How to stop the slide
I'm going to work under the assumption that this isn't the result of players who don't care or a lousy coach. I know these guys play with passion and I'm positive that EJ is a competent coach. But obviously, something isn't right. I'm not going to pretend to know what is happening in the locker room, or that I know more about basketball than the Washington coaching staff, so I'm just going to propose an idea to get things jump-started: shake this team up a little.
Tell players to try different things. Give minutes to other players. Pull a trade, even if it isn't a massive one. But do something, and do it quickly.
Jamison is rebounding less than last year and shooting worse from 3pt range than he has in the last four years. Suggest that he stay inside a little more and cut his PT. Not as punishment, but the guy played competitive ball and traveled all summer. He needs a rest and he might be more useful for the time being if he played 30 minutes per game instead of 37.
Gil is shooting poorly from the field. Encourage him to look to get other players more involved. Tell him that the team might benefit more if he took 17 shots per game instead of 20. That he would be even more highly regarded and valuable if he averaged 24 points and 9 assists instead of 26 points and 6.5 assists. Taking fewer shots would presumably increase his shooting percentages, too (he would pass up more contested shots).
Give Antonio Daniels more minutes. He looks to pass, he takes care of the ball, plays solid defense and scores more points per shot than anyone on the team except for Etan. So why can't he play 32 minutes per game? Right now, he's getting fewer than 27. And playing him more would relieve Gil of some of his ball-handling duties, saving him for things other than bringing the ball up the floor all the time.
These are just some suggestions. Here is what my lineup and minutes-distribution would look like:
1: Gil (25), AD (23)
2: DeShawn (22), Gil (14), AD (9), Hayes (3)
3: Caron (28), DeShawn (10), Hayes (8), Blatche (2)
4: Jamison (30), Caron (6), Blatche (8), Ruffin (4)
5: Etan (24), Haywood (18), Ruffin (6)
So that adds up to mpg of:
Gil – 39
Caron – 34
Jamison – 30
AD – 32
DeShawn – 32
Etan – 24
Haywood – 18
Ruffin – 10
Blatche – 10
Jarvis – 11
As usual, feel free to call me an idiot, but I feel like something has got to change here.