You know the drill. In an effort to get to know these teams we only see a few times a year, I did an exchange with Bullets Forever writer Jake Whitacre. Consider his insights into the Wizards when you're watching the Mavs versus the Wizards tonight.
Also, make a visit to Bullets Forever as well. All of these SB Nation sites are great
1. As of this writing, the Wizards are 0-5. What gives?
Simply put, it's really hard to win basketball games without your two best players. John Wall and Nene aren't the cream of the crop by any means, but the roster wasn't constructed to have Bradley Beal be the leading scorer five games in. Playing shorthanded has given the team some motivation and energy to fight harder to overcome their circumstances, and that's why they've kept the losing margins down (plus a relatively weak schedule), but it's just not enough to get them in the win column.
The biggest factor was experience. After they traded Kirk Hinrich at the deadline in 2010, they didn't have an experienced guard to tutor John Wall and Mack, so that was a priority the Wizards wanted to address over the summer. Given the Wizards position in the NBA stratosphere and salary restraints, A.J. Price was the player who best fit the bill.
A lot of people were hoping Shelvin Mack could develop into a nice backup point guard, but when he had a chance to make a case in Vegas, he didn't have a good outing. He did a solid job of running an offense when he wasn't getting hounded, but whenever he would get pressed, the offense shut down. He just didn't have the ball handling skills to be effective, and that was just in Vegas. At the end of the day, that's why Price and Jannero Pargo wound up getting spots on the roster instead of Mack. When he came in, his stats looked nice, but that was primarily because he was put in spots where his weaknesses wouldn't be as exposed.
3. I was at the Wizards-Lakers game last year when the Wizards came back from 20+ points to win. That was the first time I saw Kevin Seraphin in person and he played a huge role in that come back as JaVale McGee sat on the bench. Tell me about his role in Washington and your thoughts about his potential.
Without a doubt, Seraphin is the player that has Wizards fans the most excited at the moment. He can play power forward or center and provide nice on-the-ball defense against whoever he faces up against. He's also developed a pretty solid baby hook when called upon. In a lot of ways, he's the anti-JaVale McGee. Where McGee could beat you with hops, speed and a sweeping hook shot, Seraphin likes to bang on people and hit those mid-range jumpers if he can't get his baby hook off.
Now, comes the time where he has to adjust to the NBA realizing his strengths. After a dazzling game at home against Boston, the Celtics started throwing some double teams his way in their second match-up and he wound up turning the ball over six times. He's had similar issues in the following games against Milwaukee and Indiana. The good thing is, he's been very responsive to coaching and hopefully he starts learning how to make the right pass in those situations so he can continue to develop.
4. Looking at the data, Washington has given much of the roster a chance at minutes. When Wall and Nene come back do you see the rotation shortening up? Who is in your ideal rotation given the roster?
Once Wall and Nene return, I do expect a lot of rotation adjustment. Part of what's going on now is Wittman just trying to overcome star power with waves of fresh legs. But the other part of it is that there were quite a few new faces and Wittman is still figuring out roles for everyone. When everyone is healthy, I'm expecting to see a lineup of Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene and Emeka Okafor. Seraphin has been nice, but still is best suited coming off the bench. Price should play better once he returns to his natural role as a back-up point guard, and I think Jordan Crawford and Martell Webster can bring some nice scoring punch here and there for the second unit.
5. What are the goals for the Wizards this year?
The goal this year is just to see some improvement. After last year, where almost everyone either flat lined or regressed, the thing most fans want to see if signs that things are getting better. After the Okafor/Ariza trade there was some talk of sneaking in the playoffs, but I think most fans realize now that's probably not going to happen, given the injuries. If fans can see that the young nucleus (especially Wall, Vesely and Beal) are making steps in the right direction, fans will be satisfied.
Thanks Jake! And everyone remember to visit Bullets Forever.