The Washington Wizards are a mess. They can team worse than they are, but the only one is the Charlotte Bobcats. They’ve, in brief times, competed against good teams, but always lose. They’ve given the Oklahoma City Thunder an anomaly to everyone’s surprise. They’ve gotten demoralized by teams very good, good, and mediocre, the LA Clippers working to migrate from good to very good status in their 107-81 blowout win over Randy Wittman’s team on Saturday night.
Washington has youth making lesson-learning mistakes, but they also have youngish mid-range veterans who continue to not “get it.” JaVale McGee, for instance, has more minutes of on-court development over his career than the likes of Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan. Yet those players, picked after McGee’s 18th position in the 2008 draft (21, 24 and 35 respectively), have developed into more indexed team intelligence for their franchises.
Jordan Crawford, age 23, is in the second year of a career that could go in a number of directions. Right now on a team like the Wizards, most of those don’t show a ton of promise, but there are glimmers. Nick Young, age 26, continues to show why he’s just another in a long line of capable NBA scorers who can’t do much else. In his fifth NBA season, he helps his team embody this quote said by Wittman after the loss to the Clippers:
“You have to read the situation and what they’re doing and not just play the play that’s supposed to be… they take this away, we’ve gotta do that. I don’t think we did the second part of it. They took this away and we just went ahead and tried to do it anyway.”
Sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but its essence conveys that the Wizards are still a first offensive option, me-first team; they have those kind of players. These efforts are led by the no longer fresh-faced players brought in by Ernie Grunfeld who were supposed to help establish new traditions — the McGees, Youngs and Andray Blatches of the scene – long before it became a catch-phrase motto for this season under Ted Leonsis.
Then there are the so-called veterans. Who, exactly, we don’t know. Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason, Mo Evans and Ronny Turiaf are on the roster, we know this. The first is a shell of his former self; the second is not a popcorn shooter who can’t play a lick of defense; the third was hastily signed into camp, out of shape due to his lockout involvement and a bad knee; and the last is ironically the veteran who could help the Wizards the most, but has been out since January 2 with, you guessed it, an injury.
Then there’s this other post-game quote from Wittman:
“Maybe I have to play another veteran guy, other than Rashard. It’s one thing to put the young guys out there, but they also have to learn to compete at this level of competition. And to me, I didn’t think we were ready for that. Maybe I got to sprinkle another veteran in there that knows what that game is all about before it starts. I think once that game started and they saw how hard they came at us, it was a ‘holy smoke’… I don’t know, I’m searching too.”
A veteran in addition to Rashard Lewis (even though Wittman said ‘other than’)? A veteran aside from Lewis (because he does bring needed veteran traits, aside from playing so poorly)? There are no other veteran options. Searching for… no one really knows. Leonsis and Grunfeld have a stated plan, but neither knows where that really leads the franchise, aside from proving dedication to staying a course. What does the plan say about future tough decisions? Amnesty Andray Blatche? Buy-out Rashard Lewis? Let Nick Young walk? Think long and hard about matching another team’s offer for JaVale McGee, if there are any?
Determining the fate of under-developed dead weight versus who needs more time, it won’t be easy. But then where will the Wizards be? With some damn fine career role players such as Trevor Booker, Shelvin Mack, Jan Vesely, maybe Kevin Seraphin… alongside John Wall, a pronounced as a game changer who clearly doesn’t have the answers. A player who is clearly more of a point guard to complement a star or two who just happened to be the best option in a weak 2010 draft.
The Wizards said WHAT? Well, I think everyone is still trying to figure that out. But they are going somewhere, even if that somewhere is still very far away. Because if you can’t improve past the 27 wins and 79 losses thus far in the Wall era, then you might have to adjust the plan.