With the commencement of the Washington Wizards training camp this past Saturday, the questions are starting to mount, many of which won’t be answered until preseason games are played and upon the Wiz Euro Trip taking place.
Question #1: What is Flip Saunders doing at training camp?
As mentioned in the washingtonwizardsblog.com blog from training camp day 1, K.C. Jones is also at camp, but he has ties to the franchise (coached the Bullets from 1973-1976), and hasn’t been in the NBA coaching game since 1992 (Seattle Sonics). The Hall of Famer currently works for the University of Hartford Athletic Department.
Flip Saunders, on the other hand, would seemingly be on the prowl for another NBA head coaching gig. But now Saunders is running defensive drills in Wizards training camp, the occurrence of which was deemed worthy of a bold font in the blogging of Johnson and Buckhantz. My initial line of thinking was to wonder who invited Saunders to camp. If it was Grunfeld, does this ruffle the feathers of Eddie Jordan? I doubt it as Jordan seems like a ‘check the ego at the door’ type and would welcome input from any angle.
I’m not sure if inviting other coaches to camp is a regular occurrence in the NBA or not, but I was certainly thrown off when Buckhantz blogged: “All the coaches are back, and as Dave mentioned, some “guest” coaches are here.” So, should we read into the fact that Buckhantz. used quotes around ‘guest’ or is it more worthy for The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks?
Question #2: Will the defense really improve?
Über fan docklinkin is all over the live training camp blogs…with great questions, specifically pertaining to perimeter defense. Back at the end of May, I did a post examining the defense of the Wizards in 07-08, good news and bad news. A couple facts from that post: The Wizards gave up an NBA worst 38.6% on opponent 3-point shots (tied with the Pacers), and the Wizards opposition also jacked treys on 27% of all attempts, an NBA high.
Dave Johnson posed one of doclinkin’s inquiries about the perimeter D to Antawn Jamison who said, “the key was not to getting beaten off the dribble so quickly…when that happens he said we are relying too much on our second line of defense….and then in the scramble guys gets left open on the perimeter..in fact as they work on this defensive spacing Randy Ayers just said ..better spacing will help in the ability to recover and get out to the shooters….”
So, judging by that comment, it’s more player technique and desire over coaching strategy. Sure, Randy Ayers is working on fundamentals, but at this point, if you’ve made it all the way to the NBA, you should know how to move your feet, and are either too slow or unmotivated if you are unable to do so.
Question #3: Should we panic, or be fatalistically concerned (as Bullets fans have a penchant to do) that Antawn Jamison is already “tweaking” and “straining” things?
Seems like Jamison taking a “cautious” approach would be a prerequisite for a 32-year old….but I can’t help thinking that I should be walking around all day with my fingers crossed.
At least AJ is throwing down the gauntlet with challenges to his successor: “My message to Andray is: ‘You want to be treated like a veteran, you’re ready for the task, well you need to show it. We need him to be consistent. … We need Andray this year more than we need anybody. We need him to bring energy night in and night out. And I’m not talking about four out of five games. Every night. There’s no reason Andray shouldn’t be averaging 14, 15 points game.”
Jamison is basically saying that his minutes will go down (as I can see a cautious approach being a theme for the season), and Andray better take advantage of the opportunity to play more….the team depends on it.
Question #4: What is Gilbert Arenas learning about leadership?
…..Is it about time, or will he ever?
Ivan Carter’s Washington Post headline said it all, “Even While Silent, Arenas Is the Talk of the Wizards.” Arenas has become so good at garnering attention that he causes a fuss even when he is ducking through back doors trying to avoid attention. So while Gilbert claims that he didn’t want to “take all the attention,” and bring “everybody else down,” I’m still not sure how he thought he would avoid attention by not participating in media day. Players know they will get fined, and stars like him should realize that such acts will make headlines on ESPN, warranted or not. Oh well, much ado about nothing I suppose.
What’s more important is how Gilbert will be as a leader among his teammates going forward, and not the perception of the media. As the reports come in, they recount Arenas organizing early shooting sessions for younger players, being dubbed “Coach Arenas” by Eddie Jordan, and overall just being there, as opposed to not being there, which was the case after his initial knee surgery last November.
Overall, an encouraging sign in my opinion, but when it comes to Agent Wacky Pants, I’ll always take a ‘wait and see’ approach. But the more this group of players, young and old, continue to be around each other, the more prevalent that theme of constancy becomes, allowing for a greater chance of success in the long run.
More to come on the players: the newbies, the returnees, and the developing.