For the past month or so, I’ve tuned in to watch my darling Washington Wizards lose all 12 of their games to start the season and look about as incompetent as you can while doing it.
It’s not necessarily one player or one game, but more so the organization as a whole. The basketball product that takes the floor each night is simply horrid.
Are there glimmers of decency? Sure. Watching a young guy like Kevin Seraphin develop on both ends of the floor is exciting, progression in Jordan Crawford’s game is a nice surprise, and even with his terrible percentage from the floor, rookie Bradley Beal is a teenager with plenty of potential. But those things are far from outweighing.
After trading for 30-year old big man Nene last season, the Wizards have yet to reap the benefits. Although veteran presence and leadership were likely part of the decision making process at the deadline, the Wizards were hoping that to be more of an added perk to Nene’s low-post game and athleticism.
So far, not so much. Nene has played in just three games this season and the outlook for the remaining 70 isn’t exactly a bright one.
Like many other Wizards fans, I talked myself into how great of a trade it was last year when Washington was able to land Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza — a good low-post defender and an athletic wingman could really help. But through the first 12 games, it’s hard to argue that a combined 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game is worthy of the $20.8 million tied up in these two this season.
We could go on for days about the Wizards’ problems and why they suck on the court. We could talk all we want about how important it is to get a decent draft pick. Or better yet, spread the campaign: Shit the Bed for Shabazz (Muhammad). Or whatever.
But the real fear I have with this current team and the direction in which it’s headed is the future of former No. 1 draft pick John Wall — the Wizards starting point guard and presumed nucleus.
Despite not playing a single minute this season while resting a bum knee, the 22-year old point guard remains the most important part of this basketball team. While his play could certainly increase the Wizards’ chances of winning right now, one has to be concerned with John Wall’s psyche as he looks on from the sidelines wearing nice suits and realizing just how terrible the product is in Washington.
Although the intentions of general manager Ernie Grunfeld over the past six months have been to make promising moves that express some sort of optimism for Wall moving forward, those moves have obviously floundered (thus far). Meanwhile, Grunfeld receives plenty of deserved criticism for demonstrating little talent at his position and somehow retaining his job.
Due to make $7.5 million next season and then on hook for a $9.7 million qualifying offer in 2014/15, Wall has to be thinking about his next move. At this point, as a young athletic point guard with desirable talent, you have to be asking yourself: why would I sign an extension here?
That isn’t to say that John Wall is the best point guard in the league. Some may even argue that he isn’t worth a huge extension. But his 16/4.5/8 career averages after two seasons appear promising and he has the potential to build a team around. Although I do question his focus from time to time, I think his absolute basketball number is high enough to invest in.
There’s no current timetable for Wall’s return to the hardwood. And quite frankly, what’s the rush? The Wizards don’t want to hurry along their franchise cornerstone for a season that has started so poorly behind the eight ball. And I wouldn’t disagree.
On the flip side, however, perhaps John Wall doesn’t want to hurry back to play for a poor basketball franchise and possibly risk big money from a better team with more potential in, say, two years.
Again, I’m not saying there isn’t time to improve. And I certainly have no idea what John Wall’s thinking (he hasn’t called me in weeks). But I can tell you that if it were me (or any other Wizards fan) in Wall’s shoes, Nene earning $13 million over the next four years and Ernie Grunfeld running the show wouldn’t be enough to place/keep me in a committed state of mind.
Signed, a frightened Wizards die hard.