Ask away.

Comments: 418 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

tommysheppardwizards587 karma

Thanks everyone for participating. We know this isn't a finished product - we have needs, clearly have to work on defense.

I worked with the Wizards ticket office to bring all of the great Wizards fans to get a special ticket offer for Tuesday's game against the Knicks. We appreciate all of the support this season and look forward to building something special here.

namrog99440 karma

How do GMs talk with each other about trades etc.? I only play NBA 2k so I just assume there's some direct line between GMs that's very easily accessible.

tommysheppardwizards720 karma

We all have each other's phone numbers and emails. We see each other constantly. Mainly phone calls - I try to call five guys a day. Some of my biggest network is coaches.

NBA_acc336 karma

Lifelong DC sports fan here. Despite getting numerous high lottery picks and drafting All-NBA level guards such as Gilbert Arenas, John Wall, and Bradley Beal, the Wizards have yet to win 50 games in a season or make the conference finals in my lifetime. What do you intend to do differently from our previous front offices to ensure such a drought does not happen?

It really looks like you hit on the Rui pick. A lot of people thought we picked Hachimura too early, but it seems like he actually might be a steal and could make the all-rookie first team this season. I remember reading somewhere that Rui was always top 4 on your draft board. What was the thought process that lead to the Rui pick, and what did you see in him that other teams missed?

Brooks has commonly been cited as a great developmental coach. With John Wall returning next year, Beal continuing to improve every year, and a front office headed in the right direction, the Wizards will be looking to compete for a playoffs spot (and potentially home court in the first round). I understand he has experience coaching a team with championship aspirations with the Thunder. However, they failed to reach the finals after 2012 during Brooks' tenure. How do you expect Brooks to respond to the challenge of coaching a team with higher expectations?

tommysheppardwizards389 karma

I'll answer the Rui question.

Our biggest attraction to Rui is his versatility, gifted scorer, excellent shooter. Don't be surprised to play more wing in the future. He didn't play basketball until he was 14, so there wasn't a lot of wear and tear on his body during the formidable ages. His teammates love him. Rui is kind of where the game is going, the ability to guard multiple positions, score from all over the floor. He's shot over 40% from 3-point since the All-Star break, and that part of his game must expand. We love his character and his background.

tommysheppardwizards299 karma

Re: Coach Brooks - with John's return next year, we have a higher expectation. We've said from day one this year was truly going to be about player development - and we're reaching those goals. We want to win as man games as possible, but more importantly develop and watch our talent increase. We have seven players 22 and younger, 10 new roster players this year and it's critical that they all develop.

The_Polish_Kielbasa184 karma

Hi Tommy. I know Marcin Gortat was always praising you and he even invited you for his camp. How you remember Poland, did you like our country? Also, can we get a Gortat story? Best wishes from Poland!

tommysheppardwizards261 karma

It was great to see him the other night. We text back and forth all the time - it was awesome to have Marcin back home.

The stories we can't tell from Polish Heritage Night are the best ones, but...

When Marcin was a free agent, I went to Poland to recruit him to come to the Wizards. I gave him my cell phone, and I called John Wall and Bradley Beal. He got off the phone with them and Marcin said, "Ok, I'm in." It was great how much those players meant to him.

FriendlyCraig157 karma

What is the most magical moment in your career with the Wizards?

tommysheppardwizards384 karma

Pretty tough to top the night when John hit the game-winner in Game 6. Magical moment was followed by the worst memory - losing Game 7 - that was very difficult.

ap_2975135 karma

Thanks so much for this AMA. I've been a huge Wizards fan for years.

Aside from trying to re-sign Bertans, what are some other off-season plans? Are you happy with the current direction of the team and the players? Is Scotty Brooks the coach for the foreseeable future? (Like next 3-4 years even after his contract is up).

tommysheppardwizards148 karma

I think this season was a challenge without John Wall, from training camp on we knew that everyone would be evaluated on player development. I think the staff's done a good job of developing our talent and it will translate to the future. Scotty Brooks dusted off the blueprint he had to use in OKC with all of those younger players. He instilled the work ethic and held players accountable. We have seven players 22 years and younger and they've all shown improvement and it will be exciting to watch in the future.

thecircleisround80 karma

I just moved to DC, should I become a Wizards fan?

tommysheppardwizards170 karma


As a matter of fact, I worked with the Wizards ticket office to bring all of the great Wizards fans to get a special ticket offer for Tuesday's game against the Knicks. We appreciate all of the support this season and look forward to building something special here.

Uberlox77 karma

Hi Tommy, love how the culture has improving this year. What do you think of John Wall's recovery process so far?

tommysheppardwizards123 karma

We're extremely pleased with John's condition right now, his participation throughout the rehab process has been fantastic. I've never seen him this motivated to make a full recovery. We see John scrimmage with the Go-Go, we see him at practice with the Wizards. And while the rust is still there, there's plenty of signs that point to a full recovery.

ScaryBullfrog74 karma

Hi Tommy, thank you so much for doing this!

I've been really impressed with a lot of the moves you've made so far since you took over as GM, especially with regards to creating value out of pretty much nothing by sliding in as the third team in three team trades, such as in the Bertans, Robinson, and Bonga/Wagner trades. How are you able to find these opportunities, and moving forward is the goal still to find these types of deals?

tommysheppardwizards90 karma

You're just in constant communication with the 29 other teams. In the draft, but particularly in the free agency, you must know what every team's goals are and see if there's opportunities. Having trade exceptions and draft rights to players goes a long way to jump in deals.

SlimYancy52 karma

Love what's going on with the team right now. Have you considered Troy Brown at PG long term? Additionally are you a fan of stand-up comedy at all?

tommysheppardwizards95 karma

Troy is somebody we're comfortable with the ball and off the ball. The most important thing for Troy is to get minutes wherever he can, whether it be at the 1, 2, or 3.

I'm a huge fan of stand-up comedy - goes back to Richard Pryor and love Dave Chappelle.

flint-jack51 karma

Hi Tommy, thank you for doing this. I'm a fan from Europe and just wanted to say thank you for improving the culture and bringing some change.

What is the most important characteristic you are looking for when you evaluate if a player is suitable for this team?

tommysheppardwizards68 karma

High-character, data-driven. Ultra-competitive players who have demonstrated work ethic and love of the game.

Ye_Biz50 karma

Any overseas players that you have your eye on in this upcoming draft?

tommysheppardwizards76 karma

There will likely be between 10 and 15 international players taken in this draft. The game continues to be a global game.

Frognaros50 karma

Have we already started our draft board? If so, what are we gunning for this year in the draft?

tommysheppardwizards117 karma

Yes, we have. We've had eyes on every game, every coast, every conference, every country, not just for the draft, but for exhibit 10s, G League, etc.

Best overall player - certainly we have some needs at the wing for depth. The biggest thing we need is more talent and that's what we're looking to add. We have Chicago's second round pick this year as well, which is looking like a higher pick than expected.

Early-Weather46 karma

What is your favorite pair of socks?

tommysheppardwizards99 karma

They have Dr. J on them - Stance socks.

My new favorite pair will be the Latvian Laser socks on March 21.

BestPGJohnWall32 karma

Many people think that the answer at center for the Wizards is not currently on the roster. How do you plan to find a center, hopefully one who is good defensively and rebounding? Is it through the draft, trades, or do you believe that one of our bigs on the roster can be the future center?

tommysheppardwizards82 karma

If you look at the way the game is played, it's harder and harder to have significant money tied in to one player at the center position. We found it as a necessity to do center-by-committee. We're pleased with the progress of Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, and Anzejs Pasecniks.

MPS4432 karma

Based on your love of Trade Exceptions do you think your nickname should be Trade Exception Tommy? I was a huge fan of your creation of the Tomas Satoransky exception this summer, the Isaiah Thomas and the Jordan McRae exceptions this deadline. Can’t wait to see how you use it.

tommysheppardwizards42 karma

We don't need nicknames, but we've taken advantage of trade exceptions over the years. We have a great staff - Brett Greenberg, Ben Eidelberg, etc. who do a great job of giving us every opportunity for options to add talent.

Brofessor10127 karma

What was your career growth like? I’m interested in how you got to where you are. I hope to accomplish 10% of what you have.

tommysheppardwizards57 karma

When I finished playing football at New Mexico State, I worked in their athletic department. I got an opportunity after I graduated to work at UNLV, which was the biggest break of my career since I got a chance to work with Jerry Tarkanian and Tim Grgurich as well as Rollie Massimino and Jay Wright. Then I went to the Denver Nuggets for nine years all the while I was working for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked three Olympic games, four World Championships, Pan-American Games, three Olympic festivals. These all gave me a tremendous experience to work with elite athletes and coaches. After that, I came to the Wizards and have been here 17th season.

vizualbasic27 karma

Do you have a feeling for how basketball analytics talent compares overall to analytics talent in more traditional business spaces (such as consumer goods/e-commerce)? Ahead or behind other industries in general?

tommysheppardwizards50 karma

I think it's ever-evolving, it's critical that you understand what you're looking for when you're working with analytics. There's a lot of information out there, so it's critical you're able to understand what the numbers are telling you and how to apply it. Both sides of the ball - offense/defense - so many different lenses that you can look at. We have the godfather of basketball analytics on our coaching staff in Dean Oliver paired with Joe Sill - two of the highly respected analytics folks in the league.

BestPGJohnWall21 karma

With both Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier as two quality backup PGs on the roster currently, what do you plan to do with them? Are you planning on re-signing Napier to be a third point guard, or are you going to let him walk?

Also, what do you think about this trade: Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith, 2021 1st round pick, 2023 Chicago 2nd for Myles Turner?

tommysheppardwizards35 karma

We want to win as many games as possible in the last 20 games, but most importantly continue to develop every player on this roster. Players only get better with minutes. We've had tremendous success developing players on the Go-Go within our system. Admiral, Johnathan, Garrison, Chiozza, Pasecniks. In Admiral's case, he's played over 1300 minutes - which was our goal.

tiboka21 karma

Hi, do you intend to rock with wall and Beal or to rebuild? I know this is too much, but thx anyway

tommysheppardwizards60 karma

Bradley Beal's one of the ELITE two-guards in the NBA and an obvious All-Star snub. We feel with the return of John Wall, it will open up the court even more for Bradley. We can't wait to see them back on the floor again, back together next season.

Deeman1615 karma

Hello Mr. Sheppard with the young developing players like Bonga, Robinson, Wagner etc. that you have acquired who has impressed you the most with their play on the court?

tommysheppardwizards37 karma

That's like picking your favorite child - I have seven kids. But we're pleased with each one, they've all shown flashes of why we think they're great pieces for the future.

Early-Weather14 karma

Who are the draft selections on the board that interest you as potential fits for this team next year? If loathe to list names, what positions do you see need at?

tommysheppardwizards71 karma

I cannot mention names, but the draft is deeper this year than people realize.

youngggggslu4 karma

would you entertain the idea of adding a 3rd star to the team?

tommysheppardwizards34 karma

Yes, who wouldn't want that?

namrog994 karma

What was it like to be shouted out by Freddie Gibbs? Did he reach out and wanna talk or is he just respecting your game?

tommysheppardwizards19 karma

One of my all-time favorite movies. But, I'm 51 and been called Tommy my whole life. So I had the name first.