The decision on the final 15-man roster for the Wizards represents yet another significant shift under coach Scott Brooks.
After the preseason finale Friday, he kept rookie free agents Daniel Ochefu, Sheldon McClellan and Danuel House as the team prepares for the Oct. 27 regular-season opener at the Atlanta Hawks.
Brooks has re-focused the Wizards on defense, revamped the offense and has cut down on practice time to keep his players fresh.
The latter is a major about-face of the Wizards’ philosophy under then-coach Randy Wittman, who ran longer and more frequent practices. The Wizards had the previous two days off before the 119-82 rout of the Toronto Raptors. They’re practicing Saturday and will be off Sunday.
"It's great," point guard John Wall, who had surgeries to clean up both knees on May 5, of having more recovery time. "Coach understands us as players, (we) come in with the mind-set of whatever we got to do, get it done. A lot more focused than we've (been) in the past. It's a new beginning for all of us."
By simply taking a look at the 15-man rosters to start the season in 2015-16 and 2016-17, the direction that Brooks is heading with personnel also is vastly different.
Last season, the Wizards began with seven players 30 and over (Nene, Jared Dudley, Kris Humphries, Marcin Gortat, Gary Neal, Alan Anderson and Drew Gooden). They had two who were 29 (Garrett Temple and Ramon Sessions). Only five players were 27 or younger.
Now, the roster has Gortat at 32, Jason Smith at 30 and Ian Mahinmi will be 30 next month. Marcus Thornton is 29. The other 11 on the roster are 27 or younger.
Wittman, who said on multiple occasions that he had input on makeup of his rosters, preferred more experienced players and had the freedom to use those pieces how he saw fit. Heavy practice time for an older roster might've backfired during a 41-41 season when there was an injury rash.
Brooks has gone with energy and potential upside. Even though this roster is younger, he was brought in by president Ernie Grunfeld, in part, to do a better job with development which is why sticking with Ochefu (22), McClellan (23) and House (23) follows the blueprint.
The defensive intensity of McClellan and House when they were on the floor together was noticeable. Ochefu earned more time when Mahinmi went down with a knee injury.
Brooks can’t play all 15 and someone has to be on the inactive list when the regular season begins, but House, McClellan and Ochefu will have opportunties that might not have been there previously.