With Coach Scott Brooks providing new leadership, the Wizards are expected to take a more defensive approach during the 2015-16 season. We examine the players’ new roles under Brooks.
G John Wall
AGE: 26 | YEARS: 6 | HEIGHT: 6-4 | WEIGHT: 210
2015 PPG: 19.9 | RPG: 4.9 | APG: 10.2 | FG%: 42.4
COLLEGE: Kentucky | ACQUIRED: First-round pick in 2010 draft
His role under Brooks: This is the year when the Wizards’ locker room wholly and completely belongs to Wall. Though Bradley Beal is now a maximum-contract player and with that comes certain responsibilities, Wall is the principal leader. Brooks needs Wall not only to lead on and off the court but also to raise his individual game. Wall received little love in a recent NBA.com poll of general managers, placing second as fastest player with the ball but overlooked in the category of best passer. Brooks, however, sees him in the elite with the ability to become the best two-way point guard in the league. It’s a lofty vision but one Wall will have to achieve if the Wizards have success this season.
G Bradley Beal
AGE: 23 | YEARS: 4 | HEIGHT: 6-5 | WEIGHT: 207
PPG: 17.4 | RPG: 3.4 | APG: 2.9 | FG%: 44.9
COLLEGE: Florida | ACQUIRED: First-round pick in 2012 draft
His role under Brooks: Beal has impressed Brooks with his old-soul demeanor. While he does come across as very polished and professional, it would benefit the Wizards if Beal shows the durability befitting someone his age and plays more than 55 games this season. The Wizards have invested $128 million in Beal over the next five years and in his first season under Brooks, he will be expected to grow past just potential. Beal has shooting touch, the ability to get to the rim and the tools to play well on both sides. So while Brooks envisions a performance growth spurt for Beal, the weight of the contract demands a far greater leap.
F Otto Porter Jr.
AGE: 23 | YEARS: 3 | HEIGHT: 6-8 | WEIGHT: 205
PPG: 11.6 | RPG: 5.2 | APG: 1.6 | FG%: 47.3
COLLEGE: Georgetown | ACQUIRED: First-round pick in 2013 draft
His role under Brooks: Porter will play as a hybrid wing, maneuvering between small forward and the stretch-four position. In both roles, Porter must develop consistency as a knock-down shooter. With Wall as the creator and Beal as the perimeter scorer attracting defensive attention, Porter should have clean, open looks from the corner and the top of the key. Last season, he made 36.7 percent of his three-point attempts but hasn’t regained that touch through the preseason (missing several games due to a bruised rib). Nevertheless, his versatility on both ends of the floor could be an underrated factor this season.
F Markieff Morris
AGE: 27 | YEARS: 5 | HEIGHT: 6-10 | WEIGHT: 245
PPG: 12.0 | RPG: 5.5 | APG: 1.9 | FG%: 42.5
COLLEGE: Kansas | ACQUIRED: 2016 trade with Phoenix
His role under Brooks: In his brief time with the Wizards last season, Morris provided toughness under the glass. While he didn’t pull down every rebound, he provided a capable, big body to box out and help his teammates secure missed shots. This may seem like an inglorious role, but Brooks will look to Morris to continue winning those rebounding tussles — if only to keep his own man from grabbing the rebound. Besides the dirty work, Morris could be a matchup nightmare as a power forward who can bully smaller foes in the post as well as occasionally stretch out and shoot three-pointers over bigs. However, Morris has dealt with a foot injury through October and the team will need to get it under control if he is to play extended minutes through the regular season.
C Marcin Gortat
AGE: 32 | YEARS: 9 | HEIGHT: 6-11 | WEIGHT: 240
PPG: 13.5 | RPG: 9.9 | APG: 1.4 | FG%: 56.7
COLLEGE: None | ACQUIRED: 2013 trade with Phoenix
His role under Brooks: Throughout his career, Gortat has not been known as a big shot blocker but as the Wizards shift to a defensive mind-set, he has to perform as the backstop. While the Wizards have plenty of length (Porter, Beal) and speed (Wall) on perimeter defense, whenever an opponent funnels into the post Gortat will have to live up to his nickname, the Polish Hammer. Last season, Gortat held opponents to 1.5 points below their field goal percentage for the season, and he’ll need to be just as steady under Brooks.