Wizards show offensive potential in weekend of hot shooting

Wizards show offensive potential in weekend of wins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards entered this past weekend dead-last in the NBA in 3-pointers made, with one of the lowest scoring offenses in the league, a disappointing carryover from last season when they ranked similarly on that end of the floor. They went up against a Utah Jazz team that began the day leading the NBA in points per game and ended up locking horns in a shootout, which in most cases would not suit their strengths.

The Wizards, though, were able to beat the Jazz at their own game, setting a season-high with 16 threes. The very next night, they eclipsed that number, making 19 threes against the Grizzlies. Washington has not made more threes in a game since March of 2020.

Those two games, which pushed their winning streak to four straight, showed glimpses of the Wizards' scoring potential. They have been slow to get going offensively this season, but the upside seems to be there for them to count that area as a strength.

Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. explained after Sunday's win over Memphis why he thinks the Wizards have suddenly broken out from 3-point range.

"Just more of a mindset. I think we're doing a better job of finding those paint threes, of being a little bit more disciplined with our spacing. The kick-aheads in transition have been good. And our willingness to shoot it, I thought earlier in the year we were turning down too many. Those led to more turnovers and some of the tough, contested midrange shots. We're trying to avoid some of that," he said.

Unseld Jr. loves those "paint threes," a term he uses for when Wizards players drive into the paint, draw in the defense and pass the ball out to open teammates. He is also a major proponent of kick-ahead passes, which help the Wizards find scoring opportunities before opponents can set their defense.

Deni Avdija, who tied a career-high with 21 points and made four threes on Sunday, said the Wizards were able to take advantage of the way Memphis plays defense. The Grizzlies are big on trying to trap ball handlers in the halfcourt and that defense can create daylight for shooters.

The Wizards found early success against the Grizzlies with 11 threes in the 1st half. They entered the game averaging 9.7 threes per game as a team.

"We shot great tonight and just kept rolling. It was one of those nights, so we kept shooting," Avdija said.

Many Wizards got involved with the 3-point barrage against the Grizzlies. The team attempted 40 total threes. Kristaps Porzingis (25 points) made six threes, while Jordan Goodwin added three and Corey Kispert had two. Of the nine players who appeared in Sunday's game, only Daniel Gafford didn't make a three, but that was no surprise as he's only attempted one triple in his 4-year NBA career.

The rest of the Wizards were firing from long range and more than half of their total made field goals (19-of-36) were from the perimeter. They also had 26 assists as a team, as the ball was moving consistently.

Avdija says the team has made strides recently in that regard.

"The ball just doesn't stick, so it's beautiful. I think we should play like that all the time. We've put emphasis on that and hopefully it will continue," he said.

The Wizards showed over the weekend what their offense is capable of and that was without Bradley Beal, their top scorer, who is averaging 21.6 points per game this season. Veteran Will Barton is also still searching for his usual scoring touch. If those two are in the lineup and scoring like they usually do, the Wizards will have a higher offensive ceiling.

The Wizards remain just 25th in offensive rating, but they are starting to show signs of being a much more dangerous team scoring the ball.