Tag Archives: utah jazz
6:33 PM – Thirty minutes until tip off, and we’re hearing that Jan Vesely is going to start the game. Phew, now we at least know someone will be out there who can guard Gordon Hayward!
6:37 PM - Looking at the stats, Vesely is 1-of-9 on free throws this season, so it might be wise to look out for the Hack-A-Jan strategy if things get dicey later in the game
6:39 PM – I guess tonight Wittman decided that enough was enough, the starters are now: Price, Crawford, Ariza, Vesely, and Okafor. Beal has played his way to the bench. I guess Randy was a little upset that Beal was 4 for his last 25. What’s in a number?
6:43 PM – The Utah Jazz take the court for warm ups and are met with a resounding chorus of boo’s…from all sixteen people at the arena. Mo Williams feelings = hurt
6:48 PM – Wizards come out to 2 Chainz for warm ups a bit later. All I want for my birthday is a big blowout win!
6:52 PM – While I’m not excited for the thumping that may be Okafor vs Al Jefferson, I am excited to see two forwards who play incredibly similar games go up against one another in Kevin Seraphin and Paul Millsap. The two are extremely similar in their abilities, with Millsap being a bit older and a bit better at rebounding. Seraphin, however, has a much softer touch than him, and could potentially end up having a similar career if he gets more opportunities.
6:58 PM – Fun fact: Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster are the only two Wizards who warm up with their tops off.
7:00 PM – I was right in my assumptions: the Utah Jazz do not have a good traveling fan base. Unfortunately, the Wizards do not have a good fan base…so it really doesn’t matter. This place is emptier than Jessica Simpson’s head.
7:07 PM – That awkward moment when John Wall and Nene are the features of the pregame video and neither one has suited up for the team…
7:10 PM – Big Tigga is now telling everyone to remain standing until the Wizards score…boy has he fallen off since running The Basement on BET. Well, not really. Of course, the Wizards miss their first three shots down the court, causing the elderly considerable pain.
7:12 PM – Vesely attempting to box out against Jefferson, Millsap, or Favors is going to be funny all night. Fortunately, as the ball bounced off his head we got a rebound. Note: The header is NOT illegal in basketball. It’s just strongly discouraged.
7:15 PM – Of course, the next possession someone tries to pass to him and it bounces off him for a turnover. I think Vesely is going to try the “Look Ma, no hands!” strategy this game, which I’m okay with.
7:17 PM – On the Washington Wizards T-Shirt toss, I’m confident that three or four shirts literally just fell into empty chairs due to poor form by the Wizards cheerleaders and attendance…
7:21 PM – Vesely is now 2 of 13 on the season hitting free throws! Hack-A-Jan has already begun in order to stall the Wizards 15-2 run to start the first quarter. I can honestly say that it may just work. The Jazz have come out just as they were expected to, completely flat. They may in fact be a worse road team than the Wizards, and we are the worst.
7:23 PM – Gordon Hayward and Jan Vesely both defy the notion that white guys and Europeans are shooters. But then, Marco Belinelli may have defied that trend a long time ago.
7:30 PM – Apparently Bradley Beal can name more “car models” than Trevor Ariza with 16. Except I think that the Florida school system failed Bradley because “station wagon” and “sedan” aren’t models. Ariza was going off, naming Ferarri 599′s and Range Rovers
7:35 PM – Shaun Livingston checks into the game! Forgive me if I get extremely emotional about his presence on the court. For a kid with such promise, it was truly a shame to see him go down with that knee injury earlier in his career. He has recovered to have a very good one, but I can’t help but constantly think how much better it could have been. He is, however, a perfect example (and slap in David Stern’s face) of the advantages of taking the money and running with it. Had he gone to college and sustained such an injury, there would have been no chance for him. Prime reason why that rule is stupid.
7:36 PM – Every time I see G-Wiz, I can only hope that there is a barf bag nearby
7:40 PM – Jamaal Tinsley, a relic of the days when you could jump in the stands and punch fans out in Indiana, checks into the game. The Wizards also lose their lead. Coincidence? Doubtful…
7:42 PM: Bradley Beal with his first dunk of the year! It’s good to see him do well, it’s unfortunate that he was nowhere near ready to start for the Wizards at the beginning of the season. That being said, hopefully this will help him get some confidence back and return to proper form. I still have my reservations about his shot being able to fall consistently, but this is a start. Four points in the second quarter alone.
7:47 PM – Of course on the day I bash Gordon Hayward for not being all he was cracked up to be coming out of college he turns into the Hulk and drops 13 off the bench in about a quarter’s worth of playing time and dominates the Wizards. I remember watching him in college and thinking that he had the athleticism of a small forward in the NBA, because his moves were actually really silky and he could shoot a bit. Then when he came in, I realized he couldn’t shoot that well and he was just an athletic white guy who I had a man crush on during the tournament. Either way, he does have a place in the NBA somewhere.
7:52 PM – Trevor Ariza scores his 11th point of the game off a fastbreak steal. I mean, I know I’m critical of him but if he can become a defensive wing player who scores 11 points a game, I’ll be happy….
No, no I won’t. He has games like these that make you want to believe he’s a starter in the NBA, but it’s fool’s gold. I promise you it’s fool’s gold.
7:57 PM: Per my previous statements, I realized he’s dominating a game that is 33-31 with 2 minutes left in the second quarter and felt better about not being a fan of his just yet. Somehow, however, there is an entire section of Verizon chanting “MVP!” after Ariza converts an And-1. SMH
8:00 PM – Wizards lead at the half and the fans are happy. Solid 40 point outing for the first half? I’ll take it! 40-38 Wiz Kids
8:20 PM – Al Jefferson starts off the second half by giving Emeka Okafor a quick four points. It only took a half of basketball, but there’s a good chance from here on out Emeka is going to get lit up.
8:25 PM – AJ Price securing his status as the human microwave by hitting two three pointers, stealing the ball, making a layup, and then getting an assist to put the Wizards up 53-45. I love it when AJ is like this, I hate it when AJ is like how he could very well be the rest of the game (ill advised three point shots early in the clock). Such is life with Price.
8:30 PM – Here’s a beef with Jordan Crawford. Vesely extends a play with a fantastic rebound on the offensive end and mid air passes to Jordan Crawford for a wide open jumper. Crawford then backs up to the three point line, looking down to ensure that he’s behind it, and shoots a three pointer. While his head is still down looking at the three point line. Obvious miss.
8:35 PM – As predicted, Al Jefferson has 15 points and is now giving Emeka Okafor work from everywhere on the court. Even if Jefferson is the softest center since Kwame Brown to step foot in the Verizon Center, he is a great rebounder and absolutely kills so-so centers. Offensive machine.
8:40 PM – Nene looks great in a suit….
8:45 PM – Shaun Livingston just looks great on a basketball court. Running hook for two points, his game is throwback like an opposing team’s home run ball
8:50 PM – I think it’s safe to say the Wizards need to work on their interior play. Favors just jammed over two players, but Jefferson has been running roughshod over the Wizards the entire game. It’s not a matter of effort, it’s a matter of being taught the proper positioning in the first place. Talking to you, Randy.
8:55 PM – Bradley Beal finally enters the game a little into the fourth quarter. He didn’t touch the court during the third and I’m wondering why. Not that it really mattered, because the Wizards were up anyway. But they’re down now, so maybe he should play. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.
8:56 PM – If Derrick Favors had missed both free throws, the entire arena would have won a free Chik-Fil-A sammie. Never heard Verizon louder than at that moment. Maryland, everyone.
9:00 PM – Five minutes left, the Wizards are down five points. This is where they shine!
9:01 PM – Correction. This is when Randy Wittman shines. Chris Singleton is in the game after sitting the first three quarters. Randy must have been impressed with his cheering ability. Me? Not so much.
9:05 PM -Correction again. The Wizards are now down 80-69 with 2 minutes and some change left. This is not their time to shine. What in God’s name happened?
9:07 PM – The entire stadium is emptying out, but the game is far from over. I have seen Tracy McGrady score like 13 points in 3 seconds so I don’t see what the BFD is
9:10 PM – That’s a ball game, ladies and gentlemen….Wizards let one slip right through their fingers 80-71…well it’s 80-71 with 45 seconds left so I think you can get the picture.
The Teams: Utah Jazz (4-6) vs Washington Wizards (0-7)
The Time: 7:00 PM
The Place: Verizon Center. Washington, D.C.
TV, Radio: CSN (TV), 106.7 FM (Radio)
The Washington Wizards are at it again for the second straight year; that is, they are attempting to halt a seven game losing streak in hopes of not breaking the franchise record for consecutive losses to start the season. Tonight’s entree? The Utah Jazz (because that name makes a lot of sense), who are coming off a 99-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and have now lost two straight games. Fortunately for the Wizards, they make be in some luck tonight as the Jazz aren’t particularly good on the road, winning only one of seven games on the road this season (that one came against Toronto).
Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have been getting throttled at home and away, thanks in large part to slow starts and poor
shooting everything play from their starters. Of course, things could very well get worse with the questionable health of starting point guard A.J. Price heading into this game. Price turned his ankle earlier in the week against the Mavericks, which forced the Wizards to go out and sign the beloved Shaun Livingston in hopes of getting some depth at the position. With John Wall out, Livingston could see quite a bit of minutes today against the Jazz.
Why you should watch: The Wizards should win tonight
Yes, if you have been following this blog for any amount of time this year, you will have realized that we have predicted this plenty of times this season…but this time we mean it! The Utah Jazz are terrible on the road, and the Wizards are going to benefit from that big time. The Jazz shoot 42% from the field and average a shade under 92 points per game on the road this year. Contrast that with the fact that, at home, they average 100.7 points per game, and you can see why the Wizards might have a chance. I’m not predicting that Jazz fans will travel well for this game, so there could very well be plenty of Wizards fans who will actually give them an advantage in their home arena.
Jordan Crawford is coming off a fantastic 21 point, 7 assist performance against the Mavericks that almost brought the Wizards back from a 15+ point deficit, and it looks like he may be the starting point guard today. Even if he is the starting shooting guard, he’ll be going against either Mo Williams or Gordon Hayward, neither of which are going to be remotely good at guarding him. Crawford has a good chance to go off tonight and will have ample opportunity to shoot, so I could easily see him getting hot and becoming a major factor in this game going the Wizards way.
Key Storylines and Questions
1.) Will the Wizards get off to a slow start again?
Washington has been pretty terrible in the first half this season against, well, anyone. Against the Mavericks, it was the 19 point first quarter that put them behind early. With the Bobcats, it was the 12 point second quarter that doomed them. Hopefully Randy Wittman didn’t forget to fill up the tank against the Jazz tonight, so the Wizards won’t have to go to the gas station (the bench) to get moving early. A solid first half will go a long way to securing a Wizards victory.
2.) Shaun Livingston 2.0
Shaun Livingston’s last game with the Washington Wizards was back in 2009 against Indiana, where he put up 10 points and 7 rebounds in a 98-97 victory. Let’s just hope he can provide that same kind of boost this go ’round, because the Wizards are barren at the point guard position right now. He won’t provide the same boost from the three point line as A.J. Price has kind of done this year, but his passing ability may be much needed. That is, if he is any bit of the player the Wizards had a crush on a few years ago. The Wizards victory hinges on whether or not he is in shape enough to play solid minutes, and if he can dish the ball out to scorers like Beal and, believe it or not, Martell Webster (who can actually hit open shots).
Prediction: Wizards win this one by hitting a lot of their shots (which aren’t tons of three pointers) and minimizing turnovers.
The Northwest division has seen a lot of activity this offseason, with the division’s bottom feeders making a multitude of moves in hopes of catching up with the cream-of-the-crop. Last year’s champs and NBA runner-up, Oklahoma City, returns their entire core and added a few interesting pieces through free agency and the draft. The deep but star-less Nuggets will also be trotting out a very similar roster as last year. But the Blazers, Wolves, and Jazz all saw some drastic changes to their rosters. In fact, the Blazers and Wolves engaged in one of the offseason’s more interesting story-lines as they bid for young, versatile Frenchman Nicolas Batum. There were rumors circling this particular negation that it may be personal between Wolves GM David Kahn and Blazers owner Paul Allen, as Allen had previously dealt the Wolves damaged goods in the form of Martell Webster a few years back. Allen ultimately decided to match the offer-sheet and keep Batum in Portland, but only after agreeing to pay a steep salary increase. There are plenty of intriguing story-lines in the division, and I expect it to play out as one of the more competitive in the league next season. Without further ado, a deeper look into the activity in the Northwest division.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1st Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Hollis Thompson
Players Lost: Royal Ivey
The Dime: Fresh off a terrific season and a trip to the NBA finals, OKC was able to make a big splash in the draft. As uber-talented, but enigmatic Perry Jones III slid down the draft board, my fellow Dimer Mr. Bohlin and I were fervently sending messages back and forth hoping the Wiz would find a way to trade up into the bottom half of the draft for him. However, Sam Presti burst our bubble by selecting the Baylor forward. I think is a terrific fit for the Thunder as he is able to defend multiple positions and can get up and down the floor (the trend in the NBA is moving toward very versatile, very athletic wings) and he will be able to play a role but will not be expected to be a star, which we all expected from him at Baylor and why his short career was so disappointing. The GM also added UCONN bust Hasheem Thabeet (his track record is terrific, makes it tougher to doubt him on this pick-up) and former-Georgetown sharp-shooter Hollis Thompson. The rest of the crew is expected to be back next year, when Presti will be faced with much tougher situations when extensions for rising starts James Harden and Serge Ibaka will be due. If they are able to secure one, or both, of these players to remain alongside KD and Russell Westbrook than the Thunder will be poised to continue making deep runs in the playoffs for years to come. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder are tempted at the trade deadline this year to move either of these rising starts to ensure they can get assets in return, but I have my doubts they’d be willing to do this as they are primed for a title run next year.
Denver Nuggets (2nd Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller, Anthony Randolph
Players Lost: Chris “Birdman” Anderson
The Dime: The Nuggets are one of the NBA’s most cohesive and well coached teams. Their performance on the floor always seems to exceed the expectations that their level of talent suggest is possible. Their team lacks an identifiable star or even a clear cut best player, but their free-wheeling, up-and-down style of play gives teams fits in the Denver altitude. It has been an interesting off-season in the Mile-High City. Fan-favorite Birdman has been told thanks, but no thanks, and received the amnesty ax. They signed former Wizard headache Javale McGee to a ridiculous 4 year $44 million contract. They drafted one of the few international players in this year’s draft, 3-point shooting Frenchman Evan Fournier (I’m never a huge supporter of drafting internationals). George Karl will again have his hands full figuring out how to balance the minutes of this talented and deep Nuggets roster. I will be interested to continue to watch the emergence of DC-native Ty Lawson (did you see how he fried the Lakers??!!) this year and see if he is able to make the next step in his development. A trendy pick for playoff success last year, I think that this is the year the balanced Nuggets will break through and make some noise come playoff time.
Utah Jazz (3rd Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Shan Foster, Randy Foye, Mo Williams, Marvin Williams
Players Lost: Devin Harris
The Dime: The Utah Jazz have an incredibly talented front-court. With Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Paul Millsap the Jazz can score in the paint, bang on the boards, and defend the rim with the best in the West. However, it’s their back-court that’s needed upgrading since Deron Williams forced himself out of town. This offseason the Jazz tried to address those needs, by adding two former Clippers, Mo Williams and Randy Foye, as well as selecting Shan Foster in the draft. Although these players are talented, I do not think the Jazz have the guard play necessary to really make a move up the standings. Although they can be a tough match-up for anyone because of their size, the Jazz are moving against the NBA-trend of getting smaller and more athletic, a culture move I believe will keep their tires spinning but not moving forward.
Portland Trailblazers (4th Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Sasha Pavlovic, Will Barton, Dan Gadzuric, Ronnie Price, Jared Jefferies
Players Lost: Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jonny Flynn, Joel Pryzbilla, Hasheem Thabeet, Jamal Crawford, Elliot Williams
The Dime: The Blazers have had one of the league’s most dramatic facelifts since season end, adding 7 new players to their roster of 15 this offseason. The “star” of the bunch is first-round pick Damian Lillard out of Weber St. This kid is going to be a player without question, and if the summer league is any indication, we can expect him and LaMarcus Aldridge to be a dangerous pick-and-roll/pop tandem. The Blazers also added former- Illinois 7-footer Meyers Leonard, hoping they can buck the trend of their drafted big-men having health issues. Although highly skilled, I personally don’t see Leonard being an impact pro. I really liked their selection of Will Barton, a slashing scorer from Memphis who will be able to provide some energy and athleticism off their bench. Their biggest offseason headline has to be their bidding war with David Kahn and the Wolves for the young and talented Nicolas Batum. Signed to a $46 million offer-sheet in Minnesota, the Blazers decided to match the offer for the versatile French swingman. Don’t get me wrong, Batum is a terrific player and can be an important piece for a winning team, but he can never be THE piece for a winner. He will be expected to really up his production from last year and provide a complement to their All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. I will be watching closely to see if Batum is up to the challenge.
Minnesota Timberwolves (5th Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Dante Cunningham, Andrei Kirilenko (Pictured above), Robbie Hummel, Chase Buddinger
Players Lost: Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, Anthony Randolph, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver
The Dime: The Wolves were one of the NBA’s most exiting teams last year with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, quickly becoming a must-see game. Exciting or not, they still finished in dead last in their division. Kevin Love has already come out and said he does not want to play for a bottom-feeder, which means the time is now for the Wolves to return to the winning ways they haven’t seen since KG was the “Big Ticket” in Minneapolis. This offseason was intriguing for the Wolves, and I really liked the moves the notorious David Kahn made (first time that sentence has EVER been muttered about Kahn’s decisions as GM). His pursuit of Batum, although they did not land him, made basketball sense (SF is their biggest need and Batum is an athletic small forward, who can defend, rebound, and shoot the three). They added Chase Buddigner to help provide some offensive fire-power and further stretch the floor, and brought back Andrei Kirilenko to the NBA after a year’s hiatus in Europe. Their recent trade for my former teammate Dante Cunningham provides some additional inside depth. With Rubio returning from last season’s knee injury, the Wolves believe they are poised to improve on their performance from last season and make a push for the playoffs in the next two seasons.
As all of you Dimer’s already know, Henry Sims has been participating with the Utah Jazz summer league team in Orlando, Florida this week. Sims and the Jazz just completed their second of five games in the Orlando Summer League. As hard as it really is to draw anything from watching NBA summer league action I wanted to break down what I have seen from Sims so far.
Through two games Sims is averaging 3.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG on 37.5% shooting (3-8 from the field) in just under 10 minutes per contest. While the numbers are hard to really judge, the Jazz played 15 players today in a 40 minute game, I have been impressed with what I have seen from Sims in this small sample of play. What has stood out to me the most is Sims willingness to slide to the power forward position. From the action I have seen so far, Sims and Enes Kanter, Utah’s lottery pick from a year ago, have played well off of one another. Sims possesses the type of court vision and shooting ability needed to move from being a true center in college to a power forward with the ability to step out and knock down a jump shot in the NBA.
While Utah, with their logjam of forwards already under contract, might not end up being the best opportunity Sims has at sticking with an NBA franchise, he is proving his mettle while members of every front office in the league watch intently. With the NBA summer league, you know that Big Brother (GM’s and Team Presidents) is always watching. It is a great opportunity for an undrafted player like Henry Sims to show not only the Jazz, but every other team in the league, what he is capable of.
Sims next contest in the Orlando Summer League is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11th at 5 pm EST against the Orlando Magic. All games can be seen on live on NBA TV or through NBA.com when you purchase the Summer League Broadband Package for $14.99 like we did here at The DC Dime.
Former Georgetown Hoyas center Henry Sims has accepted an invitation to play for the Utah Jazz summer league team. Sims, a legit seven-footer, will have a chance to showcase his skills in the Orlando Summer League which begins on July 9th. All of Sims’ games will be shown on NBATV.
By: Bohlin and Willis
1) Pros and Cons of Stan Van Gundy
Bohlin: There are some legitimate reasons as to why Stan Van Gundy (or SVG as I will reference him from here on out) might have interest in taking over the reins of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost would be the opportunity to stick it to your former employer. Anyone who has ever been fired from a position knows deep down they would love to get back at the person who let them go. Fortunately for the Wizards, SVG would have a plethora of opportunities to do just that were he to take the job in D.C. Another reason for SVG to take the Wiz Kids job? He wouldn’t have to cater to an overbearing superstar who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Dwight Howard, and the circus that surrounded him this season, couldn’t have made SVG job pleasant this past year. It got so bad that he went out in the media saying his star player went to the front office asking for him to be fired. That just shouldn’t happen on any level of basketball. In D.C. our star player, John Wall, is hungry to build a winner in the District and, by all accounts, loves the city as this is where his father grew up. Couple a talented PG with a nice group of big’s in Nene and Seraphin, as well as what we hope will be a major hit in the lottery, and you have the makings of an attractive roster for someone such as SVG to consider taking over.
The only knock on SVG is the perceived notion that he’s lost two locker rooms: first in Miami and then Orlando. At least, that has been the reasoning for him leaving those jobs. The egos he had to deal with in those locations certainly had something to do with that occurrence, however. I would be more than willing to argue that Dwight Howard lost the locker room in Orlando and SVG, along with Howard’s teammates, are the ones who got thrown under the proverbial bus (Dwight being Dwight). I firmly believe he would not run into this issue in D.C. as the major egos and knuckleheads (Sans The Captain) have been shipped out of town and SVG would inherit a young, talented roster of players wanting to be successful. His record speaks for itself and he has a great knowledge of the Southeast Division…Seems like a no brainer that we would reach out to him about our head coaching position.
Willis: For once, I actually agree with my colleague on something basketball-related. SVG is skilled in three facets of life: 1.) He grows a phenomenal mustache reminiscent of the great Ron Jeremy, 2.) SVG could replace Super Mario in any future movies, and 3.) The guy can flat out coach basketball. Jokes aside, anyone who watches this guy’s teams play basketball understands that he understands, at the most fundamental level, how good basketball is played. During his eight years as a head coach in the NBA, SVG has amassed a staggering .641 winning %. To put that into perspective, that’s sixth All-Time amongst NBA coaches with at least 500 games. That number puts him ahead of guys like Rick Aldeman, Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Doc Rivers, and even Flip Saunders. The ability to coach teams at such a high level over any length of time means speaks volumes to his dedication and preparation. Can he coach a team with less talent than most? I would think so.
One knock on him, however, is that his personality tends to grind on his most talented players. SVG does not show favoritism, and so most superstars get upset with him because SVG speaks his mind. He will not hesitate to publicly chastise someone who doesn’t do what they are told. He threw his main man, Dwight Howard, under the bus for private conversations Dwight had with upper management, and as Shaq said “that was Bush League.” In a way, it is. Private conversations shouldn’t be brought public, ever. Stan Van Gundy tells it like it is, for better or worse. Given that the Wizards are sometimes a sensitive team (as well as a flawed team), that might happen a lot. I can only imagine how angry Wall might get if he was told that his shooting was unacceptably bad (when Jan Vesely can’t shoot, period).
2) Pros and Cons of Nate McMillan
Bohlin: Nate didn’t last the season in Portland. After starting the season with a 20-23 record he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. In his 12-year coaching career, including a stint in Seattle (Like R.I.P) before moving down the coast to Portland, he has achieved an overall record of 478-452. His playoff record is an uninspiring 14-20 and McMillan has never made it past the second round of the playoffs as a head coach. Obviously, McMillan has a fantastic basketball acumen having had a 12-year NBA career as a player. He could probably teach John Wall a few things about distributing the basketball as McMillan still holds the single-game assist record for rookies passing out 25 dimes.
I just don’t know if I buy into the fact that McMillan is the right coach for this team as it is currently constructed. The facts speak for themselves in this case, McMillan has coached middle of the pack teams to early exit’s in the playoffs his entire coaching career. Even the year he led the Blazers to a tie for the Northwest Division title they were bounced by the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the first round. Note: Greg Oden actually played 61 games that season; they also had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nicklas Batum and Andre Miller on that team. Not a bad amount of talent for a first round exit from the playoffs. That is clearly more talent than is currently on this Wizards roster and if he couldn’t get it done with those guys I am not convinced he can get it done with our Wiz Kids.
Willis: Nate Dogg is an interesting prospect as a head coach. He is a very versatile guy, who can coach both veterans and young players into successful seasons. As I’ve written before, McMillan is a “change the culture” type of guy, who would fit incredibly well within our current rebuilding project that is seeking just that. When McMillan took over the Portland job, he had to deal with some seriously flawed players with terrible attitude issues that led to them being branded the Jailblazers. The end result? Within three years, the Blazers became a 54-win playoff team. He is clearly a player’s coach who demands results and gets them from his team. Plus, he’s only finished below .500 four times during his 12 years as a head coach.
His cons? As my colleague noted before, he has an underwhelming postseason record. I would argue that he lost a lot of those playoff games because of injuries which plagued the Trailblazers during his tenure. Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were supposed to be the future of that team; instead, they are painful reminders of how much injuries can derail a team’s bright future. Both players had franchise player status, and it’s hard to fault Nate McMillan for being a failure because his players failed to stay healthy. That’s just the nature of the game. Still, he has had healthy, talented teams and failed to out-coach anyone.
3) Pros and Cons of Jerry Sloan
Bohlin: He is a Hall of Fame coach. You cannot start assessing Jerry Sloan as a coaching candidate without mentioning that. In his 26 years of coaching experience in the NBA Sloan amassed a record of 1221-803 in the regular season. His playoff record is equally impressive at 98-104 (As a franchise the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs only have 77 total postseason victories). While he never got the opportunity to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy while leading the Utah Jazz, Sloan did take the franchise to the NBA Finals twice where they were eventually sent back to Salt Lake City ringless by Michael Jordan. Despite having never won the title every NBA player and coach dreams of winning, Sloan is considered one of the brightest coaching minds of this generation. He obviously wants to get back into coaching judging by the fact he is going to give Michael Jordan and his Bobcats the time of day for an interview. So it wouldn’t hurt for the Wizards to at least give his representatives a call and gauge his interest.
Even with all the accolades above pertaining to Sloan as a coach there is still one MAJOR concern I would have in targeting him to be the leader of our franchise. Sloan up and quit on a team that was 8 games over .500 and had gone to the playoffs the four previous years. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” This is a direct quote from Sloan after he resigned from the Jazz coaching position in February of 2011. While some of this has to be attributed to Deron Williams giving him, and the franchise, the Dwight Howard treatment, it is a bad omen for a team trying to take the next step to respectability. The Wizards have not been as successful a franchise as the Jazz were under Sloan; there is no way around this reality. I cannot get behind a coach taking a team that is further away from competing for a title than the franchise he previously left mid-season citing a “lack of energy”. How long until he would lose that same energy for coaching when he takes the helm of a team that has a total of 88 wins in the past four years?
Willis: Jerry Sloan was born in 1942. Some other things that happened during that year? The movie Casablanca premiered in Hollywood, the Holocaust occurred, the United States Navy fought Japan during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and Anne Frank wrote her first entries in her Diary. What am I getting at? Jerry Sloan is old. He’s not a dinosaur, but he’s two years younger than Don Nelson. Anytime a coach can claim to be the same age as Dick Stockton, I have my reservations about how well he is going to be able to relate with players on a younger team such as the Wizards. I also question why a guy like Jerry Sloan, who happens to be a Hall of Fame coach with no rings, would want to coach a young squad like Washington when there is virtually no chance to add the only thing missing from his resume. Realistically, there will be plenty of veteran teams looking for a coach who can lead them to victory. With only a few years of quality coaching left, I can’t believe he has even the slightest amount of interest in Washington and another young point guard.
On the positive side? He is a Hall of Fame coach who doesn’t have two championships because he as a product of the Michael Jordan era. Teams simply didn’t win while he was playing. His style of ball meshes very well with John Wall (pick and roll) and he might actually teach him how to shoot a bit better. Sloan brings immediate credibility to the franchise, and I’d be willing to bet that the improvements would be immediate with him and he wouldn’t hesitate to bench guys like Blatche for acting up.
4) Do we just bag the coaching search until next summer and let Wittman lead us back to the lottery one more time
Bohlin: Being honest, it is hard to envision this roster competing for a playoff spot next season. If we were to hold off on going after a big name coach for another season I am comfortable saying that Randy Wittman did enough to merit coming back for a full season as the Wizards head coach. This is all hinging on the fact that Wittman wants to do this again though. When Flip was fired, Wittman made it quite clear he was not interested in being a head coach at this point in time. He has repeatedly mentioned how difficult this season was for him. Did that change during his stint leading the Wizards to the end of this season? Maybe, Randy Wittman is the only one who can truly answer that question. The fact that his roster endorsed him returning as their coach in 2012-2013 certainly helps (Player endorsements). But unfortunately for Wittman, the inmates aren’t running the asylum on F Street so that decision is going to ultimately come from Leonsis and Grunfeld.
Willis: I’m actually a big fan of Randy Wittman. I think, as a coach, he knew how to push these young players buttons enough to squeeze out some actual effort and hustle. The players liked him, and they responded to what he was saying. There were less blowout losses and more wins with Wittman instead of Flip Saunders. I guess that was what I liked the most; he actually cared and wasn’t resigned to losing like Flip. Perhaps I was so traumatized by Flip’s nonchalant attitude and excessive amount of hair gel that when Randy Wittman started demanding changes (Major Payne style) I fell in love. I think going forward, unless we make a huge hire in the coaching realm, Wittman is the guy we should start growing with. Wall played better under him, Vesely improved under him, Seraphin emerged under him; again I ask, why wouldn’t I want that?
Not to mention that having stability at the head coaching position is never a bad thing. Look no further than the credibility of the Utah Jazz under the Jerry Sloan, the Spurs under Greg Popovich, or the Celtics with Doc Rivers. Good teams have a head coach who inserts a system and the GM works in conjunction with him to grab players tailored for it. I don’t know that Randy Wittman’s system is a winning formula, but I do know that I’d like to give him a chance to implement it. He is an internal hire who knows Grunfeld, so maybe they can develop this vision of basketball in cohesion.
The cons of Wittman? He has coached three full seasons before, and not one of those teams managed to win consistently. He has never coached a team that has been over .500, and I’m not sure that he ever will. Granted, when you have a Minnesota team whose top three players are Al Jefferson, Rashard McCants, and Marko Jaric, there might not be a lot of winning going on. His other stint in Cleveland was before LeBron came along, wherein he was forced to eke wins out of Andre Miller, Clarence Witherspoon, and Jim Jackson (Oh my God the 2001 Cavaliers were awful). That’s not a lot to go with, and the Wizards next season might be his most talented squad yet. Still, the returns haven’t been promising up to this point. I fear Wittman might be more of a motivational speaker than an actual coach.
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