There is no worse feeling for a fan than to see his or her team crash and burn in the beginning of a season.
You wait and wait for months to see your team play, you talk yourself into why it could actually contend for a playoff spot, and then if you are a Washington Wizards fan, you see them go 1-12 through their first 13 games.
I wish I could tell you that there is a simple solution to it all, that John Wall’s eventual return will be the magic ingredient that will make everything right, but that just isn’t the case.
If this list is any indication, history tells us that the Wizards will have 20 wins or less for the third time in the past five seasons.
The Wizards are a team that hasn’t finished higher than fourth in their division since 2008. In fact, they are the odds-on favorite to finish last for the third time in the past four seasons.
You look at the rest of the NBA landscape and you see the Golden State Warriors in first place with a 9-6 record, the Bobcats at .500 with a 7-7 record after having seven wins total last year, and even the New Orleans Hornets at 4-10 but with legitimate hope because they have Anthony Davis.
The Wizards, meanwhile, lose close game after close game as their former No. 1 pick sits courtside in a suit waiting to return to action.
Let’s take a look at six possible solutions for this franchise that could help the Wizards both in the short term and the long term as well.
Let’s start with the most glaring and obvious one, which is John Wall coming back to pull the strings of a team whose backup puppet masters leave a lot to be desired and are practically begging to leave.
Stage left, please.
Wall’s numbers were practically the same last season as during his rookie year, right down to the number of games and minutes played and points scored per contest.
However, there is hope that 2013 will be the year when Wall makes “The Leap” and solidifies himself as the main pillar of the Wizards franchise.
The 22-year-old point guard will be a free agent in 2014, so Washington could opt to sell high and trade him this season, but that would be a mistake.
If they do, it could come back to bite them in the ass. Remember when they traded Rip Hamilton in 2002 to the Detroit Pistons for Jerry Stackhouse, Brian Cardinal and Ratko Varda?
How well did that turn out? Oh, right, Hamilton became one of the NBA’s top shooting guards and won a championship with Detroit.
Meanwhile, all three players acquired in the trade left the team by 2004. Ratko Varda is still active though, currently playing for a Serbian team called the Radnicki Kragujevac.
Don’t let history repeat itself. Don’t give up on Wall. At least not yet.
For a team with plenty of young legs, the Washington Wizards are slow. Painfully slow.
If Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns followed the mantra of seven seconds or less, the Wizards use every last second of the shot clock to limit possessions and keep games close as a result.
Hey, it kind of works, since only two of their 12 losses so far have been by more than 10 points. Then again, they are still losing. There are no moral victories in the NBA.
They are dead last in the NBA, scoring just 89.5 points per game, while only four other teams in the entire league play at a slower pace.
The Knicks and Nets may be slower, but they also are two of the top five teams in the league as far as turnover differential goes. The Wizards, on the other hand, are 24th in the league in that category, so they are slow and they also turn the ball over. Bad combination.
If you are going to do that, then you might as well run more, get out on the break and take more risks.
That, in turn, could create more scoring opportunities in transition for a good shooter like Bradley Beal.
The Wizards are not winning the way they are playing now, and like Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Trevor Ariza was a costly mistake for the Wizards, who had the right idea of surrounding Wall with veterans he could rely on.
The tricky part, however, is surrounding him with the right veterans.
Ariza is not one of them. He is playing 25 minutes a game and making the least of them as he averages 8.8 points per game and shoots 35 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Washington didn’t do anything to address its backup point guard situation during the offseason, and it is clear by now that neither A.J. Price or Shaun Livingston are the answer to handle the position.
Collison could share the backcourt with Wall just like Jeff Teague does with Devin Harris at times in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Vince Carter could either be bought out or provide a spark off the bench since his contract for the 2013-14 season involves a $3 million team option.
However, San Antonio’s championship window is closing and they are going to need to get bigger in order to get past the Thunder and Lakers in the playoffs this season.
Enter Nené, a very capable rebounder who would love to play for a contender and would add a new dimension in the paint to a team that is undersized at the center position.
Yes, the Brazilian center has been injured and not able to contribute until recently for the Wizards, but he could be a force when healthy alongside Tim Duncan.
DeJuan Blair is a scrappy player that compensates with energy what he lacks in ACL’s, but he has been on the trading block for a while now and a change of scenery might do both of them some good.
Stephen Jackson would come along for the ride and could be shipped to a third team, a contender perhaps in need of shooting that has draft picks to spare.
As the Washington Post points out, Randy Wittman has the worst career record of any coach with at least 350 games under his belt in NBA history (now standing at .322 with 119 wins and 350 losses, uplifting stuff).
Wittman replaced Flip Saunders last season after the Wizards started 2-15 and proceeded to go 18-31 as an interim coach in the lockout shortened season.
Things are obviously worse now that he is Washington’s full time coach and is well on his way to posting the same record, or worse, as Saunders after 17 games.
If Mike Brown got canned from the Lakers after a 1-4 start, there is no reason to think that the Wizards’ front office wouldn’t fire Wittman before the season is over.
Granted, the Wizards don’t have the same kind of urgency or expectations that the Lakers do. If you want to have the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, keeping Wittman around might just do the trick.
There is something to be said for keeping him around and having some kind of continuity, but continuity under the wrong coach will just bring more disappointment for everyone involved.