You Tell Us: Biggest Challenge?

Flip Saunders' hiring appears to be inevitable. Please weigh in on the challenges he faces.

By Alexa Steele |  April 14, 2009; 2:29 PM ET
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You Tell Us: Biggest Challenge?

Flip Saunders' hiring appears to be inevitable. Please weigh in on the challenges he faces.

What will Flip Saunders' greatest challenge be as Wizards coach?

By Alexa Steele | April 14, 2009; 2:29 PM

It's obviously the one you don't have listed in your options to choose from, but its' been their biggest challenge every year for the last three or four years running...

Health, will be Saunder's biggest challenge.

Posted by: RedDMV | April 14, 2009 2:49 PM

Getting Jamison to accept being an elite 6th man.

Posted by: mugsybol | April 14, 2009 2:55 PM

Love that poll. Defense is NOT what FLIP's being brought here to do. Improving the offense is what SAUNDERS will attempt to accomplish, but corraling GA would be my concern and got my vote. Sorry defenders.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 14, 2009 3:15 PM

Defense wins titles. Nothing Flip can do about that if he doesnt have the right players. Ernie needs to address the defense this summer, or else nothing Flip does will matter.

Posted by: BigNasty | April 14, 2009 3:19 PM

It's pretty amazing what propaganda can do for a players cause, one way or the other. Gilbert Arenas, for all intensive purposes, hasn't played a meaningful game for what seems to be two seasons. He's not a team cancer, he's not going to screw up the chemistry of the locker room -- he's simply a player who loves to play the game of basketball. He's not your average player. He likes the spotlight, and he's random. But I've never gotten the impression that he's uncoachable. With this team "hopefully" being healthy, playoffs have to be considered pretty likely. That being said, Flip's greatest challenge will be getting this team past the first round of the playoffs. All of this getting along with Arenas stuff isn't relevant. If this team is playing well, none of it will be an issue. If the team doesn't get out of the first round, then it's just a new face same result. If thats the case, then the spotlight should shine nice and bright on Ernie Grunfield, not Gilbert or Flip.

Posted by: wizfan305 | April 14, 2009 3:22 PM

His biggest challenge will be putting together title runs when the roster is capped out, Jamison starts declining because he's getting old, Arenas only recovers to be 50% of the player he once was, and we're stuck with a mediocre first round pick in the 84% chance that we don't end up with Blake Griffin next year.

Posted by: Dellis2 | April 14, 2009 3:34 PM

Saunders' biggest challenge would be figuring out what the fans think he should do, based on the comments on this blog.

So of course he won't bother, Would you?

Posted by: Samson151 | April 14, 2009 3:38 PM

The defense will improve under Saunders. He's a proven hand at using match-up zones to cover for the individual defensive weaknesses of his roster and there's no reason to think he can't do the same in D.C. The defensive stats may not be as gaudy as the Celtics or Cavs, but if he can get the offense running smoothly and efficiently, they won't have to be.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 3:39 PM

And running smoothly and efficiently is what he's charged with accomplishing. So here's hoping he gets it done.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 14, 2009 3:50 PM

Instead of corralling Arenas, I'd say it's more a question of harnessing Arenas's potential as a facilitator on offense.

More Jason Kidd; less AI. The more Arenas trusts his teammates, and the less he tries to do it all himself on the offensive side, the better this team will be.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 3:54 PM

Unless Arenas returns at 80-90% of his former self, this team has a pretty mediocre roster and even Pat Riley isn't going to make the Wiz a tough, defensive minded team. Except for Heywood, all of the Wizards starters are mediocre or worse as defensive players.

Good health, adding a veteran bigman who can defend & score in the low post, and the development of the team's young players are all key to improve next year.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 14, 2009 4:15 PM

I don't see Saunders as the coach of any team that could ever win it all. Detroit got much worse when he took the reins. Very disappointing choice, IMO. If you aspire to winning 45 games, I suppose he can get it done. With Arenas, Haywood, Jamison, Butler, McGuire and that first round pick (if not Griffin or Rubio, good luck!), they should have enough talent to do better than that, but here's betting that 45 is their absolute max. How much better would they be right now had Abe not been too cheap to sign Roger Mason? Probably only about 5-10 games better and I suppose that would just kill their draft pick, but Abe is the long run problem. Maybe once he's no longer the owner, they can have a shot at competing for the title, but for now, that's a pipe dream that Flip Saunders can't come close to making a reality.

Posted by: dolph924 | April 14, 2009 4:22 PM

This team when healthy, sent Eddie Jordan to coach the East All star team with the best record in the conference. That was early 2007. They haven't been healthy since.

If we can't get Blake Griffin, can we draft TEAM HEALTH with our pick? Really, that's all we need. The Wizards can't even make a fair evaluation of what they have and where they stand in the East (and the league overall) because it's been 2 years since all pieces have been together.

Flip Saunders will NOT make one difference if key players continue to miss large chunks of entire seasons.

Posted by: truesense | April 14, 2009 4:28 PM

"I don't see Saunders as the coach of any team that could ever win it all."


Mediocrity at it's finest.

Can't wait for the Wiz to lose in the first round again next year.

Abe, sell the team man. You owe it to the fans in Washington to do so.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | April 14, 2009 4:30 PM

The simple, basic truth is that this is not a championship roster, so anyone who really thinks that measuring Saunders' performance by whether he wins a title with this group is realistic is fooling themselves.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 4:33 PM

Flip better be the Wizard of Oz. That way he can give Gil a brain and maybe he will learn how to play the PG position in the NBA. He can give AJ some courage and maybe he would play some "D" and get physical. I am sorry you had to see it coming if he had a heart to give it has to go to ET.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 14, 2009 4:56 PM

If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

Improve not just the younger players, but all the players - offensively and defensivley. I don't know what Hopla has done lately but I see the whole team top down beginning with Jamison needing work on their jump shots too.

Posted by: rickgonz | April 14, 2009 5:11 PM

The biggest hurdle for this team will be improving the defense enough so that they can still win in the playoffs even when the game slows down as it inevitably does. Flip Saunders is a good coach, but I have to say I'm a bit disappointed we didn't roll the dice and try something a little different. Flip seems like he's a better version of Eddie Jordan, but still flawed in some of the same ways.

That said, I can't believe that some people are lambasting the choice because 'Flip won't win us a championship'. I don't see any championship coaches out there for us to grab.

Posted by: manifested | April 14, 2009 5:31 PM

The biggest challenge for this team will be consistent execution on both sides of the ball. We've had poor execution all season everywhere. When is the last time you saw the Wiz find a play that is working well on offense and executes it to death throughout a game?

I think part of it was youth, part of it was an inconsistent roster, and part of it was coaching. The bio on Flip seems to be that he is a stickler for execution and coaches that aspect of the game very well. We'll see!

I'm sure this team has never been coached to leave 3 pt shooters wide open, but they have all season and for the last 4/5 years!

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 14, 2009 5:37 PM

All of you who don't think Saunders is the perfect fit for the Wizards obiously you are not a Wizards fun you are a Wizards hater who probably likes the Cowboys too. We have three all stars in our team that can take this team to the finals. I see the Wizards a the conference final against the Cavs next year. Arenas wil be 100% and he will prove you wrong once again like he has done it his whole carrer. Jamison will retire as a Wizard and so is Butler. Give some names or teams that has 3 players averaging 20+ point games. So quit hating.

Posted by: garciadh | April 14, 2009 5:42 PM

Flip will be Coach of the Year 2010.

Worst to first.

If he gets the right assistants we can go far.
Gonna be interesting off season.

Posted by: VBFan | April 14, 2009 6:02 PM

The biggest challenge will be getting production out of Haywood with Arenas at the point. Last year Haywood showed he can be a better than average NBA center. That happening while Arenas was out probably wasn't a coincidence.

Posted by: djnnnou | April 14, 2009 6:29 PM

If this is the Gilbert that comes back next year everything else will take care of its' self . . .

Posted by: ljack666 | April 14, 2009 6:40 PM

I agree with the majority of readers in saying that improving the defense is the #1 priority (or actually, maintaining the health of the players!).

But, Flip Saunders isn't a defensive coach, so is he really the guy for the job?

Isn't Avery Johnson more a defense-guy?

Posted by: agupta1 | April 14, 2009 7:51 PM

"If this is the Gilbert that comes back next year everything else will take care of its' self . . .

Posted by: ljack666 | April 14, 2009 6:40 PM "

Oh, you mean another season of one and done in the playoffs?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 14, 2009 7:52 PM

"More Jason Kidd; less AI. The more Arenas trusts his teammates, and the less he tries to do it all himself on the offensive side, the better this team will be.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 3:54 PM "

Sorry, it's not about Gilby trusting his teammates.

His teammates went to the playoffs without him last season

As long as the team has BTH, they'll be playing the same ball with or without Gilby.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 14, 2009 7:54 PM

If West Unseld Jr. ends up as a coach on the team next season, you know all credibility is lost once again with Flip.

Almost as bad as Zorn having his assistants picked for him.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 14, 2009 7:56 PM

Flip's biggest challenge may be to use more than an 8 man rotation throughout the regular season. That appears to be an issue with him. He likes veterans and plays them heavy minutes. When everyone's healthy, God willing, next season the Zards will have at least 10 players able to play substantial minutes.

Posted by: bozomoeman | April 14, 2009 8:05 PM

Posted by: bozomoeman | April 14, 2009 8:25 PM

How about building a roster of players who will give a crap what Randy Wittman (Mr. 101-217 Career Coaching Record) has to say! Mike, you got scooped by Mike Lee AND David Aldridge. You need to go to your sources and give them the Godfather II "I know it was you Fredo" speech.
Just kidding, keep up the good work you're doing on Wizards Insider.

Posted by: emmet1 | April 14, 2009 9:03 PM

"Flip will be Coach of the Year 2010. Worst to first...Posted by: VBFan"

rmcazz: "Mediocrity at it's finest.Can't wait for the Wiz to lose in the first round again next year."

dolph924:"Detroit got much worse when he took the reins. Very disappointing choice, IMO."

Just wondering: which of these folks is the farthest off target?

Posted by: Samson151 | April 14, 2009 9:48 PM


Your point about increasing the rotation I also agree with moreso than improving Defense like most posters.

Improving the Defense is not nearly as hard and challenging as some think.

The core of FLIP's coaching style to mesh a 8-10 deep roster will be his greatest challenge.

Will he tweak his short rotation style to fit this Team. And most importantly, will he look at uptempo first.

If he only wants to set first without having a push first philosophy, then that makes things harder.

What people don't realize is, if you play a controlled game predominantly, the harder you have to play defense. If you Uptempo first and smartly go to the set when nothings there, the harder it is for your opponent to defense you, but surprisingly, it will be easier for you to play defense.

Logically that makes no since, but if you teach and demand sound Team defense with an UpTemPo Offense, thats what happens. You see when you look to score first you can't do it consistly without playing good sound Team defense.

And that good sound Team defense is fueled by the fact that you want to score first. So everything you do on Defense is to facilitate the fact that you want to score first.

And to those who still don't get it, think of your Team as Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan played great defense because he knew that without the ball he could not score.

People and coaches make the mistake in thinking that Defense is all about stopping the other Team, which is mostly true, but you play Defense because you want to outscore your opponent.

Thats the Key, think of Defense as a means to outscore you opponent. Make him miss more times than you. Its really that simple.

The more prolific you are at scoring, the easier it is to play defense.

Why, because if you are good at scoring, the less you have to make the other Team miss.

Iffin' ya' ain't scorin' da' ball, ya' gonna' have a long hard day trying ta' beat somebody playing Defense'.

Teams are too good.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 14, 2009 11:19 PM

dcman: "Oh, you mean another season of one and done in the playoffs?"

Maybe we should have appreciated that more when we had it.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 15, 2009 5:58 AM

I don't get why Mark Jackson was apparently not even an afterthought.

And if they wanted to go the experienced, successful route, well, what's Rudy Tomjanovich doing these days? He's not that old, for one, and two, I'd bet he's itching to get back into the game now that he (thankfully) appears to be fully healthy again. (And for three, Rudy's got a couple things on his resume that Flip doesn't have. You figure it out.)

Not sure if this was the best EG could've done.

Posted by: nittanybruin | April 15, 2009 9:47 AM


When you typed "sell" there was a rush in the FO to see if ANY more tickets were taken.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 15, 2009 10:46 AM

Biggest challenge? On this team? Are you kidding?
A healthy roster.

Posted by: midlevex | April 15, 2009 4:26 PM

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