The logical question for the Wizards is if this smaller, fast-paced style is so much better, why didn't coach Randy Wittman start using it sooner? The answer is pretty simple, and he said it many times without actually saying it in previous seasons: They've lacked the personnel -- until now.
Now with rookie Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal, they're better-suited to quicken the pace. And if Otto Porter is ready to be the starter at small forward and Kris Humphries, who made 2 of 4 three-pointers in Tuesday's preseason opener, can make the long ball pushes them to yet another level.
The truth is, no pun intended, with Paul Pierce (and Porter still raw) this style wasn't doable even last season. John Wall, prompted by this exact question about Pierce, weighed in after practice this week (Note: Wall was asked specifically about Pierce. He did not voluntarily bring up his name but as usual answered honestly).
"No disrespect to Paul but we wanted to kind of be a half-court team. He couldn't get up and down the floor," Wall said of the the 37-year-old who left in free agency for the L.A. Clippers after one season. "He's not the young Paul anymore. He helped us out a lot in so many other ways in making big shots and being a leader. Now this is an opportunity to let Otto exhale, running the floor, being able to create off the dribble, slashing to the basket.
"Everybody can get it. Whoever gets it off the rebound just get it and go. Gives me the opportunity to run the lane and catch the ball on the wing and can attack right away instead of coming down and defenses setting up for me. ... At times (in the past), if Otto got the ball he really didn't want to put it on the floor. Now Otto is getting rebounds and pushing the pace. (Wittman) is believing in everybody and letting those guys know they can make plays just like I can."
And when Andre Miller was traded in February for Ramon Sessions, what was Wittman's chief concern? He wanted more pace (meaning possessions) with the second unit. With Sessions getting acclimated and Porter showing that he was able to live up to his No. 3 draft pick status, the Wizards went to the smaller lineups in the playoffs and the results spoke for themselves.
Aside from conditioning of his troops this season, he'll have to eventually figure out if Humphries or Drew Gooden can handle the responsibilities defensively of a stretch four. Or maybe he'll have to go even smaller.