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Don’t look at the sniping after the Wizards’ loss to the Kings, look at the schemes

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor’s Note: Bryan Oringher (on Twitter at @BryanOringher), spent 6 years working with the Wizards. He wrote the following disclaimer:

I am biased in that I sincerely care for all the guys I was with there—staff and players alike. In providing analysis though I have to “keep it real” and be honest with what I see. This is what I saw from the Wizards last night. I have no inside info and no one from the team is influencing my opinion now.]


A lot of finger-pointing after Friday night’s loss. When you start 1-4 and lose to Sacramento, some of that is going to be natural. It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. Sacramento has had a solid start. Dave Joerger is a terrific coach. They have a ton of really young talent with a chip on their shoulder. At the end of the day, it’s also a make-miss league. Bradley Beal wasn’t himself last night. Nemanja Bjelica wasn’t either. A couple shots go the other way and it’s a completely different game.

That being said, having reviewed the film I came away with a couple key observations.

  • Instead of sniping at certain ‘agendas’ and so forth, the Wizards need to take a look at their schemes defensively. In my opinion, they switched way too often last night. Switching is widespread in the NBA today 1-4. However, if you’re going to switch it needs to be a CONTACT switch with a purpose. You also can’t just start switching everything for the hell of it. There are certain actions that make sense to switch—but when you’re doing it just to prevent actually doing the work defensively, it’s a problem. I don’t know if this is on the coaches as a scheme or if the players are just taking shortcuts themselves. Either way, they’re in some really bad habits defensively that they need to clean up.
  • Speaking of sniping: no, I don’t know who guys are sniping at. I will say this: I agree with the general sentiment online which seems to be that John and Brad both need to stop blaming others and perfect their own play. John Wall has always had the potential to be an All-NBA defensive player but has lazy habits defensively and doesn’t play with the discipline needed to do so. He also plays at a breakneck pace and dominates the ball and does so much offensively for the team that quite frankly it’s impossible to ask him to defend his ass off every play. As far as Brad, I know he was dealing with an injury and wasn’t himself like I said. But it’s hard to blame others when you shot 6-of-19 and had 0 assists with 5 turnovers. His handle looked lacking in some crucial moments of the game. As the superstars of the team, be accountable and take the blame first and foremost.
  • Second, if any of the sniping is directed at Otto Porter: c’mon now. Otto is what he is. He’s not a max player, but he plays smart. He plays hard. And he plays unselfish. Does he pass up shots sometimes? Sure. But he 99 percent of the time is making the right basketball play and trying to make winning plays and do the right thing. He has always been limited in his ability to get shots off and his biggest limitation is that he can’t create his own shot. It is, quite frankly, on John and Brad to penetrate and attack gaps and get to the rim and create shots for Otto. I don’t know if the media being on Otto about a lack of shots has gotten to him, but I truly hope it hasn’t. Otto is a terrific floor spacer, cutter, rim-runner in transition, and an intelligent defender. He shouldn’t care how many shots he takes, and I hope he doesn’t.
  • Finally, if I had to guess who the sniping might be directed at? Kelly Oubre. I love KO. I love KO’s game. But I think KO still doesn’t have the right mindset or ‘buy in’ to what his role should be. KO 100% SHOULD BE on an All-Defense team. He’s super long, athletic, strong, and is an absolute ball-hound when he wants to be. The problem is he doesn’t want to be enough. He’s in a contract year, and probably thinks he needs to average 15 or whatever to get his big contract. Wrong. Andre Roberson gets $10+ a year by being a lockdown defender and is nowhere near KO offensively. KO talked about “making every game his masterpiece.” He played great offensively last night, don’t get me wrong. He’s worked tremendously hard on his shot and finishing and has made himself into a very good 3-point shooter and so on. But there’s zero reason why Robert Covington is first-team all-defense in the East and KO isn’t sniffing the ballot right now. Zero. You’re playing 27 min a game. Get down and bust your ass defensively. Your offense has improved greatly but you still banked in a 3 last night. You’re not Paul Pierce (wrote that without even thinking of the “I called game” shot). I saw KO disrespect Bradley Beal and get all pissy about Brad not giving him the ball. Bradley Beal is an all-star scorer. Get over yourself. Get back on defense and do your job.
  • Transition defense was a huge issue. You’ll see all that and more in the video - make sure to have the sound on to hear my thoughts.