The Wizards Keep Collapsing, But Nobody Knows How To Fix Them | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Wizards Keep Collapsing, But Nobody Knows How To Fix Them

Updated: November 3, 2018

You have a table. It’s not an antique, but it’s not by any means a new table.

You also have a stack of books. You put the books on your table, and it collapses and shatters into a dozen pieces. Instead of buying a new one, or at least replacing a few legs, you pick up the pieces, slap on some duct tape, and stand that table right back up. You cut the stack of books in half, put the reduced stack on the table, and the table collapses once more.

At this point, you should accept defeat, throw your table in the trash, and head to Ikea for a new one (some assembly required). But you don’t. You keep trying with this crappy old table, and it keeps letting you down. No matter how much weight you put on it, it’s too much. You lower the standard, but the results remain the same.

Ladies and gentlemen, those are your 2018 Washington Wizards. And also your 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 Washington Wizards. Each collapse is predictable, and easily explained by the previous attempts at repair instead of replacement. They’re trotting out the same table with new pieces of tape each time, wondering why this time it’s not suddenly different. They had chances several collapses ago, to replace a leg or two — swap out Bradley Beal or John Wall or Otto Porter for different pieces — but instead brought in Jeff Green and Jodie Meeks and Ramon Sessions-brand duct tape.

After the Wizards fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder by an embarrassing 23-point margin Friday night, several players repeated virtually identical lines, reiterating the undeniable fact that Washington is still trying to make this old, broken table work.

John Wall

“Anything looks great on paper until you go out and find that chemistry and do it all as a group and one, and everybody looks at themselves in the mirror, including myself first and everybody else down, and figures out what can we do to make the game easier and better for us and make us one chemistry group altogether.”

“It just looks like nobody’s on the same page [defensively]. If one person gets beat or somebody gives up a wide open shot, nobody is there to help that person or pick that person up.”

“You can’t teach effort. You can’t teach heart. You gotta go out there and compete, that’s something you just gotta be born with.”

Bradley Beal

“We’re just coming up short. We’re not doing the things that we need to do, and we just gotta get better. And the only way we can get through it is we just gotta fight our way out of it.”

“I refuse to let the ship sink, so as one of the captains on the team, I put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. I’ve got to be better leadership-wise on the floor, giving more, leading by example, and hopefully guys will follow.”

Dwight Howard

“We just gotta stay positive, stay focused, not allow moments like this to kill the atmosphere.”

“It’s all mental. That’s the only way we’re going to change this. It’s mental.”

So how do you improve that? Is there a change that needs to be made?

“You have to continue to tell yourself, ‘We’re going to get out of this.’ You’ve got to stay positive. There’s nothing else I can say. We work. We get in the gym, we put in the work, we gotta trust the work. But now we gotta be able to change our minds. It’s all a mindset.”

Scott Brooks

“I have to figure it out. We can’t just keep watching the same thing over and over and over and expect things are gonna change.”

Scott Brooks has said similar things for a year now. Last year he repeatedly lamented needing to find five guys who would play hard, but his lineups rarely changed. The emptiness of his threats is deafening.

The Wizards starters opened Friday’s game hot, but by the end of the first quarter, Brooks had thrown together a lineup featuring Tomas Satoransky, Austin Rivers, Kelly Oubre, Jeff Green, and Ian Mahinmi. When asked about the five-reserve lineup, which was immediately outscored by 13 points at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second, after the rout, Brooks essentially said, well, the other coach did it, too.

“At that time in the game, they had Abrines, Schroder, Patterson, Noel, and Diallo. They didn’t have a starter on the floor, either.”

Brooks added that, “moving forward, everything’s open” and wondered aloud if playing a “smaller rotation” or “other guys” would be better. There was a time when vague threats such as “everything’s open” would raise eyebrows round these parts, but we’ve heard so many versions of that trope already that it’s easy to ignore. In all likelihood, the same five starters will trot out against the Knicks on Sunday, then the same group of reserves will be on the floor around the start of the second quarter.

Things aren’t changing. Everybody’s still going to be playing with “their own agendas” and other charming code words until real, tangible moves are made at the top.

But Ernie Grunfeld isn’t going to Ikea for a new table, nor is he swapping out one of the broken legs for a new, sturdy leg. He’s hopping in the car, driving right past Ikea, and heading to the hardware store to look for a different brand of duct tape.

And Ted Leonsis will continue to employ this man who is on his seventh roll of duct tape, convinced he can tape up this table in just the right way that, one day soon, he’ll be able to throw his feet up on that old table and relax at the thought of a job well done.

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.