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Posted at 2:41 PM ET, 01/19/2011

Flip Saunders joins team in Milwaukee

By Michael Lee

Coach Flip Saunders joined the team in Milwaukee after skipping Tuesday's practice to spend time with his ailing mother, Kay, in suburban Cleveland. Saunders ran the morning shootaround and is expected to lead the Wizards as they attempt to snap their 20-game road losing streak dating back to last season (they are 0-19 this season).

After nearly every road loss, Saunders has tried to come up with explanations for the problems of this young and inexperienced team away from Verizon Center. He has often spoken about how so many of his key players have not been in these situations, and he came with another interesting observation about his starting five on Wednesday morning.

"If you look at our team compared to every other team in the league, we only have one guy who was starting on an NBA team this time last year -- Rashard Lewis," Saunders said.

Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee didn't become starters until the trades that shipped out Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood, Nick Young started some last season, but didn't get his opportunity until Gilbert Arenas was dealt and John Wall was at Kentucky. "All these other teams have these guys who have been starters," he said.

Saunders is hoping that the Wizards' four-game home winning streak can translate to some success in Milwaukee. The Bucks have lost three games in a row overall. "Our guys have a pretty good attitude that they can come in and win," he said. "It'd be different if we didn't have situations [to close out games on the road]. If you look at how we've been able to compete at home and how we've played, we're making pretty good progress."

Young will have a good support base in Milwaukee, with much of his family hailing from Wisconsin and Saunders was hoping that it could help Young finally find a decent groove on the road, where he has struggled nearly everywhere except his hometown of Los Angeles.

"To win on the road, your best players have to play at a high level," Saunders said. "One of the reasons we've had some great success at home is that Nick Young is coming of age. We do need him to carry that on the road. I think that he showed a great maturity jump in the last game, with one of the best defenders in the league in Raja Bell, who gets really physical and gets into you. Held to three points and he comes out and gets 22 in the season half. Those are the things that you hope you can carry through when you get on the road."

Saunders joked on Wednesday that the late "Chuck Daly once told me when I went to Detroit. 'If you do one thing, win your home games.' He should've told me you've got to win some on the road, too."

By Michael Lee  | January 19, 2011; 2:41 PM ET
 
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Comments

flohrtv wrote: Establishing a young starting backcourt simpifies the process and checks off one thing on Ernies to-do list.

---

Agreed.

NY is playing better than ANYone on this board expected. He is actually even playing defense, nobody here is good enough to have predicted that.

So there is good news and bad news: The good: this team is exactly two legit bigs away from being very good in 2012-2013. The bad: getting those two bigs is easier said than done.

As of today:
PG: Wall / Hinrich, an excellent duo at 1.
SG: NY and ... er.. well NY. (But it is easy to acquire a decent backup 2.)
SF: We have 11 of them. Take your pick. Howard if you like him and if he gets healthy, Lewis, Thornton, I'll stop there.
PF: Starter: N/A. Backup? Blatche. (And I like the typical Blatche as a backup... I like the motivated Blatche as a starter, but we only see him come out to play about 4 times per year).
C: Starter: N/A (but McGee looks like he may become a legit starter in a year or two). Backup: McGee

I'd argue we are in very good shape at 1,2 and 3. Yet our 4 and 5 position is so ridiculously undermanned that it has sabotaged our entire season. In my one email to Ted L, I pointed this out before the season and he wrote back: "A lot to chew on there, thanks for writing." Either that or his auto-responder did that---his response could be a legit response to just about anyone's email.

I believe this is Ted's strategy: no attempt to upgrade at the 4 or 5 in the offseason; watch your team blaze a trail to the lottery, hope you get lucky in the lottery (again).

So his plan (or my guess as to what it is): we draft a legit big (hopefully someone who has some clue of how to play with his back to the basket---we have exactly none of those guys now), and need to somehow find one more as a free agent, trade (doubtful) or lucky later draft pick.

We'll see. Legit bigs don't grow on trees.

Posted by: psdfx | January 19, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Who is the "legit" big in this draft? I hope folks arent pining for Enes Kanter, last thing the Wiz need is to use a lotto pick on a teenager with bad knees. Whom no one has really seen play to boot.

It's early yet I guess, but this draft looks weak. If I'm wrong about that, somebody please tell me who the horses are.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

we're nowhere near set at the 3. And yup Divi folks are pining for enes kanter and sullinger. i like perry jones from baylor and Kyle Singler from Duke (Just kidding)

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 19, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

@psdfx,

I agree with your breakdown on the Wiz and would like to mention that I am surprised with how well Lewis has played on the defensive end!
I didn't like the compensation the Wiz got for Gilbert from Orlando at first, especially with Gortat being on the trade block, but as a SF and part time PF, Lewis has been a real upgrade to this roster. Good attitude, good hustle and a difficult match up at the 3.

I'm starting to wonder if the Wiz should try to retain him after he's through with his outrageous contract.

Posted by: bozomoeman | January 19, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Rashard will be our starting SF for the next 2 seasons, I am guessing.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Saunders has tried to come up with explanations for the problems of this young and inexperienced team away from Verizon Center. He has often spoken about how so many of his key players have not been in these situations, and he came with another interesting observation about his starting five on Wednesday morning.

"If you look at our team compared to every other team in the league, we only have one guy who was starting on an NBA team this time last year -- Rashard Lewis," Saunders said.

What about Kirk he started 53 games last year?

So lets see...

AB started 36 games last year
JM started 19 games last year
NY started 23 games last year

So they have been in those situations before...

last year they won...

@ Bos which NY and AB started but Flip started Fab ahead of JM?

@ NO which NY and AB started but Flip started Fab ahead of JM?

@ NJ which JM and AB started but Flip started MM ahead of NY?

Now that I brought facts into the equation people will call me a "hater" since there is no defense against the truth...

Maybe if Flip would have played NY and JM more last year instead of Foye, MM and Fab who aren't on the team they would be better players now.

But we know from the ETaps days that's not the way the Wizards organization develops players. Young players need to sit on the bench and watch vet's lose they'll learn better that way?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | January 19, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@psdfx,

I agree with your breakdown on the Wiz and would like to mention that I am surprised with how well Lewis has played on the defensive end!
I didn't like the compensation the Wiz got for Gilbert from Orlando at first, especially with Gortat being on the trade block, but as a SF and part time PF, Lewis has been a real upgrade to this roster. Good attitude, good hustle and a difficult match up at the 3.

I'm starting to wonder if the Wiz should try to retain him after he's through with his outrageous contract.

Posted by: bozomoeman | January 19, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse
You are right
RL is a little bit above avreage as a SF, he will improve this team, he just need a rebounding center to take the team to play off.His rebounding as a SF is good, he is an excellent passer,with the attitude of playing as a team. I think we are set on the SF position with him as a starter.
Any one who does not believe the trade is an up grade for the team is either in denail or still thinking the 2005-2006 Arenas.

Posted by: gtefferra | January 19, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Kanter played really well at the Nike Hoops Summit, and was the MVP of the under-18 Euro Championships. Played 1yr of h.s. ball in USA, where he was apparently just ok.

Do you really draft a guy top5 based on just that, especially given knee troubles? I'm not saying someone wont, but it seems pretty risky to me.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Flip is counting on another 18pt quarter from Nick to bail him out.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Flip is counting on another 18pt quarter from Nick to bail him out.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

we asked for it. Ny is starting now, the only thing is NY plays markedly better at home than on the road. No doubt until NY performs consistently on the road, losses will be attributed to his Jekyll and Hyde home and away numbers.

BTW anybody that feels like answering Does NY have the "Green Light" on this team?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 19, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Green light as in Kobe green light? Or Dirk green light? Lebron green light? When you can shoot whenever you want? Not even close..

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | January 19, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I really think that Flip has to be held accountable for the teams miserable play on the road. Though they have been bad so far, I really think they can, should, and will win tonight. If they don't...

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 19, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I would say Kirk and Dray have been green lit all year.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"I really think that Flip has to be held accountable for the teams miserable play on the road. Though they have been bad so far, I really think they can, should, and will win tonight. If they don't... LarryInClintonMD.Posted by: LarryInClintonMD"

Well, the Bucks are only 8-9 at home this season. So the Wiz have that in their favor. OTO, Washington is, ahem, 0-19 on the road. You can bet the bookies haven't forgotten that. Looks like Milwaukee will be starting Bogut, Ilyasova, Salmons, Dooling, and Maggette, with Jennings and Carlos Delfino out, which should help a little.

All in all, no reason at all to expect the Wiz to beat the Bucks at home. But they might anyway. If so, we'll hear people say they were due.

I have to wonder what sort of mind looks at this game and concludes they 'should and will' win, after 19 straight losses on the road. Not one that operates on any known logical system.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 19, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The problem right now with the draft and sites like draftexpress is all of the hype surrounds the one and dones and the first year eligible Euro's. An experienced college guys' value is discounted to the point where one like Singlar can be top 10, and then two years later, after leading a team to a title, can drop almost out of the first rd.

You think Seriphan is green, Kanter has played in HS and has been declared ineligible and won't suit up at all at Kentucky. It's hard to tell from what we've seen, but I'd assume that the Wiz project Seriphan to be one of those needed bigs. Another one of Ernie's "three year project" picks. He's done pretty well with Young and McGee, maybe he's gotten lucky with Seriphan.

Getting Lewis out of the Arenas deal may prove to be a huge bonus, a veteran 3-4 that can hit clutch 3's can prove to be a key contributer in the playoffs.

I'd also assume that Booker end up playing a bigger role then we've seen so far. I watched him for 4 years in the ACC, and he's a very solid player. He's got to show the confidence to put the ball up from the perimeter a little, but he's got the quickness to guard many 3's on the perimeter. So I think he could eventually be a contributor at both forward spots.

Blatche is that wild card guy, in another couple of years he's either a key contributor or he's written off. By that time the book will be in on McGee as well. They're not the contributors the Wiz need right now inside, but they still can be...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | January 19, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

If they come out listless and flat tonight, get their asses handed to them by a not-very-good team(again)...something deeper than lack of talent ails the team. Hard fought loss is one thing, a "no show" is quite another.

Posted by: divi3 | January 19, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I have to wonder what sort of mind looks at this game and concludes they 'should and will' win, after 19 straight losses on the road. Not one that operates on any known logical system.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 19, 2011 5:47 PM


The kind of mind that is looking at the Teams first 3-game winning streak. The kind of mind that does see some heart and pride in the players despite subpar coaching IMO.

The kind of mind that sees a group of players and sees that their 0-19 road record as more of an indictment of their preparedness than ineptitude talent.

The kind of mind that sees a team that could have won, should have won, a road game well by now.

The kind of mind that sees a team that is bound to overcome their biggest obstacle on road this season, their coach, this time.

And if they do, the coach is bound to along with his protagonist to think he had something to do with it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 19, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

On the other front on what this team needs though, I think at this point, we can't discount that McGee and Blatche are not starters and relegate them too backups now.

I kinda feel that 1) Wall at point, done; 2) Young at SG, done;, 3) Lewis at SF, done; and yes 4) Blatche at PF, done. I am a bit further along in a rebuilding nucleus than most here.

At the Five, you have to start giving McGee true starters minutes to determine if he is really a starter at the Five or just a backup, or maybe he if he's a four.

That 30/30 guy, Love, complained that he did not get enough minutes in his early seasons. It was only after he got starters minutes this season and not at the seasons start either, was when he started to put up hall of fame numbers. It was time on the floor, RING A BELL ROUNDS HERE, that saw Love flourish with numbers that few hall of famers have attained. TIME ON THE FLOOR PEOPLE.

The point is you will never see what a player can really do sometimes if you never let them play consistently and timely. (Nick Young)

Give McGee the true starters role along with the starters mpg and then only use Seraphin and Armstrong as the center backups, not Yi.

Use Yi and Booker as the backups to Andre Blatche. The flexibility of Booker can be used at the three also.

The ultimate point though is that accountability has to be entrusted in playing time and traditional roles for the players in order to determine what the team really needs and whether the players you have are accountable, dependable, responsible enough to continue to roll with them going forward.

You cannot continue to make assumptions not based upon trial by fire. To make the players accountable you have to play them the right way and in the roles that they should be responsible for.

Out of all the games that Haywood started for us here, he never averaged true starter mpg. Now maybe that could be a reflections of Haywood's play and I am sure many can make that assertion with good reson, but I WOULD NOT, I REPEAT, I WOULD NOT MAKE ANY DECISIONS ABOUT JAVALE MCGEE UNTIL THIS TEAMS STARTS TO GIVE HIM TRUE STARTERS MPG.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 19, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

And if they do, the coach is bound to along with his protagonist to think he had something to do with it.

LarryInClintonMD

----

ok, I tried to figure out what you meant but I give up. who's the coach's "protganist"?

Posted by: MinuMang | January 19, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Since I posted my "open letters" to Gilbert and Ted, I've sat back and watched you guys, esp Samson51(who has no clue about NBA basketball and Larry post comments about my team. Samson needs to have his blog privs revoked!

The main reason this team is awful is:

1) Inept coaching

2) Horrendous personnel selections by Grunfeld

Posted by: squidward1 | January 19, 2011 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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