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Posted at 8:07 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Final 20 games far from meaningless

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Wizards need to win four of their final 20 games to avoid matching the franchise record for fewest wins in an 82-game season. That might not seem like much of a challenge, but they just completed their worst 20-game stretch of the season, going 3-17, with an eight-game losing streak and a seven-game losing streak.

If the Wizards (16-46) finish out the season 3-17, they would match the 19-win seasons that the team recorded in 2000-01 and 2008-09. The payoff for those seasons was a No. 1 pick (which turned out to be Kwame Brown) and a No. 5 pick (which was dealt away for two one-season rentals).

Eleven of the Wizards' final 20 opponents have losing records but they also have 11 games on the road, where they are just 1-29. They will play their next three games at home, beginning on Tuesday with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Then, they will have seven of eight away from Verizon Center, including a five-game road Western Conference road trip against Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Golden State and Utah. The Wizards already have wins over two of those teams, and will host the Clippers for the first time on Saturday.

In order to avoid the worst three-year stretch in franchise history, the Wizards would need to win eight more games. From 1992 to 1995, the Bullets averaged 22.3 wins and won 27.2 percent of their games, going 67-179.

On their current pace, the Wizards are set to finish with just 21 wins, which would make this a historically bad three-year run for the franchise in which the team won 26.8 percent of its games and averaged just 22 wins.

FROM THE POST
When Jordan Crawford returned to Detroit last weekend with the Wizards, his mother surprised him with a party bus full of friends and family.

Nick Young and a few other players try to name that singer (DC Sports Bog).

Is this the Wizards' new logo? Hard to say (DC Sports Bog).

The Post's Amy Shipley visited Miami Heat practice yesterday, after the team again failed to hit high-pressure, late-game shots, and players end up crying with "glossy eyes" in the locker room after losing to the Bulls on Sunday.

The Heat's clutch moments have been strung together in a video (The Early Lead).

AROUND THE WEB
Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy says the Heat asked for the scrutiny they are getting (Orlando Sentinel).

Ken Berger has jumped onto the Derrick Rose bandwagon for league MVP (CBSSports.com).

Will NBA coaches one day cede control to data analysts? (Ball Don't Lie, Yahoo!Sports)

By Michael Lee  | March 8, 2011; 8:07 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jump ball: What's in a name?
Next: Jump ball: The final stretch

Comments

This post gave me "glossy eyes."

Posted by: DKSW | March 8, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Wrong. The final 20 games are meaingless to the people who pay the bills, the fans.

Posted by: dandyhuffman | March 8, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Why is the Post sending someone to cover the Heat's practice? Practice!

Posted by: tundey | March 8, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

The last 20 games are important in establishing some type of team chemistry since the Hinrich trade. Jordan Crawford seems to be a good pick up and seems to be able to play with Wall, or back him up. After Gil, lots of people around here tend to frown on combo guards, but Crawford seems to be very effective in the third guard role so far.

Booker and Seraphin both seem to be coming on as of late,so yhey can both use the time down the stretch to work on their games and gain confidence. I'm of the opinion that Lewis should go ahead and have the knee worked on, and shut it down, and give the young guys maximium playing time down the stretch.

Nick Young also needs to continue to work on the aspects of being expected to start and being expected to put up numbers on a nightly basis. Being mentally prepared night in an night out is the next challenge for Nick. No more nights when the lights don't come on, or teams knock him off his game. Nick's got to get in a mental zone and stay there.

I'd also like to see if Blatche can finish strong and bring consistant effort every night. Andry should have been able to step up this year. Was it the foot in the walking boot all summer? He's got these last 20 games to build some mo going into the off season.

McGee has 20 games to prove he's the center for this club to build around, Or he could see another 5 drafted with that first pick. Evans is a young vet who could step up and claim that three job and make it his, and H could make a drive to claim some court time.

There's a lot for guys on this team to play for down the stretch. It's clearly J Wall's team now. He's got to keep them from mailing it in...

Posted by: flohrtv | March 8, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I think the games themselves are pretty irrelevant in terms of evaluating the team for next season. But they provide an opportunity for individual players.

One focus IMO should be on helping Wall 'get his step back'.

If they've really decided to hang on to a nucleus of Nick, Javale, Andray and the 3 rookies, and it's likely Rashard will be here too, the holes in that roster are obvious: they need somebody who can score inside and somebody who can score consistently from the SF spot.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 8, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Lewis certainly isn't playing for a contract, so there's no point in pushing it down the stretch and the young guys could use the time. The only reason I can see for Lewis to play is if he is trying to entice a better team to trade for him. With the new CBA looming, I don't see that happening.

Crawford definitely does have talent, now he just needs to work on focusing it. I'm not sold on him as the back-up PG however. He's a decent and mostly willing passer, but that's not the same as running the club. That's a mistake that I think gets made a lot. The Wiz need dynamic offense players like Crawford, but they also need sonmeone on the floor who provides direction. Crawford's not that guy yet. Which is no knock, he's a rookie and it hasn't ever really been his job to do that.

I would like to see good effort from McGee and AB down the stretch, and improved focus. What I actually expect to see from McGee is more of the same of late, where he uses the end of the season as a time to work on his offense, his full-court dribbling, his fadeaway jumper etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with him working on his offense down the stretch, imo he should just focus on more basic (and effective) things. His length and athleticism give him great tools, he just needs to harness them.

With Young, I would actually like to see him work on looking for his teammates more. That will actually help him adjust to the increased attention he has gotten.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I think Jordan Crawford is a SG with some combo ability. He has the conscience of a scorer (in other words, not much) and plays enough defense to bother the opponent's 3. Whether he has a future with the Wiz is yet to be determined. They're going to need another vet to back up Wall.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 8, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

They Wiz have bigger needs in other areas, but depending on what they do with the higher pick, I might take a look at Nolan Smith with Atlant's pick if he's still there.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

What about Henson from the Tarheels or JuJuan Johnson of Purdue with that late 1st rndr.They're both bigs. Although Johnson may rise closer to draft time.

Posted by: gmac78 | March 8, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

From a team standpoint, the last 20 games are largely meaningless on anything other than a cosmetic level. What does it really matter if they win 19 games or 23? Establishing anything for next season isn't really a huge priority because about a third of the players are going to be gone next season and the ones who remain may have very different roles; add in a high draft pick and a couple more low-to-mid priced vet FAs and it'll be a very different dynamic next season.

Individually, I wouldn't mind it if Saunders benched Blatche, McGee, and Lewis and gave Booker and Seraphin extended run, but I doubt that'll happen.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 8, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Other than getting the rooks some more PT, these games are meaningless. Nick, Blatche, and Javale have all played enough games to be evaluated. None of them look like core pieces, and the rebuild will be in serious trouble if more than one comes back next season as a starter.

Posted by: djnnnou | March 8, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

And for a name change: How about the Capital Basketball Club, or for short, The CBC.

The Knicks play The CBC tonight.

Posted by: jcm84 | March 8, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

these games are as meaningless as they come.
the entire roster (Wall aside) is full of young knuckleheads or the usual EG 1 year rentals.
what a good move trading the #5 pick for 2 guys on 1 year contracts, EG's favorite type of player to bring in

Posted by: fnkyniedls | March 8, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Of all the players set to become FAs, the one I'd really like to see back is Mo Evans. He's the kind of low-key, always-ready role playing vet a young team needs for some background stability.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 8, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

trevor booker should not be overlooked. seems like a player full of potential. the kind that normally ends up on some other teams roster to then become a solid piece of a pie. i'd like to see him get lewis' minutes (20-30) the rest of the season. you can shut lewis down now, there's nothing else to see. not watching now to see wins or losses, but to see if other than wall, mcgee(he gets another look), and a couple of others, what else might be worth the salvage.

Posted by: joerutgens72 | March 8, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Of all the players set to become FAs, the one I'd really like to see back is Mo Evans. He's the kind of low-key, always-ready role playing vet a young team needs for some background stability.

Posted by: kalo_rama

I'd like to see Evans back as well, but they'd probably have to pony up a little extra to keep him. Otherwise I'd expect him to head to a better team, even if it means giving up PT.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

What about Henson from the Tarheels or JuJuan Johnson of Purdue with that late 1st rndr.They're both bigs. Although Johnson may rise closer to draft time.

Posted by: gmac78

I wouldn't expect Henson to still be there late. If he was, I'd probably take him because it would be a good value pick. At the same time, I'm always leery of guys who are 200 lbs and expected to play inside.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"I'd like to see Evans back as well, but they'd probably have to pony up a little extra to keep him. Otherwise I'd expect him to head to a better team, even if it means giving up PT."

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 1:34 PM

A lot will depend on what the financial/contract landscape looks like under the new CBA. If the predictions are accurate and it's a lower, harder cap a lot of guys like Evens could find themselves without a chair to sit in when the music stops, limiting their ability to be too choosy about their next gig.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 8, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

A lot will depend on what the financial/contract landscape looks like under the new CBA. If the predictions are accurate and it's a lower, harder cap a lot of guys like Evens could find themselves without a chair to sit in when the music stops, limiting their ability to be too choosy about their next gig.
Posted by: kalo_rama

That's definitely one way it could go. Imo, though, guys like Evans, who are experienced role players but still comparatively cheap, will have better luck getting jobs. It's the mid-range salary guys who I think are going to get squeezed.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Nick, Blatche, and Javale have all played enough games to be evaluated. None of them look like core pieces, and the rebuild will be in serious trouble if more than one comes back next season as a starter.
Posted by: djnnnou

I wouldn't mind any or all as backups, but as starters? I have to agree. No, please not more than one (if that).

And here's a look at McGee's "progress":

http://www.truthaboutit.net/2011/03/washington-wizards-continued-javale-mcgee-learning-experience.html#more-14808

Posted by: nmik | March 8, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"That's definitely one way it could go. Imo, though, guys like Evans, who are experienced role players but still comparatively cheap, will have better luck getting jobs. It's the mid-range salary guys who I think are going to get squeezed."

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 1:52 PM

Depends on what you mean by "squeezed." My thinking is that the tighter salary restrictions will compress the salary scale at all levels, causing some guys at the bottom of one scale to get pushed down into the one below, resulting in a cascade effect that ends up with several low end guys squeezed out entirely. In other words, some what would have been borderline star salary guys become mid-level guys, some what would have been borderline mid-level guys become low-end guys, and some of what would have been low end guys (like Evans) might find themselves on the outside looking in.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 8, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Depends on what you mean by "squeezed." My thinking is that the tighter salary restrictions will compress the salary scale at all levels, causing some guys at the bottom of one scale to get pushed down into the one below, resulting in a cascade effect that ends up with several low end guys squeezed out entirely. In other words, some what would have been borderline star salary guys become mid-level guys, some what would have been borderline mid-level guys become low-end guys, and some of what would have been low end guys (like Evans) might find themselves on the outside looking in.
Posted by: kalo_rama

Some of the compression you're talking about will undoubtedly occur. At the same time, if you were a player who under the current CBA could expect $6-8M, it's going to be tough to accept the $1-2M that Evans would sign for. You'll have to make the Bibby-like choice to sign for better money with a bad team or bad money with a better team. I'm sure the FAs will be split on which way to go. In the meantime, good teams will be looking for more bargain values like Evans, imo.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Nope, they're meaningless alright.

Posted by: anthonyschall | March 8, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

the only reason they mean anything is for draft order. lose them all.

Posted by: slick3 | March 8, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Some of the compression you're talking about will undoubtedly occur. At the same time, if you were a player who under the current CBA could expect $6-8M, it's going to be tough to accept the $1-2M that Evans would sign for. You'll have to make the Bibby-like choice to sign for better money with a bad team or bad money with a better team. I'm sure the FAs will be split on which way to go. In the meantime, good teams will be looking for more bargain values like Evans, imo."

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 2:17 PM

Well, for one thing, I think your scales are off. I think the current midlevel scale would be closer to $5-7 mill (a mill either side of the current MLE, basically.) That $1 mill may not seem like much, but spread out over a multiyear deal, it'll have impact. Upper level is 8 and up, lower level is 4 and below.

That said . . .

I don’t think the options are as cut and dried as your scenario makes them seem. Your hypothetical $6-8 mill player won’t necessarily have to take accept the $1-2 mill that Evans might command. But he might have to accept closer to $4 mill as a result of the tighter purse strings. And because of the tighter purse strings, they may not have enough left over to offer a guy like Evans, making it an either/or scenario. It’s a basic economic principle: if you have less money to spend then you want to get the most value for your dollar. Traditionally, Evans is one of those guys good teams sign after they’ve filled all their other needs. So if they’ve got $4 mill to spend and there’s a borderline starter player available that suits their needs and there’s Mo Evans, I think most teams will opt for the first guy. And by virtue of having lots of cap room, the Wiz will be in a position to wait out those kinds of situations and decide whether they want to sweeten the pot for someone like Evans.

All speculation, of course, but the upshot is that even under the current system, guys like Mo Evans are pretty much always at the end of the FA chow line. I don’t see any reason that would change under the new system. The only change I see is that, with less chow to go around, the line is likely to longer with more people at the back of it likely to go home still hungry.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 8, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

A hard cap would have the effect of reducing salaries at all levels -- true. However, the players who would see the greatest compression would be non-elite veterans players who are earning more than the veteran minimum (the vet min. might be reduced, but I suspect it won't be by 40-50 percent; maybe 10 percent -- if that).

e.g. Miami perhaps anticipating the hard cap had its big three take about a 15-20 percent reduction below what they would have made if they'd attempted to maximize earnings (it probably helped that Florida tax law also off-set some of the front-end reduction). The veteran role players saw an even bigger reduction (e.g. Mike Miller saw perhaps a 40-50 percent cut in pay below his market value -- although the team probably ended up adding a year to off-set the cut).

I agree with you regarding Evans -- he's been a nice addition and it would be good to see the Wizards make an attempt to resign him. Even though it's a bit duplicative (if the team signs Evans), I'd also like see the Wizards make a push to re-sign Josh Howard. Yes, he's had injury problems, but when he plays he gives quality minutes. The cost of the deal would be the main consideration, but hopefully, some kind of deal can be worked out.

Posted by: JPRS | March 8, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Plan for the last 20 games:

1. Rashard Lewis gets his knee scoped.
2. N'Diaye goes back to the D-League to get playing time.
3. 10-day contract to Courtney Sims

Posted by: PostSubscriber | March 8, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

And because of the tighter purse strings, they may not have enough left over to offer a guy like Evans, making it an either/or scenario. It’s a basic economic principle: if you have less money to spend then you want to get the most value for your dollar. Traditionally, Evans is one of those guys good teams sign after they’ve filled all their other needs. So if they’ve got $4 mill to spend and there’s a borderline starter player available that suits their needs and there’s Mo Evans, I think most teams will opt for the first guy.
Posted by: kalo_rama

All entirely possible, but imo, because of the tighter cap, teams will run into situations where they have *multiple* holes to fill and not much space to do it. So if they have $4M to spend, they'll either be trying to sign one $4M guy and trying to fill in with minimum salary players, or they'll decide to sign a couple of guys like Mo Evans. Different teams will likely do things different ways. But in my experience in a business of shrinking salaries, you're usually best off being the experienced guy who's willing to work cheap.

Posted by: ts35 | March 8, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I wanna see us go 0-20 just because of the draft, but realistically I'm looking at 7-13.

Posted by: Joe08121990 | March 8, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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