John Wall: Bench was Wizards’ ‘downfall’
John Wall left the Wizards’ season-ending loss to the Celtics talking about how badly Washington’s bench got outscored.
Now that he has time to reflect and isn’t just speaking with raw emotion shortly after a devastating loss, how does he feel?Wall, via CSN Mid-Atlantic”
It starts from upstairs – just building the right bench guys and building the chemistry. That’s all it is.
I think that’s where they won the game at. I heard Marcus Smart say after the game that I had no legs. He’s basically right. I don’t make excuses. I’m going to play. If I miss shots or make shots, I’ll live with it. I know people will say he finished oh for 11, but I play – I took everything I had in me to keep fighting.
It’s just that their bench guys came in and played well. I think Kelly Oubre could’ve played a little bit more. I wish he would’ve played a little more and Jason. But coach makes the decision, and we stick behind him 100 percent. I feel like those two guys could have really helped us.
Wall – eligible for a designated-veteran-player extension but reportedly unsure about signing one – is clearly telling the Wizards what he wants. Marcin Gortat similarly criticized Washington’s bench earlier in the season, and he apologized. Wall has the leverage not to stand by his assessment.
Both Wall and Gortat were right. The Wizards’ bench was the source of much of their problems.
Washington’s starting lineup outscored opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. Its bench (all other lineups) got outscored 15.5 points per 100 possessions.
Only the Thunder had a similar split in net rating:
The Wizards knew their flaw and tried to hide it. Washington’s starters played 34.2 minutes per game together in the postseason – second only to the Pacers (34.5). Wall’s heavy workload contributed to him running out of gas late in Game 7 against Boston, which Marcus Smart noted.
What can the Wizards do to upgrade their bench? Spend.
They sound committed to keeping Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this summer. But that would push them near the luxury tax – so they could scrimp on the bench in a variety of ways:
- Don’t re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic, another restricted free agent. He’s in line for a raise.
- Trade Marcin Gortat, elevating Ian Mahinmi into the starting lineup and therefore weakening the bench.
- Trade Jason Smith, who might be expendable at his salary but at least still provides depth.
- Don’t use the mid-level exception. That’s Washington’s best mechanism for adding outside help, but it’d be costly.
Will the Wizards take any of those cost-saving measures? Wall is certainly watching.