TOWSON, Md. – Every roster move the Washington Wizards made over the offseason hinted that they were devoted to carrying over the pace-and-space offense and small-ball lineups they had successfully unveiled last postseason to the 2015-16 campaign. Tuesday’s practice to open training camp at Towson University’s SECU Arena cemented the notion.
New offensive sets were introduced. Four boxes were taped along the three-point line – two on each wing and two in each corner – for spacing purposes. And they ran, a lot.
“It was totally different because we did a lot more running because our offense has changed,” point guard John Wall said. “We’re getting more up-tempo. You see all those little boxes out there, that’s where we got to get to every time we get the ball. So it’s a lot more running. We’re going to do a lot more of it everyday to get us in better shape because if you want us to play at this speed and this pace and you got to get better.”
The Wizards’ goal this season, Wall and Coach Randy Wittman explained, is to quicken the pace after they finished 19th in the NBA in possessions per 48 minutes. Wall, who stands to benefit from a quicker pace as one of the league’s fastest players, said finishing in the top five is possible.
While the pace should increase with smaller lineups that could feature various three-point threats at power forward – the candidates include Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden III, Kris Humphries, Otto Porter Jr., Martell Webster and Alan Anderson — so should the team’s three-point attempts. Last season, Washington averaged just 16.8 three-point tries per game – good for 27th in the NBA – while launching 28.9 midrange jumpers per game – tied for third-most in the league.
The additions of Dudley, Anderson, and Gary Neal – a trio of three-point threats – and a different offense should shift the numbers.
“We’ve got to make great strives offensively,” Wittman said. “We were below average in terms of all the numbers, points per game, points per 100 possessions, pace of play. All those things got to be better. And I think if we stay where we are defensively and we improve ourselves in those offensive numbers, that’s how you advance on farther.”
–Alan Anderson (ankle) was held out of practice Tuesday. The veteran, who signed a one-year deal with the Wizards over the offseason, underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle during the summer.
— Jared Dudley, another offseason acquisition, was limited to non-contact drills. The eight-year veteran underwent back surgery in July and hopes to return in time to play in a preseason game.
WIZARDS HAPPY WITH TEMPORARY HOME
The Wizards decided to hold three days of their training camp at Towson University’s 5,000-seat SECU Arena to get away from their cramped practice facility at Verizon Center, but they also viewed it as a chance to begin the season without any distractions they find at home.
“You got more focus, I think,” Wittman said. “At home, whether you got kids, a wife, I know I don’t have to look at my wife tonight, not that I don’t like looking at her. You can really focus. You don’t have the little things that you might have to do – go to the grocery store. We got everything here for them. And I like it. I like it as a coach to be able to get away. This is an hour and a half away, but it’s still away. And the place is great. I can’t be more pleased with the facility.”
Wittman said the team dined together at a local restaurant when they arrived Monday and some players plan on attending a Baltimore Orioles game this week.