We're now 49 games into this season. The Wizards were supposed to shoot more threes (they're 17th), play a four-out style (they don't), and slide players up a position in order to augment their floor spacing.
Instead, what we have is a coaching staff that appears noncommittal about this philosophical change (as evidenced by starting Gortat and Nene together earlier in January), and players that don't mesh well together on the floor. Injuries to Nene or not, Drew Gooden should not be playing meaningful minutes in 2016, let alone in lineups where Ramon Sessions and Gary Neal are allowing dribble penetration at the drop of a hat.
But what I've been most discouraged about to this point is their lack of ingenuity in finding workable small-ball units. Washington's idea of this is downsizing at the 3 with Gary Neal while trotting out a dual point guard lineup. But hey, they have Jared Dudley at the 4, so let's all assume they're playing small-ball as if Dudley's position in today's NBA is anything but at the 4.
How in the hell are you supposed to switch anything with this lineup? Draw Marcin Gortat out on the perimeter as the Hornets did in the second half to kickstart their comeback and you'll be hemorrhaging points in the paint all night.
That specific lineup shown above with Neal manning the 3 is has a-14.6 net rating in 23 minutes of play this season. Simply slotting Temple in his place and that net-rating is an outstanding +26.4 in 40 minutes of action. That's the value of having an actual wing player in there rather than a guard masquerading as one.
This is why those clamoring to play Kelly Oubre have a point. He can bolster a smaller unit because of his switchability. He's long enough to front bigger players looking to post him up and quick enough to latch onto smaller guards. But get two wing players in there and you really start to reap the benefits.
Washington saw some of that come to life in the first half of that Charlotte game, which probably explains why the coaching staff has finally come around on this:
By the sounds of folks from shootaround expect to see more Otto Porter at the 4 #WizardsTalk #WizKnicks#NBA— J. Michael (@JMichaelCSN) February 8, 2016
Watch how the Wizards utilized Porter on both sides of the floor to begin the second quarter on Saturday night:
Sic a guard on Otto, and you see where his foot speed may hurt him, but against a big man who isn't used to navigating around screens and isn't used to seeing that floor configuration and you'll open a world of opportunity for him.
But the coaching staff hasn't given him those opportunities. Injuries or not, there's no reason why Gooden should be seeing time at the 4 instead of Otto, ditto for Humphries. The second unit won't be much better without players returning from injury, but playing small gives them a fighting chance. And if that's not the case, at least we'll know what they have in Otto at the 4 moving forward, it's just too bad we won't have more than a 33 game sample size to base our analysis off of.