It’s time for the yearly tradition where we resolve to make changes to our behaviors, improve on aspects of our life, or stick with positive trends we’ve made. My personal Washington Wizards-related resolution is to not overreact to one specific game. So if Garrison Mathews comes into a game and hits 5 threes and you see me tweet that he’s the next Ray Allen, please call me out!
I obviously can’t read their minds but here are some resolutions I would like to see each member of the Wizards make for the rest of the 2021 season. I also asked Larry Hughes, my cohost on the Bleav in Wizards podcast, for his suggestions as well. Without further ado, here they are!
Modderno: I want to see him make his teammates better, I want to see him score at all three levels, and I want to see him defend. I’m not asking for him to be a lockdown defender either, just more consistent effort than we saw at any point last season. Also, stop worrying about the no-calls quite so much, just hoop.
Hughes: Be more of an all-around player. I think he’s transitioned from coming into the league as just being a catch-and-shoot guy or a guy that can really shoot into now the ability to put it off the bounce. I think with him going into this new year, just like with that winning play he made (against Brooklyn), he made a hard drive to finish and then the second hard drive was the drive to pull everyone in and drop it out. So I think if they get a little bit more of that from him, his teammates are excited to produce. I think that they and he will be successful as well.
Modderno: Get to the free-throw line more. This team needs Westbrook to aggressively attack the basket to be at its best offensively. And to kick it out to, hopefully, open shooters.
Hughes: Have patience. Focus on creating for others, run the team as a point guard.
Modderno: Don’t lose the refreshing attitude and confidence he’s entered the league with and to keep learning.
Hughes: Film. Stay locked into that film...especially on defense.
Modderno: If there’s a smaller guy on him, post them up. If there’s a bigger guy on him, shoot the three or use that quicker first step to get by them. And keep getting to the free-throw line. This team needs him to be an efficient scorer.
Hughes: Rebound and go. I want to see Rui rebound the basketball and push the ball.
Modderno: I want to see Bryant use the energy he puts into flexing and hanging on the rim into being physical against other centers. I still attribute the porous perimeter defense to a lot of his issues but he has to improve on that end regardless.
Hughes: That’s another one: film. Watch a ton of film, keep adding pieces to your game, angles to your game, especially on the defensive end.
Modderno: I know Bertans is tall and has deep range that allows him to make some difficult shots but I would like to see him seek out some easier looks. Part of that depends on his teammates creating looks for him but he’s way too willing to take the shirt shot that becomes available to him, whether it’s a good one or not.
Hughes: Take better shots.
Modderno: PLEASE stop settling for long two-pointers. The half-fadeaway 17-footers need to be left in 2020.
Hughes: Focus. Run the game plan. We’re going to come in and change the game. Just making sure that the guys who are on the court that need to get a rhythm, make sure that they’re getting the opportunities...You got to get these guys some shots when he comes into the game.
Troy Brown Jr.
Modderno: Do what you do. I blame the coaching staff for not being able to identify a consistent role that they want Brown Jr. to fill but part of this is on him. I want to see Brown Jr. move his feet on defense, grab the ball off the backboard and push it in transition, and be ready and confident when you get a wide-open three-point attempt.
Hughes: Confidence and be an athlete...I can almost look inside his brain and see him thinking too much.
Modderno: Keep mentoring Moe Wagner so that he can earn Scott Brooks’ trust and become the full-time back-up center. After that, keep being a good locker room presence. That’s honestly the best I can do here.
Hughes: Keep being the enforcer.
Modderno: Just stay the course for the most part. Neto hasn’t been perfect but he’s drastically outproducing his contract so far.
Hughes: Understand your role. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Modderno: Keep hitting the weights and working on that three-point shot. Every good team in the league prioritizes depth on the wings and the Wizards don’t have a single true 3-and-D guy on the roster (although, Avdija looks like he might fit the bill so far). Bonga is the next closest option and he needs to be stronger to challenge the bigger wings in the league.
Hughes: These young guys, make sure that you’re tuned into the film. Film is going to be your coach, your tutor, your best friend.
Modderno: When we had Wagner on our show during the preseason, he talked about playing defense without fouling so much a priority. I would to see that remain a point of emphasis for him. That can be hard to do when you’re unsure of when you’ll be a part of the rotation but spending less time hunting charges and just staying vertical could help.
Hughes: I like what Moe’s doing. I know Moe’s not playing but keep being an inspiration to your team...I see you pacing and walking the sideline. That stuff goes a long way.
Modderno: Stop missing short. It seems like Robinson always misses short so changing his target point when he shoots might be worthwhile. While I would like to see Robinson try to impact the game in other ways, his best path toward being a meaningful contributor is to regain whatever it was at Boston College that made him a top-tier collegiate scorer.
Hughes: Are you going to make yourself a threat on the offensive end or the defensive end? I think right now with the make-up of the team, it’s really thinking about focusing on that defensive end. Changing the game, keeping those point guards out of the paint, keeping those bigs from rolling down.
Modderno: I want Gill to tell every negative story he has about playing overseas to his younger teammates. Hopefully that will inspire them to work on their games so they don’t end up washing out of the league.
Hughes: Practice. Get it in practice...Your practices, your shootarounds are just like your game situations so make sure that you’re getting it just like it’s a game.
Modderno: Push your teammates really hard in practice and be a good cheerleader during games.
Hughes: Get on the court in any way you possibly can.
Modderno: Be ready. Mathews needs to come in ready to go. Brooks seemingly has him on a short leash so he can’t afford to come in and warm up.
Hughes: You got to shoot the basketball...Shoot the ball.
Modderno: Be Russell Westbrook’s shadow.
Hughes: Stay working...Stay focused. Continue to learn and ask questions. And just once you get into the game: play.
Modderno: Bury the three, or even four, point guard lineups.
Hughes: I’d like to understand the strategy. I’d like to see some strategy from Scott. I’d like to understand and just a little bit behind the scenes of what he’s thinkin when you talk about match-ups, you talk about roles and responsibilities, expectations. I’d like to know a bit more.
Modderno: Don’t be complacent. Keep working and consolidate a few of these guys into a veteran wing if you can. Keep working the phones.
Hughes: It’s a real skill if you can something that’s a hidden gem. For a general manager, that’s very important. Have that ability, have those tentacles out there, where you can find that talent.
The broadcast team of Justin Kutcher and Drew Gooden
Modderno: To Justin, don’t feel like you have to fake laugh every time Drew Gooden speaks. To Drew, stop trying so hard. You don’t need gimmicks and catchphrases, you know the game. Just tell us what you see that we non-players probably don’t.
Hughes: Keep doing your job. Show up on time, leave on time.
For the full conversation and complete resolutions, check out the entire episode of the podcast. And make sure to let us know what you’d like to see from any of the Wizards in the comments!
The Wizards’ two-game win streak and their increase sense of urgency - 2:00
The value of continuity early in the season - 3:00
Executing the game-plan and expecting to win versus the Nets - 6:00
Beal and Westbrook’s growing confidence in their teammates - 9:00
Thomas Bryant’s play and energy - 10:00
Robin Lopez versus Moe Wagner - 14:00
Bertans’ shot selection - 16:00
Going from starter to out of the rotation overnight - 19:00
NBA Defense 101 with Professor Larry Hughes - 24:00
Rui Hachimura’s development as a defender - 29:00
New Year’s resolutions - 32:00