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Pace and space helping Wizards draw most fouls in NBA


Pace and space helping Wizards draw most fouls in NBA

After adopting a new pace-and-space offense over the summer, the Wizards own a 2-1 record one week into the NBA season.

Their transition to an up-tempo, small-ball game hasn't been without hiccups, but it's already paying off in a key area: Drawing fouls. 

In an ideal world, every trip down the floor would result in an easy basket at the rim, a 3-point field goal or a trip to the free throw line for Washington. 

The Wizards haven't shot well from downtown (35.2%), but they're leading the league in personal fouls drawn per game (28) according to player tracking data on NBA.com. They're also 2nd in free throw attempts (34) and fast-break points (20.7) per game.

John Wall has drawn 5 fouls per game by himself, while Bradley Beal and Ramon Sessions are right behind him averaging 4 apiece. 

Those numbers represents a major leap from last year, when the team finished 22nd with 19.6 fouls drawn per game. It's also the most obvious evidence of what their new offense does to opponents. 

Pace creates the threat of fast-break buckets, while space spreads out defenders around the perimeter and opens lanes to the basket. The system forces opposing players into fouls, either intentionally to prevent an uncontested bucket or accidentally as they struggle to stay in front of the ball handler. 

When asked about drawing more fouls this season, coach Randy Wittman said it was part of the plan. 

"That was an area we had to improve on," he said. "Spacing the floor and having people running softer lines has gotten us where we've put the ball on the floor and gotten fouls going to the basket."

Though three regular season games is a small sample size, Wittman noted that Washington got to the line a lot during the preseason as well. 

"I think it's a byproduct of our spacing," he said. 

Drawing fouls has its pitfalls, though. The Wizards are shooting a middling 77.5% from the stripe, plus they're taking hard knocks at high speeds -- a dangerous combination for a team hoping to make a deep playoff run. Want proof? Just check out Beal after the season opener in Orlando. 

But free throws are among the most efficient shots in basketball, so every trip to the line represents a valuable opportunity for Washington. 

Those opportunities will be harder to come by Wednesday night against San Antonio. So far this season, the Spurs have averaged the fewest personal fouls (15.5) in the NBA.

MORE WIZARDS: Marcin Gortat revisits 50-win prediction for Wizards

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime? 

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.