Reading Flip Saunders via his presser | Wizards Blog Truth About

Reading Flip Saunders via his presser

Updated: September 22, 2009
I had the opportunity to attend Flip Saunders’ presser this afternoon. Many thanks to the Wizards PR team and their openness to blogs. Mike Jones of the Washington Times was also there (obviously), as well as Mike Prada of Bullets Forever. My thoughts, quotes, tid-bits, and reads are below.

“Right now I plan on playing him strictly as a one,” Flip told David Aldridge, shooting down the idea of Gilbert Arenas spending time off the point. “He has to maintain his scoring aggressiveness as a one, and let people play off of him,” continued Saunders. Meaning, team scoring and passing will be on Arenas’ shoulders. The ball will be in his hands a lot, eighty-percent of the time according to Saunders. “He has a great opportunity to really improve because he’s gonna have the ball in his hands like never before.”

Speaking of that ‘off the point’ position, Saunders said it will be an open competition for the starting two-guard role. He went on to explain that in his offensive system, “twos and threes are pretty much interchangeable,” and that it’s about the “guys who play the best together.”

In terms of overall rotation, Saunders is going to stick to his eight OR nine guys. Playing 12 guys every game can throw the team out of rhythm. Yes, there will be nights where 10 or 11 guys will play, but that is contingent on match-ups. Saunders will adapt to certain situations, but also wants to assure his main guys that they will get a majority of the minutes. “My philosophy has always been that you try to win the beginning and end of quarters,” said Saunders, meaning it’s important to have the main guys playing together for at least that estimated 20 minute time period.

On the big issue of defense, and in what area the Wizards most need to improve, Saunders outlined the ability to contain dribble penetration, which is the toughest thing for NBA teams to do because of the rules. He also mentioned the importance of having all players in proper help position. He, again, stressed better offense as a path to improving transition defense and limiting giving easy chances to the other team.

In regard to allowing so many three point attempts, and makes, in the past, Saunders again spoke about limiting what creates open long distance shots the most, dribble penetration and opportunities in transition. “You gotta do your dirty work early,” said Saunders, meaning that three point chances given to opponents are the end result of a chain reaction. Improving basic defensive principles will naturally result in less open chances from deep.

Flip on other topics:

(and my ‘reads’)


“This team is no different than any team in any sport.”

Everyone ‘hopes’ to be healthy, but it shouldn’t be a concern to absolutely focus upon.

Youth (specifically Nick Young and Andray Blatche)

“You don’t look at those guys as being young players, but maybe players now that are starting to emerge, more veteran players that understand what they have to do on the floor in order to stay on the floor, in order for the team to be successful.”

No more excuses, time for the kids to grow up.


“You don’t want to give games away, so the deeper you are, you protect yourselves in situations.”

The Wizards have plenty of horses and they all need to always be ready … you never know what will happen on a nightly basis. Nothing is worse than a player who squanders an opportunity that lands in his lap.


“From day one, you have to position yourself and your players to be able to get the rest you need to get.”

Flip doesn’t want to have to over-tax his players, but if things aren’t working, he’ll maintain a tight lineup.

The “Process”

“You have to understand the process that goes into it, and understand that it’s important to be able to play come June as much as it is to play in December. The games that we play in November, December, January, are important games. The importance of the game doesn’t change.”

Flip talked often about the “process” …and here, he was going on about Arenas’ minutes, and minutes in general. Basically, the process is dictated by Saunders because he’s ‘the’ coach, and the players must adhere to his “process.”

Gilbert’s Limitations

“We’ll just kinda have to wait and see.”

We’ll just kinda have to wait and see.

Lessons From Detroit

“You have to treat every player fairly, but you can’t treat them all the same.”

Flip has to be a guidance counselor of sorts. He will be willing to adjust and listen to players, but the players also must stick to his ‘core’ philosophies.

Where to Learn

“Players are like coaches, we steal from every body.”

Flip said that Nick Young has tape of Rip Hamilton and Reggie Miller to watch.


“I like multi-dimensional players, I do not like one-dimensional players. A one dimensional player becomes too easy for another team to play against.”

If you’re not a ‘main’ player (the Big Three & Haywood), you better be ready to play defense in order to earn minutes.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.