Washington Wizards: 10 Adjustments They Must Make Going into the Offseason
This has been another season to forget for the Washington Wizards.
While there was no legal ramifications, the team said their goodbyes to the former face of the franchise, Gilbert Arenas, and welcomed rookie sensation John Wall.
Although the current season has certainly been a frustration, the Wizards and new owner, Ted Leonsis, seems prepared to build for the future starting with their new leader in John Wall.
Improve Home Attendance
A few years ago, the Wizards had a great home-court atmosphere with signs of “Agent Zero and Hibachi” draped throughout the arena.
The downward spiral that has been the Washington Wizards is a clear reflection on the disinterested fan base that has struck the city.
The Verizon Center can't even give tickets away.
To improve attendance the strategy is simple: win. If the Wizards can miraculously turn their franchise into a winner, then I can see them creating a similar home atmosphere to the Washington Capitals.
Fire Flip Saunders
I feel bad for Saunders, prior to his tenure in Washington, Flip was a successful and well respected coach. Unfortunately, the players simply are not responding to his coaching methods. When you only have one road win for the season the coach does not deserve to keep his job. I honestly think we might be doing Saunders a favor in letting him go, I don’t think any coach could enjoy being the in charge of the Wizards right now.
Hire a Young Coach
The Wizards are one of the youngest teams in the league. Their most recent game against the Milwaukee Bucks featured five rookies on the court at once.
They need a younger coach that can relate to the players and can empathize with their lifestyle as a young NBA player.
Sam Cassell is currently a Wizards assistant coach, and I would like to see him given a shot. He’s a personable guy who will demand respect for his team.
Improve Road Record
Only one road win so far? I have never seen a team play with such reluctance while away from the Verizon Center.
When you have a team that is so bad on the road, the only direction you can go is up, at least. They need to improve their road performance with their pregame preparation, in-game adjustments and learning to play with a controlled anger.
Trade Andray Blatche
When Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood were traded and Gilbert was serving his season-long suspension, it was Blatche who stepped up for the team.
In those remaining games of the 2009-2010 season, I believe Blatche was playing at an All-Star level. Blatche was rewarded for his play and was given a raise this past offseason.
Since his new contract, Andray has been a disappointment. He has the ball-handling skills of an adolescent and takes way too many outside shots.
He is the longest tenured Wizard on the team and needed to lead his younger teammates by example but is still showing signs of immaturity.
It’s time to let go of the talented, yet frustrating, veteran and attempt to get some draft picks for him.
Draft a Big Man
The Wizards will be getting a Top Five pick, and they were given an incredible gift with the No. 1 overall pick in John Wall last year.
Once Washington selected Wall, it was evident that they will mold the team around him. It is unrealistic to think that the Wizards can attract major free agents, so they are going to have to rebuild the old-fashioned way—through the draft.
Washington has been searching for an All-Star caliber big man for years. Javale McGee is an exciting player to watch but is not going to be a marquee center.
If the Wizards miraculously win the draft lottery again then Jared Sullinger of Ohio State would seem to fit that void.
It can be argued that the two most important positions in basketball are the point guard and center positions. Point guard has obviously been filled, so a big man is the next step.
John Wall Develops a Jumper
John Wall is one of the fastest players in the league, he's a great slasher that can fly by anybody.
Now, imagine his production when he develops a consistent mid to long-range jumper. I don’t expect John Wall to be winning any three-point contests, but when he can make his game more versatile, then defenders can only hope to contain him.
I expect Wall to spend his offseason working on his jump shot, which could prove to be deadly if successful.
Waive or Trade Rashard Lewis
Lewis will be remembered in Washington as the player who was exchanged for Gilbert Arenas. Despite suffering some lingering injuries, Lewis has been a serviceable player. That being said, a "serviceable" player should not have a 100 million dollar contract, like he currently does.
Even though he had a right to be a snobby overpaid veteran (Mike Bibby) and ask for a buyout, Lewis has welcomed his role in Washington. Unfortunately, his contract is too large, and releasing or trading him will result in freeing up cap space that the Wizards can use elsewhere.
Improve Team Confidence
If an NBA game consisted on three quarters instead of four, then I could honestly see the Wizards in the run for the eighth seed in this year’s playoffs. Washington’s mentality is incredibly vulnerable, especially in the fourth quarter.
When something goes wrong, their mental toughness seems to disintegrate when the game is on the line. I am not surprised that this has become a common occurrence given how young the team is and the lack of chemistry between teammates. To improve this, the Wizards need to develop trust between one another and remain consistent.
Establish Team Leadership
Last, but not least, when you have a young team like the Wizards, there needs to be a core group of veterans ready to lead the team to success.
This is a very undisciplined team that needs to be shown the ins and outs of an 82 game season.
Unfortunately, I do not see anyone on the current roster capable of that, so it should be dependent on the upcoming free-agent class.