Final thoughts from yesterday's preseason games...
First, some stats. For those not familar with these numbers, this is a chart of the Four Factors, detailed here. eFG% refers to effective field goal percentage, which is pretty much like regular field-goal percentage, except that it weighs threes 1.5 times more than twos. FT/FG is the number that results when you divide the number of free throws a team made by its field goal attempts. OREB% is the percentage of available rebounds snagged by the offense, and TOr are the percentage of possessions which ended in a turnover.
Now, some analysis:
As you can see, tonight was an ugly game. It's easy to look at those numbers and suggest that the Wizards did great defensively, but it didn't really seem like it when the starters were in the game. The Grizzlies really went cold in the fourth quarter when they played nobody, which skewed the numbers a bit. The most concerning number on there is the OREB% for Memphis -- 44.4% is simply unacceptable. For the Wizards to grab only about half of all the available defensive rebounds is a real problem. It was also pretty consistent no matter who was in the game. The Grizzlies pounded the glass well when the starters were out there, and they pounded the glass well when JaVale McGee was jumping around like a pogo stick in the fourth quarter.
Brendan Haywood's read on the rebounding problem was that it was caused a lot by overhelping.
"A lot of times, we made the initial stop and cut off the drive, but when the shot went up, there were a lot of bodies left unaccounted for. We have to clean that up."
I agree that this happened a lot. Haywood himself seemed to be trying too hard to contest drives that were already being contested, which allowed his man, whether it was Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet or Hamed Haddadi, get offensive rebounds. However, some of this was just caused by a lack of muscle and concentration. Zach Randolph was usually accounted for by somebody, but he still managed to grab seven offensive rebounds, shoving Antawn Jamison out of the way and out-quicking Fabricio Oberto (who looked so slow and out of it, by the way). Based on one preseason game, this could become a real problem. It's true that the first step is contesting shots and forcing misses, but the Wizards still need to work on getting back and being in position to grab defensive rebounds.
Otherwise, how did Gilbert Arenas look? He looked tentative and slow at times, but his passing really was impressive. There was one time when he perfectly set up Jamison for a transition slam on a semi-transition, looking off the defender brilliantly by making it seem he would feed the other wing guy. He also did a great job setting Jamison up for some wide open shots -- so much so that Jamison said he was often surprised at how open he was. Flip Saunders said Arenas was a few missed free throws and missed layups away from a 20-10 game, and he's probably right. That stuff will come around. His defense, however, needs to improve. He just looked lost several times.
Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison looked much more comfortable as second options. They've gone through two seasons where they have to make plays on the dribble, and frankly, as much as they squeezed the most out of that part of their games, it simply doesn't suit their strengths. Butler in particular was driving to the basket a lot more than in previous years because he was getting open driving lanes with the presence of Arenas and others. I expect him to be much more efficient this year -- fewer jumpers, more fouls drawn. His defense, after being pretty mediocre early, also really picked up late.
I didn't think Nick Young played great, but his final line (11 points on eight shots) was pretty good. He played very good defense on O.J. Mayo (though I think that was more Mayo taking himself out of the game), but really got abused by Sam Young in the second quarter. He also had a couple plays where he tried to dribble too much and forced a shot. There was one fast break in particular where Nick tried launching a terrible fadeaway from 17 feet when Memphis had gotten back. Luckily, Young was fouled on the play, but it was a pretty stupid shot. However, I also didn't notice him a ton, which is probably a good thing, because it means he wasn't dribbling much.
Flip Saunders on Gilbert Arenas' performance:
"He almost got to a point where he was too unselfish. He turned down some shots that I think he should maybe have taken, but that's all a part of learning a new offense."
Flip Saunders on Arenas' minutes, after saying he played 24 minutes because he looked and felt good:
"One time, he was like, 'Why don't you play me like you'd play me in the regular season?' I said, 'We're not ready for that.'"
Flip Saunders on Nick Young's performance:
"I thought he did some positive things. I thought he searched a couple of shots out, and I thought he got a little bit tired chasing some screens in the second half."
Flip Saunders on whether Young would start again Friday against Dallas:
"If we don't put him back in the starting lineup, it won't be because he didn't play well. We might just want to give somebody else some time."
Flip Saunders on the teams' offensive performance in general:
"In the fourth quarter, guys didn't really search shots. They just kind of played, moved the ball, and if the guy had a shot, he took it. Whereas I thought that we were almost too unselfish -- we tried to jam some passes -- in the first half and tried to do some things that are maybe a little uncharacteristic."
Flip Saunders on Gilbert Arenas' defense:
"In the first half, he totally didn't respect Mike Conley, so [Conley] got some open shots, but in the third quarter, I thought he had a couple great contests. We got to get that from him all the time."
Nick Young on his performance:
"I felt good. Little nervous, but then I felt comfortable once everything started rolling. I think with Gil, you just gotta be able to knock down open shots. Gil's going to find you, there's going to be a lot of pressure on Gil coming off Antawn, so I have to be that guy to hit open shots.
Nick Young on his mentality coming into the season:
"It's my third year. It's time for me to grow up and get my game out there in a game I love. I just want to try to get better every year. Last year was a down year; it felt like I could have done more."
Nick Young on his defensive performance:
"I played alright, but Sam Young got me with that pump fake. That was a crazy pump fake, but overall, I did alright."
Brendan Haywood on Gilbert Arenas:
"It starts with Gil taking a more serious approach and then it trickles down. Teams are always going to take on the identity of its leader, and he's taking a more serious approach, and JaVale [McGee] and Dray have fallen in line."
Brendan Haywood on the teams' offensive performance:
"I give us a C+ today. We did some good things, but we weren't smooth out there"