Wizards-Bobcats Part II within about 72 hours of each other… the two worst teams in the NBA and truly the polar opposite of a #LeaguePassAlert. Washington is not without a plethora of questions from game-to-game, as goes their perpetually inconsistent state. If wouldn’t be any fun otherwise… you know, if they were just bad and not like a bunch of breakable eggs on the court each time. In any case, let’s begin the 3-on-3 drill featuring some of the most disgruntled Wizards bloggers out there… Sean Fagan of Bullets Forever along with TAI’s Adam McGinnis and yours truly, Kyle Weidie… Let the three questions, three answers begin…
#1) Randy Wittman surprised by starting Jan Vesely over Andray Blatche in Houston. What does he do tonight against the Bobcats? Or rather, what starting lineup would you like to see?
FAGAN: Last night, we saw a type of pedal-to-the-metal play that I think the team should continue for the rest of the year, because for at least the first two quarters, the team appeared to be having fun. Against the Bobcats, I think this type of controlled disorganization has a greater chance of success than of failure. The game might resemble more of a scrum than actual basketball, but I’ll take wins over aesthetics any day of the week. A guy like Vesely, who is everywhere at once, is integral to this type of play. He isn’t AK-47, but he is whatever the slightly cheaper Czech knockoff of that weaponry might be. As such, your starting lineup should be: Wall, Young, McGee (if I had my way, Turiaf would heal overnight), Vesely, and Singleton.
McGINNIS: At 3-16, no one’s starting spot should be secure. My issue with McGee and Vesely as your front line starters is that neither are scorers. I would expect Randy to change it up again as he appears to sending some messages to players because honestly, he has nothing to lose at all. The team stinks and it’s highly unlikely the organization will fire him before end of season, so why not keep throwing different lineups out there? I would roll with Wall, Mack, Singleton, Booker, Vesely. Those five will play hard and leave it all out on the court.
Advice? “Be yourself,” said Randy Wittman after winning in his Wizards head coaching debut on Wednesday. But did the Wizards players need a new voice? “I’m just here,” said Nick Young, while teammate Andray Blatche’s response was, “I can’t honestly say that we needed a new voice, we just needed… somebody to actually check us like Wittman did.” And the erudite JaVale McGee? “Whatever [Ernie Grunfeld] explained was the reason why he fired Flip, was the reason that he fired Flip.”
The Wizards? They still don’t know what they want, or who they are, or if their new coach is going to slap the proverbial taste of nicotine out their mouths. It’s like the rest of this season is an in-game training camp. The Wizards were already a statistically fast-paced team under Flip Saunders… Screw that, says Randy Wittman (paraphrasing here)… I’m going to run you guys even more. And at that… John Wall, the fastest athlete? Well, I’m going to call him out for conditioning (along with Nick Young) and sub them back into a game really, really late during a blowout. ”Be hard on the leader and the rest will follow,” is presumed to be Wittman’s interim idea, as I wrote on ESPN’s Daily Dime about this latest new change with the Washington franchise.
The Wizards said WHAT? Well, that’s what they said. Randy Wittman, Nick Young, John Wall, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Rashard Lewis speak on it in the video above.
[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 18 contributors: Adam McGinnis, Arish Narayen and Kyle Weidie.]
Washington Wizards power forward Andray Blatche has never been considered a high riser, but he is a legit 6’11″ with super lanky arms. This season Blatche’s subpar vertical is more noticeable than ever, and he consistently struggles to finish from close range. According to HoopData.com, Blatche is shooting a career-low 58-percent at the rim (31-53). Against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, he attempted a season-high nine field-goals at the basket, but missed four of them. This is why Andray’s one-hand power slam last Sunday on Jermaine O’Neal of the Boston Celtics created so many “Woah, did that really just happen?” reactions. Enter opposing power forward Tyrus Thomas of the Bobcats and his 469 career blocks. You’re probably getting a feeling where this is headed.
Thomas tallied nine swats against the Wizards last night, five of them came at Andray’s expense. Thomas’s block party on Blatche sparked cascades of hometown boos upon the maligned Wizard, a commonplace in the Verizon Center these days. Even though Blatche ended up with a solid performance — 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and only one turnover while sitting out the entire 4th quarter in Washington’s 92-75 victory — most fans will remember how ‘Dray looked like a 45-year old trying to jump, not a 25-year old.
Thomas nearly recorded a triple-double, which impressed Charlotte head coach Paul Silas. The NBA veteran who played in 1,254 career games and coached 828 then referenced a famous one-liner of a former GOP Presidential contender when talking about Thomas’ night:
“I thought it was 9, 9, 9 on this thing right here [final box score]… talk about Herman Cain, but it was actually nine, nine, thirteen. He scored thirteen points and nine blocks and nine rebounds. That is pretty awesome.”
Tonight the Washington Wizards officially dive into the Randy Wittman era, aiming to get him a win off the bat against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Well, lowly is relative. The Bobcats are 3-14, the Wizards are 3-15. For this 3-on-3 drill, we have John Pettice of BobcatsPlanet.com along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) You have to start a new team in India and you get to take four players from the rosters Washington and Charlotte with you. The caveat is that you must choose three players from one team, and only one player from the other team. Who you got and why?
With a 97-91 win over the Bobcats in Charlotte on Sunday evening, the Washington Wizards propelled themselves into the territory of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls circa 2002-03, the last season that saw an NBA team have only three wins on the road, both mentioned teams having achieved the feat. Worth noting, however, that the Bulls finished 30-52 that year, the Cavaliers just 17-65. Also worth noting, the Wizards have three road games left — at Indiana, at Boston and at Cleveland — so three on the season might not be the magic number.
Cleveland was admittedly tanking to get LeBron James in 2002-03. Enough said. And that Chicago team, fresh off taking a young point guard in Jay Williams in the 2002 draft to pair with the promise of Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Jamaal Crawford and Marcus Fizer, had all the hope in the world. It only took about eight more seasons with middling success and another rebuild for Chicago to become any sort of playoff threat. And if you EVER see John Wall on a motorcycle…
The Wizards are now 20-56, significant because they won’t tie a franchise record for least wins in an 82-game season at 19. They currently have the third worst record in the NBA after Cleveland’s 15 wins and Minnesota’s 17 wins, but with six games left, they are dangerously close to falling back in the lottery odds with Toronto at 21 wins, Sacramento at 22 and New Jersey at 23.
The most frustrating part about the Washington Wizards is that on the road, their main, young players often lose so much focus, concentration and aggression … and it clearly affects the team as a whole. Guys like Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee are young — 24, 25 and 23 respectively — but they’ve now been in the league a considerable amount of time and should not be going through break-downs so frequently and consistently.
One reason I think Wizards fans are tired about hearing excuses about age is that you have guys like Kevin Durant (22), Russell Westbrook (22), Al Horford (23), Kevin Love (22), among others, around the league playing at much more solid, dependable levels. Is it the type of mental player Ernie Grunfeld is drafting? Is it the player development? And none of this is to say that these players haven’t made improvement over the years, but it’s been a very painstaking process. Does the scouting process need to be re-evaluated? Is it already being re-evaluated? One can only wonder if the correct calculations are being made between the potential a talented prospect might bring and hubris notions from team management that they can change the mindset of such talent that might actually have a longer struggle on the path of mental development.
In any case, pounding on the mental rocks of those Wizards is starting to ache in the heads of those having to watch the games.
I used to frequently do game blogs (or game accounts) on this site. I stopped doing them so much because they can be tedious and long. On Sunday, I meticulously watched a recording of Saturday night’s Wizards-Bobcats game in several chunks, re-watching most all plays multiple times and documenting what I saw. Hopefully it will give a good depiction of what went on in the game beyond the box score and other game accounts. Unfortunately, it’s the chronicling of the Wizards’ eighteenth road loss of the season in 18 tries, a 104-89 defeat at the hands the Charlotte Bobcats without Gerald Wallace. Read more »
[Larry Brown runs his players though some pre-game drills - photo: Adam McGinnis]
Kyle Weidie mentioned how terrible the Charlotte Bobcats looked in a 108-75 route at the hands of the last place Wizards on Monday night, and “terrible” (“on all cylinders”) was the exact word used by Stephen Jackson afterward to describe the beat down. Coach Larry Brown had a “walk off” press conference. He depressingly discussed how bad a coach he was, blamed himself for letting his young players down and stated that it looked like the first day of practice. Brown concluded, “Maybe it was a pick-up team playing against an NBA team.”
Paraphrased LB: “I suck ‘cuz the team sucks, it is my fault, I’m out.” His comments totaled a minuscule minute and twenty one seconds. I was too down from his melancholy mood to ask a question before he bolted away from the handful of media members.
Then, it was time for me to go ask players mired in a free-fall of a season, who just got shellacked by 33 points to a team missing their star rookie and jettisoned All-Star, a bunch of Wizards-centric questions or quiz them about how they got outscored 27-4 in the first 9:37 of the third quarter and made only one FG (1-14 shooting) in the entire period. Fun times, indeed.
The “demeanor” on every player was that of a hoop squad that just got embarrassingly whooped, their comments relaying a similar sour refrain as their coach. To fans and media who are critical of professional athletes when they display insufficient remorse after defeats, the mood I witnessed in the Charlotte locker room could be the silver lining for Bobcats fans, because the loss visibly stung.
What do we really know after the Wizards’ 108-75 blowout of the Charlotte Bobcats last night?
1) Charlotte is terrible. Yes, they were without Gerald Wallace. And yes, they are still terrible … with no pieces for the future to speak of. None.
2) There’s been a sort of eye-opening moment of clarity after Arenas’ departure. Who knows how long it will last or how much of an effect it will actually have, but for now, the team has been able to re-focus with the ghosts of Agent Zero past and swirling rumors no longer hovering. Not like there can’t be more trades, but none of them will be a “thing” like the Arenas “thing.” — And I think most of these guys realize who Arenas was, how long he was in D.C., and understand, via the “business” of NBA, what such a dramatic move can mean to a franchise … even if they don’t truly understand.
On occasion, someone from Truth About It (usually Adam McGinnis or myself) is afforded the opportunity to sit on photographer’s row and capture the NBA game experience. One of those chances came last Friday when the Charlotte Bobcats came to town. Here are some select captures from that game.
Note sure if this is the epitome of something or just weird … but Kwame Brown, flexing his bicep, while on the injured reserve and barely in the NBA, with the Wizards logo looming in the background.
Kevin Seraphin talks with assistant coach Gene Banks before the game. Don’t take Kevin’s face to be a negative, he’s just a very expressive, goofy kid who is usually smiling otherwise. An interesting young character that Seraphin, sophomoric in every sense, yet a gentle giant who sets practice screens that make Kirk Hinrich cringe.