What Time Is #MaynorTime? Wittman’s Clock Points to Aggression
As Mack crossed the half court line with some speed, Nene’s man, Paul Millsap, went to set a screen for Mack against Maynor at the top of the key. “Right!” you could hear Nene yell over the broadcast as Mack made his move, turning down Millsap’s screen to his left and attacking with his dribble down the lane to the right. Maynor either couldn’t hear Nene, didn’t react in time, or didn’t understand the instructions. Mack blew past Maynor and into the open lane for a bucket, which kept Atlanta’s deficit at just three points, 79-76, early in the final period.
“I said ‘right,’ man, c’mon …” you could hear Nene say in frustration again over the broadcast after the whistle. Wittman immediately jumped up, smacked his hands together, and the Wizards went into the timeout. Going off the coach’s reaction and a death stare toward Maynor as the players walked to the bench—the two looked to exchange very brief words from my perch in the Verizon Center—Maynor didn’t make the planned defensive shift. Not out of the ordinary, Maynor would ride the bench for the rest of the evening.
The discussion of Randy Wittman doling out heavy minutes to his starters certainly involves how great they have been. But the conversation, and Wittman’s strategy, is driven by a bad bench, and Eric Maynor is behind the wheel. He was signed to be part of Washington’s nine-man rotation, but what he’s shown thus far this season could be easily replaced by a D-League-level talent. And in a sense, that took place when Wittman started chopping Maynor’s minutes in favor of Garrett Temple. #MaynorTime is bad, very bad. No one wants #MaynorTime to be a thing, but when it costs Washington chances to win, it’s an increasingly glaring issue.
Maynor looks like he’s been trying more lately (whatever that means), but it’s clear that he’s encased in his own head—a head case, if you will, a football kicker who can’t make a chip shot. It’s not just Maynor’s offense which has lacked confidence. His passes have been telegraphed and easily deflected. He’s been slow and wide coming off ball screens. His defense has been as bad as anticipated and more so. Maynor needs to get better because the Wizards really have no other option, aside from making a trade or making a cut, which could be dodgy with the Wizards close to the luxury tax threshold. Maynor must get better, so Wittman keeps playing him in hopes that time will help heal current wounds. Other players may get healthy, but none past Beal—who already plays heavy minutes, when healthy—can supplant the role that Maynor and Temple need to be playing.
Maynor’s offense has slightly improved in limited minutes over the last two games (he’s 5-for-10 from the field, how’s that for a small sample size?). And he has looked purposely patient in attempting to direct the team—but now, almost too patient. Otherwise, Maynor’s season has gone much like the rookie season of LaBradford Smith with the Washington Bullets in 1991-92; seriously, check the stats (via Basketball-Reference.com).
Via NBA.com/stats, here are the worst plus/minus numbers per 48 minutes among NBA players who have played 160 or more minutes and appeared in 12 or more games so far in the 2013-14 season:
- Eric Maynor | minus-27.7 (168 mins)
- Amar’e Stoudemire | minus-21.2 (174 mins)
- Quincy Pondexter | minus-19.2 (227 mins)
- John Lucas III | minus-18.2 (358 mins)
- Ed Davis | minus-17.3 (192 mins)
- Marreese Speights | minus-16.7 (210 mins)
- Andrew Bynum | minus-16.6 (231 mins)
- Enes Kanter | minus-16.5 (511 mins)
- Alonzo Gee | minus-15.3 (339 mins)
- O.J. Mayo | minus-15.1 (501 mins)
“Aggression,” was Randy Wittman’s main diagnosis when asked what Maynor needs to do to get out of his funk. Amongst other things.
Learning new teammates, getting acquainted with a new coach, and the professional basketball game in general can be complicated. Surely some of Maynor’s struggles can be chalked up to his attempts to adjust to a new system, different spacing and pace, and the nuances of Wittman’s X’s and O’s. Maynor is also trying to find his own game after playing in 64 contests for two different NBA teams last season, and after missing almost all of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury. But as a four-year veteran of the NBA (and four years in college at VCU), the Wizards expected Maynor’s transition to be much more seamless. Now the involved parties keep getting caught with their pants down, and that’s not always a good thing in the nation’s capital.
Let’s watch coach Wittman speak on Maynor’s struggles: