Let’s do this again, shall we? The Wizards take on the Celtics tonight in the second game of their, home-and-home set, this one in Boston at 7:30 PM ET. And while Washington finally showed some effort in their fourth game of the season, some wonder if it was enough, or if they will simply improve upon it. If anything, it’s a chance for the Wiz Kids with their young legs to show they are capable of taking advantage of a veteran team. Three questions, three answers with TAI’s Adam McGinnis, Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend… 3-on-3 starts now…
#1. John Wall finally had a good game statistically against Boston in D.C. (19 points on 6-13 shooting, 7-9 free-throws with eight assists, one turnover and seven rebounds), but how good of a job did he do leading the team? How was his body language?
McGINNIS: Versus the Celtics, Wall led the team effectively, converted more free throws and was able to create points in fast break situations with better body control after being hit. The whole body language criticism has been over-played and will subside completely if Wall continues to perform at a high level like he did last night.
MOBLEY: Rajon Rondo put on a clinic in on-the-floor leadership against Wall in going for 18 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds and a plus/minus of plus-26. Compared to that performance, Wall does not look quite as good. However, given Wall’s stats in the first three games, he had to regain confidence in his game, so from that standpoint he was a success last night. From a body language standpoint, he still got visibly frustrated when the refs didn’t call the fouls he felt he deserved.
TOWNSEND: The Wizards take cues from John Wall, who was visibly defeated for much of the contest, and while it was easily his best game of the season, you could almost hear the gears grinding over the New Year’s Day crowd. An assertive Rajon Rondo made Wall’s performance look ineffectual by comparison, running the Celtics offense like a well-oiled machine as he cruised to a triple-double.
#2. So…. DeMarcus Cousins is available. Is he what the Wizards need?
McGINNIS: Everyone wants to trade Andray Blatche for Cousins, but Blatche’s value continues to sink with this season opening funk, so why would the Kings want him? Cousins is extremely talented and would provide the Wizards with a legitimate post presence, which Washington has seemingly lacked forever. Ernie Grunfeld should kick the tires on the idea of acquiring Cousins with Sacramento’s leverage being low, however, I highly doubt the Wizards trade their 2012 first round pick in any deal.
MOBLEY: Before the readers rip me in the comments section, let me preemptively say that I know this is a bad example to use. However, during NBA All-Star Weekend last February, I saw how much fun Cousins and Wall had on the court. It wasn’t difficult for me to start fantasizing about Wall keeping Cousins’ attitude in check, and the Wizards being beneficiaries of their collaborative talents. Then I remembered what happened when Chris Webber and Juwan Howard were here, and I nixed the idea. Then again, obtaining Cousins fits with the rebuilding theme the Wizards seem to be sticking to, and using the ESPN Trade Machine, I determined that Washington can obtain Cousins and Freddy Garcia by trading Blatche, Jordan Crawford and Mo Evans to Sacramento. Question is, will Sacramento take that?
TOWNSEND: The team is brimming with excuses, but largely devoid of talent. Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe, perhaps generously, described the Wizards as “a roster of able-bodied people.” I would take an unfinished, inconsistent and inefficient talent like DeMarcus Cousins over Washington’s current stock—expectations have been tempered; it’s probably as good as it’s going to get. John Wall and JaVale McGee stay, but others should be sent Californee way.
#3. The Wizards are now 0-4, and they are the last winless team in the NBA. At what point (if any) does a coaching change need to be made? Or does Flip Saunders continue to get a pass in this rebuilding year?
McGINNIS: In 2008, the Wizards let coach Eddie Jordan go after a 1-10 start, so there is precedent for Grunfeld making such a move. After early season struggles, Ted Leonsis replaced two Washington Capitals coaches in Glen Hanlon (2007) and Bruce Boudreau (2011). It is way too premature for a Wizards coaching change now, especially with a weird, short training camp and summer lockout situation. I still believe Flip Saunders can turn this around, players just need to start making shots.
MOBLEY: For now, I think the level of effort the Wizards give will determine Flip’s job security way more than the record. Last night, they played hard, but fell victim to arguably the best point guard in the NBA–Washington’s previous three games were filled with inconsistent efforts. While wins are still ideal, a rebuilding team can always build on a high level of effort. For Flip’s sake, hopefully Ted Leonsis agrees.
TOWNSEND: Flip Saunders has not particularly impressed, but surely he’s not entirely to blame: basketball management in Washington, D.C. has “blown up the team.” While the franchise has already made more than 100 changes, it has little to show for it in wins, though revenues from ticket sales increase steadily. If the Wizards are going to make a coaching change, they had better find a new general manager, too.
The following is video is a post game comments after last night’s loss.