Wizards Coach Randy Wittman criticized the play of Bradley Beal and John Wall after a 94-88 overtime loss to the Bobcats last week, which isn’t the type of thing that generates a whole lot of excitement about a team preparing to make its first playoff appearance in five years.
“When you don’t put effort in, you’re not going to have good showings. It just filters down,” Wittman said. “You can’t play with no energy or effort at one end of the floor and expect to turn it on at the other end of the floor. It doesn’t work that way. That’s been proven with these guys. It was almost like we were spinning our wheels in mud. We just didn’t come out with any enthusiasm. I don’t even know if they had a sweat broken at the jump ball.”
During an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies today, Wittman, whose Wizards were coming off a 114-93 win over Miami, was asked whether it’s right to assume that Wall’s play has been a primary source of his frustration this season.
“It’s not always John,” Wittman said. “Listen, John is a big key to our team. I’m not going to blow smoke where there shouldn’t be any smoke. He’s important for us in how he comes out, both from an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint. Like I mentioned last night, I thought he and Andre Miller controlled that game last night from an offensive standpoint as well as I’ve really seen in a long time by two point guards. That bleeds down in our team. That’s just my belief as a coach; my point guard has to be an extension of me, and has to have a lot of what my beliefs and thoughts are.”
Wittman was later asked if he thinks Wall ever tunes him out.
“Uh, no. I really don’t,” he said. “Hey, there’s frustration, there’s things through 82 games, but no. Each day after a frustrating moment, no. … I think the growth that we’re seeing in him has been good, and it’s got to continue. He’s still got a ways to go in, I think, being the player that he’s capable of being in this league, but has he made some really good steps this year? Absolutely.”
Wittman also said that Wall and the other playoff newbies on the roster will benefit from the in-season additions of Drew Gooden and Andre Miller.
“I think that was one of the things, from a standpoint as we moved forward into this year, that I wanted to get some established guys in here,” he said. “And then when Nene got hurt, it gave us a great opportunity. Usually, 10 days you can go with a young kid that maybe has a chance to play in the league, but I thought it was important, let’s go get a veteran that’s played in the playoffs, been in this situation where we’re coming down the stretch fighting for a playoff position. That’s kind of why we went and got Drew Gooden. And then obviously, the trade with Andre Miller was big for us, because he’s just come in and given us an established guy with that second unit that just calms things down. He’s in John’s ear all the time – locker room, practice, and that’s huge.”