New Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. claims the team is focused on improving defense in 2021. The Wizards were one of the best offensive teams last season but they mightily struggled on the defensive end. "I felt like I was talking to the same person, and I say that because the message was clear: They want to be coached, they are looking for the accountability," Unseld Jr.
said on Monday, per ESPN. ".. I think they both know offense is not the issue right now [for the Wizards]. There is buy-in right now. We'll see as we get into training camp and the preseason, there has to be carryover. [But] there is an alignment there in thought.
We are all on the same page as to what is going to be required of them. The best part about that is both of them, as leaders of this team, are committed to being better on that end." Unseld spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.
"The one thing that has always stood out with Wes is his intelligence about the game, where the game is headed, the modern NBA, and certainly his proficiency on the defensive side of the ball, which is an area which we absolutely must address immediately," Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard said.
"I think that is something he will deliver on."
The Wizards thrilled to have Unseld
"He worked with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when they were young," Sheppard said. "With [Nikola] Vucevic, Tobias Harris and [Victor] Oladipo in Orlando, and you look at the MVP season that Jokic had and Jokic was begging him not to leave Denver.
Jamal Murray, all the different players that he touched there ... when players call you to tell you that you should hire this guy unsolicited, that is pretty impressive to me." Wizards owner Ted Leonsis also spoke highly of Unseld.
"You've seen that a lot of assistant coaches are taking the next step, especially this summer," Leonsis said. "I think there is a reason for that ... Sometimes when you are a second- or third-time head coach, I don't think you work as hard.
I think you rely on your assistant coaches. What I found with the interviews and especially in talking with Wes, how they do the game-planning, they know the players, they know the tendencies, and they have to work really hard to prepare for each and every game.
"I looked at our team and there were times when I thought we lost games that we shouldn't have. Yes, defensively, but I think having a work ethic and a demanding style will be a very good point of differentiation for us."