As the Wizards dip their collective toe into the preseason schedule, here’s my one wish for each of the players:
Health is the obvious choice, and I want that too. But, regardless of how much Wall plays, my biggest wish is that his possession usage rate takes a steep drop, preferably to no more than 22 percent. This would be the lowest usage rate of Wall’s career, but if he did it by reducing the number of two-point jumpers and trimming his turnovers just a little, reduced usage would boost his efficiency, push shots and opportunities to more efficient teammates, and reduce the wear and tear on his body, thereby prolonging the productive portion of his career. It would also mean that Wall is likely doing things that he’s great at doing and that will make opposing defenses miserable: using his considerable playmaking talents to help teammates get good shots.
I want him to help the team improve by doing a bit less. Beal’s an excellent shooter who, like most players, is at his best when he’s not forcing the issue. Last season, nearly 44 percent of his field goal attempts were two-point jumpers, which is way too high. Scott Brooks and the Washington coaching staff has made taking more threes a point of emphasis in training camp, and it’s a lesson Beal needs to internalize.
That the Wizards solve the mystery of why one of the game’s best shooters sees his usage drop when he’s on the floor with one of the game’s best passers. Wall and Beal consuming fewer possessions and making sure Porter gets a lot of them is likely to mean very good things for the Wizards offense.
Throughout his career, Howard has craved opportunities to showcase his post-up game and his all-around basketball skills. That’s generally not been a good thing for his team. Last season, 36 percent of his possessions were post-ups, and he ranked in the 39th percentile in efficiency. He also started taking more long jumpers, which was a terrible idea. My wish: that Howard decides to stop trying to show off how skillful he is and instead focuses on the things he does uniquely well: defend, rebound, run the floor, set screens and convert at the rim. If Howard emulates the games of DeAndre Jordan and Clint Capela, he’ll be wildly productive and the Wizards will do a ton of winning.
That he feasts on the open looks he should get from the defensive attention paid to Wall, Beal, Porter and Howard to set career highs in three-point attempts and percentage. Last year, Morris launched 5.2 threes per 100 team possessions, which tied with his rookie season for the highest mark of his career. This year, he should set a new high.
That he can be as good as he thinks he is.
That Brooks and the coaching staff recognize how productive Satoransky can be, and make sure he gets enough playing time that the front office is forced to make a tough decision when Satoransky enters free agency next summer.
That he can play as effectively as he plays hard. Oubre has massive potential and plays with great effort. The results have left a bit to be desired -- his three-point shooting disappeared, and his defensive impact has been muted by his fouling and excess of aggression. In a contract season, it’s time for the youngster to start putting the pieces together.
Fewer turnovers and fewer fouls. The dream would be for the big man to revert to his 2015-16 form, but the Wizards would be okay with 10-12 minutes of better than replacement level production. Bonus wish: that he becomes a true three-point threat.
That the Fountain of Youth he found in Cleveland last season comes with him to DC. If Green can play as well as he did last year, the team won’t miss the departure of Mike Scott. If he follows the historical aging pattern...he might make fans long for the days of Tyrone Nesby.
That he can learn from the best attributes of Wall, Beal and Porter without internalizing their worst tendencies.
That he can be the best kind of break glass in case of emergency roster filler by splashing threes, blocking shots, and annoying opponents.
That he can maintain the locker room cohesion necessary to turn the team into a winner.
Ted Leonsis & Ernie Grunfeld
That they are proven right, and host a banner-raising ceremony at the home opener in 2019.