Quick Links

Film study: Wizards' intelligent ball movement breaks down Bucks

Film study: Wizards' intelligent ball movement breaks down Bucks

With the Wizards at 9-13, there's no such thing as "turning the corner" until they actually turn the corner on a season that started out according to the worst-possible scenario. But Saturday's 110-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, when for the second game in a row they relied on defense to bail them out, is something they could look back on if they're able to get over .500 and call it a pivotal moment.

"We're having an edge on the defensive end and are competing and making people feel us and I think it's helped us," said John Wall, after the Wizards had six consecutive defensive stops in the fourth quarter to erase a 98-92 deficit. They would go on a 10-0 run to take a five-point lead.

The Wizards were a better team on both ends of the floor. They fell down 32-23 entering the second quarter but came back because the second unit was as crisp as the starters at recognizing the defensive scheme and exploiting. The Bucks are long everywhere, and they're aggressive in how they trap the ball on pick-and-rolls. The keys are to anticipate, accept and get rid of the ball to exploit use their aggression against them. 

Almost every player in every quarter for the Wizards did just that:

Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic do a terrible job containing the ball and keeping it in front. They're too aggressive over the top on Trey Burke, who splits them easily for the bounce pass to the screener, Markieff Morris, who doesn't have to make any contact because the defense runs by him, as he dives to the basket. 

Andrew Nicholson brush screens Jason Terry, and as Marcus Thornton comes off to get the ball he's surrounded by three defenders. A quick flick of the ball to Nicholson rolling to the basket results in an easy layup. 

Wall misses the jumper here, but this is a good look created by ball movement that attacks Greg Monroe who opens up and is unable to catch up to the ball on this action between Thornton and Nicholson. The extra pass is made from Otto Porter as he's closed out. Monroe's foot speed is too much of a liability and he can't get out to contest Wall.

Tony Snell and Monroe sprint out to Bradley Beal on the catch and see how quickly he feeds Marcin Gortat and then how quickly Gortat gives up the ball to the open shooter. Kelly Oubre puts it on the floor and hits the runner, but this is smart basketball all around.

Morris accepted the trap from Monroe and Teletovic and found Oubre spotting up weakside. He immediately figured out where the soft spot was in the defense and made them pay for it -- again.

[RELATED: Antetokounmpo studies Wall, thinks they're similar players]

Quick Links

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

USA TODAY Sports Images

Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 


Quick Links

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.