What’s Most Up For Grabs? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

What’s Most Up For Grabs? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions

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Updated: September 29, 2015

Part 3 in a series of Wizards 2015 training camp questions: What’s most up for grabs?

Could be the starting 3 or 4 spot, or backup ball-handler, or 6th man, or first big off the bench, or 15th man. What battle of present-day minutiae will be the most important?

Part 1 asked about Randy Wittman’s sleepless nights, Part 2 thinly dissected areas where John Wall might improve. Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) pick the likely battles for Part 3. Keep reading…

[Nene with belt -- photo via K. Weidie]

[Nene with belt — photo via K. Weidie]

MOBLEY: It is absolutely paramount that the Wizards have a backup facilitator. Will Bynum and Ramon Sessions provided temporary relief in this department, as did Garrett Temple. But far too often, when Wall went to the bench Coach Wittman relied on Bradley Beal to bring the ball up the floor, get the team into some semblance of an offensive set, and provide scoring punch. As great as Beal is, and as much as he’s improved as a passer, his ability to score is his strength. If he’s on the floor with the second unit, his sole concern should be getting buckets.

Ramon Sessions is the best candidate to fulfill this role. Given that he’ll have training camp and the latter part of the 2015 season under his belt, he should know exactly what is needed of him. But Gary Neal, Anthony Anderson, Otto Porter, and maybe even a player the Wizards have yet to sign could prove to be stiff competition to the inconsistent Sessions. Those aren’t exactly the best options, but for the Wizards to succeed and for Beal and Wall to keep fresh all season long, this backup playmaking void is a must-fill.

RUBIN: Starting small forward. This feels like a 50/50 toss-up between Alan Anderson and Otto Porter. Otto is the incumbent, of sorts, having put in two years under Wittman and showing in the playoffs that he is ready to take on a much more substantial regular season role. But Wittman is partial to veterans and adverse to change. He might prefer keeping Otto in an energizer role off the bench while leaning on Anderson’s experience to anchor the starting unit. Either one works for me, and it may come down to whoever shows the most chemistry with Wall and Beal in the preseason. Unfortunately for Anderson, an ankle injury may keep him out of a chunk of his preseason audition time.  

WEIDIE: Looking at the “Drives Per Game” player tracking statistic on NBA.com, Bradley Beal’s 3.6 per game puts him in a class with … Gerald Henderson. Not as great as the 4.0 drives per game from Austin Rivers, Greivis Vasquez, or Ramon Sessions, but better than the 3.1 drives per game from Trevor Ariza and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In other words, not great at all.

The position most up for grabs is slasher/driver/attacker off the bench. The team has gone through great lengths to condition Beal on the art of dribble—whether it be a pick-and-roll to create action for him or teammates, or simply being able to get to the rim and finish. It’s a justifiable act. If Beal is going to keep elevating as a player, he must improve his comfort with the ball, and his effectiveness will dictate how much the team uses those developed skills later.

The combination of Beal and Wall can’t do it all, we’re well aware. They need help getting through opposing defenses, making defenders recover in order to expose gaps in protection, and creating an environment that facilitates ball movement. The absence of an attacker off the bench was seen as one of the top issues last season, which is why a trade deadline move keyed in on exchanging Professor Andre Miller, the elder, for Ramon Sessions, who bounced back nicely from a disappointing run with the Sacramento Kings. This isn’t to say that Sessions is the primary answer (critical note: he can’t finish at the rim). It could come from the wing in a player who can catch a pass from Wall or Beal and immediately slash, looking for his own bucket but just as importantly looking for other opportunities that exist (maybe giving John or Brad a hockey assist in the process).

Filling this team need must come from somewhere, and playing time exists for whomever steps up to bat.

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This stuff also happened at media day:

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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.