Washington Wizards: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Game 1
Did somebody forget to tell the Washington Wizards that they opened up their season in Orlando's new arena last night?
Last night was a tough reminder that despite having a lot of young, talented players, the Wizards are still in the developmental phase.
I am not going to give you some sort of knee-jerk reaction, and tell you that the Wizards are going to be the worst team in the NBA this season. They were playing against one of the top four teams in the NBA. I am also not going to put on the blinders, and make everything seem great. What I will do is give you the good, the bad and the ugly from last night.
Cartier Martin just secured his roster spot for the rest of the season. He clearly was the best player off the bench last night, shooting 5-for-9, and 6-for-6 on his free throws. He finished with 17 points, and also came up with two steals in just 23 minutes.
If Gilbert Arena is going to miss games, at least Martin will be able to pick up some of the scoring slack.
Another bright spot for the Wizards was John Wall. Most people are going to look at his 6-for-19 shooting, and say it was a terrible performance. However, Wall did finish the night with 14 points, nine assists, three steals and only three turnovers. He also displayed an incredible level of speed and jumping ability that no other guards his size possess in the NBA, outside of Russell Westbrook.
Had he hit just three more of his shots, he would have finished the night with 20 points going 9-for-19. He will get it figured out by Thanksgiving, and soon be filling up the stat sheet.
"Paging Andray Blatche, has anyone seen Andray Blatche?" I do realize that his foot may not be 100 percent yet, but he looked like he forgot how to play last night. He forced shots, spent too much time roaming around outside of the paint and spent too much time not knowing where to go on defense.
If the Wizards are going to stay competitive this season, they will need Blatche to play significantly better.
Could someone remind JaVale McGee that he is 7'1"? He is not an offensive juggernaut, and his impact will need to be on the defensive end. But does he know that? He finished with just one blocked shot, mostly because he looked as though he wanted no part of defending the paint.
Flip Saunders needs to sit McGee down, if he doesn't want to dominate the lane and intimidate the other team.
Offensively, the Wizards look like a team that was just put together, and doesn't know who to rely on to score for them.
What's that you say? They were just put together, and were missing the best two scoring options, Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard?
Well, that explains it.
Once Arenas and Howard come back, the Wizards will be a much more confident team on offense. And if Andray Blatche decides that he wants to score occasionally, that would help, too.
The ugliest part of last night's game was their defense. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee looked completely lost, and they didn't defend the paint at all. Orlando scored on too many easy lay ups.
You can't win in this league if you are going to allow your opponent an easy path to the basket.
The first time Vince Carter came flying into the lane, McGee or Blatche should have tried to take his head off. Knock the guards around a few times, and see how frequently they decide to drive the lane.
If Flip Saunders can't convince them to be more physical, start Hilton Armstrong and Trevor Booker. At least those two will keep opponents from starting a lay-up line in the middle of a game.
Saunders may want to look into a starting lineup that includes Wall, Hinrich, Al Thornton, Booker and Armstrong. Don't be surprised if Saunders changes the starting lineup at least a dozen times before Christmas.
The Wizards may have a few more nights like this before they start to play better. Let's all hope that Arenas and Howard are ready to play sooner, rather than later.
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