Washington Wizards: Why Gary Neal Needs To Stay Consistent In D.C.

For the most part, the Washington Wizards have gotten consistent production from their starting wing players.

Bradley Beal has been an outstanding shooter since entering the league three years ago, and while he isn’t as consistent on the stat sheet, the Wizards could always depend on him for outside shooting. Trevor Ariza provided stability on the defensive end of the floor and Paul Pierce constantly gave the team scoring in the clutch.

The starters have been consistent. The same cannot be said for the bench, though.

Randy Wittman hasn’t had a consistent second unit since he became the Washington Wizards head coach four seasons ago. Ernie Grunfeld failed to put together a versatile roster and the bench has suffered as a result. Last season, the Wizards had way too many big men and not enough guards.

That forced Wittman to play big against up-tempo teams and their record wasn’t nearly as good as it should’ve been in the weak Eastern Conference. Once Wittman shortened the rotation and played Pierce at the four spot during the NBA Playoffs, Washington saw fantastic results.

After signing several quality wing players this summer, the Wizards will continue playing small-ball and their bench should be a lot better.

Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal are all entering a situation where they will be depended on for scoring. All three players are capable of playing multiple positions and are expected to be a part of the rotation this upcoming season.

With that said, the Wizards already had a number of wing players on their roster prior to signing the three and drafting Kelly Oubre.

Players like Ramon Sessions, who played the shooting guard position a lot last season, Garrett Temple and Martell Webster are also capable of playing significant roles if called upon.

I recently spoke to Martell Webster and it’s clear that he expects to crack the rotation.

A healthy Webster could compete against the likes of Dudley, Anderson and Neal.

Wittman, as cliche as it sounds, lets the players determine his rotation during training camp.

The playing time will be determined by how well each player performs during camp.

A few seasons ago, we saw Webster outperform Ariza during training camp and eventually took his starting spot.

I wouldn’t expect Otto Porter to have much competition for the starting small forward position, but the rest of the rotation will pretty much be determined by camp and preseason.

Last year, Kevin Seraphin beat DeJuan Blair for a spot in the rotation even though most thought Blair would get the most minutes at the backup center spot. Blair failed to show his consistency during camp and preseason while Seraphin took advantage of the need for scoring off the bench.

If there’s one player I’m concerned most about potentially losing minutes do to inconsistency from this year’s free agency signings, it’s Gary Neal.

The Washington Wizards have needed a scoring spark off the bench for a very long time; they probably haven’t had one since Jordan Crawford last played for the team.

Neal, though, isn’t the most consistent scorer in the world. In fact, like Crawford, Neal has been labeled as a “streaky scorer”, which doesn’t necessarily always have the greatest outcome with Wittman as the head coach.

In five seasons in the NBA, the 30-year-old shooting guard has played for five different teams.

In his rookie season, Neal made over 45 percent of his field goal attempts. Last year, Neal made just over 37 percent of his shots with the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s inconsistency.

To further examine Gary Neal’s inconsistency, let’s just take a look at his past season with a monthly breakdown:

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Inconsistency is part of what makes Gary Neal such an intriguing player. This past year, he was really all over the place. His shooting was really good sometimes, but he also left a lot to be desired during other parts of the season. At this point, I think that’s what you could expect out of Neal.

For what it’s worth, Neal’s shooting was acceptable when he played for the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Hornets. Both teams were in the playoffs and Neal played a role in their success.

Playing along side John Wall and Co. will help Neal become more consistent. His shot selection has never been great, so it will be interesting to see if that will play a factor in Wittman’s decision to play him or not. Going into the free agency period, you’d have to think that Washington knew what they were going to get from Neal.

Washington has a number of wing players that are going to stay ready of Gary Neal struggles to perform up to expectations.

He needs to consistently hit open threes and create off the dribble, which is something the Washington Wizards have needed off the bench for a long time. If he can’t do that, players like Webster and Temple will take advantage of the situation.