With the unexpected firing of coach Flip Saunders earlier in the week, one of my main ideas for turning around the season had been completed.
The Wizards blogosphere lit up with questions about the significance of the firing and how it would affect the progression of the rebuild that Ted and Ernie have been preaching since their union only two years ago.
Ultimately, Saunders is a good coach with a proven track record, but his career was marred by unfortunate circumstances in D.C.
He was first brought in to coach a veteran playoff team, but after the whirlwind that was GunGate, got stuck with the responsibilities of trying to manage one of the youngest teams in the league.
Knowing now that assistant coach Randy Wittman will take the reins for the rest of the season, there were a few things I took away from his first game that would help jump start the team for the rest of the season.
This word was mentioned by Wittman himself, as well as several other players, during interviews after the game last night.
The team for the most part this season had been stuck in a rut of playing one-on-one ball on offense with little to no defensive energy on the other end.
Accountability has always been a shortcoming with Saunders, and luckily, it seems that Wittman brings a more tough-love approach that for one night, bonded the team in their first sustained blowout victory of the season.
Blatche’s resulting stat line from the game showed his best all-around game of the year, knowing that Wittman had no problem yanking him for dumb shots and lack of effort.
In only 23 minutes of play, he totaled 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and only one turnover on only 15 shots.
While the boosted performance could have been a by-product of the lack of talent on the Bobcats roster, it shows that Blatche may be most effective in fewer minutes when he can exert full energy without tiring.
If Wittman can get the players to buy into what he says, there should be no reason that the team can’t at least finish the rest of the season much stronger then the beginning.
This was something the Wizards did a lot more of against the Bobcats last night that helped them jump out to 31 first-quarter points.
With one of the most explosive point guards in the league in Wall and several versatile big men on the roster, the team has no excuse but to try to get easy buckets in the paint.
Nick Young is the only reliable outside shooter on the team, so when the rest of the team attacks the basket well, it opens up more opportunities for drive-and-dish plays to free up Young for good looks.
The Wizards were able to outscore the lowly Bobcats, 60-34, in the paint. This is something that the Wizards should look to try to win night in and night out rather than taking ill-advised jump shots early in the shot clock.
If the Wizards can keep up good ball movement in games combined with attacking the basket, then there is no reason that the offense should stall as much as it had in several of the first games this year.
The last and most important thing that encompasses everything else I have talked about thus far is balance.
As I mentioned before, the biggest problem that the team was having in the season’s infancy was individuals trying to do it all themselves on each play rather than working the ball around and playing within the confines of the offensive system.
In the Bobcats game, the scoring was distributed evenly across the lineups and an effort to set screens and make plays was much more apparent than in games previously.
Lastly, it is important that there is good production off of the bench.
Flip had a penchant for playing his starters heavy minutes while oftentimes only putting in a few bench players here and there as stop-gaps when there was foul trouble.
While this game was a blowout, giving Wittman flexibility to tinker with playing time, it resulted in even production throughout.
With starters getting ample rest, they were able to play at a high level, which helped eliminate some of the sloppy plays due to fatigue.
It is important with so many young players on the roster that they all get a chance to play significant minutes and mature.
If all of this can be achieved, management will have enough analysis to decide which players will be keys in the future of the rebuild going forward.