And no, it isn't Flip Saunders although I have been a harsh critic of him during his tenure with the team. Surprisingly, I'm starting to think that it isn't completely his fault. Maybe not at all. You know why?
Michael Jordan made a great quote during his Hall of Fame speech:
"He [Jerry Krause] said 'organizations win championships'.
...granted, organizations put together teams but at the end of the day, teams gotta go out there and play, you know. So in essence, I think the players win the championships..."
Enter JaVale McGee's now-infamous showboat dunk during the third quarter of a tight game against the Houston Rockets on Martin Luther King Day. On a holiday where we celebrate the life of a man who embodied selflessness, JaVale McGee's actions couldn't have been more selfish.
An off-the-backboard dunk on a cherry-pick fast break when you and your team have struggled to score points the entire season (28th in the NBA in offense, averaging only 86.2 ppg) was the embodiment of everything wrong with this roster.
JaVale McGee's sarcastic response after the game was just as bad as the dunk—as was Nick Young's defense of the play.
Just dunk the ball and get back on defense (by the way, the Wizards are 23rd in the league in defense, allowing 98.1 ppg ). McGee wasn't even benched specifically for the dunk because he played late into the 3rd quarter. He was benched for doing the dunk and then afterward, surrendering 14 points to Samuel Dalembert, who finished with 20 points in the game.
Granted, McGee did have a solid game (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks in 25 minutes), and has been the best and most consistent player on the team this year. I constantly blamed Flip Saunders for not utilizing the team's strengths and restraining them, but last night I quickly changed my mind.
There is a lack of accountability, a lack of responsibility, a lack of maturity and a toxic "all about me" attitude in this locker room that has abruptly revealed itself through the first 13 games of the season.
Andray Blatche's twitter comments telling fans to "shut up", as well as his harsh criticism of head coach Flip Saunders after he declared himself "team captain" in the team's first game reeks of this mindset.
Blatche has followed up these comments with remarkably uninspired play at both ends of the floor and has been thoroughly outplayed by every opposing power forward this season. He is averaging a pitiful 39.7% from the field, scoring over 15 points only once and grabbing 10 or more rebounds only 3 times.
Nick Young held out for a contract extension before the season started and has played well in spurts, but he has not gotten better. Young hasn't developed an all-around game, and teams are starting to figure out how to defend him.
Jordan Crawford—only in his 2nd year—is more of a complete player than Young. But he has the same problem as Young and Blatche: shot selection. The Wizards are 5th in the NBA in field-goals attempted, but 21st in field-goals made. That's inexcusable.
It's solid proof that the problem isn't the coach. Flip Saunders can coach this team until he is blue in the face. If John Wall, JaVale McGee, and the rest of the Wizards don't go out there and execute, what can Flip do? Coaches coach, players play, and therefore, players win games.
The problem is that the Wizards are constantly working outside of the offense to get their own shots up—and their stats and league rankings show it. They aren't getting to the line because of the lack of ball movement (24th in free-throws attempted), and they aren't making free throws (25th in free-throw percentage).
They are playing extremely selfish basketball, evidenced by the fact that they rank next-to-last in the league in assists, averaging just under 16 per contest.
I certainly thought it after watching the first 13 games of the season, but JaVale McGee confirmed it with his egotistical display on Monday. The Wizards' locker room is full of selfish, vain players who care more about the stat sheet and making SportsCenter than winning ball games.
Even worse, Washington fans are so used to not seeing a contender that they actually see nothing wrong with this.
Sure, Josh Smith tried a between-the-legs dunk on a fast break during a 2009 playoff game against the Miami Heat, but it was late in the 4th quarter and they were up 20. The game was in hand and the Hawks also ended up winning the series.
JaVale McGee hasn't played in a single playoff game in his entire career.
See the difference? Or do you want JaVale to dunk two balls the next time he's alone on a fast break?