I think we all saw this coming after last night. For the second time in two nights, the Wizards were blown out by a mediocre Eastern Conference team. First it was the Indiana Pacers, coming into the Phone Booth and demolishing the Wizkids 113-96. Then last night it was the Philadelphia 76ers, who went up by as much as 30 points in the second half en route to a 117-94 annihilation of the Wizards. As you can tell from the score of those games, the Wizards are not playing any defense and they're getting killed on the glass. Hustle points have played a major role in these two blowout losses.
One player who has played hard, if not perfectly, is rookie point guard John Wall. The kid might be young, but he's not blind and he's noticed the lack of effort from some of his teammates. Speaking to Chris Miller of Comcast Sports last night after the game, Wall unburdened himself, saying some things it seems like he's wanted to say for a while now: and a 2011 first round pick is a good move, though Hinrich wasn't part of the problem in Washington. [But at 30 years of age, he wasn't going to be a part of the long-term solution either.]
The point is the Wizards better not be finished. They shouldn't panic and start giving young talent away, but they should regard the rest of the season as an opportunity to look at some of the players that Wall is undoubtedly talking about -- Javale McGee, Andray Blatche, Nick Young. John Wall is the only player on the team who is untouchable. The Wizards should be open to moving any or all of those players I just named, as well as several others, such as Yi Jianlian and Al Thornton. [I'd love to move Rashard Lewis, too, but I presume his contract is virtually un-trade-able. None of those players are performing well now and some appear to be going through the motions while they await an early offseason.
I would begin by benching McGee, who is totally lost out there and seems determined to learn nothing of the pro game. [Is his mother around too much? Perhaps she should develop interests outside of her son's flagging career.] Rookie Kevin Seraphin is very raw and unprepared to start in the NBA, but he's clearly making more of an effort to do center-ish things than McGee. The Wizards have proven they can get blown out by 25 points with McGee at center. How much worse could the team do with Seraphin taking those minutes? Rookie Trevor Booker also needs to play more, at the expense of Lewis, Thornton, Blatche or anyone else. I don't expect Booker to have many nights like last night [9 of 10 from the field, 21 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes], but he's also clearly playing hard and deserves more time.
Head Coach Flip Saunders said this after the loss to Indy: “The thing we’re trying to find out is if some of our starters, and we don’t know, do they feel like they’re entitled as far as to play 30 to 35 [minutes] no matter how they’re playing?” Saunders said. “They’re not going to develop that way. They do have to have a sense of urgency.” Follow through on the implied threat in that statement, Flip. The Wizards are going to lose a lot more games before this season mercifully ends, but John Wall needs to know that he's got some teammates who care as much and play as hard as he does. I don't know if Blatche, McGee, Young, et. al. got their bad habits from the previous team or somewhere else, but they've got them. Something needs to be done about this. Quickly.