Washington Debuts ‘Blogger Ball,’ Crushes Philadelphia 129-95 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Washington Debuts ‘Blogger Ball,’ Crushes Philadelphia 129-95

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Updated: October 7, 2015

The main storyline out of the week-long Washington Wizards training camp was the team transitioning to a new offensive philosophy. The previous system—running heavy offensive sets through the low or high post, or letting John Wall just do his half-court thing—has been jettisoned for “pace-and-space.” The fresh focus is now on driving, dishing and shooting 3-pointers. The long 2s are out and “Blogger Ball” is in. Randy Wittman is even spouting off metrics, while Bradley Beal is emphasizing the need to launch more 3-pointers.

These are encouraging signs to long-time critics (/raises hand) of Washington’s usual plodding offense that produced mediocre results. TAI’s Kyle Weidie recently drilled into these proposed shifts. Many of his concerns are still applicable.

It is one thing to talk about a paradigm change and another one entirely to actually implement in game situations.

If the opening preseason tilt against Philadelphia is any indicator, the modern approach is off to a successful beginning. The Wizards blitzed the 76ers with speed and precision for a 129-95 victory at the Verizon Center. Washington pushed the ball relentlessly, attacked clear driving lanes, and, most importantly, found open shooters who knocked them down. They finished an impressive 15-for-26 from behind the arc, racked up 36 assists, and put up 73 second-half points.

Otto Porter picked right up from his strong post-season last spring by pouring in 22 points on a perfect 4-for-4 on treys. Beal only took three 3-pointers, but he drove to the hoop successfully on numerous occasions. Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries, who are the top candidates to fill the “stretch-4” position with Jared Dudley out, each went 2-for-4 on 3s. John Wall is still the All-Star leader. Backup point guard Ramon Sessions dished out 10 assists to only one turnover. Newcomer Gary Neal splashed three triples in four attempts.

This was a meaningless exhibition matchup that counts for nothing and will be forgotten in three weeks when the real games kick off. Philadelphia is also a bottom-feeding club. However,  something different is brewing with this Wizards team and everyone appears to be finally getting it. The offense might not always click the way it did on Tuesday night, but ‘small ball’ is here to stay. Five-plus years of wanting the team to design an offensive system around Wall’s strengths has … finally paid off? 

This could be the start of a very special ride. Giddy up, Wiz fans!

NOTES.

  • The young triplets—Wall, Beal and Porter—combined for 51 points.
  • Bradley Beal had difficulty breaking out of old habits. He forced an off-balance 3 and took several midrange jumpers.
  • John Wall and Marcin Gortat‘s two-man game displayed much rust. They never could get on the same page on their pick-and-rolls. Wall was visibly frustrated because Gortat appeared a step slow on his action to the basket.
  • Kris Humphries struggles to adjust to a new system were quite apparent in the beginning. He played an awful first half and was pushed around down low. He did pick it up in the second half, though.
  • Randy Wittman remarked post-game that Nenê was in the best training camp shape of his Wiz tenure. The Big Brazilian provided an anchor on defense for the second unit, but he could have finished better around the hoop.
  • Ramon Sessions was sensational. He penetrated, drew fouls, dished to open guys, and drilled open looks. The back up spot behind Wall, often a question mark, looks in excellent shape.
  • Drew Gooden picked up many silly fouls, but he was active throughout.
  • Garrett Temple was a stat stuffer, finishing with a near triple-double (7 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists).
  • DeJuan Blair cleaned up in garbage time and showed off his soft touch around the rim. He tallied 12 points in six minutes.
  • Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley, Martell Webster, and Alan Anderson all sat out due to various injuries.
  • Wall and Anderson are becoming BFFs. They continually laugh on the bench and even danced together. (Video below.)
  • Anderson is going to be a fun player to watch for his sideline celebrations. After every Wizards 3-pointer, he would do a Usain Bolt type of move, three times. My attempts to record them were unsuccessful.
  • Jahlil Okafor told me before the game that he is good friends with Oubre and they worked out together this summer in California. He always believed that Oubre would be in the NBA.
  • Ex-Wizard Jared Jeffries was at the game and I was unable to find out why. (He’s currently a scout for the Denver Nuggets.)
  • There was no video montage or dimming of the lights during the starting introductions. It was preseason for everyone.
  • The official attendance was 11,670, but, by my estimate, there were 2,500—tops.
  • During the third quarter, the popular “Sweet Treats” ice cream stand had zero people in line. Regardless of the weather, this spot is always packed. It was an exhibition for the concessions as well.
  • Temple mentioned that one of the refs asked the Wiz if they were going to play this fast style all season, because it is hard on the guys in black and white, too.

QUOTES.

Coach Wittman on the new system:

“As long as we don’t over dribble the ball, the ball has got to move, we have to make quick decisions. If you have an open shot, I don’t care who you are, you gotta shoot it. If you don’t, either got to pass or penetrate. You can’t hold it and dribble and dribble.”

Drew Gooden on the fast offense:

“I would have hated to guard us tonight. Swing, swing, close out, 3 goes up, you think that you play defense but the ball goes in. Now you gotta take it out. That is draining mentally. Shooting the ball lights out like this and playing defense, getting stops. It doesn’t matter who shoots the ball offensively, it is a tough cover. You saw what Golden State did last year and they came home with the ring.”

Wittman on Otto Porter’s stellar evening:

“He really played well. I thought Otto had, start to finish, as good a game as you can play. Activity, hands on balls. Forget about the shots that he made. Being in position, his knack for being in the right place at the right time, whether it is offensively or defensively.”

Garrett Temple on the simple style:

We joked around how there are only three plays. Like I said, there are quicker reads, even on makes … Witt probably don’t want to hear this, but it feels like we are playing kinda “pick-up with principles.” It is natural. That is why there is a natural feel, playing basketball off the feel of your teammates. When you have teammates that know what you wanna do, it is even easier. It is kind of surprising that we were able to pick it up, first game.”

Porter on the condensed offensive:

“It is just reads. It is open floor for John to create for himself or our bigs rolling. If the defense sucks in, it gives me and Brad, Hump, space to work.”

Ramon Sessions is a believer of new system

“Teams are making it relevant. All the way back to Mike D’Antoni. Now one team (Golden State) winning a championship, that don’t hurt. It is proven to work. We are picking it up, but it is still early for us.”

John Wall on wearing down Philly:

Yeah, they got tired. That was the key, as long as we are not turning the ball over and we are sharing it like we did. Everyone was just happy that we were moving and driving and kicking. It was different guys making plays. I mean, (Ramon) Sessions had 10 assists, (Garrett) Temple had seven. Everyone was just moving the ball and trusting the offense.”

Porter on the mission of training camp:

We are trying to accomplish something, build something with this team. We are looking to win championships so everybody is focused.”

Wittman on smaller lineups:

“I can view a lot of starting lineups with this team depending on who we’re playing and how we want to attack. I’ll have to keep working at that, which we will do. I wanted to see early on Nene at the 5 and Marc (Gortat) at the 5, go smaller around them and see what we can produce there.”

Sessions on the Wiz not sacrificing their true identity:

“Coach preaches defense. First thing he said at a team meeting at beginning of season was ‘defense.’ We are known as a defensive team. We are going to stick with that. But in the meantime, we are going to try and play fast. Everybody better get into shape, get ready to go, because it is a lot of up and down.”

Marcin Gortat wearing his old number 13 again:

“For some reason, the whole thing started bad, I got poked in the eye. They jammed my two fingers. My shot get blocked twice. I am thinking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ The new thing is supposed to be different. The first half was a wake up call for me. It was fun running with the number 13. For five minutes, I couldn’t find my jacket. It was right in front of me with number 13 but I was looking for number 4. It was weird but I will get used to it.”

Garrett Temple’s new hairdo:

“Yeah, it is new little style man. I think they call it the ‘South of France.’ I had my hair grown out before and had regular clean cut before … I saw one of my friends with this style so I figured that I would try it out. I’m liking it.”

Wittman on Kris Humphries shooting 3s:

He scared the shit out of me in the first half… He has never played that way before. I thought he did fine. Again, he got tired. It is not ‘take the ball out, walk down to the block.’ This is different for him.”

Humphries responds to Coach Wittman:

“I don’t think Randy’s wife would have liked that very much. I will have to talk to her about it when I see her next.”

PICTURES.

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, john wall, bradley beal

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, garrett temple

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adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, jahill okafor, nerlens noel

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, john wall, alan anderson

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, kelly oubre

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, jared jeffries

adam mcginnis, washington wizards, philadelphia 76ers, blogger ball, preseason, nba, truth about it, fans

Video.

A new jumbotron segment was playing the song “Watch Me Whip,” and featured fans doing the “Nae, Nae.” During a time out late in the fourth quarter, the popular dance song was on again and newcomer Alan Anderson decided to bust out his moves. Nene and Beal took notice but then Wall (who else?), came over to join him in the “Stanky Leg.” My favorite part is Assistant Coach Howard Eisley enjoying their funny performance but trying not to laugh at the same time.  Watch.

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.