Scouting the Washington Wizards: When 29th best is good enough
What the Wizards do well: They are not the Charlotte Bobcats
Mar 10, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Ummmm, how’s that for a silver lining? Really, after poring over the Washington Wizards data, that’s all I’ve got. But give them credit: they are consistently bad. Since the 2007-08 season (including this season), the Wizards have a .327 winning percentage. Using my incredible mathematical abilities, that comes about to 27 wins in a normal 82 game season. I feel really bad finding all the faults in an awful basketball team because I sympathize with Wizards fans. I know how it feels to root for a complete joke of a franchise. I’m a Redskins fan. But, there inherent flaws are just too obvious to ignore.
Despite John Wall’s success (18.4 PER), the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft hasn’t been able to make any tangible difference on the success of this team. Their winning percentage in his rookie year was .280 and, actually, this year they have regressed to about .231 which either speaks to the dissaray of the Wizards organization or the collective improvement of the Eastern Conference. It’s probably a little bit of both. Just keep in mind, these Wizards haven’t experienced any success at the NBA level. The Wizards team that clinched the No. 5 seed in ’08 (43-39) was led by Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. Yeah, that doesn’t exactly show their continuity. The Spurs know continuity correlates with success and, well, the Wizards probably realize that too.
Now for the positive news (you’re welcome Wizards fans): you could be a lot worse. I guess. The Wizards are 29th in offensive efficiency (96.8 points per 100 possessions) even though they play at a blistering pace. They’re young, yes, and theoretically have room to grow. But this batch of Wizards are selfish, can’t play defense, hold on to the ball or shoot the ball with any efficiency. Yet, they are still better than the Charlotte Bobcats. There’s something to be said for not being the worst, right? (Just nod your head and we’ll move on).
What the Wizards do badly:
Other than blocking shots (2nd in block rate) and getting to the rim, there’s not a lot that the Wizards actually do well. I could just list their deficiencies but I have a feeling that will be redundant. The Wizards are bad and that’s all we need to know. Plus, I’m really tired. So there’s that.
Matchup of the game: Tony Parker vs. John Wall
I promise I won’t just simply talk about the point guard matchup for every game preview. Considering there aren’t a lot of bright spots (free Trevor Booker!) on the Wizards and that Wall is freakishly athletic, this would be a good place to start.
Many expected Wall to take a precipitous leap from solid rookie to full-fledged superstar in his sophomore season. Sorry irrational Wizards fans and hopeful fantasy owners, but you can’t expect that kind of production from most players. Even from a No. 1 overall pick. A player’s progression should be handled with patience. Brusque demands cannot bode well for a player’s psyche and can subsequently lower his potential to reach our high expectations. It won’t expedite his progression by any means. So, be patient.
Besides, it’s not like Wall has regressed this year. He’s gotten better. When you approach his season objectively (and without any demands), you would notice that. Wall has increased his efficiency, free throw rate and has improved his shot selection (0.6 three-pointers attempted instead of 1.7 last year). While his assist rate and turnover rate have depreciated slightly, it’s not enough to dissuade anyone. Wall is a player — blessed with unparalleled athleticism — that can become a perennial All-Star if he hones his game and develops a consistent mid range jump shot (which has improved by the way). He’s not a “pure” point guard but that’s irrelevant. He’s the best player on the Wizards and he still has room to grow. That — more than his “disappointing” sophomore season — is something to consider.
Dude is fast. And, that’s fun too.
Final verdict: Spurs by 15
No explanation needed. Enjoy the game.