Opening Statements: Wizards at Heat, Preseason Game 6 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Heat, Preseason Game 6

Updated: October 21, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat

My TAI colleague John Converse Townsend writes that the Wizards have the highest Offensive Rating of any NBA team in the unfortunately irrelevant preseason, and that the team has buttressed John Wall’s natural and general effect on his teammates’ production by spreading those aforementioned teammates out and letting them make good on the promise of Wall’s vision. This is wonderful news, and I hope it lasts.

The nature of first overall picks like John Wall is that they are almost always foisted upon a team in desperate need of change, rehabilitation, or maybe, simply, a foundational talent. The decision by the team (and I’m still unsure from which box in the franchise org. chart the decision came) to completely overhaul the increasingly rare, traditional “open shots are good shots” offense to better fit Wall’s talent at the tail end of the NBA’s paradigm shift is indeed a good one. Washington’s quick proficiency in last year’s playoffs shows the bare minimum tools may have been there earlier than some will let on.

Consider how many teams miss, again and again, to varying degrees, on that franchise-altering talent. With Wall in place since 2010 (and, importantly, not the impatient kind of “in place”) the Wizards had the luxury of several failed projects. Failures of varying degrees. For every Jan Vesely, there was a Trevor Booker: a useful, young player that shouldn’t have been drafted without a plan in place to develop him alongside Wall. For every Trevor Booker, there was a still less chronicled team failure like Glen Rice Jr., who slunk, perhaps impermanently, into the long night of history after a fantastic summer league and sparse use thereafter.

The Wizards, of course, hit on Bradley Beal. And may have hit on Otto Porter, even if that’s still more of an open question, for now—the Wizards did improbably jump several teams to land the third overall pick in 2013 with Wall and Beal already rostered, in any case). Surrounding John Wall, the fastest player with the ball in the league and one of its best passers and playmakers, but limited as a shooter (again, for now) with, well, shooters, was always the better option. Washington’s eventual abandonment of athletic, above the rim players who could run parallel with Wall in favor of the team’s current unburdened orchestra was the product of team brass recognizing a better path, albeit one traveled by others in years prior.

That the Wizards have seen their offense bloom under the modern mandate does not ensure it will stay that way, especially in the dregs of the season when fatigue and injury set in. One wonders whether motivational quotes from Randy Wittman regarding the correlation between pace and poor defense belie a more skeptical attitude toward this change than the surprisingly canny coach has let on in the face of organizational and outside pressure.

But this is the 2015 preseason, and these are the Opening Statements for the second-to-last game, and this is basketball, not the radiant pool of reflection next to which I plan to finally cease existing after many years of life spent struggling against entropy. There’s a game to be played tonight.

Joining me on this fine late October blog page is Diego Quezada (@DiegoHeatNBA) of SBNation’s Miami Heat blog, Hot Hot Hoops. I had some questions for him about this other team. Now, where were they? Ah.

Teams: Wizards at Heat
Time: 8:o0 p.m. ET
Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Television: ESPN
Radio: Um, not sure.
Spread: No lines in the preseason.

Q #1: Last season, due to the timing of the Goran Dragic trade and Chris Bosh’s really very scary blood clot, the Heat missed out on something I’ve been looking forward to seeing since it became an inevitability: Dragic/Bosh pick-and-rolls.

Bosh, who can score from almost anywhere on the floor, seems a fairly natural fit for Dragic’s style of play. Who benefits more from the pairing: Bosh or Dragic?

@DiegoHeatNBA: As good pick-and-roll players, they will both benefit a lot from this natural pairing. If I had to pick one player, though, it’d have to be Chris Bosh. His bread and butter is the pick-and-roll and the pick-and-pop. Because he has range out to the 3-point line, Bosh becomes especially dangerous after he sets a pick. Goran Dragic will certainly create a lot of scoring opportunities for himself when playing with Bosh, as well. I’m also looking forward to it.

Q #2: On the precipice of the 2015-16 season, prognosticators have prognosticated the fate of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Heat, more than most, seem to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, with the NBA GMs surveyed placing them among the top 3 teams in the East, and 538 putting them out of the playoffs. What say you? Barring injuries (but assuming Wade misses his requisite 20 or so games), where do the Heat finish this season and why?

@DiegoHeatNBA: I agree that people either envision this Heat team coming together and standing as the Cavs’ biggest challenger in the East or falling apart with aging players. As the leader of the Miami Heat franchise since 1995, Pat Riley always takes risks. He went all in this year—just as he did in 2010 and as he did in the trade for Shaquille O’Neal in 2004. I’m optimistic about this Heat team. I like the mix of veterans and young players. Justise Winslow fell into Pat Riley’s lap with the 10th pick and he has a lot of potential. As a Heat fan, I’ve learned that Riles may make mistakes, but he doesn’t make them often. I know better than to question him now.

Q #3: Can you explain Hassan Whiteside to me?

Not through the lens of cubism or anything, but just explain how he became so valuable to the Heat last year, and what he does well that Wizards fans should look out for during this preseason game of great import?

@DiegoHeatNBA: Last season was dreary for any Heat fan, but watching Hassan Whiteside play provided some excitement to the fanbase. For one thing, Whiteside developed instant chemistry with Dwyane Wade, who was playing with a skilled, motivated center for the first time since Shaq’s second year in Miami. The Wade/Whiteside pick-and-rolls led to a lot of alley-oops. He has really great defensive instincts—and I’m concerned about Miami’s defense when he’s not on the floor. This year, I’m looking forward to seeing the Whiteside/Bosh duo. Whiteside will work better in the paint with defenses having to respect Bosh.


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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.