PART 1: Things for the young guys to work on this upcoming season

This is Part 1 of a three-part series where we will take a look at the different parts of the Wizards roster and identify one thing every player should focus and work on for the upcoming season. Today, we will be taking a look at the young guys on the team (Gafford, Hachimura, Avdija, and Kispert). Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Daniel Gafford (C) - Staying out of foul trouble

Gafford has been great for this Wizards team ever since he got here at Trade Deadline last year. While Gafford is extremely entertaining to watch with all his crazy dunks and rejections, there is one thing that drives me crazy with him: his inability to stay out of foul trouble. Don’t just take it from me, the numbers state that he has a problem with this too. Out of all players who played at least 41 games on the team, Gafford had the highest PF (Personal Foul) per game. He had 21 games where he had four or more fouls!

There are two reasons why I think this is the most important thing for Gafford to focus on. Firstly, his inability to stay out of foul trouble is what is keeping him from taking the next step. Gafford is very efficient when he’s on the floor. He’s an amazing finisher in the paint, great rim protector, a hustler, and a decent screen setter. All of these are things the Wizards need, and all are things he does at a high level. However, if you take a look at Gafford’s stats they may seem a bit underwhelming. A huge reason for that is not being able to stay on the floor. Just as he’s getting into a rhythm on the floor, he has to check out because he already has two fouls. If Gafford can stay on the floor, he can take a huge leap in raw production on the floor, because we know he has the tools and have seen what he can do when he can stay on the floor without foul trouble.

Another reason why Gafford needs to work on this is because the starting center this year is Kristaps Porzingis. KP is infamously injury-prone. If KP does end up getting injured, the Wizards will have to rely heavily on Gafford. Gafford will likely have to play 30+ minutes a night, because there isn’t another decent center on the roster. Sure, Taj Gibson is there, but he’s here more for a leadership role, than he is to put up big numbers. If Gafford is unable to stay on the floor, it could pose huge problems for a team that doesn’t have another serviceable center.

Deni Avdija (F)- Attack the Paint More & Finish better

Let me pull a crazy stat for you. Avdija is taller than 10 players on the current Wizards roster, yet he has the lowest shooting percentage in the restricted area. Even 6’1 Monte Morris has a higher shooting percentage than Deni in the restricted area. At 6’10, Deni should have no problem finishing strong in the paint, but for some reason, that was a huge struggle for him last season. The average small forward in the NBA is 6’6 or 6’7. Deni towers over the average SF in the NBA, so it’s not like he’s too small to finish in the paint. He has all the physical tools to do it, but for some reason he hasn’t been able to finish at a high percentage in that area (could be him not attacking aggressively enough). For him to take the next stop and take a leap in production he has to be able to be classified as a driving threat.

Now all hope isn’t lost for Deni. It looks like he has been hard at work this off-season training with some of the best trainers in the NBA, and perfecting his craft. Not only has there been a noticeable improvement in his shot, but he also seems to be more aggressive. In the games that he’s played for Israel in the Eurobasket, Deni has thrown down dunks like there’s no tomorrow. Not only is he finishing strong in the paint, he’s also attacking the paint every time he can, instead of settling for a jump shot, he’s drawing contact and getting to the line. Now of course, this isn’t the NBA, but if Deni can keep that same attitude of trying to will his way to the rim every time he possibly can, good things will happen. We’ve seen him drop 20+ points multiple times in the Eurobasket by doing this. It would be fair to assume that if he keeps the same aggressive mindset in the NBA this season paired with his improved shooting, we will definitely see an uptick in his production this season.

Rui Hachimura (F)- Becoming a three-level scorer

After the 2020-21 season, many of the Rui "stans" were saying "just wait for him to get a three-point shot, and he’ll be a star." Well after shooting 45% from three this season, it’s safe to say that Rui’s three-point shot is here, but he’s not yet a star. Reason for that? Well, he has the ability to score at all three levels, but he just needs to put it all together. He finishes at a very high percentage in the restricted area, and is very aggressive when attacking the paint. Isiah Stewart can attest to that. In his first two seasons, his go-to move was the one and two dribble pull-ups in the Mid-Range. While he still used it this season, it was far less frequent. Only about 13% of his shots were from the Mid-Range this season. On top of that, his shot making from the right side of the floor in the mid range fell by nearly 20% !. This was one of his favorite spots last year. If Rui can work on that mid-range game and get back to how he was in his first two years in the league, he will be a very tough cover. He has the physical tools to become a good player in this league. His shredded 6’8 frame makes him a tough cover for most people playing his position. On top of that he also has scoring at each individual level, he just needs to use it all at once, rather than adding one thing to his arsenal, and moving away from something else.

Corey Kispert (F)- Becoming a consistent three point shooter

In games where he has taken at least 2 shots from behind the long line, Kispert has 35 games where he has shot below the league average. Now to Corey’s credit, he did improve towards the latter half of the season. He shot 39.4% from three in the last two months of the season. However, even in the last 23 games, he had 8 games where he shot below league average. What the Wizards need from Kispert is for him to blossom into an elite three point sniper. All of the teams that have gone deep into the playoffs in the past year had an elite three point sniper. The Warriors have Curry. The Celtics have Williams. The Mavs have Bullock. The Heat have Robinson. For the Wizards to really be able to take that next step, they need that elite shooter on their roster. This not only provides an additional threat on the floor, but also would open up the floor more for guys like KP and Beal to do their thing. Corey needs to be able to be a threat every single night, because that’s what elite shooters do, and when he gets to that stage, the Wizards will be able to be dangerous on a whole other level.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.