Tag Archives: Andray Blatche
This is the second and final installment of breaking down Nene and Emeka Okafor, but be sure to check out part one here.
The Washington Wizards, in dire need of a big man to come in and become a force in the middle, traded for Emeka Okafor during the offseason in hopes that he would become that player. While offensively Okafor is going to make only a marginal difference, on defense is where his reputation in the NBA has been carved out. Nene, on the other hand, will for certain make a difference on offense, it’s still unclear what his defensive impact really is. Since we already covered their offensive abilities in part one, we’ll take a look at their defensive skills in part two.
In terms of rebounding ability:
Even though these two big men are similar in physical stature, not all bulky bodies are able to rebound equally. Okafor and Nene are miles apart in their capabilities on the offensive and defensive glass. We’ll start by discussing Okafor, because his accomplishments are worth noting. In Emeka Okafor, the Washington Wizards finally have a big man who likes to get on the boards. Gone is JaVale McGee, and in is a guy who, among active players, ranks behind only Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett in rebounds per game at 10.1. In that order. Rebounds per game obviously aren’t a catch-all stat, but if the saying “Birds of a feather, flock together” holds any weight in basketball, we can see exactly what Washington is about to get.
What makes Emeka such a good rebounder is his knack for being very active on the offensive end. Six of his eight seasons in the NBA thus far, Okafor has been in the top 10 in offensive rebounds. The two other seasons where he missed the mark, Okafor was injured the majority of them (including last year). In 2008-2009 with the New Orleans Hornets, Okafor pulled down 275 offensive rebounds, good for second in the NBA. Because he isn’t a blow-you-away athlete, Okafor is a permanent fixture in the low post and tends not to venture too far from his wheelhouse. The end result is that Okafor extends possessions using his big body to force other defenders into less than ideal rebounding areas. Wizards fans are going to be amazed at how cerebral Okafor is when it comes to rebounding. He isn’t quite Kevin Love, but he is leaps and bounds ahead of JaVale McGee in terms of playing the angles.
When it comes to defensive rebounding, Okafor is no slouch, either. His career average of 6.7 is solid (it’s about on rebound shy of Tyson Chandler’s mark) but it doesn’t mean anything without some more context. For example, Okafor also is great in a very telling statistic: Total Rebound Percentage (this calculates the total percentage of available rebounds grabbed while said player is on the court). In TRP, Okafor is right up there with All-Star centers at 18.30. He is eight for his career among active players, behind only guys like Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, and Ben Wallace. In other words? The dude is Windex on the glass.
That rebounding ability is a damn good thing, because his counterpart, Nene, can’t really rebound well at all for a guy his size. Nene’s career TRP is a paltry 13.5, which doesn’t crack the top 75 and puts him in a grouping with a bunch of small forwards and poor rebounding power forwards. Not to bring up a sore subject, but he is actually very similar in TRP to another former Wizard in Andray Blatche (13.8). I bring him into this conversation because Wizards fans can understand better what I’m trying to say when I relate it to something familiar. Andray had the ability to rebound very well, but far too often he did not have that mean streak and true drive for pulling down double digit boards every night. In other words, when he put in effort on the defensive end it was easy; the other times, he was a non-factor. That’s basically Nene’s issue, as he isn’t a big proponent of unforced contact. He is much more finesse, for better or worse, and in this case you take the good with the bad. Nene simply isn’t a good rebounder.
The good news is that his 7 rebounds per game (his career average) may improve with the Wizards a little bit. For large parts of Nene’s career he has played alongside guys who are, in a sense, rebound hogs. Camby, Chris Andersen, and recently Kenneth Fareid all grab boards at an alarmingly high rate, with the last one on that list being compared favorably to Dennis Rodman. There really were not a lot of opportunities to get rebounds with those guys around, but I can promise you that will change with the Wizards! Washington, even with Okafor and great college rebounding guard Bradley Beal at the helm, is not going to top any charts in rebounding. Nene should have more opportunities to get boards, so that number may increase slightly to the point of becoming passable. I say potentially, because in the 11 game sample from last season, Nene really did not do anything different from his typical numbers (he never really does).
In terms of blocking shots:
Nene and Okafor are again different in their abilities to block shots with, you guessed it, Okafor leading the charge on that front. While Nene is not bad, Okafor is significantly better at swatting shots. While neither has the innate ability of JaVale McGee, they both play with far more control and do not actively seek to volley ball spike every shot out of the arena. The end result is that the two should actually be better than just McGee alone will be, which I think will be a good thing for Washington’s defense.
Okafor is one of the better blockers in the game, as he usually finishes in the top 15 every season. For his career, he averages almost two per contest, and that is not likely to change. He is very good at moving away from the post and blocking forwards and centers attempting jump shots from a bit further out. In 2010-2011, of his 128 blocks, 63 of them were on jump shots alone, with another 59 coming from in close. He blocked 3.5% of shots attempted on the court that year, which may not seem that high at first, but when you consider how many possessions there are in the game and how few result in blocks, his number is actually very good.
The bad part about him being so willing to swat is that he racks up fouls a lot. During that same ’10-’11 season, Okafor collected 109 shooting fouls as well, attributable to his big body. I don’t really look at this as being a bad thing, because disruption in the lane and on shooters means he is actually trying hard, but it is something to look into because a center in foul trouble is a worthless center. He is smart enough to not foul out very often, but foul trouble marginalizes his effectiveness on the court (and Okafor doesn’t play oodles of minutes as it is).
Nene, on the other hand, is an average blocker who, for his career, sends back just under one per game. This is not, however, because he isn’t trying. Nene also racks up a lot of fouls attempting to contest shots; in ’10-’11 with the Nuggets, he picked up 110 shooting fouls against 74 blocks. He gets to his man on time, but he doesn’t always succeed in sending the shot back. But Nene is definitely talented at help defense, which entails coming into a play a tad late, and that in turn means he may have to use his body to alter a shot. Hence the fouls.
Overall, Nene is not going to wow you with his numbers, but when you consider all the other things he does on the court defensively, the difference between one block and two is not a major difference. If you want an example of this (and this is slightly off topic but has to do with defensive ability so I’m going to throw it in), look no further than Nene’s domination in thievery. For his career, Nene averages 1.2 steals per game, but in ’10-’11, you can see just how effective he can be. That year, when stretched over 48 minutes, Nene averaged almost 1 1/2 steals a game. That doesn’t happen for a big man, really, ever. But Nene has quick, soft, hands which he uses to pickpocket big men who try to back him down or drive on him. So while he cannot block as well as others, he does excel in his own right.
I’m not a huge fan of plus-minus or opponent statistics, because the stats are inherently flawed. It is so dependent on the rest of the team, the caliber of opponent, and whether your team is winning or losing. Plus-minus has less to do with individual performance, and more with pegging guys as “winners.” It’s a bit like a pitcher who has a 1.97 ERA through 4 games, but because of a lack of run support, has gone 0-4 and is considered a loser. Likewise with opponent statistics. Playing against Dwight Howard is not the same as playing against DeAndre Jordan, and so the stats are completely skewed. They give no real indication of how Emeka fared (which is actually very solid). So therefore, I’m not going to get into those statistics.
The conclusions we can draw from all of this? Nene and Okafor have all the trends of great big men tandems. Where Okafor lacks offensive production, Nene is able to pick up the slack. Where Nene is incapable of rebounding, he has Okafor around to do the dirty work. The two work relatively well together, even though they are a bit one dimensional in their abilities. On paper, I think defensively Washington is going to be tough to drive against. Two legitimate, solidly-built big men are an imposing presence to attempt to score on. JaVale’s physique wasn’t scaring anyone, but Nene and Okafor just might. All good news for Washington.
All stats courtesy of 82games.com,Basketball-reference.com, and hoopdata.com
Last night, Washington Post columnist Mike Wise released the full transcript of a 45-minute interview he had earlier this week with Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. There were many interesting tid bits of information in this piece and Ted was extremely candid in his responses to Wise’s questioning addressing coaching hires, the growth of John Wall, new types of technology the Wizards are using and, of course, the amnesty of Andray Blatche. After taking the time to read the interview I have prepared a few thoughts on some of the comments, as well as others pertaining to the Wizards, made by Leonsis.
Additions to the coaching staff:
The addition of Don Newman to the bench as an assistant coach is a major move towards the Wizards going from bottom-feeder to competitive NBA franchise in the eyes of Leonsis. As he put it “Part of the rolling the stone up the hill is changing the culture and going from losing to winning. We have to make the investments in scouting and all the little things – coaching, player development.” Leonsis followed this up by hinting that the Wizards weren’t done adding to the coaching staff noting that there should be more news coming out concerning the hiring of assistant’s to Randy Wittman as well as shooting coaches to help nurture some of our younger players games. One thing that stuck out to me while reading this transcript was how much emphasis Leonsis has placed on giving the investments he has made in our roster everything they need in order to be successful.
Importance of Nene to the team:
Leonsis was very up-front with Wise as to how pleased he has been with the acquisition of Nene. “Nene, he’s a really good player, he’s a really good person and he’s a really good leader. And he is happy to be here. We bonded. That was important.” He goes on to note how great of a job Nene has done in helping mentor the Wizards breakout performer from 2011-2012, Kevin Seraphin, up until this point. As we have all seen by now Seraphin took a major step forward in his development last season once Wittman took the helm, with the type of knowledge of the NBA game that Nene could provide to Seraphin this could be a major benefit to the French National Team member as his professional career continues to evolve.
On the Rashard Lewis trade:
Much like he was with the Gilbert Arenas trade, Leonsis was extremely impressed in Ernie Grunfeld’s ability to deal Rashard Lewis and the $23,ooo per minute played for the Wizards last year for two rotation players in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. “We took the second-highest-paid player in the league…and replaced him with two players that will play big minutes who each averaged 10-15 points a game. We were getting 0 from Rashard.” I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. Even though there are still some people who are not happy with the trade Grunfeld was able to secure the Wizards something for essentially the paper that Rashard Lewis’ max contract was written on. We may not all love Grunfeld’s draft record but if there is something that we can all agree on it is his ability to be a shrewd negotiator when it comes to trades with other franchises.
On the development of John Wall:
Naturally, Ted had a plethora of thoughts on the development of the Wizards franchise player, John Wall, as he heads into year three of his NBA career. Leonsis is of the opinion, which is shared by most fans, that the best has yet to come for Wall and his third season with the Wizards should be the next step in his path to becoming an All-NBA level PG. “John has a lot of upside still in his game. Compare his stats the first two years in the league against the stars guards and point guards in the league — Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Rondo — he compares favorably with them. So this is an important year for John.”
This is clearly what every Wizards fan hopes is the case. Wall needs to continue to improve upon his game in a major way going into this season in order to solidify himself as one of the leagues premier floor generals. The strong veteran presence he now has surrounding him along with a very impressive draft pick Beal should lend Wall the chance to fully realize the vast potential that is evident in his game. This is the year where all those other guards that Leonsis compared John Wall’s first two seasons to broke up and became the stars that they are today, it’s time for Wall to step up to the plate and be the leader and cornerstone of this franchise that we all believe he can be.
On whether next season is Playoffs or bust:
Leonsis has been quoted on multiple occasions as saying that he does not plan on being back in the NBA Draft Lottery next season. I would venture to say that all Wizards fans want this to be the case come the end of April in 2013. Wise used this quotation to pose the question of whether or not jobs would be on the line were the Wizards to fall short of that goal. “I won’t be happy with our plan if we’re back in the lottery . . . If we just miss making a playoff spot, no, the world is not going to end. If we’re picking third because we have the second-worst record, no, I will not be happy.”
Leonsis clearly wants to see marked improvement from his franchise as they move into the third, and according to Leonsis and Grunfeld, final year of the “rebuild”. Should the Wizards lay an egg next season and once again finish towards the bottom of the NBA I would have to imagine there will be some wholesale changes going on throughout different levels of the franchise. I am not going to be the ignorant fan whose expectations are so lofty that the team will potentially fall short of said goals. The Wizards will without a doubt be a better, more competitive team than they were last season. Will that translate into being one of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference? I am not sure, but with the addition made at the trade deadline last year and the moves Grunfeld has completed in the off-season thus far there is reason for hope that the Wizards will once again return to playing competitive, winning basketball.
On new technologies utilized in scouting and developing talent:
This was news to me, apparently the Wizards have made some large investments in the technological side of the franchise. One proponent of this is a man by the name of Joe Sill and according to Leonsis, Sill has quite the impressive resume. “Joe presents on occasion at that stats thing at MIT. Double-math PHd. He’s almost like a technical trader on Wall St. I can pick a company you should invest in. He’ll never meet the CEO, but he knows from the numbers which ones to pick.” Must be nice right? This isn’t to say that the Wizards are attempting to become the “Moneyball” Oakland A’s but as Leonsis later mentions, “there is a big, big role in informing some decisions.”
Just to throw out a couple of particulars that Leonsis used to help prove this point; The Wizards defensive rebounding totals went up “dramatically” when Nene was acquired for Javale McGee, specifically the amount of rebounds that Wizards guards were reeling in. “ If your forwards are pushing their men out, that’s not a stat. That’s something you follow. That means the guards have the opportunity to get the rebounds and initiate their own break.” Hard to argue with that point at all.
Also worth noting, the Wizards are one of the few teams in the NBA that have installed HD super heat-seeking missile cameras. Yes, that’s right, we are using heat-seeking missile cameras to track our players while on the court. According to Leonsis, “This thing creates real-time heat maps. Literally you can get down to the pixels on the floor. Where are the shots being taken, where are the shots being made, where are the picks being made. It does interesting things like, how many dribbles on a fast break does your guard hold the ball before he dishes off, and was their a good shot made versus other guards in the league.” This kind of asset will go an extremely long way when it comes to player development, especially when utilized it practice sessions.
The ability to tell a guard that by dribbling two less times before making a pass that he would be 70% more likely to convert said opportunity is a fantastic teaching tool. It shouldn’t be overly surprising that a man who made the majority of his riches with AOL would be well ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of different technologies and how they can be used as teaching mechanisms in sports. I couldn’t agree with Leonsis more when he says, “Bringing in these analytics, bringing in high IQ, good people it’s all a part of trying to change a losing culture to a winning culture,” and a winning culture is what we need to re-establish here in the district.
On retaining Randy Wittman as head coach:
Wise plugged away at Leonsis’ decision to retain GM Ernie Grunfeld as well as head coach Randy Wittman with the Wizards organization. In response, Leonsis mentioned how he handled the exit interviews with all of the Wizards players and one of the questions he asked each and every Wizards player was their thoughts on how Wittman had done as their head coach. Leonsis noted that before he could even pose the question to Nene he was met with an extremely positive endorsement of Wittman. “Before I could ask the question, Nene was, ‘I played for a lot of coaches in the league. This is a really good coach. I really like how he treated me. I really like he taught the team. I think he works really good. I like him. I trust him. He’s authentic.’”
John Wall shared similar sentiments with Leonsis when it was time for his exit interview. “Then John Wall came in and said, ‘I know you want to bring a big-name coach in. I think you have a coach who can help me. I think the coach is doing a great job. So please keep Randy.’” Yet another endorsement from one of the teams marquee players.
Finally, Leonsis noted how Kevin Seraphin reacted to the question about Wittman during his exit interview. “Hey, he believed in me. He let me play. He developed my game. He yells at me. I like when he yells at me. Because he’s right when he yells at me.”
Needless to say, Randy Wittman had left a mark on this roster during his time as the Wizards interim head coach. These types of endorsements from the teams core players surely made the decision to retain Wittman as the Wizards permanent head coach an easy one for Leonsis and Grunfeld.
On the amnesty of Andray Blatche:
The obvious elephant in the room would center around none other than the decision to use the amnesty clause on Andray Blatche. Despite Leonsis’ belief that people deserve second and third chances in life this was a business decision that quite frankly had to be made. There were worries over where Blatche fit in with the lineup as it was currently constructed as well as the fact that he was the final holdover from the Gilbert Arenas era Wizards.
Wise pressed forward by asking Leonsis how he felt now about the extension that was given to Blatche in 2010 when compared to his quotes from two years ago where he repeatedly said how he felt signing Blatche to an extension was a great idea. Leonsis, resigned to the fact that the deal was a mistake had the following reply; “Yes — we made a mistake — although the NBA has had close to $250 million of amnestied players to date — sometimes you get a chance to take a mulligan under the new rules and that is what we did.”
Leonsis, however, was quick to not place the blame squarely on Blatche’s shoulders,”We are all in it together — so we are all to blame. Buck has to stop with me though as owner.” He went on to state how appreciative he was of Blatche’s apology to the fans and wished him nothing but the best as his career goes on. He did state that the decision to cut Blatche loose with a check for $23 million wasn’t particularly hard as “It was in best interest of franchise.”
All in all this was an extremely impressive interview by Mike Wise and major props need to be given to him for securing the time with Leonsis to ask all of these questions. After reading through this transcript, and sleeping on all the information taken in, I am even more excited for this upcoming season of Wizards basketball than I was before and that in and of itself is nothing short of a miracle as I am quite the WizKids fanatic.
Well, it finally happened. Andray Blatche is gone from the Wizards forever and with his exit, according to Ted Leonsis, comes a sign that the rebuild is over. Your longest tenured Wizards are now John Wall, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, let that sink in for a second. The “Big Three” era Wizards that we knew and sometimes loved, led by Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are a distant memory as we have turned the collective page as a franchise.
These Wizards, when compared to the Wizards or yore, are constructed quite differently. Before we were led by a volume shooting combo guard whose personality off the court sometimes outshined the things he did on the court whereas these Wizards follow the lead of a young, hungry point guard yearning for the same type of professional success that he has enjoyed at every other stop in his basketball career. John Wall seems like a much better, and more willing, leader of this franchise going forward than Arenas would’ve ever been.
Is this a fair comparison when you get down to the nitty-gritty of things? Probably not. There just seem to be less things in the peripheral distracting the team from the task at hand (winning basketball games) for Wall than there was for Arenas. Wall’s maturity level far surpasses that of his one-time, albeit shortlived, back court mate and that is something that resonates with the rest of the team on the floor as well as in the locker room.
The Wizards needed to completely clean house and hit the reset button on this franchise and that is exactly what they did. By dumping the “Three Stooges”, Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Javale “Pierre” McGee and Andray “7-Day Dray” Blatche from the roster the Wizards eliminated the “Knucklehead” element from the locker room all together. Horrible self-imposed nicknames aside, this was imperative for the rebuild and subsequent “rebirth” of this franchise to occur.
The question, however, still looms…Where do the Wizards go from here?
The Wizards are essentially locked into this roster as it is currently constructed through the 2013-2014 season. The additions of Nene, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor solidified our front court but at the same time ate up the majority of our salary cap space. It is a give and take type of scenario as the large contracts of these three hinder our flexibility with regard to free agency but they do serve as positive role models for our extremely young roster to look towards in learning the right way to be a professional.
As long as their respective bodies hold up (both Nene and Okafor have had major knee problems in their careers) they are going to be positives for this franchise on and off the court. What I hope is that their on the court productivity matches what they bring to the table in helping mold our young core of players (Wall, Beal and Seraphin) into what it takes to be a winner. The frontcourt has without a doubt gone from a question mark to a strength, at least on paper.
The most pressing need for the Wizards as we head into the 2012-2013 regular season has to be shoring up the back up PG position. We need to find someone who can competently spell John Wall when he is out of the game and I am not convinced that player is currently on this roster. Shelvin Mack simply did not look good in Las Vegas, whether he was pressing or not the results weren’t on par with what many Wizards fans wanted to see.
What options do the Wizards have to fill this role going forward? Earlier in free agency we had been linked to John Lucas III as a possible addition, however multiple outlets are now reporting that Lucas III is close to agreeing to a contract with the Toronto Raptors. This might not necessarily be a bad thing as I was not convinced that Lucas’ style of play would be the best fit for this team. Lucas had a coming out party against the Wizards last season going off for 25 points 8 rebounds and 8 assists while filling in for Derrick Rose. These numbers sound all well and good but when you note that Lucas took 28 shots to get to those 25 points it isn’t as impressive a feat. Add in that Lucas is a career 34% shooter from three-point range and you have another reason as to why I am not sold on him as the best option for the Wizards.
As the days bore on, the market for a veteran back up PG dwindles. Since it appears as if Lucas III is not in the cards for the Wizards, I would suggest looking towards a player like A.J. Price, most recently with the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers renounced Price’s rights on July 8th making him an unrestricted free agent. The Indiana Pacers blog on the SB Nation network referred to Price as “their security blanket point guard and a locker room favorite,”. Price, who starred at UConn prior to being a second round pick by the Pacers in 2009, seems like the perfect fit to run this offense when Wall is getting a breather or gets into foul trouble. While he was mainly a utility player for the Pacers during his stint in Indianapolis he has shown, when given the opportunity to get rotation minutes, that he is a more than capable point guard for an NBA team averaging 6 PPG and a shade under 3 APG during a 16 game stretch this year where he averaged 18 minutes per game.
Another point of contention as the offseason continues is how hard the Wizards choose to pursue Courtney Lee. Lee, who had his rights renounced by the Houston Rockets today, is now an unrestricted free agent. While it is possible that Lee re-signs with Houston for a lesser amount I would have to think this is a sign that he is not in the Rockets long-term plans. The Rockets did retain his Bird Rights however, meaning that a sign and trade with another team is a legitimate option for Houston. As I was mowing my way through my Twitter timeline this morning I saw that Mike Prada, of SB Nation and BulletsForever.com, had floated the idea of a sign and trade where the Wizards send Jordan Crawford to Houston for Courtney Lee. This is obviously just a hypothetical but it is one I could absolutely get behind…that is if Houston would be willing to make that kind of deal. As much as I enjoy Jordan Crawford, I believe that we have seen the best he can deliver already.
It would behoove the Wizards much more to make an attempt at landing Courtney Lee and starting him alongside John Wall that way we could ease Bradley Beal into the NBA. Beal was quoted as saying that the transition to the speed of the college game took a while for him to become acclimated to; you would have to assume he will face the same sort of transition going from the SEC to the NBA. I am fully behind going after Courtney Lee whether it is through a sign and trade or offering him a contract as a free agent for this reason. The future of this franchise is John Wall and Bradley Beal, so if we can do anything to help nurture Beal along until he is ready to be “The guy” next to Wall than it would be in our best interests to do just that.
Compared to where this franchise stood going into the 2011-2012 lockout shortened season it is safe to say that Wizards fans feel much better about this roster than they do about the one we lined up against the, then, New Jersey Nets last December. The young guys have one more year of experience, the knuckleheads with awful nicknames have been cast out of town and we have brought in proven veterans to take their place. These Wizards aren’t the same as the Arenas/Butler/Jamison days and that is a good thing. That team had its flaws and peaked where they should have, with early playoff exits. It is a new era for basketball in the district and while we may not know exactly where our Wizards will go from here, I know I am extremely excited to be along for the ride.
UPDATE: Apparently the Celtics front office and I had the same idea. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports the Celtics have acquired Courtney Lee via trade.
Imagine a scenario where you managed to sneak in at an entry level position for your dream job directly out of high school. On first day on the job, your boss asks you to pick up coffee for everyone at the office (imagine there are 10 coworkers). You pick up the coffee just fine, but you flub the orders and burn yourself severely, which causes you to miss work for an entire month. Your boss is a bit taken aback that you failed to complete a menial task like being the office punk, but he sees serious potential in you, and decides to keep you around. Mostly because the potential upside outweighs the potential downside.
A year goes by, and you’re doing just fine; you’ve gotten all your coffee orders correct and you’ve gotten a little confident in your abilities around the office. Your boss decides to give you a little more slack, maybe a few more responsibilities. He stops checking in on you so much and instead allows you to thrive in your environment. Things look like they’re going okay; I mean, you’re not doing amazing but you aren’t spilling coffee and screwing up orders, right? You get promoted for not really doing anything bad, but then with that extra money you decide to celebrate instead of work harder. Unfortunately, you decided to celebrate in the company of a fine female woman. Also unfortunate to your circumstances, that female turns out to be an undercover police officer, who pops you for trying to solicit some of that nookie.
Even in spite of two minor mix ups, your boss saw something in you in the first place, and figures that the two slips do not have any correlation. So, he decides yet again to keep you around; after all, potential like yours doesn’t come around very often. You prescribe to the motto that if you put forth your most marginal work most of the time, your boss will be more than happy to give you a raise. You’re the star prodigy! And guess what? You turn out to be right, because your boss decides to reward your sloppy effort with another pay bump. Directly after the incident.
With a renewed hope, most promising youth decides to buckle down and prove your boss right through hard work and vigorous effort. Not you, though. You’ve still got more than enough talent that even when you half ass it, half of your ass is good enough to be passable. And it even shows, because you briefly put forth just a little more effort, and the result is that you’re starting to look like a good guy.
Your office is short staffed in the first place, but you’re gladly picking up the additional tasks needed to keep the office functioning. Albeit, the more tasks you pick up, the worse the office gets, because you don’t complete them all the way and basically do the bare minimum. The office is suffering, but it can’t be blamed on you because your workload increased so much, right? At least, your boss feels that way; he isn’t blaming his prodigy in the making for gritting his teeth and bearing a cumbersome workload. Good job, you! You’re finally doing more work, you’re just half assing the added workload, but it looks like more!
In fact, during your peer review, your boss looks at your performance record and sees some awesome numbers. He’s fully prepped to give you the raise you clearly deserve, given that your abilities should be reflected in your pay. The thing is, half the work given to your name is because the numbers have been fudged by you yourself. You didn’t do a bunch of important tasks earlier in the year, so you manipulated a few documents to make it look like you had done a lot more. No harm, no foul, it’s not going to hurt anyone because the work is already done.
Your boss raises you again, this time to a senior position wherein you’ve accrued enough power that it can be claimed that you’ve “made it” as a prodigy and are now a star. Except you haven’t really done anything, but you don’t really notice it because your boss has always told you that you’ve been doing great. Your ego is large enough where it’s completely okay to slack a little bit. Okay a lot of bit. Heck, just Cadillac it for the rest of the year it’s not like anyone will question you. But that’s when disaster strikes.
Little did you know that with added pay and positioning at work comes added responsibility as well. But your mentality is that you work hard enough (which is barely at all) as it is, and giving you more work is just going to mess up the feng shui you’ve carved out at the office. The company starts to take note that some of your clients have started to complain. There are rumblings that you’re drinking at work. There was even a rumbling that you hosted strippers using the company’s name on certain Thursday’s. In fact, some of your coworkers are getting a little agitated that when they’ve come to rely on you, you’ve flat out let them down with your poor performance. Instead of leading, you’re tanking a sector of the company. And it’s costing them money; you’re bleeding the company of its value with your behavior.
You’ve got some friends at the office, and they were there before you, so it could be argued that they’re to blame for your behavior. They’re like the old boys club, and they’re used to being rowdy and goofy around the office. Pooping in shoes, eating cinnamon; you name it and they’ve done it. The fun and games are always a blast, and even though everyone else around the office is sick of you and the gang’s antics, nobody cares because it’s all in good fun and the performance isn’t completely killing the company’s revenue. A few meetings with the boss can sort this sort of thing out.
Then a couple of your friends at work accidentally spam a “Brett Favre” pic to the entire company and a few of their most important clientele. Whoops.
Boss is furious; clientele are furious; lawsuits are filed and you’re just amazed at how it all came to this. One day no one is accountable; the next day the house is clean. Every last one of the gang is gone and in their place hard, young workers with positive attitudes and a renewed work ethic. But you’re the boss’ prodigy, and luckily, just barely, you escaped the guillotine. He wants to be right about you so badly. He knows that at one point you had some serious ability, and you’re still young enough to tap that and help the company out. Maybe with all those bad influences out of the way, you’ll finally start to shine. But as well all know, old habits are very, very hard to break.
You try to work hard, but the issue isn’t that you’re not trying, it’s that you have not worked incredibly hard for anything in years. You’ve been given everything! One day, boss gives you a super important assignment: lead a meeting with two huge sponsors that could decide the future of the company. You’re excited about the opportunity, and you’ve prepped your PowerPoint presentation so well that you think it resembles a Steve Jobs keynote address. You’ve got talent, this is obviously going to be bomb!
It doesn’t. It flops, in fact, and the sponsors are appalled. They’re not just appalled, they consider the company a laughingstock for even considering you as a leader. The boss is thoroughly embarrassed and has simply had enough of your antics. He decides to give you a month’s paid vacation to clear your head and decide what to do with you. He’s invested enough time and effort in you that it’s not a decision that can be made in a day: Does he keep you in your employed position? Or does he give you a severance package and tell you to go chug sand?
The company is up in arms that he is even considering keeping you around. The pizza incident, the strippers, the hookers, the Favre incident. It’s all too much, and some investors are starting to complain. There’s too much drama, the fun and games are over and your potential, at least at your dream job, will never be reached. You made the company a laughingstock before, but it will never, ever happen again.
You’re told to chug sand.
Andray Blatche, enjoy the sand.
The Washington Wizards are facing off against the Atlanta Hawks today at 4 o’clock in their first game of the Las Vegas Summer League. If you’ve been paying any attention to the Wizards this offseason, then you’ll have already realized that the 14 man roster (see below) features a lot of players who won’t be with the Wizards this upcoming season. The reason is simple: Washington doesn’t have enough roster space to take on even half of the players trying out for the team. When it’s broken down, there are really only a few players who have even a remote chance at playing for the Wizards next season. Let’s take a look:
G: Steven Gray, Gonzaga
G: Bradley Beal, Florida
G: Earl Calloway, Indiana
G: Tomas Satoransky, Czech Republic
G: Shelvin Mack, Butler
G: Ravern Johnson, Mississippi State
F: Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
F: LaRon Dendy, Middle Tennessee State
F: Mike Scott, Kent State
F: Jeff Brooks, Penn State
F: Shavlik Randolph, Duke
F: Chris Singleton, Florida State
C: Garrett Siler, Augusta State
C: Kim Tillie, Utah
The players in bold signify those that are already on the roster, meaning that they’re virtual locks to remain on the team for the upcoming season. Beal was the first draft pick, Vesely is part of the future, Singleton is a promising small forward, and Mack is the only person available to back up John Wall. Basically, they’re here to stay. Assuming they are all on the roster, that brings the open slots to only 2 spots. Two spots for 10 players? Feel free to do the math. Using this knowledge, though, means we can even further slim down the amount of players who even have a shot of getting picked up by the Washington Wizards.
As the roster is currently assembled (including the four players in bold and Andray), the breakdown consists of:
3 Centers: Nene, Okafor, Seraphin
6 Forwards: Ariza, C. Singleton, Vesely, Booker, Blatche, Martin
4 Guards: Wall, Beal, Mack, J. Crawford
Based on that breakdown, the front court is completely stocked. 9 of the 15 roster spots are dedicated solely to players who are almost non-negotiable in their ability to play any positions other than the 4 and 5. Any power forward or center the Wizards signed would be looking at never seeing the court outside of the practice facilities. With that many minutes dedicated to youthful players and experienced veterans, there would be so many DNP-CD’s that I’d think Ernie would reason, “Why bother picking them up anyway?”
Furthermore, the small forward position is basically filled up as well due in large part to acquiring Trevor Ariza via the Okafor-Rashard Lewis trade. He and Chris Singleton are expected to consume the majority of those minutes, with Vesely also soaking up the last bit of them when he slides over from the power forward slot. Again, this just means that signing any forward is a futile effort.
The only thing the Wizards might even be considering is picking up another center. I say this because the front court, with Nene and Okafor, is an injury prone unit. Both players aren’t perpetually injured guys, but they always seem to have ticky-tacky injuries that prevent them from playing a full season. So, with Blatche being highly considered as an Amnesty International candidate, maybe the Wizards could pick up either Siler, Tillie, or Dendy to fill in for injury a few times during the season. I’m not banking on it, though.
Out of the Running? Dendy, Scott, Randolph, Brooks, Siler, Tillie
Where the Wizards could clearly use some help is at the guard positions, where there are only four players on the team who are to play an entire 48 minutes. Mack did nothing to help his cause last season in securing the backup point guard position so cannot be considered a perfect option as the first point guard off the bench. Crawford may have locked down the starting position for now, but Beal is going to eat into his minutes severely since he is the real future of the franchise. I actually think Beal is much better as the starter, whereas Crawford can bring instant offense off the bench, but I digress.
Another thing to note is the case of Tomas Satoransky, the other Czech on the roster. Satoransky is almost already out of the running since it’s been reported that he is going to be heading back overseas to play in Spain next season. In order for him to stay, he would have to perform so incredibly well that Grunfeld became convinced he is part of the playoff equation this season. I don’t predict that happening coming from a guy who has no jumper yet, so I’m assuming he’s gone.
Out of the Running? Satoransky
That leaves us with three players left in Earl Calloway, Steven Gray, and Ravern Johnson competing for two spots. If that’s the case, then it’ll be interesting to see which route the Wizards go with these final roster spots. They could choose Earl Calloway, the 6’3, 28 year old point guard who has played over in Europe for the past 4 seasons. Most recently, he averaged 7.6 points and 3.1 assists per game for Sevilla in the ACB League. Where he was teammates with Tomas Satoransky. His veteran presence and playing experience at the second best league in the world would be incredibly welcome for the young guards in Washington. Considering how young all the guards on the Wizards are, he might be the most logical choice as a guy who can play a Derek Fisher role in mentoring young players. If we’re talking about changing the culture in the locker room, what better way to do it than to bring in a professional like Calloway?
Then there is another intriguing prospect in the 6’5, 23 year old Steven Gray. Gray is interesting in that he’s been called “a west coast, guard version of Etan Thomas” by people smarter than me, and he has also played professionally over in Latvia. His specialty is the fact that he is a fantastic three point shooter. The Wizards were one of the absolute worst teams from long range last year, so he could be a nice addition as a stretch two guard. His athleticism may be a serious hindrance for him, and he couldn’t even guard Jimmer Fredette in college, but his character is that of a very nice guy, and he could add a nice presence in the locker room (again, we always go back to that).
Finally, we have Ravern Johnson, a 6’7, 24 year old guard out of Mississippi State who also happens to be a three point specialist. This young man is a definite deep threat, as evidenced by his college career where he shot 40% from long range on 7.4 attempts per game. Think Nick Young with less athleticism, and you’ve got Ravern; basically, he doesn’t contribute much of anything else except for his shooting. He may actually be the best one of them all if basketball were a three point contest, but it isn’t, so he’s not.
Either way, this is going to be very exciting to see who the Wizards decide on selecting throughout this Summer League (if they pick up anyone). Just to note, I think that Washington is going to select a big man to round out another one of the spots on the bench all year, and I think it is going to be LaRon Dendy. If Washington amnesties Blatche today, then it is likely they would be more receptive to adding another big man. Why we did not decide to draft one with the second pick will be peculiar if that’s the case, but that’s for another day.
In the Running: LaRon Dendy, Earl Calloway, Ravern Johnson, Steven Gray
Every basketball fan in the metropolitan area that follows the Washington Wizards is waiting for Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld to make a judgment on what to do with Andray Blatche. The amnesty dominos have begun to fall around the league with Elton Brand and Darko Milicic being told “Thanks, but no thanks” by their former teams before being shown the door with large checks ensuring they wont come back.
The 23 million dollar question that has been the topic of many a conversation on sports radio, newspapers, blogs and around the water cooler, is whether Ted Leonsis is going to write a fat check to rid Blatche from our minds going forward. Washington has until July 17th to make a decision on Blatche’s future with this franchise. Will he be a part of this team next season? Can we convince anyone to trade for him? Would he consider a buy out of his current contract so that we the amnesty clause does not have to be used? Over the course of the next four and a half days we’ll have our answers.
Lets break these questions down one by one and, like the title of this post, assess Andray Blatche’s future with this franchise.
Will Blatche be a part of the Wizards next season?
Is it possible? In short, absolutely. I can’t imagine Leonsis is going to have any desire to cut a check for 23 million dollars to a player who had the dubious distinction of showing up in box scores with a “DNP-Conditioning” next to his name. Blatche’s career in DC has been accompanied by many ups and downs along the way. From his early escapades with Party John Ramos, to the car jacking and subsequent shooting in Alexandria, VA, to the arrest for soliciting an undercover police officer there have been many moments where Andray has made us scratch our heads and ask “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”.
There also have been some flashes of the talented player Grunfeld thought he was resigning to a 35 million dollar extension in 2010. We all know that Blatche has the physical gifts necessary for a big man to be effective in the NBA. It is the mental side of the game where he has proven that he is severely lacking. Unfortunately, there has been little shown on his behalf to make anyone think that will change anytime soon.
If Leonsis and Grunfeld brought Andray Blatche back next season there would be an uproar of disapproval from the fan base. As a whole, Wizards fans have grown tired of his antics and are ready to cut ties completely and move forward with the new, young core group of players from which we hope to build a contender. I think Blatche’s days in DC are numbered, it is just a matter of which route he takes out the door.
Bringing us to our next question; Can we convince anyone to trade for Blatche?
According to David Aldridge, the Wizards do have some options were they to move Blatche via trade. However, when you are placing a player who has all but tarnished his reputation league-wide on the trading block you aren’t going to receive much more than other teams scraps in return.
The teams and players mentioned as possibilities by Aldridge are less than mind-blowing. The Bobcats and Pistons are the teams that have allegedly shown some interest in acquiring Blatche, but they would be offering up Tyrus Thomas and Charlie Villanueava respectively. Like I said, nothing to stand up and beat your chest about if you are a Wizards fan. Neither player would provide a boost on the court or in the locker room for the Wizards while both are strapped with equally terrible contracts.
I want the franchise to get rid of Blatche as much as anyone, but were it to be at the expense of adding either of these two players I would pass 10 times out of 10. We just rid ourselves of 2/3 of the three stooges at the trade deadline last season, exchanging the one left over for an equally boneheaded, hasn’t lived up to the hype, player with the same type of bloated salary would be a disservice to John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the youth movement in our Nation’s Capital.
Moving on; Would Andray Blatche consider accepting a buy-out of his current contract so that the amnesty clause would not need to be utilized?
I highly doubt it. Andray Blatche is a lot of things, but one thing I have noticed is that while he may seem inept and aloof on the basketball court, when it comes to money he wants as much as he can get his hands on. The man has shown that he enjoys living the lavish lifestyle of a well paid NBA player time and time again. Thinking that he would agree to take anything less than the 23 million dollars and change that he is owed by the Wizards is a pipe dream for the front office.
Blatche has to know that the last big payday he will receive from playing the game of basketball came in 2010 when the Wizards threw 35 million dollars at him for proving that he could put up good numbers on an abysmal team. To get rid of Blatche, which I would argue is completely and totally necessary for this team to take the next step from laughingstock of the NBA to playoff contender, it will take Leonsis swallowing his pride and pulling out his check book.
The media has spoken, NBA pundits have spoken and, most importantly, the fans have spoken (Ok, more like vociferously booed) and the general consensus is it is time for Blatche to take the All-Day Dray show to another city as soon as possible. Anything less and we will continue to spin our tires as a franchise without making any progress forward.
Randy Wittman made his first coaching hire today, prying Don Newman away from the post he held as an assistant under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs since 2004. This is the first addition to the Wizards bench since Ted Leonsis decided to keep Wittman as head coach this offseason.
Newman has an impressive athletic background that he will be bringing to the Wizards. Newman was a third round draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1980 out of the University of Southern Idaho. His NBA dreams never came to fruition as a player as he was the Celtics final cut the year he was drafted. Newman went on to play three seasons in the CBA for the Montana Golden Nuggets where he was coached by George Karl. This is where the story of Newman’s playing days takes a significant left turn.
After a stint in the CBA Newman went on to play for seven seasons in the Canadian Football League, suiting up for the Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Rough Riders and, interestingly enough, the Saskatchewan Roughriders. If I had to venture a guess, I would imagine he is also a huge DMX fan by default.
Newman broke into coaching in the late 80’s while he was finishing up his BA in Physical Education. During this time he served as a high school basketball and football coach. After obtaining his bachelors Newman went on to Washington State University where for five years he served as an assistant coach on the Cougars men’s basketball team. During this time period Newman also received his master’s in education from WSU.
In 1992, Newman was offered and subsequently accepted the head coaching position at Sacramento State. Newman served as the head coach there for five seasons before eventually moving on to take a position on Bill Frieder’s staff at Arizona State University. After just five months on the job at ASU Frieder was relieved of his duties and Newman was tabbed as the interim coach. While manning the ship for the Sun Devils Newman led the team to an 18-14 record and an appearance in the NIT.
Newman left ASU in 1998 and joined the staff at the University of Oregon as an assistant. He served as an assistant for the Ducks for one season before he made the jump to the NBA coaching ranks. Newman joined the Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff, reuniting with his former CBA head coach George Karl, in the summer of 1999. After spending four seasons on the bench with Karl in Milwaukee Newman was hired by the New Jersey Nets, filling the spot that Eddie Jordan had left vacant when he took the head coaching job with our Washington Wizards.
On June 28, 2004 Newman accepted a position as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs where he has remained an assistant despite multiple opportunities to leave for other coaching opportunities. Known as a defensive specialist, Newman should bring some much needed toughness on that end of the floor for Washington. I’m sure Newman and Andray Blatche, should he still be on this roster, will get to know one another quite well. This hire adds over 20 years of coaching experience to the Wizards bench. Having worked with some of the games brightest coaching minds in Gregg Popovich and George Karl this addition should prove to be a move that pays dividends for the Wizards and their mix of veterans and young players.
Tags: Andray Blatche, Arizona State, CBA, Coaching change, Don Newman, Eddie Jordan, George Karl, Gregg Popovich, milwaukee bucks, Oregon Ducks, Randy Wittman, Sacramento State, San Antonio Spurs, ted leonsis, Washington State, Washington Wizards
“How y’all doing? This is your captain, Andray Blatche. On behalf of myself, my teammates, the whole Washington Wizard organization, we want to say we strongly appreciate y’all sticking around all summer. It’s been a long summer. It’s a shortened season, but it’s gonna be tough, and we’re gonna need you guys – the best fans in the NBA – to be our sixth man. So in other words, let’s get this season started.”
This is how the 2012 season started. Personally, I couldn’t believe those words were said by Blatche even though I heard them with my own ears. You have to wonder if Blatche still thinks that DC has the best fans in the NBA. At the very least he can attest to the fact they are extremely vocal even if the numbers in the arena are sparse at best.
Since he was drafted in the second round by the Wizards in 2005, I have been a noted Andray Blatche apologist. For the last six years I neglected to care about the blatant immaturity and sometimes utter lack of basketball IQ. Instead, I focused on the promise of a 6’11” big man who could put the ball on the floor competently as well as knock down a jump shot with some regularity. I looked at All Day Dray and saw a Kevin Garnett like skill-set and that is all I allowed myself to see. Not the player who was shot in his first day in D.C. or the player who has arrested for picking up an undercover cop posing as a prostitute. Unfortunately for Blatche, the red, white and blue shaded glasses came off this season.
The Captain, as he began to be referenced after the home opener, failed to produce on and off the court starting from the end of the 2010-2011 campaign all the way through to the end of this year. It started with Lap Dance Tuesdays down in Miami (http://goo.gl/Rrkbm). Then we found out that coach at the time, Flip Saunders, had given Blatche a book to read over the offseason; “17 Essential Qualities Of A Team Player: Becoming The Kind Of Person Every Team Wants” was the books title. Blatche says he read half of it. That book is a total of 156 pages; the NBA Lockout lasted 160 days. Had Andray only read one page a day he would’ve still had enough time to host three more all day lap dance parties!
Ok, enough on the extracurricular activities of The Captain. Let’s actually dive into his play during the lockout-shortened 2012 season before things get more spiteful. Of the 66 game season that the NBA crammed into a four month schedule, Blatche suited up for only 26 of them. Of those 26 games that Blatche played in, he started only 13. Blatche, who is currently under contract through 2015, recorded some of the lowest statistical totals of his career in 2012. He shot an anemic 38% from the field and an equally unimpressive 67% from the line to the tune of 8.5 ppg for the Wizards. Needless to say, this type of productivity is very un-captain like.
So the question remains, where do the Wizards go from here with regard to Blatche? There seem to be two different trains of thought to this question and, unfortunately for fans, it appears what we want is the opposite of what the front office is preparing to do. We, the people, I mean the fans, want to see Andray amnestied. Many were skeptical of the last extension we signed him to and after last season’s antics its safe to say the majority have finally reached their breaking point.
Ernie Grunfeld and Ted Leonsis don’t appear to be very keen on the idea of paying a player not to be a part of their organization. They have stated that they want to try and move Blatche via trade but also would not rule out giving Blatche another chance and having him come back to the Wizards next season.
Since it is highly unlikely that any teams will want to acquire Blatche and the remainder of his contract and the amnesty clause doesn’t seem to be in the cards it is going to be interesting to see how Blatche is welcomed back to the Nation’s Capital. I don’t know how many more “DNP-Conditioning” stat lines I can take out of one of our higher paid players and this is coming from one of his staunchest supporters over the last 7 years. There is no telling how the legions of Andray detractors will react.
Here’s to hoping that this offseason is spent in a more productive manner for The Captain. He probably won’t be winning back the hearts of many fans but hopefully, at the very least, he can manage to get through the entire season come 2012-2013.
Michael Lee, Wizards beat reporter for the Washington Post, reported this morning that the Wizards will attempt to trade Rashard Lewis before the NBA Draft on June 30th. This is something that I expected the Wizards front office to attempt for many different reasons.
The Wizards view Lewis, and his $24 million salary for next season, as an asset. While Rashard might be on the books for that $24 million right now were he to be released by the Wizards, or any other team that may acquire him, before June 30th they would only be on the hook for $13.7 million of his salary. This clause in his contract makes Lewis a much more valuable trade piece for the Wizards to dangle in front of teams still seeking salary cap relief.
Unfortunately for the Wiz Kids, the number of teams seeking that type of long term salary cap relief will be less than in previous seasons where names like Raef Lafrentz or Joel Pryzbilla are hot commodities in the trade market due to their large expiring contracts. We can thank the NBA lockout and the amnesty clause included in the most recent CBA allowing teams to dump bad contracts from their payroll. If there is one thing I can say about Ernie Grunfeld though it is that he has proven his worth as a shrewd negotiator, he managed to move Kwame Brown and Gilbert Arenas out of town when conventional wisdom said there would be no takers at all for those former Wizards.
The salary cap was set at just over $58 million last season and the New York Post has reported that sources tell them, presumably the Knicks, that the 2012-2013 salary cap will grow to somewhere between 60-61 million dollars. Were this to come to fruition it would limit the number of teams that are over the cap and could be considered potential trade partners with the Wizards as we attempt to move Lewis out of D.C.
Currently, the best prospects for trade partners seem to be teams that have made the playoffs but fell short of their expectations in the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and potentially the Philadelphia 76ers.
While I am not surprised by this news I must say I am not overly confident we will be able to swing a deal to move Lewis in the next six weeks. Even if we cannot trade Lewis, the Wizards still have options moving forward. We could buy out Lewis for that $13.7 million and then make the move that the majority of fans want and amnesty The Captain in what would end a frustrating run in the Nation’s Capital for Andray Blatche.
Going this route would leave the Wizards with roughly $12 million in cap space to acquire more talent to continue to build around John Wall and Nene. It would open up the door more for Grunfeld to get imaginative with trade scenarios or be more aggressive in their pursuit of top flight free agents. This off-season’s FA pool includes a bevy of options at the SG position which is without a doubt one of the Wizards most pressing needs going forward.
Whether we can move Lewis or not the Wizards have options on the table. They are going to do their due diligence in making calls to gauge the league’s interest in Lewis and his expiring contract which is all you can ask of a front office. Ideally, we can make a deal that helps infuse more talent into this roster via young players with promise or draft picks. While it is far from a guarantee that Grunfeld can trade Lewis he has swindled teams into taking our trash before, who’s to say he cannot do it again?
It’s a bittersweet feeling. This season may have left much to be desired record-wise, but it is hard not to go into the offseason with at least some hope about the state of our franchise. Sure, we finished with the second-worst record in the NBA and will be a fixture at next month’s lottery for what feels like the better part of the last decade, but it is hard to ignore the results on the floor. While a 6-game winning streak to close out a season where you finish 26 games under .500 is far from anything to be excited about, I saw competitiveness out of this ball club the last couple weeks that was not there at the beginning of the year (or for the larger part of two years, for that matter).
There was a culture change that occurred inside this franchise this past spring. Getting rid of players who placed their own self-interests before the team and banishing The Captain for the last two months allowed for the core we are going to build around to gel and see what being successful felt like. While the games they won may have been meaningless, this feeling is not. Winning six games in a row in the NBA is not an easy thing to do, especially for a roster made up of mostly first and second year players, and as fans we have to hope the Wizards want to keep that feeling of success going next fall.
Our front office has been rather transparent with regards to the fact that this was year two of a three-year rebuild. “There’s no turning back,” as we found out from a direct quote when Ernie Grunfeld joined the Mike Wise radio program last week and the Washington Post writer, along with co-host Christopher Johnson, for lack of a better term grilled EG for an answer to this bloggers question regarding that quote and what it meant for this team going forward (Got to love how easy it is to communicate in the Twitter age). In pure GM speak Ernie went on to speak about how we have accumulated young talent through the draft and will continue to build upon those pieces already in place. It seems we have established building blocks in Wall, Nene, Seraphin and to a much lesser, more developmental, extent Jan Vesely. It is imperative that every one of those players continues to develop their games over the offseason as I can imagine this time next spring they want to be playing meaningful games at the Phone Booth.
Contrast that with the blog post by Ted Leonsis today clarifying parts of “The Plan” for the rest of us; Leonsis wrote that the plan all along was to be bad for two years and then become good. It is so simple I can’t believe I did not think of that earlier on! It looks like we will be left hoping that the ping pong balls bounce our way once again this summer, if that happens maybe year three of the rebuild on F Street will be more entertaining than the two years that preceded it.
The impending offseason is an important one for the Wizards. If we are supposed to be taking the next step going into year three of “The Plan” we must continue to rid ourselves of dead weight (Andray Blatche pun!) as well as continue the youth movement that has started in D.C. There is promise that in this summer’s draft we will be able to land an impact player that we can pair with John Wall in order to take that next step from laughable losers to “Hey, these guys really don’t suck that bad after all”. Couple that with the addition of some assets via free agency (Something we will lay our plan out for in the coming weeks) and this team could, and should, be much more competitive in 2012-2013.
As our first (half) season covering the Washington Wizards comes to an end, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out TheDCDime and hope that you stick with us over the coming months as we keep a close eye on the draft, free agency and, of course, my favorite way to waste time in July…The Vegas Summer League!!!!
*Editors note: We’re going to Vegas.