The Wizards went 3-1 this past week with wins over Chicago, Milwaukee, and Indiana. The only loss came in a heartbreaker to the Celtics where Wall took the ball from end-to-end but just barely missed the game-tying layup. With the team starting to get somewhat healthy, who’s trending up and who’s trending down?
John Wall – If the Wizards were a top-4 seed in the east, Wall would be getting MVP consideration. But because the Wizards are currently sitting in the 10-spot, Wall will not get the recognition he deserves. During this latest four game stretch, Wall has averaged 25 points, 9.7 assists, and six rebounds. Let’s not forget that his backcourt-mate Bradley Beal only played in two games during this four game stretch. As a result, Wall was the high scorer for the Wizards in all four games. Wall shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. Wall looks very confident rising up for jump shots and the opponents have to start somewhat respecting his jumper. As long as his percentages continue to rise, Wall will continue to be a headache for opponents. And seriously, where would this team be if Wall weren’t playing at such an elite level?
Jared Dudley – The rock solid Dudley continues to stay just that, rock solid. Dudley’s numbers can fluctuate on a night-to-night basis evidenced by his 15 point output against Boston but just three points against the Pacers the night before. Dudley always stays within the offense and is never one to force anything. Dudley shot 50 percent from the field during this stretch including 47 percent from three-point range. Dudley has also averaged 5.5 rebounds per game; often against opponents where he is overmatched. As the weeks go on, the front office looks smarter and smarter for scooping up the veteran.
Kelly Oubre Jr. – Oubre was forced into the starting lineup this week due to Otto Porter’s injury; and that’s a good thing for the rookie. Oubre averaged just 16 minutes per game this week but that was most likely due to his poor shooting (30 percent) during that stretch. Oubre averaged 4.75 rebounds per contest and logged two steals apiece in the Milwaukee, Indiana, and Boston games. It’s going to take a while for Oubre’s game to develop offensively but that’s ok, this team needs him on the defensive end. This week, Oubre was forced to guard Paul George and Jae Crowder. No easy task for any defender, especially a rookie. The injuries to other guys have been a blessing in disguise as Oubre can now get more and more minutes without worrying about getting yanked. The next step in his progression is his shooting. If he can increase his shooting percentages by 5-10 percent, he’ll be a force to reckon with as the season rolls along.
Randy Wittman – To Wittman’s credit, he’s done an excellent job navigating through this week not knowing who would be active and who would be out with injury on any given night. Although the Wizards didn’t keep any of the four opponents under 100 points, they averaged 8.75 steals per night and forced their opponents to turn the ball over 17.7 times per game on average. So what does that mean? The Wizards have turned up the heat defensively.
The bad. The rotations are starting to make less and less sense. Last night, the Wizards decided to go super duper small for key moments of the game playing Wall-Sessions-Neal-Temple-Nene. Garrett Temple was playing the power forward position. Additionally, Wittman played Neal for almost the entire fourth quarter opposed to Oubre. Sometimes the Wizards coaching staff falls too in love with the small ball mentality and last night was the perfect example. The Wizards were crushed on the glass and surrendered 17 offensive rebounds to a not so big Celtics frontline. Finally, with 15 seconds left, Wittman opted to go with Oubre over a struggling Neal but it was too late. Additionally, Wittman has a good problem on his hands now that Nene is healthy (for the time being). The hard part is determining who to go with down the stretch in games. Not super upset with Nene playing over Gortat in the fourth quarter however I think Gortat is a better rebounder and much more of an offensive threat than Nene is.