The Washington Wizards began their 2013-14 season with a loss Wednesday in a 113-102 road defeat to former Georgetown Hoyas center Greg Monroe and the Detroit Pistons. Monroe kicked off the new year at power forward, with a team-high 24 points and 16 rebounds. Washington, on the other hand, looked out of sorts with their new (hopefully temporary) starting five.
With Andre Drummond at center and Monroe at power forward, the Pistons out-scored the Wizards 56-28 in the paint. Washington fielded a starting front court duo of Nene at center and Trevor Booker at power forward, which left newly acquired center Marcin Gortat on the bench. Expect that to change in the near future, as Booker is better served as a spark plug off the bench than a dynamic starter.
Gortat scored 9 points and secured 9 rebounds in his just under 17-minute Wizards debut. He also had his shots stuffed twice and committed 3 turnovers and 5 fouls in that time. Regardless, Nene and Booker had only 8 rebounds combined. Washington had their reasons as far as leaving Gortat on the bench, as he is just now learning their plays and their system, but they’ll need him at starting center if the Wizards hope to advance to the Playoffs this season.
Washington’s backcourt consisted of John Wall and Bradley Beal, as expected, but they went 14-39 (35.9%) combined from the field. Wall rushed things in the first half and failed to create space on drives. He slowed things down in the second half and involved Beal more, which helped Washington strike a balance from behind the perimeter. The duo will need to learn how to create more and drive to the hoop if the Wizards are unable to develop off the pick n’ roll. Gortat is familiar with setting screens thanks to playing with Steve Nash in Phoenix–and he did screen for Beal Wednesday, and Wall–but Wall needs to exploit Gortat more often in halfcourt sets.
Trevor Ariza was the prime candidate from deep, and helped Washington stay in the game despite an overall poor night by the team. He started at small forward over Martell Webster, and Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman looked smart for that decision. Ariza went 6-for-11 from deep and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. His performance will go on as overlooked, however, due to Washington’s poor defense. Even worse? The lack of looks for Webster in Ariza’s absence from the floor.
The newly reinstated Webster did not launch a single shot attempt until late in the third quarter. He swished a three-ball, which was his staple last season, but it would end up being his only attempt of a just under 21-minute night. In this case, Wall needs to learn when to pop, and when to pass; being able to knock down a jumper is one thing, but 21 attempts? Washington needs a whole lot more from Webster, and that falls on the shoulders of Wall and backup point guard Eric Maynor, specifically. Wall did his thing in the second half, as he slowed things down, but he is still trying to be a hero when Washington needs him to be a pass-first leader. They didn’t re-sign Webster for him to take only a single shot in Washington’s season debut.
In the meantime, the Wizards left Glen Rice, Jr., and Jan Vesely as DNPs, while Otto Porter, Jr. works out his hip flexor and Chris Singleton recovers from his broken foot. Leaving Vesely as a DNP made sense, as Booker had the green light. But Rice? On a night in which Washington’s bench scored a total 23 points–a leading 9 of which came from Gortat, knowing little to nothing about team chemistry–the Wizards could have used a little Rice. Do not expect Washington to leave Rice as a DNP Friday, as the Wizards open the Verizon Center versus the Philadelphia 76ers, but if they do, surely expect some criticism regarding their 2013 NBA Draft class.