Since coming under the guidance of Randy Wittman, even when the Wizards won just 29 games in 2012-13, being a top 10 scoring defense is a requirement. They've done it three seasons in a row, but now they want to be just as high in offense now that they have the pieces. John Wall recognizes the challenge it presents to be both simultaneously.
"I don't know," Wall said when asked how close or far away he was from being in ideal shape following Thursday's practice at Verizon Center. "Nobody on our team is even close. Even the shape I was in last season wouldn't have me in shape for the system we're running now."
The Wizards scored 129 points in their preseason opener on Tuesday. They play the New York Knicks on Friday night at home (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
With the offense looking smoother than expected this early, Wittman had them focusing more on defense this week.
"We got a ways to go defensively," he said. "Guys we're trying to work in are new to the system. Guys that are playing a little bit different positions who are not used to being there. Every day we got to make sure we keep that focus there."
The personnel on the roster has shifted which allows Wittman to deploy lineups with one big man in (Marcin Gortat) and four out (Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Kris Humphries). Humphries was here last season, but his range stopped at the elbow of the key. To stay in the starting lineup he'll have to have more performances from long range like he had vs. Philadelphia when he shot 2-for-4 on threes.
Instead of waiting to get the ball to Wall every time or waiting for two bigs to get set for called plays, the Wizards are pushing the pace immediately to get the defense on its heels and scrambling to create instant mismatches.
"If I'd knew about this all summer I would've added some more to my workouts," Wall said. "We didn't know until we got here.
"We showed we can do it on the offensive end but when you're scoring that easy and things are coming and you getting open shots you just forget about the defensive end. The main focus is getting our defense down pat."