Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs 76ers 95 — Finally Playing to John Wall's Strengths | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs 76ers 95 — Finally Playing to John Wall’s Strengths

Updated: October 7, 2015

The biggest off-season question was answered 30 minutes before tip-off when the starters were released. Randy Wittman warned not to read into preseason lineups, but it was impossible to ignore a healthy Nenê starting on the bench—especially when his replacement (Kris Humphries) could barely sniff a minute in last year’s playoffs.

The Brazilian big man is now a backup center in Washington’s new-age, run-and-gun system. Wittman’s off-season comments foreshadowed it, his preseason lineup demonstrated it, and his post-game comments confirmed it, saying of his starting lineups, “I’ll have to keep working at that, and look at Nenê at the five and March [Gortat] at the five, and see what we can produce there.”

Sure, Nenê will get the occasional start against bigger front courts, like Chicago and Memphis, but it will be the exception, not the norm.

It was only one game against a very bad team but the floor spacing was noticeably expansive. With shooters glued to the perimeter, John Wall was free to do what he does better than anyone else in the league: create opportunities for others—more specifically, 3-point opportunities.

Wall slashed into the lane and dropped gorgeous swing passes into the waiting hands of his teammates. Washington shot 5-for-7 from deep in the first quarter. The added space was not just a boon for 3-point shooters. With Nenê (and his defender) removed from the paint, the lane was wide open for Otto Porter to slash to the basket. With defenders preoccupied with protecting the 3-point line, preventing Wall’s penetration and slowing Gortat’s rim rolls, Otto seemed to be left uncovered. He slashed to the rim for a couple easy baskets and planted himself on the perimeter for wide open looks.

Much has been made of the career 3-point shooting percentages of Washington’s off-season acquisitions—Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, and Gary Neal. But those numbers do not even take into account the John Wall boost. An NBA player, like Gary Neal, may be a career 38 percent 3-point shooter, but that number jumps dramatically on uncontested attempts. If this game is any indication, there are going to be a lot of wide open, long-range looks in Washington this season.

Even Humphries got into the action. Kris planted himself in the deep corner on several possessions and his defender was not going to cover him that far out. The Wizards even once ran a play to get Humphries an open look from the corner 3 spot (Gortat set a nice off-ball screen for him). Wall obliged, once getting a direct assist and once picking up the hockey assist thanks to Porter, and Humphries shot 2-for-4 on 3-pointers. As a team, the Wizards shot 15-for-26 from deep, numbers that would have been unfathomable in last year’s offensive system. Seriously, Washington only attempted 26 or more shots from 3 on four occasions during the 2014-15 regular season.

Welcome to the new era of NBA basketball, coach Wittman. I think you are going to like it here.


  • Jahlil Okafor picked up right where he left off in the Las Vegas Summer League. He’s a mid-range beast and will terrorize less mobile and smaller defenders. Gortat simply could not contest his jumpers.
  • Bradley Beal still has trouble dribbling in one-on-one isolations. In the first quarter Wittman gave Wall a possession off and let Beal bring the ball up the court. He ended up over-dribbling then forcing a drive into a double team and turning it over. In the second half, however, he found Gortat with a nice wrap-around pass off pick-and-roll action.
  • It’s early, but Alan Anderson has my vote for favorite new player. He was vocal throughout the game, encouraging teammates, yelling out nicknames, celebrating 3-points shots and making Beal laugh with some advice for Ramon Sessions.

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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.