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Monday, March 11, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 28. Washington Wizards

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  18-38 (third place, Southeast Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

Points Scored: 92.0 (29th)
Points Allowed: 95.5 (6th)
Team FG%: .430 (29th)
Opponent’s FG%: .438 (5th)
Team FT%: .738 (21st)
Team Three Point FG%: .354 (18th)
Rebounds per game: 43.2 (7th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 44.7 (27th)
Turnovers per game: 15.5 (28th)
Opponents turnovers per game:  14.6 (18th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

Scoring (ppg): Bradley Beal (13.9)
Rebounds per game:  Emeka Okafor (8.8)
Minutes per game: Bradley Beal (31.7)
Assists per game: John Wall (7.4)
Field Goal Percentage: Emeka Okafor (.487)
Free Throw Percentage: John Wall (.820)
Three Point FG Percentage: Martell Webster (.450)
Steals per game: Trevor Ariza (1.5)
Blocked Shots per game: Emeka Okafor (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month:  Kevin Seraphin

Last season, it seemed as if this French national would pick up where he left off from his breakout year last season; unfortunately, however, that has not happened.  Since surprising the NBA last season, Kevin Seraphin has fallen flat as his numbers have dropped along with his field goal percentage.  Although Seraphin maintained a 10 point per game scoring average for much of the season, his shooting took a dip from ,531 last season to just .442.  Add the fact that on February, Seraphin saw a major dip in scoring from ten to just four points per game along with a drop in field goal percentage to .435.  From being one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2012 NBA season, Kevin Seraphin has certainly crashed and burned this season becoming a major disappointment to his team and fans who looked to him to take a greater leadership role this season.   
First Player of the Month:  John Wall

Upon his returning to the roster, the Washington Wizards had won just four games for the entire season; however since his return to the lineup, John Wall has reignited this slumbering and stumbling Washington Wizards teams.  Since he came off the injured list, Washington has won 14 of its last 23 games coming to March starting with a 7-3 run to finish the month of January.  Thanks to him, the Wizards no longer dwell in the dank depths of the bottom and have returned to a certain measure of respectability.  Although it is far too late for the Wizards to challenge for athe final  playoff position in the Eastern Conference, Wall's return certainly gives Wizards fans something to hope for in the future.  Now all they can do is wonder what could have been if Wall had started playing at the season's tip off instead of being forced to sit on the bench in street clothes and watch his team lose game after game.     

So many Wizards fans must be wondering the same thing:  if John Wall had started the season at opening tip off, would the Washington Wizards be in the same predicament?  Since his return to the lineup, the Wizards have been arguably one of the NBA's hottest teams going 14-9 in the last 23 game since being reinserted in the lineup.  If Wall had not been nursing his injuries for more than half the season, one could put forth the argument that the Wizards could have possibly been in the running for the final playoff spot in the East or even better.  If all things remained the same, the Wizards possibly could have had a far better start than the 4-24 record that they had originally started with.  In fact, one can even take the current win percentage since John Wall's return and put forth the hypothesis that if John Wall were to have played in every game since the very start, the Wizards could have potential gone, at best, 31-20 giving the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks a run for the money for the fourth or fifth playoff spots in the East or at the very least, challenge the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot.

John Wall's presence could have meant so much for a Washington team that has spent much of the season scrapping with teams on the defensive end only to come up short as he could have helped spark the Wizard's rather stagnant offense giving them the push they needed to possibly win those hard fought games that resulted in so many losses.   They still would not have been as strong in terms of depth and talent, but at least they could have performed far better on the offensive end thanks to Walls innate ability to slice through defenses and create for his teammates.  Wizards fans can only imagine how much of an impact Wall would have made at the start of the season playing alongside rookie Brandon Beal or the streaky sharpshooting Jordan Crawford, now with the Celtics. Instead they were forced to endure watching those two gifted athletes struggle finding their shots and not having the Wall's calming presence to help guide them.  The same can be said for the other Washington players who could have performed so much better if Wall had been with them for the entire regular season.

Instead Wizards fans were forced to watch their team play as if they were chickens running around with their heads cut off only to fall dead in the end.  Give head coach Randy Wittman credit for holding the ship up as he kept his team playing hard, especially on the defensive end, as the Wizards showed great toughness and determination despite all the losing.  Despite owning the worst record in the league for most of the season, the Wizards possessed on of the toughest defensive teams as they ranked among the best in the league in points allowed and opponents' field goals made.  They also rank among the league's best rebounding teams and did a pretty decent job in forcing their opponents to turn over the ball.  Unfortunately, all of Washington's hard work on the defensive end came up for naught as they simply were not able to capitalize on their opponents' misses and turnovers and covert them into points.

In terms of their roster, the cupboard was pretty much bare as Washington consisted of role players who were low on talent but high in effort and enthusiasm.   For much of the season, there was no real leader that could get the best out of his teammates and come through for the team in the clutch while allowing them to simply to coast along for the ride.  Instead, they were left to their own devices to create their own offense forcing them to take bad shots, turn over the ball and allow all their hard work on the defensive end fall at the waist side.  Randy Wittman had to often employ a point guard by committee strategy having to use either shoot first combo guards who had no idea of running an offense or players who had no business playing in the NBA let alone start at point guard.   To think that all the pain and suffering could have been avoided if John Wall would have been ready to play at the opening tip off only adds to the painful sting that Wizards fans currently feel watching their team playing so well when it is too late for it to make a difference.

Nonetheless, despite the hardship that the Wizards have endured during the first two months of the season, at least they have a chance to finish the season strong on a positive note although their playoff hopes for this season are all but scrapped.  At least fans in the District of Columbia have a chance to see what could have been if the team were at full strength, or at the least would have been if one of their home team's players had started the season when he should have.  It certainly gives hope for the future as not only will the Wizards potentially finish the season strong, but they will also have an opportunity to add yet another young talent via the NBA Draft as their finish would certainly earn them a top five pick come July.  A positive finish can also aide the Wizards in attracting prospective free agents into calling DC Metropolitan Area home for the next four or five years as they have witnessed the potential that this young Washington team has to offer.  So for all the die hard Wizards fans who continue to follow this team through think and thin, you can lift your chins up as good times are on the horizon.