How will Wizards’ offense run with Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
One aspect of the Wizards that could add intrigue and potentially make for a fun 2023-24 season is the unknown element of what they will be. The team was significantly reshaped this summer, namely with the trades sending Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis elsewhere.
What is arguably fairly clear, however, is that Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma are set up to be focal points in the Wizards’ offense. They both averaged 20-plus points per game last season and they also happen to be the highest-paid players on the team. The odds appear good; those two will be the Wizards’ top scorers this season.
So, how will that look in practice? Here are three areas to keep an eye on based on how they played last season; Kuzma for the Wizards and Poole for the Golden State Warriors…
Volume 3-point shooting
Get ready to see a lot of threes from Poole and Kuzma, as both of them were top-20 last season among qualified players in 3-point attempts per game. They combined to take over 15 threes per game with Poole at 7.8 attempts per contest and Kuzma at 7.5. The Wizards as a team averaged 31.7 3-point shots last season and Poole and Kuzma could account for about half that number all by themselves. Only once in Wizards franchise history have they featured two players who averaged at least 7.0 threes attempted per game (2019-20: Beal, Davis Bertans).
Now, what could work out in their favor is they like to shoot from different areas of the floor. Kuzma likes to shoot from the corners and is quite good at it (41% last season), meanwhile, Poole is more likely to shoot his threes from above the break as 86.7% of his attempts last season came from that range. Where there is some overlap is in their propensity to shoot from long distance. Both Poole and Kuzma were top-10 in the league last year in threes made from at least 30 feet out.
Both Poole and Kuzma ran a lot of pick-and-rolls last season for not being their team’s primary point guard. For Poole, that was skewed a bit by Stephen Curry missing 26 games for the Warriors, but still the numbers stand out. That is especially so when you compare them to Monte Morris, who was the Wizards’ starting point guard last season, and also Tyus Jones, who is in line to take his place.
Poole ran 472 pick-and-rolls last season compared to 318 for Jones in Memphis as the backup and spot starter behind Ja Morant. Morris ran 220 of them as the Wizards’ starter last year, while Kuzma outpaced him at 261. Barring something completely unforeseen, you can bet both Poole and Kuzma will run a decent amount of pick-and-rolls this year, even if Jones initiates more of them than he did with the Grizzlies.
Playing on the run
Pick-and-rolls aren’t the only way the Wizards will get Poole and Kuzma downhill. Based on how they were each utilized last season, there are likely going to be many dribble hand-off plays and opportunities in transition. Both Poole and Kuzma ranked top-20 among qualified NBA players last year in hand-off and transition plays per game.
Volume isn’t the only part of that equation, of course. There is also effectiveness and efficiency for head coach Wes Unseld Jr. to consider when designing his playbook. But both Poole and Kuzma operate well when they play in motion and these are some ways the Wizards can achieve that this season.