The worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the stars get the calls. It’s just one more factor weighing against the Washington Wizards, who entered Monday’s game with the Indiana Pacers as the league’s only winless team at 0-8.
While the Wizards are contributing to their demise by falling in love with 3-pointers and jumpers, even when they do drive the ball to the basket, they aren’t getting the calls.
Through eight games, the Wizards ranked last in the league in scoring (86.6 points per game) and last in the league in free throw attempts (16.0). Of the league’s 30 teams, 25 get to the line at least 20 times per game.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman has noticed, and his players have noticed as well. But complaining about the officiating is one sure way to end up getting phone call from the league office, and finding your next paycheck a few thousand dollars short.
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect,” Wittman said after the Wizards‘ 107-101 loss to Dallas last Wednesday. The Wizards went to the line 11 times to the Mavericks’ 33. The Dallas game wasn’t the most egregious example.
The Wizards had a 7-to-34 free throw attempt disparity against the Celtics in their third game of the season. In Game 5 against the Pacers, the differential was 7 to 24.
“These young guys just have to make a name for themselves, and it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it,” Wittman said. “So, maybe we just have to send the game film every day to the league.”
It’s not certain whether or Wittman has followed through, but his message has resonated with his players, who understand the importance of staying aggressive. With the team off to such a dismal start, getting to the line is a confidence builder.
“When you got to have the ability to break someone down, whether it’s throwing it into a post man or taking someone off the dribble and get to the line, that’s what we need to do,” Wittman said. “When we’re missing shots and not getting to the line, we don’t give ourselves a chance.”
Where the Wizards have been more successful is on the defensive end. They’ve been holding opponents to 94.4 points, 10th in the league. When the shots finally start falling, and a they get a few calls, the wins should follow.
“I’m not going to get into what’s going on there [with the free throw disparity]” Wittman said. “Our guys have just got to continue to play hard. I think we can’t get frustrated with it and become a jump shooting team. Respect will come.”