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Wittman still searching for right mix

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Wittman still searching for right mix

Randy Wittman was joking, but it was hard to find anyone willing to laugh.

Following his team’s ninth straight loss, a 98-89 setback to the Indiana Pacers in front of a sparse crowd of 14,426 at Verizon Center, the Wizards coach wondered what it would take for him to find someone to lead his team to its first victory of the season.

“I’m looking down the whole roster,” he said, “and if I had a cell phone I’d be calling the waiver wire trying to find another body. I mean, I’m just searching right now -- searching for people to give me consistency.”

For the second straight game Wittman went with a starting five of A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely and Emeka Okafor. But that unit managed just 31 points on 8-for-37 shooting and was outscored by a seven-man bench that combined for 58 points, led by Bradley Beal’s 18 points.

“I don’t know who to start, who to play, who not to play,” Wittman said. “It’s the confusion of different guys every game. We have no consistency of play in our group.”

Three of the Wizards’ bench players – Beal [29:53], Kevin Seraphin [25:21] and Shaun Livingston [24:20] played more minutes than all five of the Wizards’ starters, who trailed 17-6 before Wittman brought in reinforcements.

“It’s just so inconsistent top to bottom,” he said. “I’d love to have an eight or nine-man rotation. That’s my dream. And I’m playing 12 and 13 [players] every night. You can’t do that in an NBA game. You have to develop a [starting] group and a group that comes in. I’m having a tough time doing that.”

Perhaps the biggest problem for the Wizards this season has been their shot selection. They own the NBA’s worst shooting percentage at 40.1 percent and on Monday they shot just 35.6 percent. The Pacers, who entered the game with the NBA’s second-worst shooting percentage [40.5 percent], shot 48.6 percent against the Wiz.

“We were turning down shots to take worse shots,” Wittman said. “I know somebody in here is going to ask me, ‘Why do they do that?’ I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Wittman says his players’ overall lack of confidence is resulting in hesitation on the floor and that has translated into poor shots, bad turnovers and a sputtering offense.

“When you’re hesitant in your thinking and your actions, you’re probably not going to make good decisions,” Wittman said.

The Wizards’ next chance to earn their first win comes Wednesday night in Atlanta against the 5-4 Hawks. Wittman said he still believes in his team, no matter what others may think.

“These guys can win,” he said. “I don’t have any doubts of it. I come in here every day thinking this is the night. I feel good. I might be dumb, but I believe in them. I really do.”

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:

ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM: 

LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)

ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)

ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM:

Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)

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