How Unseld Jr. plans to address Wizards' turnovers


On Wednesday night in New Orleans, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. had apparently seen enough. His team was blown out by a 4-16 Pelicans team in an unspirited performance across the board. That led to his players seeing a new side of Unseld Jr., who was hired to coach the Wizards over the summer.

"For the first time, Coach came in and cussed us the hell out, at halftime and after the game," Bradley Beal said.

Though Unseld Jr. had plenty to complain about, turnovers were probably high on the list. It was the fourth straight game the Wizards have committed 17 turnovers or more. They hadn't done that as a franchise in 11 years.

His team began the season adept at protecting the ball and it helped lead to a 10-3 start. But now with turnovers become a major issue, they have lost four of their last five games.

As my colleague Bijan Todd pointed out, their turnovers late in games have been particularly troubling. On Wednesday, they came early and often. The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first 18 minutes of the game, which allowed the Pelicans to build a 24-point lead in the first half.

That took the Wizards' recent problems protecting the ball to the extreme.

"Turnovers have been kicking our butt these last four or five games," Beal said.

Both Beal and Unseld Jr., though, have some ideas for how to fix the issue. Beal said the Wizards need to be more decisive with their drives and passes. The slightest hesitations are being attacked by their opponents.


Unseld Jr. believes there's a way the Wizards can hammer home protecting the ball through drills in practices and walkthroughs.

"Even in practice or shootaround, our execution with a little bit more pace. Maybe it's not necessarily 5-on-5, but having coaches out there. We do it quite often as far as how that team we're going to play that night guards certain actions," he said.

"We've just gotta do more of that so now they get a feel for what that team's going to take away; their setups, the timing, how to create leads, make sure they're owning their spots. All those things have got to come into play when you see some of these turnovers. It's not like they're up denying, it's just the timing is off, our angles, the pace. All of those things kind of come together and often lead to turnovers."

Among the biggest culprits during this four-game turnover surge are Beal (4.8 to/g), Kyle Kuzma (3.0 to/g), Daniel Gafford (2.7 to/g) and Aaron Holiday (2.3 to/g). Gafford and Holiday's turnovers have come in limited minutes.

Collectively, it's a problem and Unseld Jr. seems intent on finding a solution.