Pictures, commentary, links, more pictures…
WE HAVE HERE: JaVale McGee dunking over Gary Neal at Capital Punishment, but John Wall should also look out below…
Pictures, commentary, links, more pictures…
[Blatche celebrates a close win over the Pistons.]
Andray Blatche. Yes, that Andray Blatche … Party All Dray. He’s been a little bit different lately, hasn’t he? Sure has. Averaging 25.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in the last four games (up from his 17.4 and 8.7 respective averages per 36 for the season), since his return from injury is certainly a strong indication that things could be different for Blatche.
Straight and to the point, he’s been attacking the rim. Living in the paint. Doing the dirty work down low. All the good stuff the team has always needed Andray Blatche to do, but has never quite been satisfied.
On Sunday against the Detroit Pistons JaVale McGee had just two rebounds, both defensive, in over 30 minutes of play. He also contributed 12 points on 5-6 shooting (2-4 from the free-throw line), three blocks, a steal, an assist and a single foul to his stat line.
The rebounding? McGee lacked a lot of energy in the early going and simply wasn’t able to contribute past a couple flailing attempts at the ball. The Detroit big men – Greg Monroe, Chris Wilcox, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva — also seemed intent (or instructed) to be as physical as possible with McGee at every opportunity. And so goes the scouting report for JaVale: run with him, dissuade his athleticism with physicality, and either pump fake him or go into his body rendering him unable to block a shot. His effort changed in the third quarter, but the Wizards still lost to the Pistons 113-102, and the goal with McGee, as it is with the inexperienced Wizards as a whole, is a complete work of gamesmanship art. NBA players don’t get paid part-time.
McGee’s grinding progress continues to provide frequent repetitive mistakes. It’s no secret how other teams, coaches and players treat him in their preparation (and how that affects his game), and it’s no secret that McGee will sometimes make plenty of his gaffes on his own. Will he learn through continued frustration from fans, teammates and coaches? That’s up to him, but there are two abundant factors working in his favor: his franchise’s presence in rebuilding mode and plenty of playing time chances. Taking advantage, however, seemingly hasn’t always been a prevalent function of McGee’s basketball thought process.
Nonetheless, we plod on. The below video breaks down instances of the 23-year old center against the Pistons on Sunday … The Continued JaVale McGee Learning Experience. As Flip Saunders and the Wizards coaching staff continues to pound the stubborn rock sheltering McGee’s cerebral willingness, the familiarity of the lessons remains consistent.
The Wizards’ loss to the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday was a stinker on a couple levels. I planned to watch at my leisure on DVR delay, so I could chart defense as the game progressed. But at one point late into the evening, and after regulation had ended, I discovered that I hadn’t set it to record for an extended amount of time. In rather anticlimactic fashion, I was resigned to checking the box score to see that the Wizards remained winless on the road on the year at 0-6.
So that was that, never even got to see the overtime. Below, you’ll find a regulation-only defensive chronicle, above that a spreadsheet tallying point responsibilities per possession, and above that, a couple regulation game notes. But first, let’s check Nick Young getting blocked by a 51-year old Tracy McGrady, I wonder if that was special for Nick.
When I was in junior high and behaved in a way that my father deemed incorrect or beneath his standards, he would banish me to my room. He knew how much I loved watching sports (specifically basketball), and that if I were exiled to my television-less room, I’d be crestfallen, dejected and angry — and the first few times it happened, I was all those things and more.
Then one day I discovered the joys of talk radio, and I realized that listening to the Washington Bullets play-by-play was almost as exciting as watching the game on television. I could create my own mental pictures, I could hear the players’ sneakers squeaking through the sub-standard radio speakers, and the announcers seemed to pay more attention to detail than the TV broadcasters. I enjoyed the experience so much that even when I wasn’t punished, I’d watch the game on TV with the volume down while listening to the radio broadcast. In fact, I was so smitten with the radio that I started using that technique to watch football as well.
Somewhere along the way I stopped listening to radio broadcasts during sporting events and just watched them on TV or via the Internet. But last night, for the second time in two weeks, the Washington Wizards (with No. 1 pick John Wall on their roster) weren’t anywhere to be found on television or by streaming bootleg video on the Web. To the radio I went …
Once, when asked about what his team would look like in the coming season, whether it would be more offensively minded, and how it would keep up the intensity on the defensive end, Flip Saunders said:
Well, defensively, the team always takes the personality of their players. The players we have here … are very defensive oriented. The strength of this team from a defensive aspect – how hard they play and how aggressively they play won’t change. What will change is the changing defenses we’ll use, being able to change the tempo of the game will full-court pressure, half-court traps and defenses. Offensively, like our defense, we will always stay aggressive. I always want my teams to attack, and so we will look to push the ball more and score more out of our fast break.
And on whether he would try to evolve a player into a superstar or continue with the teamwork mentality:
In Minnesota, even though we had a great player in Garnett, the team was built on team play. I look for this team to continue that. This team will move the basketball, become a high-assist, low-turnover team playing a very aggressive style.
The above image is iconic in the history of the Washington Wizards/Bullets franchise. The 7’7″ Manute Bol, the 5’3″ Muggsy Bogues … it’s easy to see why.
And while the image below of the 7’7″ Gheorghe Muresan reaching out to slap fives with the 5’5″ Earl Boykins isn’t even close to being as iconic, it’s still pretty damn adorable.
Unfortunately, this scene had to come after yet another Wizards loss, their 24th of the season. The look on the kid’s face to the right says it all … notice his less than half-hearted attempt to give the Wizards a hand slap as they exit the court.
Remember when this team just had to worry about Antawn Jamison’s injured shoulder and finding themselves in Flip Saunders’ offensive system? Seven wins to 10 losses seems like a pipe dream now. Wizards fans would probably even trade these times for the 2007-08 sans Agent Zero playoff season. At least hope still existed then.
Unforgiving circumstances don’t even begin to describe what has transpired around this basketball team. Saunders must employ assistant coaches just to field a 5-on-5 scouting report. Players have to leave the practice court to give testimony that could land their teammates, their friends in jail. And then to go out and perform under these circumstances? Can’t be easy. Yes, they are paid millions to play a game, but that doesn’t make it any easier to perform under such pressure.
Then again, the basketball court is supposed to be an escape, right? Most of the Wizards act like they’re stuck on Alcatraz with neither vessel nor the ability to swim. Well, with the exception of Jamision, who had 31 points (11-19 FGs) and 10 rebounds in a whopping 45 minutes. The Gentleman has been playing his 33-year old ass off and often is the only Wizard doing do. Flip Saunders feels bad for Jamison. I know because he said so. I feel bad for Jamison too, resigning myself that he, more so than Wizards fans, deserves something better.
The Wizards still can’t find a way to make things work. And there’s only so much tinkering/adjusting which can be made to a team that plays like they can just fix things in the next game and doesn’t understand the need to play with a sense of urgency in the now.
Is it time to stop searching for a way to make the current situation work and look in a another direction with a significant shake-up? Believers in the constancy of the Arenas/Butler/Jamison Big Three are dwindling faster than Social Security.
Not long ago, Flip Saunders said the time to truly give his team an initial once-over would be after the first twenty games. The Wizards will enter game number twenty on Thursday with a .368 winning percentage in a prime-time national television match against the Eastern Conference co-leading Boston Celtics.
Here I am to finally write a post about Saturday night’s 106-103 loss to the Pistons. Seems a bit tedious to do at this point. But I have a story to tell, so might as well get it out.
I like to think of myself as a pretty optimist … well, “guarded optimism” was the term I often used prior to the season. Guess I threw that ‘guarded’ part into the wind when I predicted 55 wins. Really? What was I thinking? … but that’s neither here nor there at this juncture. To put it plainly, early in the fourth quarter, when the game had become a back-and-forth battle, I caught myself thinking that the Wizards would find a way to lose. And they did. From predicting 55 wins to the point of reasonable doubt … boy did that escalate quickly.
Flip Saunders used a slightly different term after the game, saying, “It’s like we’re inventing ways to put ourselves in a hole.” This was his response was to a question about DeShawn Stevenson’s ‘away from the play’ foul with 16 seconds left, giving the Pistons a single free-throw and the ball. Ben Gordon, one of the best FT shooters in the league (sixth best percentage among active players), easily sealed the game’s fate, putting Detroit up four with 14.4 seconds left. But Saunders also cited Brendan Haywood’s ‘moment of confusion’ travel at the 2:35 mark of the fourth as another invention of wizardry … among other items of note; 20 Pistons points off 16 Wizards turnovers sounds like it’d fit.
And “inventing” is probably the more apt term to use. “Finding” something can be left completely to chance if you are not looking. You “find” a penny on heads, or rather in the Wizards’ case, a fly in the ointment. An invention is left to your own creation, a self-inflicted device. Sure, inventions can be accidental, but I guess those would be more like “discoveries.”