What the Wizards need to replace from the players they lost over the summer

The Wizards spent this offseason looking to get younger and more athletic at several positions. With the NBA evolving faster and faster, there were players on last year’s team that no longer fit the bill or the scheme that this team was trying to implement so the front office let them walk. Much has been made about what the Wizards are gaining with their new acquisitions, but let’s take a moment to think about what the Wizards lost over the summer and whether or not they’ve done enough to replace it.

Jared Dudley

The Wizards were the 11th best three-point shooting team in the NBA last season,  much ado to the play of Jared Dudley. Prior to the All-Star break, Dudley shot a very impressive 46.6 percent from three-point range and you could even argue that he should have been included in the three-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend.

Dudley thrived playing in transition alongside Wall. With the Wizards up-tempo offense, Dudley needed to sprint out in transition, run to his spot on the floor, and John Wall would find him for an open three. Not a lot of dribbling, just a lot of catching and shooting as all 100 of his made three-pointers were assisted.

Aside from Dudley and Gary Neal (who played in just 40 games), Bradley Beal was the second best three-point shooter on this team last year shooting 38.7 percent from distance; 3.3 percentage points worse than Dudley.

If the Wizards are going to remain in the top-half of the NBA in three-point shooting, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter will need to knock down more threes and at a higher rate this season to fill the void left by Dudley.

Nene

When Nene arrived in D.C., the team was in array. In trying to clean up the mess left behind by Gilbert Arenas and the cast of characters alongside him; Nene was counted on to provide veteran leadership in a locker room that needed it oh-so-much. And he did.

On the court, Nene helped turned this team around especially during the 2013-2014 season where he was a key player in the Wizards’ playoff run. Before the NBA transitioned to the Stretch-4 concept, Nene and Gortat were a frontcourt to be reckoned with. As the NBA evolved, Nene’s minutes slowly dwindled as he was unable to stretch the floor with his jump shot and would have trouble staying in front of younger, more athletic players.

Even so, Nene was always a solid presence in the post both when he played power forward alongside Gortat and last year where he served as the team’s backup center. Nene found himself to be the focal point of the Wizards’ second unit as the team often dumped the ball into him on the block if they couldn’t score in transition. His field goal shooting percentage was the highest last year during his tenure in D.C. (aside from 2011-2012 where he played in just 11 games) and was still able to finish 68.1 percent of field goals on shots closer than five feet from the basket. 

Even though he became less mobile as he aged; Nene was still the gritty hard-nosed veteran that we’ve become familiar with. It looks like Markieff Morris will have no issues taking over as the enforcer for this team, but even so, the Wizards will miss the grit, tenacity and physicality that Nene brought every night. 

Garrett Temple

Temple would have games where he’d stuff the staff sheet and you’d think it was his coming out party; but would then have a clunker of the game the next night. Whether his shot was falling or not, Garrett Temple always gave it his all on the defensive end. Far too often last season, Temple was forced into situations outside of his comfort zone and was counted on to play heavy minutes with the injuries to Bradley Beal. Being the professional that he is, Temple left it all on the floor even though he was often outmatched.

Temple’s scoring seesawed all season as there’d be nights where he would score in double figures only to be held to four points (or fewer) the following night. Regardless, Temple gave maximum effort on both ends of the floor during last year’s tumultuous season. A feat not too many other players on this team can claim.

Ramon Sessions

The Wizards found themselves in the bottom half of the NBA in free throw attempts last season shooting 22.5 per contest. Don’t blame the inability to get to the line on Ramon Sessions. Sessions averaged 3.5 free-throw attempts last season, second highest on this team only to John Wall. Sessions averaged more free throws per 36 minutes (6.1) than several notable players including Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, and Carmelo Anthony.

Sessions was the spark that the second unit needed. Far too often the reserves had trouble scoring last season. Sessions would pick his spots in transition and attack the hole, keeping the defense on their heels. He didn’t always convert these transition layups but the threat was always there. Not too shabby for a guy who stands 6’3” and is just 190 pounds.

Lastly, for a team riddled with injuries last season, Sessions was the only Wizards player to play in all 82 games. He was never the biggest or most physical guard on any given night, but you can’t overlook the fact that he played with nicks and bruises and stayed fearless in attacking the rim even though he was often the smallest player on the court.

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Wizards vs Bulls Recap: Wizards blow out Bulls 117-96, inch closer to the last playoff spot

Where was this team during the five-game losing streak?

John Wall notched his third triple-double of the season with 29 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Wizards ran past the Bulls, 117-96. This was another blowout win against a team sitting right in front of them in the standings.

For the second game in a row, the Wizards jumped on the Bulls early, storming out to a 15-6 lead. Nene got the start for Gortat who experienced back pain during warm ups. Nene didn’t disappoint as he scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds in his starting role.

The Wizards used a 10-0 run to take a 30-16 lead late in the first quarter but the Bulls answered back. Doug McDermott scored 13 of his 20 points in the first half as the Bulls would regain the lead 34-32.

The Wizards ended the half on a on a 25-9 run led by Garrett Temple who connected on all five three-point attempts in the half as the Wizards led 63-52 at halftime.

The Wizards jumped on the Bulls again to start the second half with a quick 8-2 run. John Wall played a little antsy in the third quarter committing too many turnovers on forced passes as he could sense the triple-double coming, but got out of his funk in the closing minutes of the quarter to help the Wizards widen their lead.

The Wizards led 92-74 after three quarters and this game was all but over. Doug McDermott went on a 7-0 run by himself to cut the lead to 12, 101-89 midway through the fourth quarter but the Bulls wouldn’t get any closer as the Wizards went on to win 117-96.

John Wall triple-double: John Wall turned in another fantastic performance notching his third triple double of the season with 29 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. Wall shot 11-19 from the field (2-3 from three-point range) and knocked down 5-6 free throws. Wall had an absurd +/- of +38 tonight in one of his best games of the year.

If we’re going to nitpick, John was loose with the ball in the second half. Wall committed eight turnovers, six of which coming in the second half. But the Wizards got the win and that’s all that matters.

Wizards get off to a fast start: During their five game losing streak and specifically during the tail end of the recent road swing, the Wizards were getting off to slow starts. They flipped the switch against Detroit the other night and also started tonight’s game fast.

The Wizards led 15-6 in the blink of an eye. Nene, Beal, and Morris were swinging the ball from side to side as four of the first five Wizards’ made baskets were assisted. The Wizards led 30-16 at one point in the first quarter but let the Bulls climb back in. The Wizards are a different ball club when they get out to a fast start versus when they dig themselves an early hole.

The Wizards jumped on the Bulls 8-2 to start the second half which gave them a comfortable cushion the rest of the game.

Wizards were on fire from three-point range: The Wizards were on fire from three-point range knocking down 8-10 shots from distance in the first half. Garrett Temple warped into Ray Allen tonight hitting his first five three-pointers off the bench. Morris and Porter joined the party knocking down threes of their own for the Wizards but Jared Dudley ruined the party going 0-2 from distance (kidding). The Wizards ended the night 13-21 (62 percent) from three-point range.

Wizards blowout Pistons 124-81, snap five game losing streak.

Seven Wizards players scored in double figures led by Nene with 20 as the Wizards smoke the Pistons 124-81, ending a five game losing streak.

John Wall logged his 39th double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 assists. And Bradley Beal played well in his first game back after injuring his pelvic bone scoring 12 points.

This one was over early. The Wizards dominated the first quarter 34-15. The Pistons couldn’t buy a bucket whereas the Wizards were playing loosey goosey. John Wall threw this nifty pass behind his back to Gortat for an easy layup as this was that kind of night.

The Wizards led 60-39 at halftime and the lead never dipped under 20 again. The Wizards were able to play the bench the entire fourth quarter and rookie Kelly Oubre was the beneficiary.

Wizards win 124-81 in a blowout snapping their five game losing streak.

First quarter domination: This game was over after the first quarter. The Wizards led 34-15 after one and that was just the beginning. The Wizards were playing loose, making the extra pass, and knocking down three pointers. They sure didn’t look like a team in the midst of a have game losing streak. Wall and Gortat got going early and that set the tone for the rest of the squad.

Nene plays his best game of the season: I’ve been hard on the big man recently but Nene proved me wrong tonight. The big man led the Wizards in scoring with 20 points on 8-9 shooting. Additionally, he was 4-4 from the free throw line. Nene didn’t have the toughest matchup as Aron Baynes was guarding him for a majority of the game but regardless, he took advantage of his opportunity. If only Nene could turn in games like this on a regular basis.

Weekly Wizards Wrap Up: 2/7

When will the Wizards learn that no lead is safe, especially with this unit? The Wizards went 1-3 this week with their sole win coming against the lowly 76ers. The Wizards were up 19 in the first half on the Hornets Saturday night but in #SoWizards fashion, blew the lead and lost the game. This team is 2-6 in their last eight games but do have two winnable games before the All Star break coming up. Who’s trending which way?

Trending Up: John Wall.

Wall may as well get a permanent spot here. Just before the All-Star break, Wall turned in All-Star performances in all four games this week. The only problem? His teammates didn’t follow suit. Wall averaged 24.8 points, 9.5 assists, and 6.5 rebounds this week including a season-high 13 rebounds against Philadelphia. Wall continues his tear that is largely going unnoticed by most of the NBA.

Wall is having the best season of his career averaging 20 points and 9.8 assists per game. Since the Wizards are 22-27 on the outside looking in on the playoff picture, no one outside of Washington, D.C. seems to care. Wall put up the quietest 41 point and 10 assist game you’ll ever see against Golden State. Yes Steph Curry overshadowed him scoring 51 points including a 25 point explosion in the first but the fact of the matter is, the Wizards would have lost by 30 if Wall didn’t have those huge numbers.

Wall has come close to a triple-double many times this season and he finally got it against Philadelphia. In a surprising manner, assists were the last statistical category to hit double digits for Wall in that game but nonetheless, he got it.

Marcin Gortat: As solid as ever, Gortat averaged 14.5 points and 10 rebounds this week including double-doubles against the 76ers and Hornets. Gortat shot 58 percent for the week going 26-48 from the floor. The pick-and-roll with Wall is continuing to work; he’s still finishing with authority around the rim and is the only Wizards player who seems to care about rebounding. I’m being a little nitpicky here but recently when Gortat has caught the ball on the block, he hasn’t been very effective in his isolation moves. He’ll often end up shooting a hook which doesn’t go in.

Speaking of rebounding, Gortat is currently averaging 9.9 rebounds for the season and 2.8 offensive rebounds. Plain and simple, if Gortat doesn’t gather or tip out an offensive rebound, the Wizards aren’t going to get any second chance opportunities. Gortat is the only Wizards player who crashes the offensive glass and unless the team changes philosophies, I don’t expect that to change much.

Trending Down:

Nene: Nene had a poor game against the Thunder with five points and two rebounds. He backed that up with a better performance against the Warriors scoring 12 points to go along with seven rebounds. But then Nene injured himself in the Warriors game and didn’t play against the Sixers or Hornets.

Nene has now missed 21 games this season. On top of that, you have no idea what you’re getting from the big man when he plays. Sometimes he plays well (see Golden State game) and sometimes he forces shots that aren’t there and commits lazy fouls on defense. I understand that Nene is in the tail end of his career but we’ve reached a point where it might be time to cut ties with Nene. Only problem is, I don’t think there are too many teams out there who want his services.

Wiz overcome late deficit, hang on to beat Rockets 123-122.

In maybe the wildest game so far this season, the Wizards hang on to win, 123-122 over the Houston Rockets snapping a three game losing streak. Eight Wizards players scored in double figures tonight led by John Wall with 19 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds. Ramon Sessions scored 17 points off the bench and Jared Dudley was a key factor tonight scoring 16. For the time being, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

The Wizards looked like a refreshed team in their first game after the players only meeting. The team looked focus, was able to run now that Dudley was in the starting lineup, and looked like a team with a chip on it’s shoulder.

Dwight Howard was hot early for the Rockets scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting in the first quarter.

This game was chippy and it all started in the second quarter when Dudley was called for a flagrant foul on Dwight Howard. Howard looked to hug Dudley and got T’d up himself.

James Harden was his usual self scoring a game-high 40 points and hitting a three pointer with two seconds remaining as the Rockets led 62-59 at halftime.

The lead started seesawing back and forth between the two teams for the entire third quarter. Sessions scored 12 of his 17 points in the quarter as the Wizards used a 9-0 run to take a 90-88 lead into the fourth quarter.

Things heated up early in the fourth quarter. Howard and Nene were jawing all game and things escalated in the fourth quarter when the two big men got tied up and some pushing and shoving ensued. The players were T’d up and both were ejected from the game.

Whenever one team took the lead and looked to run away with it, the other team countered. Harden hit a transition three to give the Rockets a 116-110 lead with 3:30 to play.

The Wizards had an answer. They’d hack Clint Capela and get him to the foul line. Capela, who’s a terrible free throw shooter, hit just 1-8 from the line as the Wizards clawed back.

The Rockets left John Wall wide open as Wall would knock down a three to tie the game at 117 with 2:30 to play. The Wizards would get key stops down the stretch and knock down their free throws.

The Rockets had one last chance down one to take the lead but Harden missed the shot. Wizards win 123-122.

Team Effort: The Wizards are going through a lot of adversity and they responded even if it was just one game. The energy was high, they were making the right plays, and really just looked engaged for the first time in four games. The bench combined for 55 points including Nene who went a perfect 4-4 from the field and Gary Neal who was also a perfect 5-5 from the field. As critical as I am of Nene, he was a stud against Dwight Howard. Nene got under his skin forcing Howard off his game. Wall was a stud with his near triple-double and Gortat notched another double double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. It’s only one game but let’s enjoy it for now.

Wizards vs. Heat final score: Wizards burn depleted Heat, 106-87

John Wall and Bradley Beal led the way with 18 points apiece as the Wizards burn a depleted Heat squad, 106-87.

Once again, Marcin Gortat was rock solid with 15 points and 12 rebounds and his fellow front court mate Nene chipped in with 16 points.

The Verizon Center was dead to start this one as it looked like both teams were more concerned with getting this game over with before the snowstorm hit:

Hassan Whiteside went down early with a back injury in the second quarter for an already depleted Heat team. Without Whiteside to protect the rim, the Wizards were able to get shots in close and Gortat didn’t have to worry about his hook shot getting sent back.

Without Whiteside’s rim protection, John Wall and Marcin Gortat were able to run this pick-and-roll to perfection to end the half as the Wizards enjoyed a 51-37 lead.

Once the second half came around, the Heat looked like a team looking to hop back on the plane and get to the next city.

Gary Neal would hit a three pointer early in the fourth quarter to stretch the Wizards’ lead out to 20 and they wouldn’t look back. Wizards cruise to a 106-87 win, snapping a two-game losing streak.

Wizards shake up the starting lineup: Randy Wittman opted to start the game with Nene and Marcin Gortat in the front court. Seemed like déjà vu as the Wizards ran their first three plays for Nene on the block. Nene started the game 3-4 from the field as he and Gortat scored 9 of the Wizards first 15 points with 8 coming in the paint. The combination of Nene and Gortat worked pretty well tonight as the duo combined for 31 points and 18 rebounds.

Spacing was thrown off as the Heat were able to pack the paint as neither Nene or Gortat is going to stretch the floor. As expected, when Dudley came in, the floor spacing was much improved and the ball didn’t stick. The Nene-Gortat experiment worked for one game but realistically, it probably won’t fix any problems long-term for this team as Nene ended this game with a +/- of +1 whereas Dudley was +22.

Wizards turn the Heat over: The Wizards turned the Heat over 21 times tonight leading to 27 points for the good guys. The Wizards had nine steals in the first half including three by Nene who often poked the ball away when his man brought the ball down low. Part of the turnover problem was due to good defense from the Wizards and part can be chalked up injuries to the Heat backcourt and a team uninterested in playing the second half of a back-to-back.

Bradley Beal was very efficient tonight: Beal scored 18 points on 7-13 shooting in just 25 minutes of play tonight. Beal assumed a bit of the ball handling duties while Wall was on the bench. Beal ended the night with just two assists but looked very comfortable with the ball in his hands weaving through the lane. I don’t know if this is a sign of things to come or if it was just for tonight but it looks like Beal has added a hesitation move to his arsenal. On multiple occasions, Beal got into the paint and used a hesitation dribble to get an open look. Only time will tell if Brad will use this move more often or if it was just a one-game mirage.

Recap: Wizards blow lead, hang on to beat Bucks 106-101.

The Wizards blow a 17-point lead but hang on to win, 106-101.

Once again, seven Wizards players scored in double figures tonight led by John Wall with 19, Sessions and Beal with 15 and 11 respectively off the bench, and Jared Dudley who had 13 of his own. The Wizards may be playing their best basketball of the season as they are currently riding a 3-game win streak.

Milwaukee was coming off the second night of a back-to-back and it looked like it from the beginning. The Wizards were much quicker tonight and were able to get out and run in transition. The Red Sea parted for John Wall midway through the first quarter as he threw down this dunk:

to give the Wizards an early 23-12 lead.

Bradley Beal saw his first playing time in over a month and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Beal went 3-3 for seven points off the bench in the first half of his return.

The Wizards rode the hot shooting from Beal and opportunistic team defense to take a 56-43 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was one to forget. The Wizards shot just 26 percent from the field in the third quarter as the Bucks outscored the Wizards 31-15. The Wizards’ once 17 point lead evaporated as the Bucks led 74-71 after three.

The Wizards turned on the defense to start the fourth. The Wizards turned the Bucks over on their first five possessions and opened the quarter on a 12-0 run.

John Wall sliced through the Bucks defense for a nice dunk as the Wizards stretched the lead back out to 13, 93-80.

Two late threes from Dudley all but sealed the deal as the Wizards hang on and win, 106-101.

Wizards lock down on defense: For the third game in a row, the Wizards were very active on the defensive end. This time, turning the Bucks over 27 times resulting in 36 points for the home squad. The Wizards recorded seven steals in the first quarter led by Garrett Temple who had 5. The Wizards ended the night with a season-best 18 steals.

Kelly Oubre was a huge spark off the bench: Oubre only played nine minutes tonight but made every one of them count. The rookie hit a corner three at a key moment when the Bucks were chipping away at the Wizards lead. Oubre was also very active on defense as evidenced by his two steals. It was a bit odd that we didn’t see Oubre enter the game until the third quarter even though Otto Porter got injured in this game. Regardless, a very solid night for the rookie.

Nene was the MVP tonight: In just his second game back from injury, the big man looked in midseason form. Nene ended the night with 12 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds but his presence was heavily felt on the defensive end. The big man had to guard Greg Monroe, which is no easy task, and was often the only Wizards player on the court above 6’8. Nene was very effective scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting and completely turned the game around with his energy on the defensive end in the fourth quarter.