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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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

Washington Wizards 
Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st) :  4-24,  fifth place Southeast Division


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This Month:

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Team Statistics and League Rank (December 31st)

  • Points Scored: 88.8 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 96.6 (11th)
  • Team FG%: .406 (30th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .439 (8th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.9 (6th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 46.0 (29th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.3(21st)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.6 (15th)


Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st)



Worst Player of the Month: Bradley Beal


He plays the most minutes on the team and only scores a little over 12 points per game and shoots a woeful .353 from the field.  That is neither what Wizards fans nor the teams top brass expected when they selected Bradley Beal third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  At just 19 years old, it may be a little harsh to judge Beal as the worst on the team; however, at the same time, people should be expecting more from the third overall pick in the NBA draft.  In the entire month of December, Beal only shot .500 just once while shooting over .400 just five times.  Coach Randy Wittman may need to stop force feeding his prized rookie minutes and instead choose someone more deserving to play in the Wizards’ starting lineup. 

First Player of the Month: Jordan Crawford


Say what you want about his game—that he takes to many shots or that he dominates the ball when he is on the court—but Jordan Crawford has been the sole bright spot for this struggling Wizards team.  In December Crawford has been there for his team on the offensive end averaging close to 20 points per game while being a dependable source on the boards averaging over five per game.  Unlike his previous seasons, he has also shown a strong willingness to share the ball and get his teammates involved in the offense as can be seen by his 6.1 assists per game, which led the team.  Granted, he is certainly out of his league when compared to his contemporaries; however Crawford remains Washington’s sole consistent source of offense thus far this season.  In fact, Crawford has been so important to this Wizards team, one has to wonder why coach Randy Wittman has chose to bench him while starting an even less efficient Bradley Beal instead.

Analysis:

December was an equally tough stretch as November for the Washington Wizards despite adding three more wins to their already dismal record; however, despite their troubles, this Wizards team has been far better than last year's Washington team and the best team for quite some time.  Unlike last season's clueless, immature, lackadaisical, and unprofessional squad, the Wizards have played more with great drive, more focused, and with a no nonsense approach on the defensive end.  Although they currently have the worst record in the NBA, the Wizards have also been one of the league's best defensive team ranking in the top 10 in points allowed and opponents' field goal percentage.  Washington has also been holding its own on the boards ranking sixth in the league in rebounds per game proving that although the Wizards may have the worst record in the league, they are far from being doormats or pushovers.

The Wizards started the month of December in spectacular fashion by beating the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat on their home court (12/4/2012). Unfortunately, however, they could not carry the momentum from that win as they lost the next two against the second place Atlanta Hawks on the road (12/7/2012) and the resurgent Golden State Warriors (12/11/2012).  The Wiz did manage to steal a road game against the New Orleans holding the Hornets to just 70 points and .325 shooting.  Sadly the glory of that victory was short lived as Washington dropped eight straight games before they stopped the bleeding by beating their division rival Orlando Magic back at home in the Verizon Center (12/28/2012). Sadly in typical Washington fashion, the Wizards followed up that win with yet another loss finishing the month losing to the Chicago Bulls (12/29/2012).

At face value, it may seem that the Wizards are just as bad, if not worst, than last season's team; however, upon closer inspection, numerous positives can still be extracted from a rather dismal December.  For starters, even though they lost eleven of fifteen games, most of them were rather close as Washington only suffered just two blowout losses while the rest were lost by just nine points or less.  Despite losing them, the Wizards even held their their opponents to under 100 points in five of those eleven loses while holding four of those teams to 90 points or less.  Excluding the two blowout losses suffered by the Miami Heat (12/15/2012) and the Detroit Pistons (12/21/2012), the Wizards have just lost by an average margin of 6.5 points per game.  If just they would have held on to win the really close games against the Houston Rockets (12/12/2012), Los Angeles Lakers (12/14/2012), the Orlando Magic (12/19/2012) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (10/26/2012), it would have been a different story entirely for the Washington Wizards.

Instead of finishing an abysmal 4-24, the Wizards could have had little more respectable 8-20 if the ball would have bounced their way in the hoop, or would not missed a few crucial defensive stops.  In most of those games, a lot of those games could have been had if the Wizards won more of those 50/50 plays which would have made the difference between winning and losing.  Unfortunately for Washington, the reason why they did not win those crucial plays was the sad fact that they did not have to talent to do so.  Most of the team's roster consists of either disappointing washed up veterans (Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, and Nene), rejects who would not make an NBA team (Martell Webster, AJ Price, and Cartier Martin), and players too green to be counted on a consistent basis.  Add the fact that the team's best player, John Wall, has still been sitting on the sidelines in street clothes only compounds the problems of this struggling Wizards team.

Thus the Wizards' poor performance cannot be blamed on lack of effort or bad on the court chemistry, but more so the fact that the Wiz have neither the talent or the offensive firepower to compete in the NBA.  Their infusion of veteran talent has so far been a flaming bust as both Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza have not been playing up to par.  At the same time, last season's major acquistion of Nene has yet to bear fruit as he has spent much of the season on the injured list while cashing his 15$ million fir the next three or four years.  Nonetheless, despite the disappointing performances from their veterans and the inconsistent performances of their younger players, Washington is by far a better team than it ever was in previous years due to the team's effort and toughness on the court.  And although their chances of making the playoffs range from slim to none, opposing teams should still not take the Wizards too lightly or else they will regret it.