Washington Wizards Do Not Become Overnight Contenders with Wall and Nene
John Wall has yet to log a single minute this season as he continues to bide his time while he deals with a stress fracture in his left knee. Nene has been limited to four games as he continues to battle lingering plantar fasciitis. Without their two best players, the Washington Wizards have fallen to an NBA-worst 1-13.
Even with their two best players, the Wizards would be hard-pressed to break out of their slump and make a convincing run at the playoffs.
At this early stage of the season, it is borderline absurd to even allude to playoffs. An 82-game schedule allows for far too much change in the standings, and the NBA is just as susceptible to late-season runs or midseason stumbles as any other sport.
Washington started the season shorthanded and has failed to show even a glimmer of hope, even in its lone victory.
From a strictly statistical standpoint, the Wizards are alarmingly mediocre almost across the board. Their crowded frontcourt is inconsistent, and their backcourt is comprised of journeymen and sixth men.
Jordan Crawford leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 points per game, but is shooting an unimpressive 41.2-percent from the field and a worse 28-percent from beyond the arc.
What makes Crawford's team-leading performance is his lack of contributions otherwise, and his teammates' inability to produce themselves.
Point guard A.J. Price has been underwhelming in both scoring and distribution, and makes the absence of Wall that much more painful to endure.
Without a point guard to run the show, the Wizards offense looks lost. And if a team can't score, they can't win.
You may look at the stats and see Washington is one of the more productive rebounding teams in the NBA. That, however, isn't entirely true.
Though the Wizards have shown the ability to be active on the boards at both ends of the floor, they give up a lot of rebounds by taking bad shots and not pursuing rebounds. They pull down 12.9 offensive rebounds per game, but allow opponents to grab 32.5 rebounds off of their misses.
Wall was good for 4.6 rebounds per game based on his career average, which would be second best on the Wizards. The Wizards who took on Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for the rebounding and defense.
Okafor and Ariza who are frustratingly inconsistent, and cost a guaranteed $35 million over the next two seasons, with the potential for more than $7 million with Ariza's player option.
There is no denying that the Wizards have done wonders with player acquisition since the waning days of the Gilbert Arenas saga, and the subsequent roster turnover.
Wall, Nene, rookie Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin are solid building blocks, but do not entirely offset the regressing Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker.
So no, Wall and Nene do not fix everything that is wrong with the Wizards, not by a long shot. Even at their best, they are a sub-.500 team, and it starts at the top.
Owner Ted Leonsis gave Ernie Grunfeld new lease on life with a two-year extension, while inexplicably extending coach Randy Wittman to just a one-year deal. Grunfeld, as has long been the case, is what is wrong with the Wizards, while Wittman is just another coached charged with the impossible task of guiding a team lacking fundamentals.
It is not too soon to count the Wizards out of the playoffs, no matter what they do when Wall returns and Nene is fully healthy. Nothing short of a front office cleaning can pull them from the hole that was dug some five years ago when Arenas was signed to an albatross of a contract before being traded just two seasons ago.
The playoffs aren't just a few years away for Washington. Playoffs are seemingly light years away for a team in need of proper management before the players can have a real impact on the floor.
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