Keys to success beyond The Big Three

The Wizards' mix of glasswork, free-throw shooting and better ballhandling has turned them into a unique Eastern Conference contender, stats wiz John Hollinger explains.

Updated: April 13, 2005, 10:33 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Let's play a game called "Name That Team."

Clue No. 1: It's a playoff-bound Eastern Conference team that leads the NBA in offensive rebounding and free-throw attempts.

Clue No. 2: The club ranks 25th in 3-point percentage, 25th in shooting percentage and 27th in assists.

Sounds like your typical bruising, bricking band of East Coast thugs, right? A grind-it-out, walk-it-up, low-post team like the Detroit Pistons or Indiana Pacers, perhaps?

Nope. It's the Washington Wizards?!? Yes, the Wizards, who clinched the playoffs Wednesday night for the first time since 1997 with a 93-82 home victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Despite the league's most perimeter-oriented offense, the Wizards post stats that conjure images of the McFilthy-McNasty era. You would expect a team that got so much offense from the backcourt to be near the top of the league in assists, to be adept 3-point shooters and to take relatively few free throws. The Wizards are unusual in that they turn that entire stereotype on its head.


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