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The Best of Bullets Forever Part 2: Our staff’s favorite picks from 2016

Our 2016 round up continues with our writers’ favorite pieces of the year.

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Yesterday, we went over the biggest storylines of the 2016 calendar year as we began to recap all of the content our site covered. In Part 2 of what will be a three-part series, I’ll go over our staff’s favorite Wizards and Mystics pieces from the year that was.

Wizards Team Analysis

NBA: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There is no “I” in team, right? Many of our pieces focused on the Wizards as a whole. The following were some of the best general pieces we had over the course of 2016:

Wizards Coaching Analysis

San Antonio Spurs v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Wizards had two head coaches last season, so we had no shortage of content that focused on how well Randy Wittman or Scott Brooks were doing:

  • Wizards show a repeated lack of creativity in their coach hiring process (Akbar Naqvi) - Scott Brooks was to be the Wizards’ next head coach just days after Wittman was let go. Though Brooks is a well-respected head coach, the Wizards — namely Ernie Grunfeld — didn’t look for other names in their search. In fact, they seem to be a bit conservative in their approach.
  • A list of Wizards head coach candidates to replace Randy Wittman (Albert Lee and Jake Whitacre) - I wrote up an initial list of coaches from inside and outside the NBA who could be the next head coach of the Wizards in January, while Jake added a couple names to the list after Wittman’s departure. To Akbar’s point, perhaps some of the names on this list — some of whom were since hired to coach other teams — could have been more compelling and innovative candidates.
  • Billy Donovan's success with the Thunder is not a referendum on Scott Brooks (L.W.) - Brooks was fired by the Thunder in 2015 after they failed to make the playoffs. In the following season, they hired former Florida head coach Billy Donovan who led them to the 2016 Western Conference Finals and put the Golden State Warriors on the brink of elimination. Though the Thunder got right back to where they left off in their first year after letting Brooks go, it’s important to realize that they’ve been at this point for quite some time. Brooks is a major reason why they are as good as they are right now.

Wizards Player Analysis

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

There may be no “I” in team, but there’s “me.” Here were some of the player-centric pieces that our staff particularly liked this season:

  • Improvement for John Wall lies in more trust to his teammates (Mike Sykes) - Before this season started, Mike wrote in depth on one area of his game where Wall needs to improve: trusting his teammates to find him when he’s open or being a factor off the ball. Wall is already a great playmaker when it comes to making the right passes for his teammates. That’s great, but it’s also a two-way street.
  • Bradley Beal is finally becoming everything you wanted him to be (Mike Sykes) - Beal may not be the undisputed franchise player of the Wizards, but it’s safe to say that he faces more expectations that anyone else due to his new max-level contract. Fortunately, he has answered the bell by improving his shooting efficiency and his passing ability.
  • It will be hard for the Wizards to replace Jared Dudley this season (Mike Knapp) - Dudley only played one season for the Wizards, but he filled the “stretch four” and “seasoned veteran” roles quite well during his short time here. Other players on the roster, whether it’s Markieff Morris, Andrew Nicholson, or Jason Smith probably won’t be able to fill it quite as well. This post also generated a good amount of discussion in the comments since some questioned the value of “veteran leadership.” Veteran leadership shouldn’t just be measured in terms of playing experience, but also in terms of the amount of meaningful postseason experience, and other intangibles.
  • Marcin Gortat is quietly turning a great year for the Wizards (Alan Jenkins) - The Polish Machine seems to be less and less appreciated in D.C. with each passing day this season. But we were already getting signs of Gortat being under-appreciated last winter. Gortat was very close to averaging a double-double last season and more than held the fort in the low post. Alan sets the record straight on all of those who are thinking this:
  • The Wizards are wasting an outstanding season from John Wall (Alan Jenkins) - This piece was written in the 2015-16 season. Let’s hope it doesn’t apply again this season.
  • The Wizards cleaned up another one of their mistakes by trading for Markieff Morris (Umair Khan) - Morris was acquired at the end of the 2015-16 trade deadline in exchange for a protected Wizards’ first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft . Umair wrote up an excellent analysis on what he could provide on offense and defense at the time he was hired. So far this season, we haven’t seen him recapture his 2014-15 form when he scored a career high 15.3 points and shot 46.5 percent from the field, but he is playing at a level where he can contribute right away, which is why the Wizards brought him in the first place. But it leads to one of the peeves many have with Ernie Grunfeld: Morris is in D.C. because Grunfeld did not address the power forward position effectively in the past.
  • The case for trading Otto Porter before he hits free agency (Marcus Atkinson Sr.) - The Wizards signed Bradley Beal to a max-level contract extension, to the surprise of no one. That signing for better or worse gets the Wizards dangerously close to being cap-strung for years to come. If they sign Porter to a max contract while keeping Wall and Beal, the Wizards won’t have much room to make moves toward building a contender. For that reason, Marcus believes it’s worth trading Porter now, not after he’s earning a salary possibly higher than Wall’s.
  • Examining Marcus Thornton's [2015-16] performance with the Washington Wizards (Courtney J. Ward) - Thornton only played a few weeks in Washington last season. But in his short time, he managed to outperform Gary Neal, who was his injured predecessor. That, and his ability to create some instant offense played a major reason to his return for the 2016-17 season.

Washington Mystics posts

Stewart W. Small

When the Wizards had their offseason, the Mystics had their regular season. Here were some of the best pieces we had on D.C.’s WNBA team.

In Part 3, we’ll go over our favorite FanPosts, and some miscellaneous pieces that our staff enjoyed.