Despite their 29-53 record last year, the Washington Wizards were a solid team across several major statistical categories. They were a shocking good defensive team. Led by the veteran big man duo of Nene and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards allowed a paltry 100.6 points per 100 possessions, or good enough for the 8th best defense in the league. They were also a decent rebounding team, only getting outrebounded by an average of one rebound a game, which ranked 16th best in the NBA. So what was the cause of the Wizards’ troubles? Simply put, the offense is awful.
Simply stating the Wizards offense is awful doesn’t convey the extent of the Wizards’ ineptitude. It’s the worst in the league, the worst Wizards’ offense in nine years, and 7th worst in franchise history. Even though it improved to 23rd in the league once John Wall returned from injury, figuring out why the Wizards’ offense was so bad, and how it can be fixed, remains the top priority for the offseason.
While any offense this bad has plenty of complex problems, they seem to boil down to the fact the Wizards take the most shots from areas they shouldn’t and the least shots from places they should. For example, the Wizards like to shoot jumpers that are 15 to 19 feet away from the basket. They shot these jumpers the second most of any kind of shot on the court. The only type of shot the Wizards shot more than these jumpers were shots at the rim, which are the most common shot in basketball. The problem is these 15 to 19 foot jumpers simply aren’t good shots. They are less accurate than a layup and worth less than a three pointer. And not only are they generally inefficient, the Wizards are bad at this shot relative to the rest of the league. They rank 25th overall in total field goal percentage at shooting this specific jump shot, which they take the third most out of all of the teams in the NBA. And not only that, the Wizards also rank dead last at shots at the rim, which is inexcusable considering the Wizards’ sizable investment in two high-quality centers and John Wall’s major strength is getting to the rim.
So if the main problem with the Wizards’ offense is bad shot selection, what can Wizards’ management do to fix it? First, coach Randy Wittman could change the Wizards’ offensive scheme to stress three pointers and shots at the rim. Unfortunately, coaches rarely overhaul their offensive schemes once implemented, so it is very unlikely this is going to happen. Alternatively, the Wizards could acquire better personal to fit its current offensive scheme, but again, this is unlikely. The team is close to the salary cap, and there aren’t any power forward who could hit jump shots on the market anyway. So barring major (and unlikely) improvement from Wizards’ players, get ready for another year of stagnant offense in Washington.