Quick Links

Wittman: I can rebound better than Wizards' 'supposed big men'


Wittman: I can rebound better than Wizards' 'supposed big men'

Wizards coach Randy Wittman didn't imply anything. He called out his big men, namely Marcin Gortat, for not committing enough to defense or rebounding in Tuesday's 125-101 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in front of the second sellout crowd at Verizon Center this season.

It was a performance that was so bad that Wednesday, which likely was going to be an off day, is now a practice day with their next game not until Saturday vs. the Orlando Magic.

"It looked like it we didn't believe we could win, to me. You'll have to ask them that. When you lose a couple key guys to the team we still have guys that can play and play to win the game," said Wittman, referring to Bradley Beal (left shoulder) and Nene (back spams) who missed their first game of the season. "If you come out like we did, we're just too soft of a team right now.

"I might as well stick four guards and a center out there and play because we're getting beat on the boards with my supposed big men out there. We let teams take it to us the last three games. You can't blame turnovers tonight for not defending. We don't defend. Guys drive by us at will. We don't have any toughness. We don't hit anybody and rebound the ball. We had guys that played 27 minutes get one defensive rebound."

That would be Gortat, who had just three rebounds total as the Wizards (3-4) were pounded on the boards 53-41. Kris Humphries only had five. By contrast, point Russell Westbrook had 11 for the Thunder (5-3) in just 27 minutes. The wiry-thin Kevin Durant had 10 and he didn't even play in the second half because of a left hamstring strain.


"I can get a rebound, I guarantee you . If you give me 27 minutes on Saturday I'll get you a rebound," Wittman said. "That's what it boils down to. Fifty-fifty balls. The dirty stuff. We don't get dirty. That's on me. We got three days to find the guys that'll play that way."

When told of Wittman's comments, Gortat didn't object.

"We got our ass punked again, bottom line," Gortat said. "We played without pride, without any character. That's what happened. We would like to play just as OKC was playing today. We're not on their level yet.

"It's definitely my fault. I've got to take the blame. It's my part of the game where I have to rebound and that that challenge. I got no explanation. I just wasn't in a good position. Their bigs were actually crashing the boards harder than us. ... I got to do a better job, a much better job."

The Wizards gave up 68 first-half points. They gave up 72 in the first half in a lost to the Boston Celtics last weekend. They allowed 73 in the second half to the Atlanta Hawks the night after that. 

"Everybody wants to say they want to play but they're not playing the way we have to play and the way we're capable of playing. Defensively we're non-existent. We gave up 68 tonight," Wittman said. "Three games in a row. We're not taking any pride in it. Until we get pissed off as individuals, take a little pride, taking a stand for a defensive standpoint, it's going to be like that."

Quick Links

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

Best highlight video:


Quick Links

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft.