“I’ve been in situations where you maybe don’t know who exactly your core starting five is, but I know what the nine guys I’m going to be playing are,” Wittman said. “Just trying to figure which of those nine — I can’t figure out the nine right now. It fluctuates.”
The Wizards can’t blame the inconsistent production simply on youth or inexperience. Rookie Bradley Beal’s offense has oscillated wildly and he ranks second on the team in scoring, but Trevor Ariza, an eight-year veteran, also described his play as “up and down.” Okafor, the most seasoned veteran in his ninth year, is coming off consecutive games in which he had 14 rebounds and one rebound, respectively.
“Nobody is stepping up and saying, ‘I deserve 30 minutes a night, 35 minutes a night.’ We’re definitely making it tough on him,” point guard A.J. Price said.
As Wittman scrambles to find contributions that work, his players are left with unpredictable minutes and have been unable to establish a rhythm. “It’s tough, but this is our job,” Chris Singleton said. “We’re paid to be ready. You never know when its going to be your time. just got to be patient.”
The Wizards rank last in scoring (86.9 points) and field goal percentage (39.6), have failed to score at least 90 points six times and have shot below 40 percent four times. Considering that six of the Wizards’ losses have been by seven points or fewer, Wittman would take his current problems over a round of successive beatdowns.
“We’re not that far from what we have to do,” Wittman said. “I think it would be one thing if we’re sitting here going into the fourth quarter and we’re down 30. It’s a credit that they fight, and they’re resilient and they don’t quit. That’s a trait that we want to keep. Now we’ve got to get the consistency.”
Wittman said he will remain optimistic until his team finally has a breakthrough. “Hey, if I don’t stay upbeat, how am I going to keep them upbeat? I’ve got to be the leader of being upbeat. I can’t go in there and be down. ‘Lost again.’ I’ve got to be: ‘Hey, we did lose again. We lost for these reasons. But look what we did.’ ”