The Wizards started their first two games of this season with less effort, more selfishness and more frustration expressed from the players than should be accepted. No matter how much the team owner wants to use age as an excuse, these are not good signs that the franchise is successfully establishing “new traditions,” the message printed on t-shirts given to fans on opening night. Some mistakes are okay, but the aspects shown thus far by the team are not what you want infiltrating a young, impressionable team. But, alas, each next game is a chance for the Wizards to turn it around, we think. Tonight they take on the Bucks in Milwaukee at 8:30 PM ET. For 3-on-3 today, we have Jeremy Schmidt from the ESPN TrueHoop Network Bucks blog Bucksketball, TAI’s Rashad Mobley, and myself, Kyle Weidie. Here we go…
Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Is Andray Blatche going to crush Milwaukee’s power forwards on the block in an effort to show how mature he is?
MOBLEY: Let’s see, after the first game, Blatche calls out everyone who passes him the ball for not getting him the ball in the post — a place he has routinely eschewed during his career. He repeats this anger via Twitter later that night, backtracks via Twitter the next day, and this amidst Flip Saunders having a pre-practice meeting with him to sort things out. The next game, he started off shooting 0-for-7 en route to a 2-for-13, seven point performance. He may crush Milwaukee’s forwards, and he may think he’s showing maturity, but given his track record, it’ll all come undone soon enough.
SCHMIDT: He certainly has the talent. He’s a bad matchup for the Bucks: Too quick for Andrew Bogut, too strong for most of their power forwards. But he’s as much of a threat to remove himself from the game mentally as anyone it would seem. I know there was some noise about him being grouchy already, but I think if he’s demanding more post touches, ultimately, that’s a wonderful thing for Washington.
WEIDIE: We’re at the stage where Blatche is nobly, at least for him, trying a bit too hard… pressing. Unfortunately, some of this effort is focused in the wrong areas, and on this young Wizards team, he has no place to hide. In the past, there have been scorer’s to take the pressure and attention off of Blatche — and maybe Nick Young is starting to take that role. Another problem: Blatche is neither tough mentally or physically. If he wants the ball more in the post, he’s got to be strong and hold his post position. That didn’t work out on the VERY FIRST PLAY in Atlanta. That being said, watch his 17-foot jumper be on versus the Bucks, or something like that, which will then magically open up the offense for the Wizards.
Kyle Weidie: Wizards fans and scribes alike fell in love with Shaun Livingston’s game/comeback attempt when he signed with Washington in early 2010. His numbers thus far with the Bucks look decent… Is he the perfect contrasting backup to Brandon Jennings in what is usually a methodical, plodding Scott Skiles offense?
MOBLEY: Shaun Livingston is the perfect contrasting backup to Brandon Jennings, but it has little to do with Scott Skiles’ offense. Jennings’ quickness causes the defense to collapse on him, which means he’ll either find the open man, or use an additional gear to get where he wants on the court. At 6’7″, Livingston has the ability to see the entire floor, and possibly see a crease or an opening before the opposing defense. He’s not as quick as he was, but his basketball IQ remains high. I’m still bitter he’s not Wall’s backup.
SCHMIDT: Skiles longed for shot creators all season last year. In Livingston and Mike Dunleavy, he’s got creators on the wings in spades. Livingston starred in Milwaukee’s opening night loss against the Bobcats with his post play when the ‘Cats put smaller guards on him. If he can score out of the post and be a mismatch for the opposition half the time and spend the rest of his time coming in as an extra wing and keep the ball moving, his versatility will be perfect for the Bucks this season.
WEIDIE: Livingston recently told the Journal Times: ”My knee is probably about 80 to 90 percent of what it was before the injury … I’m at a point now where I don’t feel my leg is going to give out. My leg doesn’t get tired before the rest of my body gets tired now.” Livingston is tall and has a very high basketball IQ and sense. If he can keep working on the consistency of his jumper and his strength, the 26-year old might be able to stick around in the league as a backup PG, for any team, for six more seasons. Who would’ve ever imagined that?
Rashad Mobley: Scott Skiles had the reputation of being a tough hard-nosed player, and that has stayed intact during his coaching days. A well-placed postgame curse word notwithstanding, Flip Saunders is generally a laid back players coach. If John Wall was coached by Skiles, would he be a better player, the same as he is now, or even worse off?
MOBLEY: I think a Skiles/Wall pairing would mirror a Doug Collins/(insert a pro team here) coaching tenure. For two years, Skiles would get the absolute best out of Wall, and in that third year, the Washington Post’s Michael Lee would start quoting anonymous sources telling him that Wall was not happy with Skiles’ style of play. Flip may be a laid back players coach, but he’s consistent, and Wall knows what to expect on day-to-day basis, which is not always a great thing. I think Wall would be a better player under Skiles (for two years).
SCHMIDT: Skiles has given Brandon Jennings an immense amount of freedom over his two seasons in the league, and there’s little reason to suspect he wouldn’t have done the same with Wall. Ultimately though, his system probably isn’t as good a fit for Wall as Washington’s is. Point guards spend plenty of time off the ball, spotting up in Milwaukee, and while Skiles loves to push the ball and run, offenses run by him never quite produce at a high level. Wall is going to be fine wherever he is and maybe he’d be better off defensively, but he’s probably just fine with Saunders.
WEIDIE: Wall has been just fine under Saunders. Flip is a smart teacher, has experience with other top-notch point guards, and his staff has been dedicated in their instruction. However, Wall aiming to become a vocal leader of a franchise is not often made easy with Saunders’ reputation for being a passive when it comes to holding players accountable for their actions. Again, I like Saunders as a coach, I just don’t think the franchise should expect to a pair him with Wall for the duration if they expect to keep the 2010 No. 1 draft pick around past his rookie contract.