Washington Wizards: Few Bright Spots to an Otherwise Dismal Start of the Season
After coming out and getting their first win of the season by beating the Toronto Raptors soundly, the Washington Wizards once again showed their inconsistencies in losing to a Bulls team without Derrick Rose or Rip Hamilton in the lineup.
With much talk going on about the security of Flip Saunder's job, John Wall’s sophomore slump and the incident with Sam Cassell and Rashard Lewis, I wanted to point out a few main things that I saw this past week that can be marked down as positives.
After sitting out the first few games with an injury, fans and media alike were eager to finally see what the team’s first pick in this year’s draft could do.
Known for his athletic dunks and great transition offense, Vesely proved against the Raptors that he could contribute on the defensive end as well. He was extremely pesky on defense, deflecting a few passes and disrupting the flow of the Raptors offense in his limited playing time.
While there is still too small of a sample size to take much away from, Vesely looks to have his head on straight and his motivations in the right place, with defense being his main priority off the bench.
His offensive game is still incredibly raw, but if he continues to exert the effort on defense that he did against the Raptors, Saunders will be forced to give him minutes to help develop his game on both ends of the court.
Chris Singleton & Trevor Booker
Inserting Booker and Singleton into the starting lineup infused a ton of energy and hustle into a team that limped out of the starting gate at the beginning of the season.
Against Toronto, both players combined for 17 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals and only one turnover.
While Chicago ended up getting the win, completely outplaying the Wizards in the fourth quarter, both Singleton and Booker harassed Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer defensively into horrendous shooting performances (combined 7-of-28 FG).
With Booker in the starting lineup, it allowed Blatche to come in energized off the bench against Toronto and score against the opposing team’s second unit, which, in the future, should allow him to be more efficient and less likely to tire in shorter bursts of playing time.
Singleton has stepped in right away as a rookie and done pretty much everything anyone could have expected from him when the Wizards drafted the lock-down defender from Florida State in the first round.
He has been as good as advertised on defense and has shown an even better shooting touch from three-point range then expected when the draft reports were coming in.
Saunders has realized that the team is better off with these two on the floor, so I expect that this lineup could be seen with Vesely interchangeably throughout the rest of the season.
Man, does this guy want to get paid or what?
Coming into the last season of his rookie deal, after an offseason where you saw the bidding war for DeAndre Jordan result in four-year, $40 million deal to stay with the Clippers, McGee was primed to finally break out after a promising 2010-2011 campaign.
He has continued to block shots at an astounding 3.2 per game, good for second-best in the entire league. But this year, he has managed to crack the top 10 in rebounding with 9.8 per game.
The Bulls game was a prime example of his increased development, as he dominated his matchup against the gritty Joakim Noah using a few post moves and an ever improving hook shot.
He has quietly produced pretty much every game so far and is arguably the team’s best player, with Wall slumping through the early stages of the season.
If the play continues throughout the rest of the season, Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards will have a lot on their plate in deciding whether they should try to extend McGee during the season or chance his price getting bid up during the offseason.
Ultimately, McGee is making his case to be a cornerstone in the rebuilding process with quality centers at a premium in the NBA.