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Friday, November 30, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 30. Washington Wizards

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th) :  1-12,  fifth place Southeast Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 89.8 (30th)
Points Allowed: 96.4 (12th)
Team FG%: .396 (30th)
Opponent’s FG%: .440 (14th)
Rebounds per game: 43.6 (8th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 44.7 (27th)
Turnovers per game: 16.5 (26th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 16.4 (8th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

Worst Player of the Month: Take Your Pick

Save for the two game heroics effort of Nene, the Wizards entire roster has been lackluster at best.  The two veterans that were brought to bring veteran leadership, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, have been completely ineffective as neither one of them can buy a bucket.  Bradley Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has failed to live up to expectations shooting just .330 from the field thus far.  And those three have been the ones carrying the Wizards thus far—the rest are not even worth mentioning.  Even if John Wall returns, it is doubtful that the Wizards will reach .500 as anticipated. 

First Player of the Month: Nene

He has only played just two games thus far, but Nene has been the Wizards’ bright spot thus far leading the team in scoring and shooting a team high .556 from the field.  His rebounding was rather weak just averaging three per game, but it is still early in the season and that can change rather quickly.  Hopefully he can last longer than he did last season before falling injury as not only their sole consistent offensive option, but the Wizards have a lot riding on him—52$ million over the next four years to be exact.  The Wizards took a gamble in taking an aging big man who is injury prone and with a huge untradeable contract.  Hopefully they will get some return on their rather huge investment.

Upon heading into the season there was a small glimmer of hope in the Nation’s Capital—the Wizards spent the entire off season cutting out off the dead weight and infusing new talent that would bring a more professional and mature environment.  These moves were made to finally get Washington out from the bottom and on its way to the postseason which the team has not made in six or seven years.  Unfortunately, this new roster has not lived up to expectations as the Wizards started this season with a twelve game losing streak and only managed not to be winless for the month at the very end of November.  Now whatever optimism that was held before the regular season has all been snuffed out as it seems that this will be another long and hapless season for the Washington Wizards.  Fortunately, however, when one looks over their schedule, the situation does not look as bleak as there are many positives to take from this month giving Wizard fans yet again some hope that things will turn around for them.

For starters, despite going winless for most of November, the Wizards have shown grit and determination and overall played together as a team.  They have yet to turn on each other as it often happens with struggling teams and compared to last season’s debacle, the Wizards have played smarter and entered each game with the same strong and focused effort win or lose.  Add the fact that the Wizards have been playing hard and focused without their leading scorer and assist man John Wall gives fans added incentive to pull for this struggling team and stand by it through these this rather tough period.  Before, fans would have been apathetic and completely dejected watching their team get beat down game after game; now, there is growing support for this maligned team as fans witness how hard they team is playing and their team’s unwavering determination to keep pushing for that first win.  Looking at the past box scores for November, it is easy to see why someone can continue to root for this team even in the worst of circumstances.  

So far, save for two games that they got blown out by the Charlotte Bobcats (11/13/2012) and the San Antonio Spurs (11/26/2012), most of the Wizards losses were by margins of ten points or less.  That is pretty remarkable considering that November’s schedule consisted of teams that qualified for the playoffs last season such as the Boston Celtics who won their games against the Wizards by a total of nine points.  The same went for the Indiana Pacers as they scraped by the Wizards in their first game by four points (11/10/2012) and their second by just seven (11/19/2012).  Three of Wizards’ loses took overtime for them to be beaten—this first was by the Celtics (11/7/2012), the second by the Atlanta Hawks (11/21/2012) and the third by the Charlotte Bobcats (11/24/2012)—all by a total of nine points.  When they had finally earned that win against the Portland Trailblazers (11/28/2012), it was as if all the hard work, pain, and struggle finally paid off and the Wizards finally received their just reward.

Credit Randy Wittman for his creative use of his roster trying to the find right rotation to keep his Wizards team competitive despite lacking the talent or firepower.  So far he has tried a plethora of combinations switching starting lineups with every game and ironically such moves have yet to cause any team to have chemistry problems; however, unlike most teams, the Wizards have essentially bought in and they have been rewarded by having the most evenly minute distributed roster in the league with 10 players playing more than 20 minutes per game.  So there is no one player to count on for scoring and clutch plays—it’s a complete team effort from the starting whistle to the final buzzer.  Wittman certainly does not play favorites when it comes to divvying up the minutes and it seems as if his players respect him for it looking at their continuous soid effort on the floor.  It will be interesting to see how the rotations will work once John Wall returns to the lineup.

They will need Wall up and ready as soon as possible as the Wizards will be entering a rather tough stretch starting with the New York Knicks on the road (11/30/2012), the Miami Heat at home (12/04/2012), and the Atlanta Hawks on the road  (12/07/2012).  Fortunately, for Washington, they will be a few winnable games ahead as they will face other struggling teams such as the Houston Rockets on the road (12/11/2012), the Los Angeles Lakers at home (12/14/2012), two games against the Orlando Magic (12/19/12/28), two more against Detroit Pistons (12/21, 12/22) , and one versus the Cleveland Cavaliers (12/26) at home.  Hopefully the Wizards will manage to split some of these games as they use the momentum from their first win as they push forward through the season.  They have gotten a major monkey of their backs finally ending their franchise record 12 game losing streak at the start of the season and there is nowhere else to go but up.  Hopefully John Wall will be back soon, but even if he is not, the Wizards will certain continue with their gritty player win or lose.