Chronicling Bad Wizards Defense vs. Phoenix | Wizards Blog Truth About

Chronicling Bad Wizards Defense vs. Phoenix

Updated: December 21, 2009

Why is Gilbert Arenas always so ready to give up a foul after he or his team commits a turnover?

Why is Caron Butler always shuffling/switching his pivot foot when he catches the ball, leading to a travel?

Why are the Wizards entrenched in bad communication, often running into each other on pick and roll defense?

This team is surrounded by a lot of questions, these are just some examples. The quandary of this bad Washington Wizards team won’t simply be resolved by ‘when Mike Miller becomes healthy’, ‘when Gilbert Arenas gets his mentality back’ or ‘when Flip Saunders is able to reign in his players to properly run his offense’.

Running the offense is one glaring problem because this team was supposed to be able to score. Screw the offense for this post, let’s talk defense.

Defense usually just requires concentration, focus and hustle. Not every possession against Phoenix was bad defensively, but many, many were. And when you’re losing, it’s better to concentrate on what went wrong.

Thus, I chronicled every point scored by Phoenix and used my judgement to assign blame for each. Some points were the responsibility of multiple parties, and I’ve indicated the percentage split when applicable. It’s also worth nothing that there were several examples of bad defense where Phoenix simply didn’t make an open shot.

Each defensive possession is described in the spreadsheet below, which shows the total points, and fraction thereof, each player allowed, the minutes he played, and the points given up on a per minute basis, which is how the players are ordered from top to bottom, worst points given up per minute to best. The second sheet shows the defensive details.

Things to notice:

  • JaVale McGee is still getting lost, a ton … and that’s why he is the worst in points given up per minute.
  • Caron Butler‘s new commitment to defense? How about committing to hustle first. Butler does not play with the want and desire necessary to be a decent defensive player.
  • Much of the same can be said about Gilbert Arenas, who finds himself getting caught on or trailing screens way too much.
  • Earl Boykins gets a lot of points scored on him because of his size, but he also tends to just take himself away from defensive commitment with a general lack of involvement.
  • Antawn Jamison is surprisingly the lowest/best. I thought he’d be higher because of his slow feet and occasional lack of awareness. But this is just a one game sample, and he does put himself in the right position for the most part.
  • At this point, Randy Foye‘s entire game is lost.
  • Worth noting that much of the Wizards’ second unit played against the Phoenix scrubs, who only mustered 19 4th quarter points after a Nash-led Suns team scored 30, 33 and 39 in the first three quarters respectively. So, the numbers of some could be better than their defensive reality.
  • Also, below the spreadsheet, there is a log of each point scored by Phoenix with a couple screen shots.

1st Quarter

(2) – The Wizards start off on defense look anxious, as if to say, ‘How are these guys ultimately going to score on us?’ Grant Hill hits a left wing jumper dead in Caron Butler’s face.

(4) – Steve Nash hits a left corner two in Gilbert Arenas‘ face. Both times, Suns shooters have gotten the slightest bit of separation from ball screens. Caron got his on a post screen/switch with DeShawn Stevenson.

(6) – Gilbert and Caron lax on pick and roll D, Haywood late to help, DeShawn doesn’t put a body on Amare Stoudamire who gets the tip back. 25% each.

(8) – Haywood/Arenas pick and roll defense (pictures below). Nash comes off the picks so fast that he gains incredible separation. Arenas must beat him to the spot so he’s not trailing so bad on the screen. Brendan Haywood can’t leave that much space on the help when Stoudemire isn’t cutting to the hoop.

(10) – Why is Jamison out of position so badly? (picture below) AJ steps out to help with Nash on the Frye ball screen, but when Frye starts to slip and cut to the basket (notice Jamison is aware of this because he’s putting his arm around Channing), he gets his feet caught in quick-sand. Look how much separation Frye is able to get from Jamison as he plods his heavy feet around the 3-point line.

(13) – Team Transition Defense. Arenas, Stevenson, Haywood, Butler. 25-25-25-25%

If you notice the picture below, Butler was the first wing player back, but he just goes to a spot on the floor. There’s no team communication on who to pick up.

Jamison was back early, so he picked up Richardson. Haywood was focused on Stoudemire coming down the court at first, but then, as you can see, he gets all turned around. It probably would have made the most sense for Caron to practice awareness and pick up Channing Frye, who is trailing Nash. And that way, Stevenson, who is the last Wizards defender back for one reason or another, it happens, would pick up the last Suns perimeter player down the court, who is Grant Hill in the bottom right of your picture.

In any case, nothing worked out, Frye hit a three.

(15) – Stoudemire 1-on-1 move against Haywood.

(17) – Stevenson lost track of his cutting man, Richardson.

(19) – Nick Young lost Richardson on a double screen, bad help from Jamison and Butler. 60-20-20%

(21) – Caron Butler turnover, Nick Young watching for a second as his man, Richardson, sprints back for a fast-break bucket. 65-35%

(23) – Steve Nash, height of Earl Boykins.

(24) – 1 FT, Defensive 3-seconds, Brendan Haywood.

(26) – Phoenix got the Wizards’ defense moving and Nick Young closed out poorly on Goran Dragic, who drove to the hoop.

(28) – Amundson via poor pick and roll defense from Jamison and Boykins. Running into each other again.

(30) – Amundson scored on a crazy Nash pass after Nash caught an Antawn Jamison deflection. We’ll blame Nick Young for giving up and wanting to go on offense after the deflection.

2nd Quarter

(32) – Stoudamire got deep post position on Blatche, made a good one-on-one move.

(35) – Bucket And 1, Stoudamire out-working Blatche in the paint.

(38) – Blatche was already helping, McGuire got caught helping too deep in the paint and left Dudley open for a three in the corner.

(40) – Dragic drive on Arenas for a layup, second chance courtesy of Butler‘s man getting a rebound. 50-50%

(42) – Grant Hill very tough shot on Dominic McGuire.

(44) – Mostly bad help defense on Caron Butler, but we can also blame McGuire for the drive and Haywood for his help.

(46) – Team Defense: Arenas, Haywood, McGuire, Butler. Dragic drive and dish to Amundson.

(48) – Arenas clear path foul after Blatche turnover. 30-70%

(50) – Arenas gets caught on double screen, Nash jumper.

(53) – Richardson corner three, lazy Caron Butler transition defense. Sheer, frustrating laziness (pictures below).

Do you notice Grant Hill, Caron’s man, sprinting back while Butler casually jogs back, taking his sweet, sweet time? I do.

Dominic McGuire picks up the cutting Hill while Richardson is left open in the opposite corner. Meanwhile, notice how Caron is just watching the action unfold. Still sauntering up the court, he goes to guard NOBODY … not even taking the time to recover to Richardson, the open man.

Eventually the ball finds itself to J-Rich for the trey.

(55) – Grant Hill gets a couple screens, no sense of urgency from Caron.

(57) – Gilbert Arenas looking funny chasing around Nash.

(59) – Nash 2 FTs, fouled in transition by Foye.

(60) – Frye 1 FT, bad transition defense: Arenas, Haywood, Butler, Jamison.

(63) – Butler loses track of Channing Frye’s three.

3rd Quarter

(65) – Amare Stoudemire got too much space from Haywood.

(67) – Transition: Grant Hill made Caron Butler look like an old man hobbling after him.

(70) – Gil gets switched on Richardson and off Nash. Post move And 1.

(72) – Richardson strong shot in the paint over Stevenson off the pass.

(74) – Channing Frye jumper on slow recovery by Jamison.

(76) – Stoudemire lob dunk from Nash due to Caron‘s gamble, Stevenson slowness to pick up Nash in transition, Haywood‘s help, etc., etc. Transition D. Arenas and Jamison were at fault too, just because.

(78) – 2 Stoudemire FTs, foul on Jamison, this week’s episode of Lost directed by JaVale McGee.

(80) – McGee goaltend on second chance attempt by Stoudemire. McGee didn’t block out anyone and Caron couldn’t block out Stoudemire. 75-25%

(82) – Wiz try some zone defense trapping. Richardson sneaks behind McGee‘s line of defense and Nick Young‘s communication. Easy pickins for Nash. 65-35%

(84) – 2 Stoudemire FTs, Butler foul in bad help against Nash drive on Boykins. Butler didn’t attempt to block out Stoudemire on the rebound.

(86) – Mostly Nash against the smaller Boykins, but McGee could have stepped up and helped. 75-25%

(88) – Richardson made a hard cut against the separation of Nick Young and the lack of help on the screen from McGee. 50-50%

(91) – The Suns run a ton of screens, I’ll put this on Foye, Jamison and Boykins, the latter two really seeming to not care about defense. Channing Frye three.

(93) – Richardson easyness: 50% Foye absent mindedness, 25% to Blatche and 25% to Boykins too.

(95) – Blatche didn’t block out Stoudemire, he got second chance points.

(97) – Blatche goaltend on Richardson. Blame Boykins for giving up on Richardson’s cut and McGee for not seeing the ball on the lob.

(100) – All 5 Wizards (Boykins, JaVale, Blatche, Young, Foye) jog back in transition as McGee missed a shot and showed the frustration on his face … but blame Foye for not picking up Dudley.

(102) – Stoudemire completely slips the pick he was going to set for Nash and McGee is completely unaware.

4th Quarter

(103) – 1 Lopez FT, Nick Young will get the foul called on him, but McGee ran away from blocking Lopez out, blame him.

(104) – 1 FT, Alando Tucker, drive and foul by Foye.

(106) – Goran splits Blatche/Boykins attempt at D … very bad, McGee late on the help. 40-40-20%

(108) – Tucker drive, Foye lost in zone, McGee bad closeout. 75-25%

(111) – Goran trey. Some sort of weird zone defense. Nick Young is out of position, Dom McGuire doesn’t recover to help fast enough. 80-20%

(113) – Tucker drive on Nick Young, McGee matador help. 70-30%

(115) – Lopez must read JaVale McGee‘s scouting report, Epic Vale fell bad for a pump/head fake here.

(117) – Dragic lob to Lopez … Foye/McGee/Blatche. 35-35-30%

(118) – Earl Clark FT, foul courtesy of Andray Blatche.

(119) – Dragic FT, foul by Foye.

(121) – Tucker FTs, drive and foul on Young.

More to come ….

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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.