Plain and simple, the Wizards are not very good at rebounding the basketball.
When the team made the decision to switch to the small ball lineup this offseason, it became clear that offense would be the key focal point for this team. Randy Wittman, a defensive-minded coach, would have to set his defensive blueprints aside to adapt to the ever-changing NBA.
The Wizards were going to run and gun, score 115 points a night, and life would be great. But in the process, the team stopped playing defense. Although the Wizards have gotten better at bringing energy on the defensive end as of late, there's one glaring weakness that sticks out: rebounding.
Even though the defense has picked up, the Wizards currently rank 28th in Rebounding Percentage and are dead last in the NBA averaging 40.1 rebounds per game.
Small ball lineups
Marcin Gortat leads the Wizards averaging 9.9 rebounds a game. Otto Porter is currently the second leading rebounder on this team with 5.6 rebounds per contest. After those two, no one averages more than 4.5 rebounds per game.
For as great as Jared Dudley has been for this team, he can be a liability when it comes to defensive rebounding. Dudley is currently averaging 3.8 rebounds per game which makes him the eighth-best rebounder on this team. It's not a good thing when your starting power forward is the eighth-best rebounder on your team.
Dudley, who stands 6'7, is undersized against the opposition every single night. This shows up big time in the rebounding column. He's not a good leaper, and that really hurts him even when he has good rebounding position:
Since other teams are playing small ball as well, Dudley is often forced to guard other stretch-4s at the three-point line. That does not bode well for rebounding when your second tallest player is roaming around the three-point line on defense.
Since the Wizards love playing small, they'll need players crashing the defensive glass to compensate for their lack of size or this stat probably won't change much. Speaking of crashing the glass, that leads me to...
The Wizards leak out early before the rebound is gathered
Almost every single night, there will be an instance when a shot is up in the air and two to three Wizards players will leak out before the rebound has been gathered. As a result, the opposition usually gathers the rebound. This team has become so concerned with running that they are halfway down the court before they've even controlled the loose ball.
The Wizards have to stop assuming that Gortat or Dudley is going to corral every loose ball. Just look at what happens here when everyone thinks Dudley has the rebound secured:
Jonas Jerebko was able to dive in unchecked to grab the ball and give the Celtics another possession.
Leaking out also leads to issues even when the other team makes the shot. How many times have we seen the Wizards commit a turnover by trying to do too much with an outlet pass off a made shot this season?
The Wizards aren't crashing the offensive glass either
A few weeks ago, Zach Lowe wrote about how offensive rebounding is on pace for its lowest overall mark in league history. Teams are more concerned with getting back on defense and preventing easy transition buckets than they are with potentially creating second chance opportunities with an offensive rebound. Even though the league (and the Wizards) are changing and not valuing offensive rebounds as much, it's still never a good thing when you rank 27th in any statistical category.
The Wizards exemplify this as they rank 27th in the NBA with just 9.1 offensive rebounds per game. It's no surprise that Gortat leads this team with 2.9 offensive rebounds per game. Outside of Gortat, just Porter, Beal, and Humphries average at least one offensive rebound per game of the players who've played at least 20 games.
Just as the NBA is changing, the Wizards are following suit as they are not crashing the offensive glass. Outside from tip outs from Gortat and hustle plays from Porter; this team doesn't gather many offensive rebounds. Like Dudley, the change in philosophy has pulled Humphries away from the offensive glass as now the Wizards are counting on him to make threes.
Yes, the Wizards want to get out and run, and yes, they want easy transition baskets. The only thing is that it's hard to do that when you don't grab the rebound first.