Entitlement. It’s a word Flip Saunders has used before when referring to his “starters”, i.e., JaVale McGee and especially Andray Blatche (I’m assuming).
“Do some of our starters — and I don’t know that — do they feel right now that they’re entitled as far as to play 30 or 35 [minutes] no matter how they’re playing?,” said Saunders after his team embarrassingly lost to the Indiana Pacers at home in their first contest after the All-Star break. His inference was on minutes instead of starting versus coming off the bench, but does it make a difference?
Evidently not, as Saunders seemingly still hasn’t found the answer he’s been looking for from his team. And as McGee and Blatche are still trotted out on the floor night in and night out, pretty much no matter what they or the team do. Including the Indiana game, Washington has lost six in a row since the festivities in Los Angeles (seven overall); the only games in which the Wiz Kids were competitive? The matches against Dallas and Miami when Blatche didn’t play, supposedly due to a hip injury. (And no, trying to mount a furious comeback against a mediocre Golden State team at home doesn’t fully count as competitive.)
To the point at hand, why do Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee continue to have starting lineup security? Because their psyche is potentially so fragile that the team must handle them like trying to get a stick of butter to stay on a hot grill for more than 45 seconds? Hint: they are soft and their attention-span and/or effort usually lasts about as long as that stick can stay consistently solid under grill-like temperatures.
Or perhaps it’s because they have more experience. Because they are more heavily invested in by the franchise. Because while looking foolishly inept at applied learning that they will probably make less overall mistakes than rookies such as Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin.
The challenge for the Wizards, their coaching staff and management, is what have Blatche and McGee done to deserve an entrenched position in the starting lineup? Because it’s lost upon many why. You tell me.
The franchise, it’s evident, is baffled as to how to properly develop Blatche and McGee. The former, more and more, is becoming a lost cause while the latter, just seems lost.
I’ve said before, Wizards fans, you love you some JaVale McGee. You love his dunks, you love his blocked shots, you love his musk. When this thing gets sorted out, you and him might get an apartment together. But when it comes to basketball, JaVale is Brick Tamlin. He loves lamp. And by lamp, I mean, he loves jumping in the air at pump fakes more than a teenage boy virgin at a porn convention.
What are McGee’s consistent mistakes telling us? To excuse his youth? That he’s not really that dedicated to the game, and that the fables about his pedigree, with a WNBA mom and all, being off the charts is just false advertising? Or that he’d rather just play instead of learn?
What about Blatche? He’s been the same guy since … forever. Dumb luck, perhaps, to be where he is today. Maybe in a different world, a different environment, a different team, he could be special. But as the main guy with a ill-advised contract extension (hindsight being 20/20 here) on a bad team, he is worthless.
The same people who bitch about this year’s Wizards team being bad are likely the same people who would be calling for them to tank under the contingency of mediocre, non-playoff success. But the team’s inability to implicitly state that they are starting Blatche and McGee because they are helping conveys the same inability to say that they aren’t a de facto way of taking for increased lottery combinations, or that other options would neither help nor hurt.
What other choice does Flip Saunders have? Not much. Winning with this roster is like trying to fix a broken leg with a Band-Aid. He puts his best talent out there, he coaches his ass off … but to no avail.
“I know that losses don’t mean there is no progress,” Saunders once told the Washington Post’s Mike Wise. Unfortunately, he’s playing Blatche and McGee like the games matter.
But who am I to criticize and NBA-caliber athlete? Who am I to poke sticks at the judgement of those who are paid to judge? Past being cognizant of what seems to work and what doesn’t … past being able to easily compare the effort of one NBA player to another … I guess, no one. So be no one with me and give your opinion in the poll below.