Quick Links

Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

arizadriveknikcs.png

Ariza’s offensive struggles continue

Trevor Ariza's transition with the Wizards to date let's call it bumpy. Or clanking. Let's just not call it smooth, not yet.
 
Against the Knicks in Thursday's preseason game, Ariza missed six of seven shots including all three inside the 3-point arc and finished with seven points. Through two games, Washington's current starting small forward is 3-for-15 from the field with seven turnovers, though six came in the opener at Charlotte.
 
Ideally, the 27-year-old serves as a complimentary player within the starting unit - primary wing defender, fast break partner for John Wall. With the current lineup missing Wall and others, Ariza's tasked with not only being the experienced hand - his eight NBA seasons top the seven combined by Washington's other starters against New York - but also a primary threat.
 
"He’s, I think, trying to fit in," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said following the 108-101 loss to New York. "What he’s doing is determining plays in his mind no matter what the defense is doing, and he can’t do that. He’s got to do a better job."
 
The career 32 percent shooter from 3-point range also must do a better job in his coach's estimation of taking the opportunities presented through the play execution.
 
"I thought one of the first possessions of the game, he had a wide open three, and he turned it down and drove it into three guys and tried to get a shot off," Wittman said. "It’s hard in this league to get an open jump shot, and if we pass up an open jump shot, the next shot is going to be a bad shot, guaranteed."
 
With Wittman and the coaching staff still learning how best to use their many new pieces, both starting and rotational roles are still in flux (at least for those not named John Wall, Nene and likely Emeka Okafor). The coach hinted at changes for Saturday's starting lineup at Cleveland. Regardless of whether he is on court for that opening tap or not, Ariza likely hasn't shot himself out of the first team mix when the games turn real. Still, it would be nice if he could turn those numbers around, like

Quick Links

Brooks thinks 'a lot' about what could've been with Durant and 1st playoff run with Wizards

Brooks thinks 'a lot' about what could've been with Durant and 1st playoff run with Wizards

The consolation prize for Scott Brooks after the playoffs was being able to watch Kevin Durant, with his mother in tow, celebrate the NBA Finals MVP and championship trophy a few weeks ago. His Wizards, who fell in seven games of the East semifinals, had long been booted.

All Brooks could do was reminisce about his run with Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka that led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the cusp in 2012 only to end with a five-game loss in the Finals to the Miami Heat. 

"I think about it a lot," Brooks said of his former team, which fired him after they missed the playoffs despite 45 wins in 2015, to CSNmidatlantic.com. "A lot of things happen. Tough trade (Harden to Houston), some bad fortune with injuries (to Durant) but those are all part of the game. ... Kevin and Russell and Harden were able to carry one of the youngest teams in the history of the game to the NBA Finals in 2012. We came up short three games but we got there. When you're there and you're that young you think you're going to go back again. It's human nature. Even as a coach you thought that this team is going to continue to grow. But a lot of strange things happen. A lot of things that you can't control."

Brooks led Washington to 49 wins and a No. 4 seed in the East. They had a legtimate shot to upset the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics but couldn't win a road game in the series. 

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal]

If Brooks only could have similar success with John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington, where the franchise hasn't been to the conference or NBA Finals in four decades, that would make up for what he missed out on with Durant. His Golden State Warriors will be hard to topple but Brooks has four fully guaranteed years left on his deal. He has time to get it right. 

"I spent eight seasons with (Durant) so I had a lot to do with his early development. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for his family. A good family. A great kid," Brooks said. "The thing I love about K.D. is he's the most humble superstar I've ever been around as a former player, as a coach I've never been around a guy so good that he really doesn't feel like he's one of the best players. He almost thinks of himself as a guy that's just trying to make the team. ... I would've loved to had the chance to coach him here but I'm happy for him to get the championship and to see his family happy. It was a good moment for all of us."

As a free agent a year ago, Durant didn't give his hometown Wizards a meeting before quickly deciding to sign with Golden State which has now won two of the last three NBA Finals.

It was a pipe dream for the Wizards to land him anyway, but what they could control is what happened in Game 2 vs. the Celtics. They hadn't won at TD Garden in three years and had Boston on the ropes. The score was 110-104 as Marcin Gortat missed the second of two free throws and then Isaiah Thomas came alive to bury Washington with big shots down the stretch to force overtime and end with 53 points.

"All I do is shake my head because all I think is we're up six, we miss a free throw so we could've been up seven with (2:43 left) and then we gave up two critical threes," Brooks said. "Both (defensive) mistakes. .. A couple breaks here and there we could've went to the (conference) finals."

The Wizards aren't at the level of his best Thunder teams, but at least they're heading in the right direction. This offseason will be crucial in whether or not they can keep building on it. 

[RELATED: Wizards like Tim Frazier's ability to contribute right away]

Quick Links

Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: NBA Draft breakdown with Kurt Helin, plus the Tim Frazier trade

wizards_tipoff-ep18-16x9.png
CSN

Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: NBA Draft breakdown with Kurt Helin, plus the Tim Frazier trade

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Commuter Connections, Chase Hughes, J. Michael and Chris Miller go in-depth on the NBA Draft, the Wizards' trade for Tim Frazier and how other deals done around the East affect the Wizards' chances in the conference.

Kurt Helin of NBC Sports' Pro Basketball Talk joined the show to give a national perspective on the Jimmy Butler trade, which team won the draft and whether the Wizards should re-sign Otto Porter.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play.

[RELATED: How does trash talking in the NBA compare to other sports?]