Memo From TAI Readers: How to Fix the Wizards
[Ernie Grunfeld hoping to get lucky. Courtesy SportsPickle.]
The Wizards stink.
And that isn’t my grumpy reaction. It’s a sad, embarrassing fact.
I love our NBA franchise. I’ve just hated watching them suffer. Although TAI readers weren’t thrilled about my suggestion that the league contract the Wizards, to save us all the pain.
So here’s what you think we should do instead.
Below, I’ve listed out four potential options to improve the team. They’re drawn from your comments, talking with some other fans, and emailing with the TAI staff.
Which path would you choose? Is there another strategy the team should follow?
Get Rid of Grunfeld
- TAI reader Jason: Isn’t it obvious that the village idiot running the team, Ernie, should be getting the ax? Sure, getting rid of Nick and the Human Blooper Reel was great, but he couldn’t get rid of Blatche for a 2020 3rd-Rd pick?
I’m pretty sure I don’t have to divulge into the terrible mistakes he’s made over the decade (paying $111mil to a guy who had 3 knee surgeries and couldn’t stay on the court past the anthem).
- TAI reader Michael: The plan should be to fire Grunfeld.Then hire a replacement who is actually competent at his job.
This competency test can be conducted by whether or not he feels Jordan Crawford is part of the core foundation of this team. If he says “yes”, we know he’s not the right man for the job.
Get a New PG: John Wall Isn’t Who We Thought He Was
- TAI reader Jonathan: If Wall was an average decision-maker, the Wiz would be about .500 since the Nene trade.
I have no doubt that Wall is the best athlete to ever play the PG position, but a PG who doesn’t understand how to use a pick, or what is a good shot, or how to manage a game by the age of 21 may never develop those qualities. There are plenty of HS PGs who have mastered those skills, but are not blessed with Wall’s athletic gifts.
- TAI reader Robert: I could see that Westbrook and Paul were great players during even their Rookie Years, not because they were electrifying athletes, but because they had great feel for the game.
I just do not see that with John Wall; I see a guy who maybe should be playing football, and kinda plays basketball like a football player-there just isn’t much pace to his game.
The eye test tells me that he doesn’t run a team well.
Re-Develop our Development Process
(Note from Dan Diamond: This is where I mostly come down.)
- TAI reader Dov: I think that institutionally, the Wizards are structured not to make the playoffs. Go back to 1994, and the Wizards actually draft surprisingly well (Kwame and Jarvis Hayes notwithstanding). They get very good value at the spots in which they select. The problem is that they have perhaps the worst, but at least the bottom five, player development programs in the league.
Does John Wall look like the kind of player I’d spend a #1 overall on? Right now, no. But it’s at least a little curious that he mysteriously forgot how to play PG since he got to DC. Booker, Seraphin, Singleton, Crawford, Vesely, and Mack have all shown they can be legitimate professional basketball players; I’m just not sure I trust any of them to become their appropriate “comps” in DC.
And that’s why I don’t know when the Wizards will next make the playoffs.
- TAI Editor Kyle Weidie: Contract the Wizards? No thank you, especially not when they are just about to enter a rebuilding project. Things could potentially go in any direction, can you sense the excitement?
With John Wall the longest-tenured Wizard, the Earth — as least player personnel-wise — can’t get more scorched. With apologies to Andray Blatche’s continued, technical presence on the roster, do you dream about your local pro basketball GM building drip sand castles with gasoline and then setting them ablaze?
- TAI reader Oliver: Drafting two elite players means being crappy for at least two years, as the Sonics/Thunder did. So bemoaning that we’re “once again, hoping for the lottery to deliver a savior” is very, very stupid: that’s what teams do. It’s the best way to become good, and it’s something that is accomplished by being bad along the way.
- TAI reader Calvin: The Wizards are at least two seasons away from being a winner. A lot of it has to do with how well their young guys develop. I like what I’m seeing from Seraphin and even Vesely is showing signs of offensive improvement. If Nene can play at least 85% of the season for the next two years, 2015 will be the first Wizard playoff appearance since 2008.