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John Wall And Randy Wittman's Relationship Among Key's To Wizards Improvements

1:57 PM, Feb 15, 2012   |    comments
There is a reason John Wall seems more comfortable on the basketball court. Randy Wittman is keeping his mind at ease. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Things undeniably have felt better for the Washington Wizards since the departure of Flip Saunders on January 24. Since then, the Wizards have achieved the following:

  • A 5-7 record
  • Scored above 90 points in seven of 12 games (Hey, that's an accomplishment for this team.
  • Have won the free throw attempt battle in five of the last six games.
  • Washington's 21 point victory over Detroit (2/12) represents their largest road victory since December of 2008.

The Wizards are like a broken down car and Randy Wittman has emerged as a vibrant new mechanic, producing innovative solutions with limited tools. The exterior of the car make look the exact same, but now, it's clearly running smoother.

It's hard for me to envision the following four improvements taking place for the Wizards if Flip Saunders was still roaming the sidelines.

4) Nick Young is more comfortable in the offense

In 17 games with Flip Saunders, Young scored 20 or more points just five times. In 11 games with Randy Wittman, Young has scored 20 or more points seven times. It kind of seems like Wittman is employing the strategy I shouted about back in late January, stating that Young should become the focus of the offense. If the Wizards are in need of a bucket, or are off to a hot start, Young's number is usually the one being called.

Because of Jordan Crawford's season-long slump, Young is without question the only "shooting guard" in Washington. The 26-year-old is finding his spots with ease and his improved offense is forcing taller defenders to collapse on his shot, leading to more open looks in the post for Trevor Booker and JaVale McGee.

3) Faster starts

The point differential during the first quarter under Randy Wittman is +13. In Flip's 17 games, the scoring differential was an outlandish -47. More often than not, the team would go into "get-this-game-over-with-as-soon-as-possible" mode by halftime, ultimately leading to Saunders' firing.

Under Wittman, the Wizards have been embarrassed only twice -- by the Clippers and Rockets. Washington's speed with the basketball and help defense early in games has set themselves up for late-game successes. Missing Andray Blatche -- someone who is notorious for starting games out slow -- is a key reason for this recent gain.

2) John Wall's shooting percentage has increased

Cite John himself if you must, but I think Randy Wittman's presence as a vocal leader has resonated more with Wall rather than Flip's laid back style. Saunders expected a player to come to him if he had a problem, while Wittman holds more of an open communication atmosphere, something much needed from a young team. Wall is playing more comfortably because Wittman has made communication more comfortable off the court.

In seven of Wall's 11 games with Wittman, the point guard has shot over 45 percent from the floor. Wall still has his occasional blunders at the rim, but his shooting has progressed, as well as his recognition of game speed. Recently Wall has looked more elegant as opposed to unrefined.

1) Trevor Booker has become the exact opposite of Andray Blatche

Meaning he gives a 100 percent effort every night, is adored by the fan base and takes high percentage shots -- shooting 57 percent so far in February. For some reason under Flip Saunders, Booker's minutes were either hot or cold. Saunders was so desperate to get wins that he excessively forced Andray Blatche in the lineup for scoring purposes.

Booker is blossoming into a tulip under Wittman, essentially turning into a DaJaun Blair type of forward -- using his own energy to drain other teams. He's the number one reason we've seen visual improvements from the Wizards. As of late (12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in his last six games) Booker has become a staple of reliability in the paint offensively and defensively for Washington.

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