It’s only natural that there is excitement and hope in an organization after having a successful draft. Some lottery teams, believe it or not, are actually one or two good draft picks away from being playoff contenders. The Washington Wizards could potentially be that team this year.
It’s very rare that a team who was near the bottom of the barrel rises up to the middle within one year, the last time that happened was when the Oklahoma City Thunder improved their record of 23-59 (2008-09) to 50-32 (2009-10).
But despite that, it seems the Wizards are building their team in a similar mold as the Chicago Bulls. Both are trying to surround their franchise PGs with as many players that complement their playing style as possible. Both could possibly be a matchup in the playoffs as well because of the following reasons…
The Wizards never had a legit defender on the perimeter until they acquired Othyus Jeffers from the D-League, but even with him, they weren’t able to slow down players with the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. With Chris Singleton, the Wizards now have a legit 6’9” defender who can at least contain LeBron James and Kevin Durant without letting them have a career night against the Wizards.
The motto, defense wins championships, has been a proven example of how to build a championship contender, or for this matter, playoff contender. The Wizards have been known for a team that loves to shoot but hates to defend. Just take a look at the previous era in Washington basketball, where Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler could put up big numbers any given night.
Yet, Caron Butler was the only decent defender out of the big three. Offense can only take you so far; there is a reason why Gilbert Arenas, who drop 60 points on Kobe Bryant, was only able to lead his team to the first round of the playoffs. Chris Singleton and Othyus Jeffers, both defensive-minded players, can hopefully pull the Wizards over the hump.
Let’s look at the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks matchup from this past NBA Finals. The Heat clearly had more superstars on their roster versus the Mavericks who only had one star and a bunch of role players.
One of the reasons the Heat lost was because they were undersized in the paint and lacked the versatility on defense to guard Dirk. Notice, I said, versatility on defense, we all know Chris Bosh is an example of a versatile forward, but he isn’t quick enough on his feet to guard other forwards that share the same skills as him.
Now the Wizards brought in Jan Vesely, a forward who can play on the perimeter and in the post. The thing that stands out to me about Vesely is that he can guard players out in the perimeter, which means he will most likely play more SF than PF. All that means is a typical 6’7” SF will have to deal with Vesely, a 6’11” SF .
Vesely has a decent jump shot along with slashing abilities that allow him to get to the rim with one dribble which is something opposing defenses may need to look out for. Size is always a necessity, and knowing that, the Wizards’ shortest guy on the roster is 6’3” is pretty promising going forth.
What does athleticism do if you can’t play basketball, right?
Well, since this game isn’t called “run-and-jump,” athleticism will only take you past high school basketball. But the Wizards seem to be taking a totally different approach to the rebuild, which draws their rebuilding plan away from that of the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls drafted their franchise PG, Derrick Rose, and then began acquiring players who could defend and shoot. The Wizards are picking up players that defend as well, but they are now focusing on acquiring players that can run with their franchise PG, John Wall.
Last season, JaVale McGee was the only player that could keep up with Wall on fastbreaks, and that led to many alley-oops. Just Google “John Wall to JaVale McGee” and you will see what I’m talking about.
Now, the Wizards have Jan Vesely who claims to be “the European Blake Griffin” and Chris Singleton, who posted the fastest three-fourth court sprint time at the NBA combine and had a vertical leap of 37.5 inches. These acquisitions make the Wizards the most athletic team in the NBA, by far. With that, now John Wall will be tested next season on his ability to make players around him better and make a playoff push.
How can a rise in effort be proven?
But when a player's job is on the line, you are going to make an obvious assumption that they are giving 110 percent out on the court.
Let’s be honest, besides Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche has taken most of the negative feedback this season. Many fans wished that the Wizards would part ways with him, but they didn’t. Which was smart, because the whole NBA nation got to see the negative part of Andray Blatche, which was totally opposite to the Blatche of last year...who was a nominee for the Most Improved Player Award.
The Blatche of 2011 looked like he didn’t make an effort on defense and also looked like he ate nothing but McDonalds during the offseason. He did have a foot injury in the offseason that held him back, but there are plenty of alternatives that he could’ve done to stay in shape.
He tries to explain himself in this radio interview, which you have to hear.
With all the trade rumors involving him in the past season, it would be best for him to play his heart out, although I’m pretty sure the Wizards are just waiting for him to get his trade stock up. Blatche needs to start this season off with a bang if he wants to stay with this organization, and believe it or not, he is actually one of the best players on this team so it is important for him to give all of his effort on both sides of the court.
News Flash, John Wall’s offseason is actually really important this for this year, especially since he is promising a playoff push.
Many hate the comparisons to Rose, and I understand, because he is the MVP after all, but Wall needs to look at what Rose did this past offseason. Derrick Rose’s work in the offseason is what really won the MVP trophy for him. Wall needs to improve his jump shot which wasn’t as bad as many claim it is, he actually has good form and has a pretty reliable shot from mid-range.
This slide is pretty much self-explanatory, if Wall gets better, the team gets better.