Sleepless Nights for Wittman? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Sleepless Nights for Wittman? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions

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Updated: September 28, 2015

Washington Wizards Media Day 2015 is in the books. Players have been in town for the past week or so gearing up for the season, training camp starts on Tuesday at Towson University in Baltimore, and Head Coach Randy Wittman probably didn’t get nearly enough sleep this summer. And we start our series of 2015 training camp questions with just that: What kept Randy Wittman tossin’ and a-turnin’ past the witching hour this summer?

Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) attempt to answer. Keep reading…

[Wizards arrive at training camp - via instagram.com/washwizards]

[Wizards arrive at training camp — via instagram.com/washwizards]

MOBLEY: Coach Randy Wittman was justifiably questioned about his reluctance to go small during the his team’s second-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He and his assistant coaches probably spent parts of the offseason figuring out how to make those small-ball lineups more of the norm and not the exception.

What Wittman could not easily dismiss or plan for is the fear that the core of his team (Wall, Beal, Gortat, Nene, and, yes, even Otto Porter) had already plateaued—no matter how many coaching pivots, lineup tweaks, or savvy free agent moves were made. Two seasons ago, not much was expected from Coach Wittman, yet he preached a commitment to defense and team ball, and the Wizards advanced to the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Indiana Pacers. Last year the expectations were high and went slightly higher with the signing of Paul Pierce. They once again reached the second round and, despite Wittman’s stubborn lineup decisions and Wall’s non-displaced wrist fracture, the Wizards were another Pierce clutch shot away from surviving and possibly advancing. This offseason, Coach Wittman had to be wondering if a slow start, a crippling injury to a star, or just a simple failure to improve on the past two seasons will cost him his job.

RUBIN: Immediately after Washington lost to Atlanta, Randy Wittman started talking about going small and playing Nene at backup center. Even Marcin Gortat publicly stated he is ready to move on from his bromance with Nene and play alongside a stretch-4. Now that training camp is here, Wittman is about to have an awkward conversation with his sensitive (and sometimes surly) big man. Has Randy been staring in the mirror, practicing his best, “It’s not you, it’s me” routine? Has he been searching Yelp for a quiet restaurant in Towson to break the news? Will he be able to go through with it once he’s sitting across from those sad eyes? All these questions must be causing some restless nights.   

WEIDIE: Randy Wittman wanted to sleep well this summer. He really did. And he’ll insist that he has … while his poker tells betray him. A downward glance and a scratch of his temple will indicate that he hasn’t.

For one, Wittman still probably earnestly believes that the Wizards had the talent to make it past the second round, and maybe even get to the Finals, but that a couple bounces of the ball simply did not go their way. Perhaps true, Randy, perhaps true. What #CoachSpeak around the league is finally learning, however, is that having the talent to compete is more of a minimum expectation given increased/improvised/better parity in the NBA. Or maybe the coach just tells himself this and internally he knows better. We should give him more credit.

A new NBA has kept Wittman up at night and paying more attention to sleep aid commercials. Can he be comfortable with adjusting the styles and strategies he’s known all his life? Will his roster let him? Right now, Nenê is really the only player who can reasonably be penciled in as the starting 4. That would keep me up, too. Maybe the answer will come to Randy in his dreams; maybe not having a better answer will continue to haunt him.

What Says Randy?

When asked at Media Day about the questions he wants answered during training camp:

“We’re going to do some things differently offensively, with the personnel that we have, the versatility that we have now on this roster that I didn’t have last year.”

When asked about playing more ‘small-ball’: 

“The good thing is that we’re very versatile, we can go really small… Can an Otto Porter, can a Martell Webster, can an Alan Anderson play a stretch-4 position? I think Jared (Dudley) has proven that, that he can do that. Can Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden spread the floor enough to create that? That’s all going to be seen here in the month of October as we move forward.”

When talking about the ability for the Wizards also play big and how he appreciates that versatility:

“We’re not Golden State … I want to be able to play both ways.”

When asked about bringing Nenê off the bench (and if that will provide a boost to the second unit): 

“We’ll see if we’re going to be bringing Nenê off the bench. Again, I think we have the versatility to play or start anyway we want. Sitting here today, I can tell you that you might see different starting lineups … and not be a set situation there. But yeah, no question. If he is a guy that is coming off the bench, to have a guy like that makes your bench even better.”

[First #WittmanFace of the season -- via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[First #WittmanFace of the season — via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

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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.