Washington Wizards: Familiar Questions and Early Losses Begin to Pile Up
In their victories, the Wizards have looked impressive. In their losses, the Wizards have looked lost.
Same old Wizards, but just a few new faces.
Perhaps I am selling the Wizards a bit short so early in the season, but their play hasn't left much room for unbridled joy. After their season-opening win on the road against a formidable Mavericks team, the Wizards have failed to follow up with another quality win.
In their victories, Andray Blatche has averaged 25 points and 6.5 rebounds, Gilbert Arenas has averaged 30.5 points and eight assists, and Randy Foye has averaged 18 points and 4.5 assists. Offensively speaking, the Wizards have been stellar in their wins.
In their losses, the Wizards have lacked a spark from their guards and forced their big men into too much responsibility.
In the losses to Cleveland, Atlanta, and Miami, Brendan Haywood has averaged 14.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. In the wins, he has averaged just 8.5 points and rebounds per game. Blatche seemed to regress in those games, averaging just 10 points and seven rebounds in each contest.
The apparent issue with the Wizards is balance.
Flip Saunders has done wonders for the team in terms of their work ethic. Almost everyone entered training camp in better shape than they had been the season before. But it seems that there are going to be some growing pains throughout this season.
The Wizards have never been a defensive team. DeShawn Stevenson, who is allegedly the teams best defender, has been anything but so far this season.
He hasn't been much on the offensive end of the floor either.
Stevenson is the embodiment of everything that is still wrong with the Wizards. He doesn't live up to expectations and allows himself to get comfortable at all the wrong times.
The Wizards threw away an 18-point lead against the Cavaliers and ultimately lost by 12. There is no earthly reason for there to ever be a 30-point swing in a game.
A perfect example of the Wizards getting comfortable when they should put the pedal to the proverbial metal.
The addition of Foye and Mike Miller has paid dividends in the early running, but Saunders needs to delegate better. Both saw a significant loss of minutes against Miami. It is obvious that Foye was held out of the game to give more minutes to Arenas, but there is no possible rationalization for Miller being held out in favor of Stevenson.
For being the best defender on the team, Stevenson didn't do much to halt the 40 points Miami's Dwayne Wade poured on the Wizards. Not to mention the game-winning shot, which featured the no-name Stevenson trying to draw a foul against the superstar and perennial MVP candidate in Wade.
This is the NBA, where the elite are rewarded with special treatment and a few extra calls in their favor per game.
Awful defense in mind, Stevenson has missed a fair share of critical free throws when the Wizards needed it most, not to mention trying to garner the same treatment from the refs as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Wade get.
The only way Stevenson is mentioned in the same breath as any of those player is when "was torched by—" follow his name.
The Wizards are in for a rough November with Antawn Jamison out for the next couple of weeks and no slack in the schedule. Saunders will need to reassess his game plan with the recent inefficiency of the Wizards' key players.
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