Playoff hopes for the Washington Wizards are officially over. The autopsy on what went wrong with the 2015-16 season is only just beginning. From injuries to roster construction to coaching to on-court performance, plenty went wrong. Some will scream loudly for heads to roll. Others will suggest like Kevin Bacon' character in Animal House to stay calm, all is well. There are big picture points and nuanced angles and we've got the next three months to ponder it all before the NBA Draft and free agency. For now, let's focus on the basics.
The Wizards gave up too many points.
Over the previous three seasons, Washington ranked top 10 in scoring defense. The Wizards may not have been cutting edge offensively, but they proved gritty and stout on the other end. The defense more than anything else propelled back-to-back postseason berths. The struggles stopping opponents this season as much as anything led to the campaign ending far earlier than expected.
2013-14: 99.4 points per game allowed, 8th in the NBA
2014-15: 97.8, 9th
2015-16: 104.7, 21st
Since you're wondering, here's how the scoring went over these three seasons.
2013-14: 100.7 points per game, 16th in the NBA
2014-15: 98.5, 18th
Whenever a reporter suggested offense was the problem, Wizards coach Randy Wittman shot them down. More often than not, he was correct.
The radical shift from consistently using two big men to pace-and-space offense left less time to focus on defense during training camp. Some want to dismiss any discussion of injuries as an excuse, but the constant changing of lineups and rotations, particularly before the All-Star break, certainly hampered the flow and led to inconsistencies. Here are the defensive numbers in wins and losses.
38 wins: 97.2 points, 44.0 FG%, 31.7 3pt%
41 losses: 111.6 points, 48.6 FG%, 41.8 3pt%
Alan Anderson's never-ending injury situation turned into a punchline, but the Wizards brought the swingman in to shoot 3's and guard on the perimeter. Though not a stretch-4, Anderson has the size to battle the likes of Paul George yet also defend pure wing threats. Small sample size for sure, but on-and-off court numbers reveal a positive impact with Anderson in the game.
John Wall played in each of the opening 77 games despite a beat up body at times before he sat the last two. Could he have used a rest at some point, yes. Could the Wizards afford to sit him with so many others out? Probably not for the goal of winning that day's matchup. Did his defense diip this year? Yes. Is all of this related and did he self-medicate some by not going max on both ends in order to survive the season? Yes and maybe. Did the Wizards lose on nights Wall's defense wasn't top shelf? Often.
Again, there are plenty of factors. The power forward situation created problems on the boards. The players talked about lack of coaching adjustments at times. The lack of creators offensively hurt the cause. If we're boiling the season down to a single factor, the once defensively stout team just gave up too many points.
MORE WIZARDS: 10 reasons Wizards' season went horribly wrong