New Year’s Wiz-olutions: 5 Suggestions for a .500 Basketball Team
The great orator and decent hoops coach, Flip Saunders (.543 career coaching record!), during his time as the Wizards’ top sled dog once decried: “Don’t think it can’t get any worse, because it can.”
While that’s true, especially in the nation’s capital, Wizards fans are now also sitting on the edge of their collective seat, eyes fixated on their large, flat, LED screens. Their hearts? Full with holiday cheer. Wizards fans from Baltimore to Beirut rejoice for John Wall and his merry band of brothers—two seasons removed from Saunders’ reign—are officially playing .500 basketball.
Things could get worse. But they could also get better! B-E-T-T-E-R.
A new year is upon us. Resolutions abound!
So, for this exercise (we, the fat people of the United States of America, could use it), I will make unpaid professional suggestions for what five Wiz Kids should aspire for in 2014, on behalf of TAI.
Programming Note: Vines absolutely best with sound.
The Wrap: The Game Changer has posted four 20-point, 10-assist games this season after three total last year. He’s also scored more than 20 points in a career-high seven consecutive games. The team’s record in those last seven? Five wins, two losses. He plays to get his teammates involved, but the Wizards are at their best when Wall is slicing, dicing and torching whatever’s in front of him like an overzealous Teppanyaki chef.
The Resolution: Do all of the things all of the time. Unlimited turbo. Unlimited range. Unlimited hustle. You can. Yes, you can.
The Wrap: The Wizards are 9-7 when Nene starts (only better than the 7-6 record the Wiz have posted with Webster in the starting lineup). Even better, since Trevor Booker has worked his way into the starting lineup, the Wizards are now 4-1 when Nene comes off the bench!
The team’s record when Nene plays? 13-8. Nene is a 250-pound key to victory.
The Resolution: Pray. Play. Prey.
The Wrap: Beal is second on the team in points per game (18.7), behind John Wall. But it takes him 17 shots each game to get there. See, Beal is antepenultimate (third-to-last) in the percentage of points scored in the paint (16.3%) and seventh on the team in points scored from 3-point range (41.4%), despite leading all second-year players in 3-point field goal percentage.
So many midrange Js. Too many midrange Js. Beal is making just 34.9 percent of his midrange Js. Jamal Crawford, for example, sinks more than 45 percent from that area. Jordan Crawford hits about 47 percent.
The Resolution: We know you can shoot. Tighten your handles and get dunks! At least get to the free throw line.
The Wrap: The Polish Machine—or is it the Polish Hammer?—leads the team in rebounds per game (8.7) and blocks per game (1.5, tied for eight in the NBA). He’s posted 10 double-doubles in 28 appearances. However, when Gortat has a chance to rebound (within 3.5 feet of the ball), he only pulls one down 56.7 percent of the time … the same rate as guards Eric Gordon and Nate Wolters.
Despite recording 40-plus blocks this season, and that great defensive highlight vs. Detroit, Gortat is one of the worst rim-protectors in the league. He gives up the second-most field goals made at the rim per game (5.3) and allows opponents to shoot 51.7 percent on attempts at the basket.
The Resolution: Be more assertive. You are a very large human being. And if you’re going to disappear, at least make some noise first.
The Wrap: Slenderman, at this point, we expect very little. We suspect nothing.
The Resolution: This is your time. You have the league right where you want it. Traumatize. The team wants to start selling your “improvement” as if you were the 27th overall pick. LET THEM.
Advanced stats via NBA.com/stats