Wall-centric: why Randy Wittman needs to go (and Ernie Grunfeld too)

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: Bumped to front, appreciate the work done here.

As mentioned by plenty of people, the book is out on the Wizards offense. Contain John Wall, watch for three-point shots and the Wizards have no offense. Why is this?

There's a lack of talent on the Wizards roster, sure, but the argument can and should be made that a lot of this staleness comes from an utter lack of creativity and direction from the coaching front when it comes to manufacturing offense.

Here's an example from the GSW game:


Our offense consists of John Wall bringing the ball up the court while being double-teamed, the other team leaving a random guy in the paint covering no one (!) and two guys covering three people while cheating toward Wall (!). All the while, our three vaunted perimeter players are just standing around on the other side of the court waiting for a Wall miracle and the fifth is out of the play because he can't run fast enough.

The level of respect our players command from opposing defenses is clear. Almost the entire defense is ball-watching Wall and yet we have no drive threat and no cut threat. Teams know, aside from the occasional baseline cut, we have a non-dynamic offense.

The surprising (hint: sarcasm) result is that Wall drives all the way down one side and manages to fire a Wall Miracle™ cross-court pass to Trevor Ariza for a random three-point attempt off the break. Why was no one even at the corner ... either corner? For that matter, why was no one even threatening the paint to space out the opposing defense?

Because they don't actually know what to do, because our whole offense is a no-system ad-lib using vague rules instead of set plays. And you know the only other player who could possibly even fire and connect such a crazy cross-court desperation pass is probably Chris Paul, so our entire offense seems predicated on our superstar player making some crazy-ass plays.

Here's another example, this time from the Dallas game:


This PnR is so far out that the Mavs don't even bother dealing with Gortat -- he's got maybe 4, 5 steps to take to get to even the FT line to actually get into his jump shot range, and that's leaving aside that Gortat isn't that great of a jump-shot player and is more of an at-the-rim player. As a result the Wizards' great offense did the Mavs a favor by removing Gortat from the play as a scoring option. It's also noteworthy how heavily the Mavs defense is tilted toward Wall - there are literally three players right now in position to stop him (both from driving as well as from taking a jumper), and the random cut at the rim actually messes up John's ability to drive. This probably wasn't designed play, because if you're going to run a PnR so far out with John, you want to clear out the rim.

The predictable result of the play is that the Mavs collapse on John, leaving Gortat as the only viable passing option for him. But Gortat is on the run and can't actually set, so HIS only viable play option at this point is to pass. Notice how far his momentum carries him before he's able to corral the pass and set his feet:



While a superior player may have been able to set his feet further out before running straight into the defenders, I honestly don't think you'll find too many big men who start running full speed as a roll man that can just start and then stop on a dime. Wall also led Gortat on his bounce pass, because the intention was to create a rim opportunity. The problem is that this was obviously not a fully-designed play, because Trevor Booker had positioned himself directly at the rim, placing a player conveniently in between Gortat and the rim.

So, what's the goal? To have Gortat sling a super tough pass through three (in this case four) players to feed Booker at the rim?

Fortunately, Gortat is a veteran and a fairly skilled player when it comes to both passing and court vision. The Mavs, in particular Monta Ellis,, also failed at discipline, and thus Beal was left wide open for an open 3-point attempt. But disciplined/good defenses do not allow this opening. This isn't an ideal shot for Gortat either because he needs to set his feet (hasn't done so yet in this screenshot), and by the time he does, he's not only going to have a defender in his face, the nd result is a silly two-point jumpshot that we all want reduced!

Against better defenses, all this does is result in either a jacked-up terrible jump shot or an attempt to reset the play to John (because no one else is a playmaking threat) with like 10 seconds wasted off the clock. And that we have to RESET the play is also an indictment of Wittman's offense, because teams like the Spurs use the full shot clock with actions that fold into each other, all with the intent of capitalizing on off-kilter defenses. We just have a "mess them up once and hope they actually mess up" offense, which utterly fails against teams that don't randomly leave Beal open like this.

Take a look at our games. There's been a very simple pattern for John's offense. If the defense only leaves two against him, he takes the ball to the rim because it's a freebie. That's brutal for defenses. That's what coaches mean in those interviews when they mention they'd rather John beat them with jumpers or passing -- his conversion against double-teams (and they are double-teams even on PnR because no one respects the roll man) off the drive is pretty ridiculous. They just feel comfortable leaving a random third guy on zone protect at the rim, essentially triple-teaming Wall and daring everything else to beat them.

Here's a random play from the Oklahoma City game way at the start of the season where Ball went off for like 55 percent shooting and people had the audacity to declare him the best player on our team. The defensive coverage is outright comical:


The orange arrow is Wall and the red is Beal. Notice the zone protect at the rim giving token attention to Gortat (slightly off-center) and the THREE guys in between Wall and the rim, including a random guy standing between Nene's pick and I think Booker (right under the Play icon) doing nothing by making sure Wall isn't going to drive. Even the hedge man supposedly covering Beal is only paying cursory attention to Beal, because that's how much respect he gets.

When the play settles down this is how it looks:


Again, you're looking at no less than three people standing there looking at Wall, a fourth guy being picked, and a fifth guy contesting Wall. The predictable result is that Beal gets an open shot (that he knocks down), but what the heck is going on here? Why's Gortat all the way out there doing absolutely zilch (he's not even setting a pick for Beal) and why is our offense allowing three people to zone against the remote possibility of a Wall drive.

Kudos to John for demanding so much respect and attention all season despite his shooting slumps, and all the credit to him for being able to manufacture points from these sorts of situations. All the praise/articles about Wall setting up defenses to create plays is great. But why're we so reliant on his greatness instead of helping our lesser players?

It's clear from these that we don't give any of our players any help with a good offensive system. Why does Eric Maynor stink so much? Part of it is Maynor, but part of it might be because our offensive "system" basically is "hope Wall does what Wall does" and that's it. Sorry, but Maynor isn't Wall. Neither is Garrett Temple. Does it really surprise anyone looking at this that our offense falls apart when Wall sits and isn't creating plays and points out of thin air?

Some would argue that not every team runs a system like the Spurs. That's fine, but teams that run rule-based systems are either the Heat (three uber-talented players that can create points by themselves), the Knicks (can't run play-based with Carmelo) or players using the George Karl philosophy of attacking the basket, which we don't actually do. t

Is it any surprise most of our young players look clueless on offense? They don't know what to do. No one knows what to do unless Wall gives them instructions. Half the time, not even the veterans know what to do, because our offense is entirely Wall ad-libbing. That's why there're random plays every game where Gortat looks surprised when Wall passes him the ball, because the only person who has an idea how the play will work out is Wall, and there's not enough time during the play for him to explain his idea to everyone on the team.

This, more than anything, is why I want Wittman gone at the end of the season. Goodness knows if playing under this no-system system has hampered the development of our young players who just want a dang system teaching them what they're supposed to do at any given point on offense.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.

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