses, only one team shoots fewer than 23 3-point attempts per game. That team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, shoots 21.4. Seven of the last eight NBA champions have led all playoff teams in 3-point attempts. That’s complicated, but it also doesn’t matter!

Washington shouldn’t model itself after other offenses. It should model itself around its strengths. There is a common sense correlation between teams that shoot a lot of 3-pointers, shoot them well, and how many points that team scores.

Defense is paramount, and will keep the Wizards in close games, but there’s nothing wrong with striving for a blowout.

Maybe I’m looking at this wrong. Maybe it’s not about “hating” the team into something I “love.” (Preach!) Maybe I have to take a step back, broaden the scope, get into the why of the thing. Why did I skip so much class to play Elder Scrolls games? Why doesn’t a team, with deep shooting talent available, reach their full potential on that side of the ball?

It’s all in your head, Jack. A quick Google search landed me at an interview with Jon Acuff, bestselling author of “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.” Jim Cunningham-esque title aside, this man seems to “have it together.” Here’s the first question and answer.

Q: What prevents most people from reaching their full potential the most? Based on all of your speeches, what types of people usually fall into this trap?

A: The most common trap is fear. I’ve never met a 20 year old or a 50 year old who says, “I’ve never had a single passion, dream, hope or desire.” We all have them, but a lot of us give in to fear as soon as we get close to them. The reason is that fear only gets loud when you do things that matter. Fear never bothers you if you’re average but the second you dare to be more than ordinary, fear awakens.

Whoa.

“One does not discover new lands without losing sight of the shore.” —Anonymous. Probably a potato chip executive.

Whoa.

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” —Confucius

Whoa.

“I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.” —David Bowie

Whoa. All those quotes sucked!

The Wizards, 12-5, are in reach of their potential, generally. Their defense is even better by the numbers than last season, due in large part to the work of John Wall and Marcin Gortat. More importantly, the Wizards are winning.

It may seem counter-intuitive to nitpick (seemingly ceaselessly on this site) the flaws of a much-improved, fun-to-watch, promising playoff team. Welcome to the big leagues. Unlike last season, where the second round of the playoffs was an unexpected boon, this team will be challenged to get past their second-round opponent, whether it be a Toronto team that has dominated them the last two seasons, a Cleveland team that is finding its way with loads of scoring talent, or a Chicago team that will be ready for revenge. That means the Wizards need to be ambitious to accelerate the process of improving their scoring.

It’s not that each Wizard should make the playoffs before they have breakfast in the morning, or read Phil Jackson’s book in a single sitting while drinking a smoothie made of twisted steel and bananas (for the potassium). A historically conservative offense built around finding open, rather than efficient, shots will take some time to merge with a less passive offense that incorporates drives to the basket (a play the current offense severely lacks) and series of screens that free up shooters in the corners.

There are signs it is already happening, that the goal may not be so minute and far away. Wittman’s green light granted to Rasual Butler has illuminated at least one thing: the coach recognizes that Butler is filling a very important role. Without his presence, the Wizards would be dead last in 3-point attempts per game, and significantly less potent when turning to their bench. Thirty-four (34) of Butler’s 39 3-point attempts have been of the catch-and-shoot variety, which is in lockstep with the path carved out by Trevor Ariza last season and Martell Webster the year before. It’s why his points per touch is near the top of the league. One hopes that, as Beal re-integrates and Webster returns, the total team attempts will continue to rise.

Butler, who deserves a saved seat at the lunch table even after Webster is healthy, shoots a respectable 35.7 percent on tightly contested 3-point shots (defined as occurring with a defender between 2-to-4 feet away), but his 3-point percentage balloons to 70.6 percent on “open” shots (where the defender is 4-to-6 feet away). That stands in contrast to his percentage on “open” two-point shots (37.5%).

When Webster makes his season debut, Washington’s bench could potentially feature four 3-point threats: Webster, Porter, Butler, and Gooden. That’s a lineup that itches to be volleyed against unsuspecting defenses. With so many weapons, Washington could be one of the league’s most bomb-happy teams. It will take more than running with what the defense gives them, though.

For inspiration, we turn to … countless “successful people” blogs, and less irksome, Diana Ross:

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”

Whoa.

 

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.