Breaking News:

Keep up with So Much Sports on Twitter @SoMuchSports

Can Brooks get the Wizards going?

By: Chris Jeter

Instead of drawing up these great offensive plays, Scott Brooks just liked to see if either of his big strts in Oklahoma City come make something happen, which is exactly what cost former Wizards coach Randy Wittman his job.

Instead of drawing up these great offensive plays, Scott Brooks just liked to see if either of his big stars in Oklahoma City come make something happen, which is exactly what cost former Wizards coach Randy Wittman his job.

Last season was a step backward for the Washington Wizards. After going to the Eastern Conference semifinals two consecutive seasons, the Wizards slipped to 41-41, missing the playoffs altogether. The Wizards front office responded by dismissing head coach Randy Wittman after the 2015-16 season. Ultimately, Washington decided to bring in former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks. It appears the Wizards made a lateral move in bringing in Brooks.

One of the chief criticisms of Wittman was his lack of creativity in regards to offense. In Wittman’s four seasons as coach, the Wizards highest ranking in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) was 17th. Wittman’s offensive game plan seemed to be “let John Wall come up with something” more often than not. The usually stout Washington defense slipped as well last season. The Wizards finished 21st in points allowed. Their ranking in points allowed per 100 possessions is better at 14th. It is still a far cry from the three consecutive seasons of top 10 finishes in defensive rating.

Bringing in Brooks may not make that much of a difference. Brooks owns a career .620 win percentage Brooks’ Thunder teams had prolific offenses, finishing no worse than 11th in offensive rating. The Thunder’s worst offensive rating came in Brooks’ last season in 2014-15, when Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were injured for most of the season. However, much of the Thunder’s success was attributed to Durant and fellow superstar Russell Westbrook more so than Brooks. In fact, the criticisms of Brooks sounded similar to Wittman’s. Many slammed Brooks for his vanilla offensive sets, relying heavily on his two stars to make something happen, particularly late in games.

The Brooks hiring in April felt like a move done specifically to coax Durant into playing in his hometown. This backfired, as the Wizards did not even put together a pitch for Durant. Washington’s plan B failed as well when All-Star center Al Horford chose to sign with the Boston Celtics on a max contract.

Instead, Ernie Grunfeld and company used their substantial cap space on Ian Mahinmi. The former Indiana Pacer inked a four year, $64 million deal. Mahinmi is projected to come off the bench. The Rouen, France native should be a reserve since he and Marcin Gortat cannot play on the floor together without clogging the paint. Both players score primarily from under the basket and in the paint.

Washington also locked up Bradley Beal to a five year, $128 million extension. The Wizard’s hope Beal plays at least 70 games for just the second time in his short career. When healthy, Beal is one of the deadliest three point shooters in the league.

All-Star point guard John Wall is still the straw that stirs the drink. The former number one overall pick averaged a career high 19.9 points per game and finished third in the league in assists per game. However, Wall saw his field goal percentage drop from .445 in 2014-14 to .424 last year. Beal joins him in the backcourt. The Former Florida Gator saw his three point percentage drop a bit, but still shot .387 percent from long distance. More alarming is the team’s long term commitment to a player that has not played a full season since he was drafted.

Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. Porter has gradually improved his three point shooting every season (19 percent in 2013-14, 36 percent last year). Morris only made 29 percent of his threes from the top of the key and on the wing according to NBA Savant. Overall, Morris shot just 31 percent from three. Gortat gave his usual steady production last year, averaging 13.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Defensively, opponents only shot 52.8 percent under the basket against Gortat, well below the 60 percent league average. It appears that the Wizards will run up and down the floor, as they did last year. The Wizards finished fifth in the NBA in pace a season ago.

Brooks is not the type of coach that wills mediocre teams to 50 plus wins. He could not do it with an injury ravaged Thunder and he won’t do it in Washington. However, there’s no reason to think that this faster, more athletic Wizards team can’t make the playoffs. The pieces fit well. It helps that they play in the weak but improving Eastern Conference. Brooks might not be able to coach up this Wizards team but, much like in Oklahoma City, he may not have to.

The following two tabs change content below.

Chris Jeter

Staff Writer
Chris has always had a love for sports. He inherited his affinity for them from his New York Yankees-loving dad and grandad, even if they gave his beloved Orioles a hard time during their 14 years of futility. Chis grew up an Orioles, Ravens, Maryland Terrapins and Chicago Bulls fan. His love for the local teams can from his mother. His love for the Bulls came from Michael Jordan and his favorite color being red. As a youth, Chris played basketball, baseball, and soccer with varying degrees of success. He always wanted to play for a team in one of those sports when he grew up, but once he quickly realized that, that was probably not going to happen, Chris wanted to be a part of sports in some other way. Eventually, Chris settled on becoming a sports writer. A year after transferring to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he took Media & Communications Studies with a Journalism Minor, he began writing for The Retriever, initially as a contributing writer and eventually as a staff writer for sports. After several months writing for The Retriever, he began writing for So Much Sports, covering various college sports and as a columnist, writing about a variety of national sports topics.

Latest posts by Chris Jeter (see all)

Comments are closed.