Category Archives: Wizards

The Winningest Caps-Wiz Postseason Ever?

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The Wizards have won an NBA championship, believe it or not, and the Capitals have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. But the Wiz and the Caps had never made it out of the first round of their respective playoffs in the same year until this very week.

That means the hometown NBA and NHL franchises have combined for eight playoff wins already in 2015. Eight! So much fun. And they must lose at least four more times each before the wins stop coming.

Odds are, even if the Wiz lose to the Hawks (or Nets) and the Caps lose to the Rangers, they’ll probably eek out at least four more wins. That would put them at 12 this spring, two shy of the all-time combined mark, set in ’78 when the Bullets went all the way (and the Caps finished last).

Most Combined Playoff Wins in Caps-Wiz Playoff History

1978 — 14 (all Bullets)
1998 — 12 (all Caps)
1988 — nine (seven Caps, two Wiz)
1979 — nine (all Bullets)
2015 — eight (four Wiz, four Caps)
1975 — eight (all Bullets)
2012 — seven (all Caps)
2009 — seven (all Caps)

(Image taken with love from the homies at RMNB.)

Are We To Believe The Wizards Are Good Again?

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Let’s recap the Wizards season so far.

They were really good up until the end of January, going 31-15 through January 27.

Then they were godawful and excruciating to watch not as good the next five weeks, falling to 35-28 in a brutal stretch that included losses to cellar-dwellers such as the 76ers and Timberwolves (back-to-back in fact, by a combined 28 points).

Now, they appear to have regained at least some of their early magic, winning four games in a row by an average of 18 points an sitting at a very respectable 39-28.

So the million dollar question: Are the Wizards good again?

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ESPN’s ‘Great Analytics Ranking’ Shits All Over The Redskins

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The Worldwide Leader unveiled a rather cool feature yesterday, The Great Analytics Rankings, sorting all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams by “the strength of each franchise’s analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics.” I don’t know what biometric data is, but this is interesting nonetheless, at least as it pertains to our favorite teams.

We’ll start with the good. The Nats and O’s are both labeled as “believers,” meaning they rank somewhere in the top half among MLB teams. For the O’s, it’s thanks to “GM Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, all of whom are respected for their analytical thinking,” though “they need a more coherent, holistic approach and a stronger investment to compete with division rivals Tampa Bay, Boston and New York.”

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17 Reasons I’ve Had It With Randy Wittman

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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In my last post, I wrote the following sentence about the Wizards head coach: “Randy Wittman doesn’t necessarily deserve to keep his job, but firing him would be the wrong move, at least during the season.”

Anybody who knows me personally knows I have never been a fan of Wittman, so I felt somewhat dirty writing that sentence. I’ve been trying to go easier on the guy, as he seemed to be improving slightly, plus the Wizards were playing damn good ball for the first 40 or so games, and it’s rarely a good idea to fire a coach in the middle of a winning season.

No more. I’m done with this guy and his inability to manage a game.

I was at the Jan. 21 game against the Thunder, when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook outscored the Wizards 13-11 in overtime en route to a 105-103 OKC victory. Nobody is going to blame Wittman, or the Wizards, for allowing two of the best scorers in the NBA to dominate — that’s just what they do.

Westbrook scored the go-ahead points on this wide-open layup in part due to botched defense, and Bradley Beal shouldered the blame for the loss.

The Wiz still had a chance to tie or win it, and with 0.8 seconds on the clock, Wittman got to draw up a final play. Ideally, the Wizards would look for a lob toward the hoop or a jumper by Bradley Beal or Paul Pierce. After all, the Wizards had already won a game this season by Andre Miller lobbing an inbounds pass to Beal on a fantastic play call.

So would they run a similar play? No. They ended up with this dumpster fire of a play.

I walked out of the Verizon Center that night ranting and raving to anybody who would listen about Wittman’s play-calling inadequacies. Still, I reasoned that the Wizards were playing well overall (29-14 at the time) and, again, I’m not a big fan of firing a coach midseason.

This past Wednesday night’s game against the Raptors, the Wizards’ finale before the All-Star break, not only broke the camel’s back but took a 2×4 to that poor camel’s legs.

With eight full days off before the Wiz play again, I would love to see Wittman replaced, though I know he’s not going anywhere.

Here is a list of some of the ridiculous shit Wittman pulled in a crucial game against one of the top teams in the East, in no particular order:

1. Drew Gooden, whose playing time has been all over the place, played every second of the fourth quarter. He also played the final 2:53 of the third, meaning he played 14 minutes and 53 seconds without coming out of the game. Wittman’s explanation?

So there.

2. Marcin Gortat, the team’s starting center in all 54 games this season, didn’t play a second in the fourth. CSN Washington has more on this.

3. Otto Porter Jr., who started in place of an injured Beal, also did not play in the fourth. He was replaced by Garrett Temple at the same time Gooden replaced Gortat in the third, and that was the last we saw of either starter.

4. Temple also played the rest of the game, excluding the final 13 seconds.

5. John Wall played the most minutes of any Wizard, as he often does, with 37. Pierce was next with 30. Then came Gooden, who played just 46 seconds less than Pierce, followed by Temple with 27. Temple and Gooden played more minutes than three healthy starters.

6. Beal missed the final three games before the break. In the first game, Porter started in his stead and had a solid game while the Wizards cruised to a win. The following game, Wittman inexplicably benched Porter for Temple, who received 26 minutes to Porter’s 11, in another Wizards win. But that’s not all, folks! The very next game, the Raptors game in question, Porter was again named the starter but played just 21 minutes.

7. So to recap, and because I still need to convince myself that it actually happened: Wittman sat two of his starters, who were both having decent games, for the final 14:53, and played Gooden and Temple instead. In the final few minutes of a massive game for the Wizards, Garrett Temple and Drew Gooden were on the court. Let that sink in.

8. I will concede that Gooden had a solid game, with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. But he was terrible in the final minutes, he offers virtually no defense and he can’t dominate the paint like Gortat and Nene did in the first three quarters. Plus, Gortat was having a fine game!

9. Through three quarters, the Wizards outscored the Raptors in the paint 40-24; with Gortat sitting and Nene getting less than seven minutes, the Wizards scored just two points in the paint in the final frame.

10. Speaking of the Brazilian big man, Wittman did his best to stop Nene from taking over the game. He was perhaps the best Wizard through three quarters, having knocked down seven of his eight shots for 14 points to go with four boards, three assists and four steals. In the third quarter alone, Nene made all four of his shots, dished out three assists and added two steals. Of course, Nene and Porter were the first guys subbed out in the second half, because Randy Wittman.

11. So after a straight-up dominant nine minutes in the third, Nene got relegated to the bench for the next eight-plus minutes while Kevin Seraphin went 0-for-2 with a single rebound.

12. Even more perplexing was the timing of the substitutions. This is what happened in the minutes before Gooden and Temple replaced Nene and Porter: The Wizards were down by one, went on a 16-5 run to open a 10-point lead, then called a timeout for reasons that escape me still. It was 73-63 when Wittman took the timeout and made the subs. Toronto went on a 12-3 run to close the period, and the Wiz opened the fourth up by just one.

13. After the game, Wittman complained that his players turned it over too many times during that 12-3 run. He also claimed the Raptors took the timeout, though both ESPN.com and NBA.com attribute the timeout to the Wizards.

14. I’m no coach, and it’s silly for fans to say they could do better, but this is just basic game management. Don’t call timeouts and make substitutions when your team has all of the momentum. Coaching is not an easy thing to do, but he didn’t need to coach at that moment. He just needed to stay quiet and let his team continue doing its thing. Maybe certain players needed a breather, but he can’t disrupt the mojo then blame his players.

15. In the fourth quarter, the Wizards went just 7-for-22 from the field, including 5-for-17 by the bench. The Raptors also slumped, shooting just 7-for-16, so the Wizards had a huge opportunity. They blew that opportunity by allowing Gooden to take more shots in the fourth period (six) than the entire starting lineup combined (five).

16. And finally, speaking of huge opportunities, what the hell was that final sequence? A reporter asked Wittman more or less the same question after the game, and he responded that there were numerous options on the play and a long Wall three just so happened to be what materialized.

17. Forget that Wall was 1-for-5 from distance thus far in the game, not even close to the best shooter on the court at the time, and that the Wizards didn’t even need a three. None of that matters to Wittman. Anecdotally speaking, probably 75 percent of the Wizards’ quarter-ending plays are Wall isolations. Wittman and others argue that just because it ends as a Wall iso does not mean it was drawn up that way, but it seems a bit strange that they always seem to end up that way. That’s not Wall’s game and everybody seems to know it’s coming—and I don’t just mean opposing defenses.

And because I am a narcissist:

Because the Wiz and the Witt shat the bed for the final 15 minutes of the game, Washington dropped from third to fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors completed the season sweep, winning two of the three games by a combined six points (the other was a blowout), and now have a 3.5-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Wizards.

To put a bow on this sloppy rant, I nominate Avery Johnson to replace Wittman. (For what it’s worth, George Karl had been my choice all season, but he’s no longer on the market.) Some may look at his final three seasons as a coach (2010-12 with the Nets) and see a 60-116 record, but I see a guy that won big with a good team and improved a bad team.

Johnson was named Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season, when he guided the Mavericks to a 60-22 record, then followed it up by leading them to a ridiculous 67-15 record the next year. He also has a career .577 winning percentage, compared to Wittman’s .390, and is far more entertaining and likeable on the bench.

Enjoy the All-Star Game, and who knows, maybe Wittman will steal another coach’s playbook and lead the Wizards to a championship.

Are The Wizards Slumping Or Just Not Very Good?

Here with your semi-regular look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Having lost seven of their last 10 games, things are looking somewhat bleak for the 32-20 Wizards. Most of the losses came against quality teams, adding to the narrative that the Wizards simply can’t hang with top teams, but two losses to the sub-.500 Hornets in four days and a handful of injuries have soured the mood.

The two schools of thought here are: a) The Wizards are simply slumping and will bounce back or b) their early success was a fluke and now they’re regressing back to their norm.

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Mr. Irrelevant’s Annual D.C. Pro Sports Team Power Rankings

I’m not sure if this is actually an *annual* ranking of the five major D.C. pro sports teams, but it is a nice time of year to do such a thing.

5. Washington Redskins

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As Tom Boswell so kindly points out, the past two Redskins seasons were the franchise’s worst since 1961. Incredible.

But! Short of Dan Snyder selling the team, the best possible thing that could happen just happened: They finally hired a real GM. And a highly regarded one to boot!

Of course, he has a drinking problem, and this is the Redskins. Our enthusiasm is curbed by hopelessness. Continue reading

The Wizards Have Four Healthy Small Forwards

Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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For your first Wizards update of 2015, we’re going to focus on the rotation at small forward now that Martell Webster has rejoined the team. With four players that all primarily play the position and are deserving of significant minutes, Washington has to sort it out.

Paul Pierce (The Starter)

Paul Pierce has been solid in his first season as a Wizard and is likely entrenched as the starter, though if one of the others dramatically steps up his game, he could be moved to the bench. The future Hall of Famer may not take nice to being replaced by one of the ragtag bunch that currently backs him up.

After all, the man won an NBA Championship and the Finals MVP in ’08. Do you think he’d be particularly enthused to be benched in favor of Martell Webster?

Martell Webster (The Newcomer)

Webster offers three-point shooting and athleticism, not to mention a great rapport with Marcin Gortat. He came to Washington with fellow small forward Trevor Ariza before the 2012-13 season and has started 75 games in a Wizards uniform, but he was eventually moved to the sixth man role in favor of Ariza. Ariza of course plays in Houston now, and after a hot start to the season is now struggling mightily. Before Thursday’s game, Ariza shot below 50 percent in 27 consecutive games, so that’s something to feel good about if you’re a Wizards fan.

Otto Porter Jr. (The Youngster)

Otto Porter Jr. was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft and had an incredibly disappointing rookie season, which was immediately derailed by a hip injury that forced him to miss the first 18 games. He never got back on track and his season, along with those of most of the 2013 draft class, was forgettable.

This season, Porter has shown flashes of the star he became at Georgetown, where he led the Hoyas in points, rebounds and steals in 2012-13. He had a career-high 21 points in the Wizards’ home opener back in November, when Pierce got ejected right before halftime. All but two of Porter’s points came in the second half.

He has scored in double-digits seven times this season, and at just 21 years old, his potential is enormous. Also, he makes a badass Ninja Turtle.

Rasual Butler (The Sharpshooter)

Last, but most assuredly not least, is “Casual” Rasual Butler. Butler, the last Wizard to make the roster, bounces around the top of the league in three-point shooting percentage, and he currently sits around 50 percent from deep. His shot selection is often questionable and sometimes preposterous, but for a 35-year-old making less than what Garrett Temple makes, he’s doing alright.

So, What Now?

Pierce isn’t likely to go anywhere, and I’d be surprised if Butler got traded too. Both players are savvy veterans who would likely only be targeted by teams who think they’re one savvy veteran away from a championship. Like the Wizards.

Webster and Porter are the most likely trade candidates, though it’s not as if Washington is dying to get rid of either one. Webster makes the most sense, as he doesn’t really offer anything that the Wizards can’t get from the other three and his contract is excessive at more than $5 million annually.

If Porter has a few more solid games in the coming weeks, he could be shipped out before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. The Wizards might want to capitalize on his value, and if they’re serious about making a run for Kevin Durant in 2016, there won’t be much room (or money) to keep Porter around past his rookie contract.

What Washington could use in return is backcourt help or a rim protector off the bench, but the likeliest scenario is all four remain on the team through the end of the season. It’s a good problem to have.

The Wizards Are Really Good At Shooting Threes And Should Probably Shoot More Of Them

Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Trevor Ariza led the Wizards in three-point attempts and makes last season by knocking down 180 of 442. Second in both categories was Martell Webster (146 of 372), followed by Bradley Beal (138 of 343) and John Wall (108 of 308).

Wall’s jumper improved dramatically last year, so Wizards fans were hopeful about his shooting heading into this season. But Ariza went to the Rockets, Beal broke his wrist in early October and Webster had his third back surgery in late June.
No other player got close to making 100 threes in a Wizards uniform last year. Al Harrington was the closest with just 34, and he most recently played in China.

For these reasons, Washington wasn’t expected to be a real threat from downtown this year, especially early on with all the injuries. Yet more than a quarter of the way through the season, the Wizards lead the entire NBA in three-point percentage with a blistering 39.7 percent. The entire NBA.

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John Wall vs. Rajon Rondo: Who Ya Got?

Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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There aren’t many doubleheaders in the NBA regular season, so basketball fans are in for a treat when the Wizards and Celtics face off on consecutive nights this Sunday and Monday. Washington is riding a four-game win streak and, at 13-5, will be a heavy favorite over the 6-11 Celtics, though Boston is on a two-game win streak of its own.

Regardless, this doubleheader is worthy of its own post simply because of the showdown between former Kentucky stars John Wall and Rajon Rondo.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2010 has been putting on a show all season in D.C., and Bradley Beal’s return has made his life that much easier. Wall, third in the league in assists, has at least 12 in each of the last three games and is averaging a career-high 9.8 dimes per game.

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4 Wizards Things to Watch This Week

Welcome back to a new weekly series by Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

The Wizards have lost two of three games for the first time this season, and, though they still have the second-best record in the East at 10-5, they’re now 2.5 games behind Toronto for the top spot, and only a half-game above Chicago.

Luckily, the next two weeks or so should be one of the easier stretches of their schedule. The Wiz started a four-game homestand on Saturday with a win over half-man, half-machine, half-unibrow Anthony Davis (if you’ve seen him play, you understand why he’s at 150 percent). Now the Heat bring their talent to the District.

But after Miami, Washington starts a stretch where it plays the Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics (twice) and Magic, who have a combined record of 20-39 heading into this weekend. This is the Wizards’ chance to make a run and open a nice lead on the rest of the division.

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