Randy Wittman Found Religion a Little Too Late for the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Randy Wittman Found Religion a Little Too Late for the Wizards

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Updated: May 19, 2015

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A funny thing happened after the Atlanta series ended. Randy Wittman started talking like he had been baptized in the Church of Daryl Morey. Wittman sang the praises of small ball and floor spacing and even hinted at a reduced role for Nene next season.

“Obviously playing small is successful for us. Playing faster. Those are the things I want to try to improve this team, moving forward. We’ve got to be able to have the pieces to do that in the regular season.

“We know what we have to do, the pieces that I’d like to add moving forward. Brad and John are going to be here a long time. So we got to utilize what their strengths and capabilities are, and find the right people to put around them, which allows us to play the way that I think we were kind of playing in the [playoffs].

“As we saw down the stretch, [Nene] played some 5, he and Marc(h) in that situation. Him playing that position doesn’t make it a lesser role. We’ve got to look at what works best for who we have here. … With what John does and the pace of play, we’ve got to play fast.”

It’s like a bizarro remake of “Freaky Friday” where Wittman walks into the Game 6 post-game press conference with a blogger and they both touch the doorknob at the same time and (voila!) Conor Dirks is now the coach of the Wizards and Randy Wittman is stuck in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons, sipping pensively on a Diet Mountain Dew.

There’s just one catch: Did anyone else watch the Atlanta series where Wittman trotted out a mummified Nene every single game like a sacrificial lamb to get slaughtered by Paul Millsap and Al Horford?

Did anyone else watch Mike Budenholzer gleefully call isolation play after isolation play every single time Paul Pierce covered Millsap, like a gambler at a broken slot machine pulling the lever as quickly as he can before the pit boss notices?

Randy’s religious awakening sounds great, but when exactly did Wittman have his “come-to-Jesus” moment?

Certainly not the day before Game 6 when he said on a media conference call that he had no intention of adding Kris Humphries to his frontcourt rotation because “It’s been successful. You don’t want to change too much.”

Certainly not during halftime of Game 6 after Atlanta predictably waltzed to an eight-point lead to start the game before the young legs of Otto Porter and Kevin Seraphin kept Washington within striking distance. With the Eastern Conference Finals still in reach, Washington started the second half with the same exact ineffective lineup, and Atlanta methodically exploited mismatches en route to a 14-point lead.

It’s even harder to reconcile born-again Randy with the guy who earlier this season rejected the very notion that the goal of an offense is to create efficient shot attempts:

“You take open shots. You take open shots. Where they are is dictated by what the defense does. If you predicate what kind of shot you’re going to take not based on what you’re doing reading the defense, you’re not going to get good shots. I just worry about goods shots.” —March 12, 2014

“If a team wants to give us mid-range open shots, we’re going to take them. I’m going to tell a guy that has a wide-open 15-foot jumper to take three steps back and shoot a three? I’m not going to do that.” —October 27, 2014

Whatever the reason for Wittman’s refusal to adjust in the Atlanta series, he sounds like a motivated parishioner in the off-season, and Wizards players are understandably eager to install a modern offense.

“That’s what the league is turning into—a lot of stretch forwards. They’ve got one high line guy that goes and gets it at the rim and other guys are stretch forwards. That’s what we see when we play like that, we’re a pretty good team, spacing the court, attacking. That’s how a lot of teams are playing so that’s something you’ve got to look into for the near future.” —John Wall

“As much as I love Nene, and I think Nene understands this, too, I would love to play with a stretch four, with a guy who shoots the ball from the three-point line because that automatically gives me more room under the basket to operate. It gives me more opportunity to play pick-and-rolls to the paint where the paint is open.” —Marcin Gortat

Wittman’s offensive revival may have come too late to salvage the 2014-15 season but—with all indications being that he will be back next season—it’s better late than never, I guess.

 

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.




  • John Weber

    Totally agree with this post. So, it begs the question: given that Wittman has not hesitated to jerk others in-and-out of the line up, why the reluctance to move on Nene sooner? You get the sense Nene is a stormy personality that even Wittman tip-toes around. Seems like Wittman needed Nene to fail badly before he felt he could make this move. Too bad it came at the expense of a potential series victory, or at least another game or two.