Silver Chips Online

No magic for the Wizards

Whatís wrong with Washington basketball?

By Anshul Sood, Online Sports Editor
February 10, 2009
On Nov. 24, the Wizards fired then-head coach Eddie Jordan in the wake of a 1-10 start to the season. Interim head coach Ed Tapscott took over in hopes to turn around the team before it was too late. But Tapscott has only managed a 10-30 record as the Wizards have the worst record in the NBA.
Star guard Gilbert Arenas has been sidelined with an injury all season long, leaving the Wizards looking for options on offense. <i>Photo courtesy of the NBA</i>
Star guard Gilbert Arenas has been sidelined with an injury all season long, leaving the Wizards looking for options on offense. Photo courtesy of the NBA


Maybe the change in coaching was not really the issue. The Wizards even shook up their roster in the middle of the season by trading away guards Antonio Daniels and Dee Brown for Mike James and Javaris Crittenton. Yet still the Wizards have struggled to win games throughout the season. So what are the real problems with the Wizards? There are two main issues crippling the team.

Injuries

Probably the biggest problem preventing the Wizards from performing at their highest level is injuries. The Wizards have been without starters Brendan Haywood and Gilbert Arenas all season long. Arenas, coming off a new and expensive contract signing in the offseason, is the team superstar. He can score and create offense, though he is often criticized for his weak defense. But Arenas has been plagued by a knee injury since late in the 2006 - 2007 season and has yet to step onto the court this season, with his return date still uncertain.

Aside from those lingering injuries, the Wizards have been missing key players at various points in the season, especially right now. Center/forward Andray Blatche is out for several weeks with a strained knee and guard DeShawn Stevenson remains out with a back injury, though he is close to returning. Veteran center Etan Thomas is also out for at least another month with a torn MCL, leaving the Wizards thin at big men. Veteran Darius Songaila is starting at center with rookie JaVale McGee seeing increased minutes off the bench. But the lack of size has left the Wizards struggling to defend larger opponents, such as Shaq in a 103-87 loss to Phoenix on Jan. 26.

No offensive flow

While the Wizards are solid in turnovers, only giving up around 14 per game (12th best in the league), they are often unable to find open shots in half-court sets and end up settling for challenging jumpers. The Wizards are shooting just 44 percent from the field - fifth worst in the league - and a league-low 32 percent from beyond the arc.
Interim head coach Ed Tapscott and his coaching staff are trying to turn the Wizards' season around. <i>Photo courtesy of the NBA</i>
Interim head coach Ed Tapscott and his coaching staff are trying to turn the Wizards' season around. Photo courtesy of the NBA


The Wizards still have playmakers in captain forwards Caron Butler and Antwaan Jamison. Butler is scoring 20.1 points per game off of 45 percent shooting from the field, down only slightly from 20.3 points per game and 46 percent last season. Jamison is scoring 21 points per game off 47 percent shooting, similar to 21.4 points per game and 44 percent last season. Despite snubs from the All-Star game this season, the two captains have been performing as they did last season, and that too was without Arenas. So with Arenas still out and the captains performing the same, why arenít the Wizards near .500 again?

The Wizards arenít getting help from other players. As a team, the Wizards are averaging just 93.8 points per game, down from 98.8 points per game last season. Butler and Jamison are scoring about the same as last season, so the rest of the Wizardsí rotation is not performing well enough. The Wizards lost not just a benched Arenas but key players such as guard Roger Mason, Jr., a big shooting threat off the bench. Second-year guard Nick Young has stepped up his game, but the Wizards have not found any other sources of offense. James has been a solid starter, but the Wizards need to find some scorers besides Butler and Jamison.

A lost cause?

There is no real cure for an injury-plagued season. Injuries are a natural part of sports, and teams need to have depth in order to get around them, something the Wizards donít have right now. Last season, the Wizards got 17.8 points per game from their point guards. This season, they only get 12.9. In addition, last season the Wizards were able to outplay their opponentsí point guards and power forwards. This year, the Wizards are being outplayed by their opponents at every position. The Wizards are allowing opponent point guards 18.6 points per game this season, compared to their own 12.9.

The Wizards hoped the move for James and Crittenton would help the point guard situation, but so far it has not. The Wizards are in desperate need of some kind of help until their injured starters return to action. If the Wizards cannot make some moves for new players, then the season is shot until the starters return to action. Even at that point, it will be to late to save the season. Wizards fans, just wear a paper bag over your head until the draft and hope for a better 2009 - 2010 season.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8911