Do you like the modern, 3-point shooting Washington Wizards team that swept Toronto out of the playoffs and nearly took down Atlanta? Good bet the answer is a loud yes. If not, get on board. That look isn't going away.
That's the message Wizards coach Randy Wittman delivered following the heart-wrenching and series-ending Game 6 loss on Friday night. The next step is adding the proper players to the current mix headlined by guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. The process begins this offseason, starting with next month's NBA Draft.
"We know what we have to do, the pieces that were going to have to add, that I'd like to add moving forward," Wittman stated during his postgame press conference.
After lagging behind nearly the entire league with production from beyond the 3-point arc during the regular season, Washington fully embraced the long ball in the postseason. This wasn't simply about a change of schemes, but also personnel. Going with a smaller lineup, one that put more shooters on the court, which in turn helped open space for Wall, led the way. Beal thrived in these looks, playing the best basketball of his career against the Hawks.
"Brad (Beal) and John (Wall) are going to be here a long time," Wittman continued. "We have to utilize what their strengths are, and their capabilities and find the right people to put around them. Allows us to play the way that I think we're kind of playing in the series with Toronto and Atlanta."
After lagging behind nearly the entire league with production from beyond the 3-point arc during the regular season, Washington fully embraced the long ball in the postseason. This wasn't simply about a change of schemes, but also personnel. Going with a smaller lineup, one that put more shooters on the court which in turn helped open space for point guard John Wall, led the way.
The Wizards took 23.3 shots per game from distance during the playoffs -- nearly seven more than their regular season average. More minutes at power forward for Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden account for a chunk of that increase. Even if both veterans return -- Gooden is a free agent and Pierce hinted at retiring following the loss -- neither offers young legs. Center Kevin Seraphin's potential departure in free agency and Brazilian big man Nene entering the final year of his contract make adding more size a priority, along with a scoring threat on the perimeter.
Washington owns the 19th and 49th selections in the 2015 NBA Draft. Ed Isaacson, owner of NBADraftblog.com, spoke with CSNwashington.com about stretch-four options possibly available in the back-half of the first round. That group includes Bobby Portis (Arkansas) followed by Trey Lyles (Kentucky). Both could wind up in the lottery, along with Kevon Looney (UCLA). Christian Wood (UNLV) and Jarell Martin (LSU) are also first round candidates.
Injuries to Beal during his three seasons have left the Wizards light at times with offensive options on the wing. R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) and Justin Anderson (Virginia) offer shooting, perimeter size and savvy.
Assuming Pierce and Gooden return, then top-eight players in the postseason rotation remain intact, putting the Wizards position to take the best player available if needed. Montrezl Harrell (Louisville) is an athletic rebounding power forward who can run with Wall on the break. Small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson offers defense and energy.
All of these players fit with a team looking to push the pace and spread the court. Sounds like the Wizards will remain one of those teams.