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Posted at 3:56 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

It could always be worse

By Lee Friedman

As 2011 begins, the Wizards sit at 8-24 at the bottom of the NBA after a very difficult year. I’m not even going to address the team’s play in the first four months of 2010. I’d prefer to pretend it didn’t happen much like the Coy-and-Vance season of the Dukes of Hazzard. A special thanks to the following teams for making us realize that life could always be worse: Cavs (The Decision and an owner with anger management issues), Grizzlies (an owner who combines two unique skill sets, the involvement level of Daniel Snyder and the player evaluation skills of Vinny Cerrato) and Kings (two lottery picks, two talented young players, two head-cases).

The Good

Nick Young: I’ve been critical of Nick in the past for his effort and execution, but on any given night this season he has been the most valuable Wizard on the floor. (Wow that was hard to write, I feel like I just said something nice about the GM skills of Isiah Thomas). While he still doesn’t fill up the stat line, many times he is the only Wizard who can successfully create his own shot and he has mostly succeeded in not embarrassing himself on defense.

JaVale McGee: He’s made a big jump statistically from last season and although he still takes plays or even entire games off, his defense can be dominating when he’s “on”. His offensive abilities are also underrated and it would be great if he continued to develop them.

John Wall: When he has been healthy he has been a game changer. His stats have dropped as he’s worked his way back from injury, but if he keeps them at their current level he will have put together the best rookie season by a point guard in 30 years.

The Bad

Yi Jianlian: Putting his injuries aside, he’s been a disappointment. We knew he would be a subpar defender with limited mobility, but his shooting has been awful (39 percent shooting and 25 percent from 3-point range). He’s also only had two games with at least five rebounds this year.

JaVale McGee as Slam Dunk Contest Participant: As a fan it’s pretty cool that he’s participating, and with his athleticism he’s got a chance to win. Unfortunately it symbolizes to me that McGee still doesn’t get it. Instead of spending extra time in the weight room or studying film and trying to improve his game, he’s going to be practicing dunking for the next month, the one area of his game he does not need to work on.  

Andray Blatche: He continues to make bad decisions on and off the court. With his contract extension, the Wizards made a commitment to him to be one of their building blocks moving forward but he has not held up his end of the bargain. On the surface he’s putting up a solid 16 points and eight rebounds per game. Fourteen forwards in the NBA are averaging that this year and only three (including Blatche) are younger than 25. But it goes downhill from there, on most nights his defense ranges from serviceable to invisible. But worst of all, his shot selection has been awful:

  • among the group of 168and-8 players listed above, he has the worst shooting percentage
  • of the 31 players in the league 6-9 or taller who play at least 30 minutes per game, he has the third-worst shooting percentage
  • he has attempted at least 10 field goals in each of the last 17 games and counting, yet he has shot over 50 percent exactly twice, and in only four cases did he even shoot 44 percent.

Al Thornton: Every time he touches the ball I cringe. He has no outside shot, is a bad defender and his one go-to move -- a slashing lay-up -- is rendered moot by his inconsistent free throw shooting. Worst of all whatever minutes he earns come at the expense of Cartier Martin or Trevor Booker. Every once in a while he’ll throw up a 15- or 20-point game and then disappear for a while. The Wizards finally have a healthy team and it’s time to cut him loose.

The Really Bad

Road Record: The Donner Party had a better experience on the road then the Wizards this season.

By Lee Friedman  | January 5, 2011; 3:56 PM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  
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Next: Reading Mike Shanahan's mind (cont.)


The "Bad" you did not mention is Flip. He started poorly last year even before the guns incident. Management dismantled the team and they have yet to show any sign of life. Flip is a good X's & O's guy but he seems not to be a good motivator or leader. He succeeded in the D-league because he had driven players who were trying to get to the NBA. KG is an exception in the NBA because he is self driven therefore the T-Wolves had success. With the Pistons he took over a championship team that was no longer driven and he failed to lead/motivate them. He's coaching style would probably be best served at the collegiate level. This team needs a butt kicking motivating coach, especially one who can develop mentally & physically Blatche, Yi & McGee.

Posted by: Stevie-J | January 6, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Stevie-J, Flip hasn't been getting it done on his end, either.

Posted by: j00_suxor | January 6, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I saw some life and confidence by the team when Randy Whittman[sp] took over. It may time to move Flip to his next job. I can only watch so many more of the games. You just know they will lose. They have no confidence which can only be restored by a fresh beginning by a new leader/coach.

Posted by: johnwlux1 | January 6, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Flip is horrible and what about Ernie G? He's even worse. Who brought in Thornton and everyone else? BTW what or who did we end up getting for gutting the team and giving away Jamison, Butler, Haywood etc? Who did we get, just one person, that's worthwhile?
This team is unwatchable.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 6, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Flip is the problem.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 6, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It is defintiely time to " Flip" the station! Simply horrible coaching!! Blah!!

Posted by: sirmixx01 | January 6, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Nick young doesn't create his own shots anymore. That's a key part of his improvement.

His man-up defense has always been pretty darn good (but would suffer when his shot wasn't falling - its now more consistent), but where he has really improved defensively is in understanding team defensive concepts.

Posted by: jones-y | January 6, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

should have extended nick young

Posted by: jefferu | January 7, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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