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By the numbers: Wizards' offense supercharged since Parker and Portis trade

By the numbers: Wizards' offense supercharged since Parker and Portis trade

The Wizards made five trades this season from October to February. If the trade deadline was later than Feb. 7, they probably would have made more. They really like trades.

All of those moves have put head coach Scott Brooks in a weird spot. Over and over this season, he has had to incorporate new players, whether they came from trades, the G-League or 10-day contracts.

The latest installment has existed for 13 games. That's when they inserted Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson into the mix after a pair of deals on Feb. 6 brought them to Washington. Along the way, rookie Troy Brown Jr. also cracked the rotation, earning some consistent playing time for the first time all season.

These 13 games have produced a mixed bag. They are 6-7, the exact same record they had in the previous 13 games. 

So, what exactly has changed? Well, a lot more than the record would suggest.

They are better at some things and worse at others. The biggest improvements have been in rebounding, three-point defense and with their offense overall. They still can't defend or stop opponents from getting offensive rebounds, but their offense has reached a new level.

First, the rebounding. The Wizards were 28th in the NBA in the category before the trades and are 15th since, with 4.6 more boards per game. Portis (9.4 rpg) and Parker (6.8 rpg) have led the Wizards on the glass. 

Portis, who had 13 boards on Monday night in their win over the Kings, has been the Wizards' best rebounder this season. He's averaging more than Dwight Howard did in his nine-game stint (9.2) and already has as many double-digit rebounding games (seven) as Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris did this season with the Wizards combined. Porter and Morris, of course, were the guys who left in the Feb. 6 trades. 

Three-point defense has been a major issue for the Wizards this year, but lately that has not been the case. Surely, it could be coincidental or misleading based on the sample size, but the numbers are worth pointing out.

Before the addition of Parker and Portis, the Wizards were dead-last in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage (37.7). Since, they are seventh-best, holding teams to just 33.3 percent from long range. That's exactly what the Kings shot on Monday, as they went 9-for-27 from the perimeter. 

Overall, however, the Wizards have been markedly worse on defense. They are giving up 2.8 more points per game and are forcing 3.1 fewer turnovers per contest. The Wizards previously were second-best in the NBA in forcing turnovers. Now, they are a mediocre 17th. They are also giving up 7.2 more points in the paint per game and rank last in the NBA in the category.

The biggest difference between the pre-Parker and Portis Wizards and them now is their offense. The Wizards were about average offensively before the deals, but since have been supercharged.

They are playing much faster, for one. Their 104.85 pace factor (possessions per 48 minutes) is third in the NBA over the past 13 games. It would lead the league if held over the full season and would be the fastest pace since the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets.

Again, small sample size, but the Wizards are really pushing the ball. Parker and Portis are faster than their predecessors, Porter and Morris, and it shows. Parker, in particular, has added a new element by leading the fastbreak as a point-forward.

Now, that speed has led to some mistakes, particularly from Parker. The Wizards lead the NBA in turnovers with 15.8 per game since the trades. They were previously pretty good at protecting the ball, ranking 11th in the NBA with 14 turnovers per game.

The added pace does have some advantages, however. Since Parker and Portis were acquired, the Wizards lead the NBA in effective field goal percentage (55.1) when they were previously 11th. They lead the NBA in assists per game (29.5) when before they were seventh. And their offensive rating has gone up from 109.2 (16th) to 113.3 (fifth). 

That has led to a big improvement in net rating. They were 24th at -3.0, but are now 14th at a barely-positive +0.4. That's a 3.4-point swing.

Rebounding and three-point defense have been some of the Wizards' most glaring weaknesses this season. So far with Parker and Portis, they have shown moderate improvement.

But more than anything, they have become a legitimate run-and-gun offense. It hasn't necessarily translated into more wins, but maybe that will come next.


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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.


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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.