The Washington Wizards: The NBA's Perpetual Enigma

John Frascella@@RedSoxAuthorCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

Gilbert Arenas...

Three-time All-Star, former league MVP candidate.

Antawn Jamison...

Another All-Star, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game for his career.

Caron Butler...

A third All-Star, averaged over 20 points per game in each of the past two seasons.

And yet the Washington Wizards are 7-16, good for third from the bottom in the laughably shallow Eastern Conference.

Doesn't this team always seem to underachieve? Ever wonder why?

Well, I'll get to the answer in a bit. First let's look a little closer at their current roster.

In addition to their poor man's version of "The Big Three," the Wizards have five other legitimate NBA players. What I mean by that is, these guys could be contributors on virtually every team in the league.

There's Randy Foye, the seventh overall selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, a combo guard who was once thought to be one of the franchise players for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Andray Blatche, a young, developing big man with improving ball skills. Blatche is averaging 10 points and five boards a night for Washington, and shot 15-for-18 for 30 points in a game earlier this season.

Brendan Haywood, a seven-footer who uses his size pretty well and has become a more-than-adequate finisher around the rim. He's actually averaging a double-double this year at 10 points and 11 rebounds per contest.

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Lastly there's the combination of Nick Young and Mike Miller, a couple of swingmen who can be particularly valuable if utilized correctly. Unfortunately for Wizards' fans, Miller is out with an injury and Young has a difficult time finding minutes because of Washington's logjam in the backcourt.

Even with the mismanagement of the backcourt, after the Celtics, Magic, Cavs, and Hawks, the East is a joke. Anyone could finish in the five-to-eight spots, and yet the Wizards are 13th? Given their impressive talent level, how is that possible?

Well, believe it or not, the answer is simple. I'm sorry Wiz fans, this may be a little rough for you...

The Washington Wizards are terrible because they play absolutely atrocious team basketball.

Embarrassing. Despicable. Disgraceful. Truly painful to watch, and it's a real shame because they're such a talented group of players. 

But as many of us already know, in sports, it's not always about talent. It helps to have athletes with strong physical gifts—natural ability, if you will—but that talent cannot be maximized without the proper understanding of the game at hand.

Washington doesn't have that. If the basketball IQ chart ranges from 60 to 150, the Wizards would rate below 60. They are a bunch of selfish, one-on-one players who could be successful if they realized that individual statistics aren't the key to team victories.

They don't realize that, unfortunately. I thought new head coach Flip Saunders would help them to develop some offensive continuity, but it's more of the same this season for the Wiz and their faithful.

Play one-on-one, miss a contested shot, get your teammates irritated with you, play lazy defense, and you'll end up 7-and-16.

Hey Wizards fans, it could be worse—you could be a Nets fan.

Oh wait...

That's me.

(John Frascella is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land," the first and only book centered on Boston's popular GM Theo Epstein. Follow John on Twitter @RedSoxAuthor.)