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Randy Wittman criticizes John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s effort

Apr 11, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

John Wall, Bradley Beal John Wall, Bradley Beal
  • 2013: April 3
  • 2012: March 31
  • 2011: March 21

Those are the dates the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs the last three years – a span that covers the entire careers of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Now, it’s April 11 and Washington has clinched a playoff berth and is still fighting for crucial postseason position.

But the Wizards starting guards and leading scorers just aren’t used to maintaining focus for such a long season. That showed in Washington’s loss to the Bobcats on Wednesday, when the Wizards fell behind 50-30. Wall shot 6-for-18 with five turnovers, and Beal shot 4-for-15..

Asked about those two, Washington coach Randy Wittman, via Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

“When you don’t put effort in, you’re not going to have good showings. It just filters down,” Wittman said. “You can’t play with no energy or effort at one end of the floor and expect to turn it on at the other end of the floor. It doesn’t work that way. That’s been proven with these guys. It was almost like we were spinning our wheels in mud. We just didn’t come out with any enthusiasm. I don’t even know if they had a sweat broken at the jump ball.”

This is uncharted territory for Wall and Beal. They’ll learn in time. Wall is just 23, and Beal is 20.

But the learning process could be costly. The Wizards and Bobcats are both 40-38, tying the for the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. The team that finishes higher will play the Raptors, Bulls or Nets in the first round. The team that finishes lower will play the Heat or Pacers in the first round. Although Indiana isn’t as imposing as a month ago, a 50 percent chance of drawing the Heat is still much scarier than facing Toronto, Chicago or Brooklyn.

With games against the Magic tonight and Bucks tomorrow, Wall and Beal won’t have immediate chances to respond to their coach’s criticism. They should beat those teams, even if coasting.

But, soon enough, Wall and Beal must prove their mettle in their longest season – or else it won’t last much longer.

  1. bpayton216 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Is the lack of effort a reflection of the coaching? Granted, total effort and a complete mental 48 minute approach to the game comes with time and your franchise leader is 23 years old, at this point in the season guys should be self motivated.

    As a coach, that’s kind of lame to criticize them in public but he’s being honest. The guys are young and the effort isn’t always there. When Wall turns it on it’s crazy! but I see him take plays off too. I would keep this in house though and try to encourage them.

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Fair points… but it does go both ways… these ARE professional players…

      In college, there is MORE of the rah rah stuff from coaches.

      In the pros, it’s a business. The coach runs the business, training, practices, plays etc… In the pros, the players have to want it, to put in effort.

      I mean no disrespect to any of the coaches who coached Michael Jordan, but Jordan wanted to win, Jordan put in the effort and that was regardless of what the coach said or did.

      Yes, not everyone is Jordan and I realize that.

      A professional needs to bring certain things to the table himself at a minimum and effort should be one of those things he brings at a minimum as a player.

    • spthegr8 - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      Look in the mirror Randy. It starts with you. Get your guy’s ready to play. IMO, the Wizards would be a better team if they had a better coach!!

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:13 PM

        @spthegr8 – This isn’t Randy. Randy has been pushing their buttons just as Nene and Gortat have been. Everyone and their mother has been pushing that message at Wall, that he can’t just take nights off or play half a game.

        Here in Washington we see the articles all the time, so maybe you’re out of the loop. But Randy is doing a great job! The problem with Wall is pre-existing and Flip Saunders didn’t have a clue. Randy at least knows how to use the carrot and stick, and he has help with Nene, Gortat, and Ariza who are all good vets that have been talking to Wall.

        Wall needs to have consistent focus as does Beal. A coach (and everyone else) can only do so much. Either they respond, or they don’t.

        I wasn’t behind Wall becoming a franchise player before the season started. I’m still on the fence. He has all the talent in the world, but very little heart. He reminds me too much of Gilbert Arenas. Not so much in personality, but in the way he states he’s the best Point Guard in the game and then takes nights off. Being the best guy on a pickup ball court is great for one game, but that doesn’t make a great NBA player.

    • spursareold - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      You can’t coach effort. You can yell at guys when they don’t exert, but I’m not sure what that accomplishes.

      Effort comes from within. You either have it in your makeup, or you don’t. It’s one of the reasons I love Kawhi Leonard as a player. He was drafted literally days before the lockout, the Spurs flew him down for some sessions with shooting coach Chip Englland for a few days, and then the players were locked out and left to their own devices. The maintenance staff at SDSU was complaining to Kawhi’s college coach Steve Fisher that he was literally breaking into the fieldhouse, bringing his OWN LIGHTING, and shooting at 6 AM every day. He went from a 29% shooter at the shorter college 3 pt arc to a 37% NBA 3 point shooter. You. can’t. coach. that.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        I agree spursareold

        As a PROFESSIONAL player, they should bring effort at a minimum. They have to have pride in themselves. They need to compete.

      • spursareold - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        The problem with so many of these kids is that they see the NBA as the finish line instead of the starting blocks. If you’re just glad to have made it, you may not last long, and even if you make it past your rookie deal, you’ll never be great. The best illustration of this is JR Smith. He came out of HS with as much talent as Kobe when he did. The difference in the players they became was ALL about effort and work. JR did himself wrong, too. He probably only made half of the money he could have over his career, because he would rather club every night than work on his game.

      • spthegr8 - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        That is true but, it the coaches job to get guy’s ready to play. Some guy’s have to be pushed sometimes and that’s the coaches job to find out how to motivate his players. Pop has the Spurs ready to go out and compete EVERY night. Good coaches always do!! But, you are right. You can’t make a player want to get better. That does come from with in!!

      • sire2334 - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        You’re right…PART of effort does come from within, but a good motivater/coach can take you further. How do I know? Because if Pop was coaching this team, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        @spursareold – Well said. I’ve been complaining to Wizards management that the Wizards should take some organizational cues from the Spurs. That starts with drafting effort players.

        With that being said, I’m very happy with Grunfeld’s more recent signings of Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Gortat. They’re definitely trying to change the culture in Washington, but the star players need to stop being coddled. Randy is spot on just as Nene and Gortat were earlier this season in undressing Wall and Beal.

        Randy just has to keep pushing them. A little public shaming won’t hurt them. It’s time Wall lives up to his “I’m the best guard in the NBA statement”. If that’s the case he can’t take games off or a half.

    • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      bpayton216 – Lets first say this isn’t Randy. Randy, Nene, Ariza, and Gortat have all been pushing Wall to have 48 minutes, every game focus. Not every coach is a master psychologist like Phil Jackson. A guy like Doc Rivers would completely blow it here.

      Randy is doing a good job and we just have to remember that Wall is 23, and was a one and done player out of college. Whether he learns his lesson about focus is up for debate and he still has time. But now is really the time for him to respond. Playoffs are here and we’ll see if he’s got it in him to have the focus and discipline. I think losing a playoff series might actually do him some good.

  2. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    You speak of IND not being imposing, yet they’re still #1, and MIA has a benched and broken Wade. And if Wittman’s not seeing the effort, maybe he should be telling them as it happens, not running them down to the press. Not that it much matters, they’ll both be there long after Wittman’s canned.

    • kinggw - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      What does the Heat have to do with the story? Indiana is not imposing. Prior to their win against the Bucks the Pacers had lost their previous 6 road games by double digits. That’s a lot different than the Heat dropping close games to a playoff team in Brooklyn and a team fighting for their playoff life in Memphis. Furthermore the Heat have been a two seed and made it to the Finals. The Heat have Bosh out for a series and a half and made it to the Finals. Finally, the Heat have been through the playoffs with Wade at less than 100% and made it to the Finals. All the challenges the Heat are facing, they’ve had to deal with before. Wade is going to miss this game, he could also missed the next three. As long as he’s able to contribute, nothing that’s happened during the regular season matters.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        “What does the Heat have to do with the story?”
        That’s a damn fine question, I was wondering the same thing when they were mentioned.

        “Heat dropping close games to a playoff team in Brooklyn”
        They got swept. By a team that was arguably the worst team in the league during some of those losses. And trying to justify calling Brooklyn a “playoff team” is laughable-the Western Conference may well end up with a team missing the playoffs that would’ve won an Atlantic Conference DIVISION (something Brooklyn couldn’t do, by the way).

        “Indiana is not imposing.”
        They have a better record than Miami.

        “All the challenges the Heat are facing, they’ve had to deal with before.”
        1-That was then, this is now.
        2-“Before”, Miami didn’t lose so many games to scrub teams (AKA the E-League).

        Have a nice day.

  3. cbking05 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Wizards in the playoffs? WTF…that is FKN crazy.

    • denverhoopdreams - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Uhhh, have you not been paying attention?

  4. natureboy704 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Still can’t believe my bobcats and the word playoffs are in the same sentence together…..

  5. merrhod - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I’m vying for a fantasy championship and I need Bradley to step it up!! I hope he takes offense, no pun here, to the coach’s criticism and lights up his next two opponents!!!

  6. redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Part of the problem with the whole “One and Done” approach that Calipari has is that it teaches his players to have focus in “spurts” for a quick reward rather than building sustained focus and professionalism. We’re seeing that with a lot of Kentucky players. Wall is no exception. Hopefully he’s sick and tired of being out of the playoffs and if he loses this year, he’ll reflect on that in the offseason.

    The Wizards have enough talent to be the 3rd best team in the East easily. The fact that they’re going to end up 6 or 7 isn’t a reflection on the coach (who has finally gotten them above .500), but on the star players lack of focus.

    When they lose this season (and I’m thinking they’ll lose their first round matchup whoever it may be), they’ll have time to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they really should have lost and how good they could have been. They’ll be able to look in the mirror for the answer to why they didn’t do better, and that will be progress. Focus. Sustained effort. Learn from your coach and the vets on the team. If they do that, they’ll be successful next year.

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