Apr 26, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards center Nene (42) reacts against the Miami Heat during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
The lack of perimeter shooting has been a problem for the Wizards, but the lack of shooting in the frontcourt hasn't been discussed to the same extent. By the looks of the current roster, Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Kevin Seraphin will be pairing up in some combination for major minutes next season. What’s worrisome about those potential combinations is that all three do their best work in the paint, and none of those three can stretch the floor. Let’s take a look at what can go wrong and what can go right in the frontcourt in the 2012-13 season.
Nene and Kevin Seraphin don’t have much experience playing with each other, as they each enjoyed most of their game action without the other one on the floor last year. During the limited amount of time that they were on the floor together, the Wizards were a pretty bad offense, scoring only 97 points per 100 possessions. That number isn’t much worse than the team’s season average, but typically, one should expect an increase in points when two of the team’s most effective offensive options are on the floor together.
As noted above, Nene and Seraphin each like to operate in the post, so when both are on the floor, things can get a little crowded. In the clips below, you can see that Nene’s options are cut off because the lane is clogged. The defense can effectively guard Seraphin and help on a drive into the paint at the same time. That means Nene is limited to going baseline or settling for a faceup jumper.
One way to open things up for the big men is by playing a little high-low, with one player flashing to the free throw line while the other sets up in the low post. The Lakers and Grizzlies often have two big men on the floor, and putting Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol in the high post creates problems for the defense. Of course, Nene and Seraphin haven’t displayed that level of skill; I doubt we'll be seeing a Nene-Seraphin pick-and-roll alley oop any time soon. But although they aren’t Gasol-esque, both Wizards showed some comfort in getting the ball at the free throw line. From there they can look to throw an entry pass into the post or (hopefully) hit the short jumper.
Speaking of hitting short jumpers, Emeka Okafor had a surprising level of success hitting shots out to 15 feet last season. He did a lot of damage in the pick-and-roll when he stopped at the free throw line for a jump shot, as seen below. The Wizards will need this kind of performance when he’s on the floor with another big man.
Unfortunately, the odds of Okafor repeating his 2011-12 performance are slim. His field goal percentages from 3 to 9 feet and 10 to 15 feet from the basket are way above both his career percentages and overall league averages. Much like James Singleton, he’s due for a regression.
With the way the roster is constructed, the Wizards interior players may have a hard time staying out of each other’s way. Of the three main post players, Nene is likely the most comfortable stepping away from the basket. But if he floats on the perimeter, the Wizards lose their best post scorer.
Do you think the Wizards have set up their frontcourt in a way that limits their offensive success? Let us know in the comments below.