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Can They Do It Again?

The Wizards are 0-5 and that has some folks wondering whether they can pull out of the slump and get rolling again. Some feel they can rightly point to last season when the Wizards rolled off six straight after losing the first five. However, that team was very different from this one.

Among the keys to last year's early turnaround:

-Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and Roger Mason Jr. were a part of that team. It's easy to forget now, but Arenas played very good ball during the first three games of the six game winning streak. He had 18 points and six assists in a win at Atlanta, 30 points and 11 assists in a home win over Indiana and 27 points, eight assists and four steals in a win at Minnesota (he was really rolling that night. I remember him hitting a string of big shots down the stretching while looking the like the old Gilbert).

It was after that Minnesota game that Arenas shut it down and had surgery, but the team had momentum and won the next three.

-Antonio Daniels is not right. The veteran hasn't looked like himself since camp opened and we found out why the other night when he sat out with a sore knee. He did not practice Monday and was limping. It's hard to tell how much of an isssue it is.

-Defense: Without Haywood, this team isn't playing much of it all. The Wizards are giving up 108.8 points per game and opponents are shooting 50.2 percent. The rotations are a mess, the basket is hardly ever protected (except at times when JaVale McGee is in there) and the Wiz aren't even turning steals into easy fastbreak buckets the way they did a couple of seasons ago when the defensive numbers were poor.

By Ivan Carter  |  November 11, 2008; 10:31 AM ET
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Next: Tuesday Update: Butler Gets Goggles

Comments has posted the stats for the first 4 games. At a high level, EJ’s three most-used five-man rotations are the worst performing rotations out of all of the rotations.

On an individual player basis, Young, Dixon and McGee top the chart for performance.

Young, Dixon, Jamison, Butler and McGee are playing winning ball as a team – now.

The coach has an irrational commitment to vets, irrespective of performance.

The time for change has come to Washington.

Posted by: Izman | November 11, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

the wiz make me so sad

Posted by: andy22 | November 11, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Kev29 | November 11, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This season's a lost cause minus Haywood and Arenas....doesn't matter whether we had Phil Jackson as coach. EG has failed to sign quality depth or draft young players (exceptions are NY and McGee) who can contribute. The bench was always suspect and now is even worse given the injuries and Roger Mason leaving.

Start NY, McGee, and Dixon with CB3 and Jamison so we can at least have a competitive team at the start of the game. I can't see DSS or ET playing any worse off the bench than as starters. I've given up on AB and Eddie should move him if he can find a taker. Its obvious the kid has zero confidence in addition to no court sense - a change of scenery might help.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 11, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Correction to prior post: Ernie needs to move AB as quickly as possible.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 11, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Correction the wizards need to Fire EG as quick as possible and then get a real Gm to fix the team.

Posted by: beas13 | November 11, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

History lessons are in order.

To the people saying this isn't Eddie's fault, because he's got injured players- where have you been in April the last few years? Do you not remember all the first round losses? Eddie changed the culture here, but he can't get us over the hump. Prove me wrong. No amount of crying over injuries can explain why this man continues to start players like Stevenson, Daniels, and Thomas over Young and McGhee. Loyalty? What has Deshawn Stevenson ever given us, besides humiliation from Cleveland? And I love Daniels and Thomas for their passion and community presence, but come on. They can't play anymore, at least not well enough to start. Bench them.

And please stop whining about the team re-signing Arenas and Jamison. Remember when Juwan "left"? Remember the outcry from YOU fans? You don't think that had a hand in Abe's decision this summer? For every person whining about the contracts now, there would have been a hundred more crying about how cheap the owner is if he had let them walk.

What on earth makes you think someone like Elton Brand would have signed here? When did DC (where the home team plays in front a hostile crowd of out of town fans) become a basketball Mecca? Get over yourselves. For even money, you think Brand is taking a deal from a team that:

-has an owner who vows not to pay the luxury tax

-would have just lost its star player (Arenas) and leader (Jamison)

-has a history of playing like dogs in the post season?

If Arenas and Jamison had left, the Wizards would have been Butler and a bunch of also-ran free agents nobody else wanted. This is Washington, not LA.

Do you people even watch basketball?

Posted by: bryc3 | November 11, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Stop sending Haywood so many roses Ivan. There's now way to tell if he would have regressed back to the 'old' Brendan with more competition for his minutes. I'll give you the fact his length deters guards from going all the way to the rack but beyond that... he's got marginal impact.

Talking is important true, but teams with quiet big men still play good 'D' (Utah, Cleveland and the Lakers come to mind)

Daniels is no big lose right now anyway. I'd like to see Dee Brown get a spot start and keep Young and Dixon together off the bench. That's a disruptive tandem right there...

Posted by: elfreako | November 11, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I think the team will start winning again. By now, they should have found their new team chemistry without Haywood.
They must get serious with no excuses. Game time!

Posted by: sammy5 | November 11, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's time to start watching NCAA ball. What prospects are worth following?

Posted by: cballer | November 11, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

hey ivan do you see any changes or trades coming down the way

Posted by: xpoc2 | November 11, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

elfreako, don't bother coming in here with reason and logic as it relates to Haywood, it'll just get end up being swatted away at the rim.

Would Haywood's size help? Sure. It would also help if the rest of the team actually attempted to execute the defensive scheme, Haywood or no. Some of the guys look like they are sleepwalking through the games.

I think all of the attention, controversy, and criticism over his "feud" with LeBron may have gotten to Stevenson. He's playing very lethargically and timidly, quite a change from last season. He's a limited skill player, but the quality and impact of his play depends a lot on him playing with energy and emotion, which has been totally absent this season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 11, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"However, that team was very different from this one."

Yup, and it ain't all injuries Ivan.

You can't say "Roger Mason is not here because of injury" because that ain't so.

This team is lottery bound. Grunfeld has to take a lot of the blame for it. As I wrote in Mike's column they have a new center every year(Haywood only started full time just last year), a new 2 guard every year, and a new bench every year. The team preaches "continuity" but I have yet to see it.

If I remember correctly, Grunfeld did the same thing to the Bucks roster before he left to come here.

You just can't replace dudes on the fly like that and expect to win. Oh, and they gave a guy with a bum knee a lot of money to sit by his new pool while letting your best bench player go.

As far as Daniels, he's not getting any younger and they should have traded him while they had the chance.

I like Jamison, but I would start taking offers on him just to see what I could get before it's too late. The guy tries to play D and his knees buckle, lol!

It seems like every year we are saying "they are just a couple years away" but if Grunfeld keeps playing with the roster like he is that will never happen.

It's going to be a long year. :(

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | November 11, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I've said this last year that EG was setting up Eddie for failure but it backfired when the Wiz won six in a row and then continued to play well on their way to the playoffs.The fact that you would sign someone like Pecherov to an extension says it all, ask any other GM in the league about "Stewie" and see what they have to say. Abe Pollin with all due respect let sentiment get in the way of common sense by signing AJ to a ridiculous contract Ernie should have had a talk with Mr Pollin about this teams future and the salary cap,but i believe EG has a bigger agenda to get rid of EJ thats why after the AJ debacle it got even more twisted with Gilbert signing for 111 million!!!.I mean think about it why would you sign either one without letting them test the waters,AJ was a 20&10 player last season good, but not worth fifty million at his age and Gilbert? come on after two knee surgeries and now a third, believe me i'm a fan of both of these guys but at 160 million I would have taken my chances with the market and start thinking about the teams future sure the fans would have raised hell but where are we now? There are other examples too numerous to name right now but you catch my drift EG needs to go the sooner the better.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 11, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

with the structuring of Daniels and Etan's contracts, they couldn't trade them until this year's trade deadline or more likely, next summer or next year's trade deadline when the cap hit is minimal to the new team looking to create cap space. when the bucks gave Etan the offer sheet, they were not expecting the Wiz to match. & when they did, it crippled part of our cap because we had an overpaid back-up energy guy who was getting starter salary and now due to injury....starter minutes. mgmnt was trying to avoid losing what they thought was a developing big man. you think they didn't look at what happened we we gave up ben wallace too soon?

when we brought in Daniels, we got a smart veteran backup who could play anywhere from 15 - 25 quality minutes. it worked for a while but now he too is forced into starter minutes at the end of his contract and the wear & tear have taken it's toll.

Posted by: gregskins | November 11, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I love the Wiz, but the team is flawed across the nearly the entire roster. Blatche, Daniels, Dixon, Mcguire, Pech, Songalia, Dee, Deshawn and Etan are marginal second team NBA players, let alone starters or championship-caliber players. Honestly, how many of these guys would even have a roster spot on the Lakers or Pistons? We have three proven stars, Gil, Jamison and Butler. Jamison and Gil, despite their individual talents, are fools gold. While they get stats, Gil's lack of point guard alchemy ruins chemistry, while Jamison leaves us undersize, under-strength and weak in D in the frontcourt. We always seem overmatched physically up front, and Jamison - heart though he has - is one of the causes. These two holes will forever prevent us from forming a coherent, championship squad. Moreover, Gil has serious knee problems, and the latter is getting creakier and more perimeter-oriented as he loses his athleticism. That leaves Caron, Haywood, Mcgee and Young. While he is not a pure SG or SF, his all-around skills make Caron invaluable. Mcgee is the best young prospect we've had since Chris Webber. With his height, arm length and hops, he may get up higher than any player in NBA history. He has a head on his shoulders, too: discipline, attitude, aggression, confidence, natural fluidity, etc. A great prospect. Haywood will be a serviceable back-up when he returns. Young has had a fast start and shows promise, but was so inconsistent - last year and in the pre-season - that it is premature to anoint him just yet. With Gil's and Jamison's contracts, they are impossible to move. We have to pray that Mcgee and Young are the Second Coming and that we can replace our other marginal players - which we have in abundance - with solid NBA role players.

Posted by: SammyT1 | November 11, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Addendum. If we start Young, Butler and Mcgee and find a pure point guard and imposing PF, we'd have a potentially great starting five. That would give us Arenas, Jamison and Haywood off the bench, and allow the former two spend less logging long minutes. A good high draft pick this year could fill one starter spot, while using any number of the nine marginal players for a pure position starter could fill the other.

Posted by: SammyT1 | November 11, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

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