Wall: "I'm a franchise guy now"
Randy Wittman made it clear from the start of training camp that defense would receive top billing on his coaching agenda. With the regular season rapidly approaching, it's time for other areas to receive additional attention during practice.
Take for example the Wizards' lagging 3-point shooting. In five preseason games and entering Tuesday's matchup in Detroit, Washington is shooting 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.
"We’ve got to get better there," Wittman said following Monday's practice. "And like I told you guys, we were going to concentrate defensively first, and we have. We’ve been working at the other end of it, concentrating more on offensive execution stuff. I knew it would kind of be that way."
The Wizards improved from distance in Saturday's loss to the Pelicans, shooting 38.1 percent (8 for 21) on their 3-point attempts. However, like most of the preseason, Bradley Beal and Martell Webster made their tries (combined 6 of 12), not so much the others.
"I think we're getting open shots," said Trevor Ariza, who split his two 3-point attempts against New Orleans and is 5 for 16 (31.2 percent) from beyond the arc during preseason.
"I think we're getting open looks at the basket. They're just not falling down. It's nothing to that. I'm sure they're going to start pretty soon. Can't worry about that. Just have to shoot every time you're open," the chuckling forward concluded.
For now, there is no reason to fret about the long-distance clanking from certain parties. Besides, during the season there will be nights if not several in a row in which shots are not falling. On those occasions, it's always nice to have a top 10 defense to fall back on. Washington is holding opponents to 27.8 percent 3-poiunt shooting and forcing 22.8 turnovers.
"I want them to know, you can have a bad offensive night if you’re solid defensively," Wittman said. "If you told me we were going to have 28 turnovers (against the Pelicans), I would’ve thought, ‘We would’ve got blown out.’ We had 28 turnovers, but our defense forced . That’s the thing I got to get those guys to understand, you bust your butt defensively like you did.
"If you force 25 turnovers, that’s got to be a win in this league, for us. Got to be a win and if we had 16, 17 turnovers, we win the game, probably going away and that’s what I want them to understand. We’re going to have nights where we’re not shooting the ball well. I guarantee you, but our defense has got to win those games for us."