Monday, November 27, 2006

How to stop the slide

Things aren't looking so good. The Wiz are already five games below .500 and a dismal 0-7 on the road. The offense has been just OK. The defense has been very so-so. And this team still gets out-rebounded by a pretty good margin, and despite the emphasis on offense, the Wiz are credited with fewer assists per game than their opponents. On an individual level, Gil is shooting under 40% from the field, Jamison is rebounding less than usual, Caron is turning the ball over a lot, Jarvis Hayes is shooting horribly and two of our most frequent free throw shooters (Etan and Brendan) both shoot below 48% from the charity stripe. What is going on here? How does Washington fix this?

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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I like what we have, but we still need more inside

I was at the game against Cleveland on Saturday night. I gotta say, I liked what I saw. Gil was unconscious, Brendan showed some attitude by handing Damon Jones the ball after blocking his shot and Jamison came up with some nice steals. What impressed me most though, was DeShawn Stevenson. He looked confident and more than competent.

He seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night and he did a fantastic job when he was put on LeBron. I can't say how great it is that we have a player like him that we're only paying a mil per year for. So, I was very happy with the Wizards on Saturday night, but it is still pretty obvious that we have zero inside presence. The guys missed a ton of layups and they just got muscled all night. So what does Grunfeld do about that? I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: the second round is the ceiling for this team until it gets a legitimate inside player. Of course, that's easier said than done.

Grunfeld, even though he overpaid, was smart in getting Darius Songaila. Although I have a strange feeling that in four years I'm going to read that last sentence again and shake my head. Anyways, Songaila was a nice pick up, but he's not the answer. He's a start, but we need more. The Wiz need someone who is going to get the tough rebound when we really need it. The guy who is going to pound inside and create space for our perimeter game. We need someone who is going to toughen this team up. To address this we could either turn to the draft, free agency or trading. The draft is too uncertain and generally takes a few years to really see results. There aren't really any great bigs in the free agent class of 2007. So that leaves us with trading. So, let's take a look at our assets.

We've got first and second round picks that could always be part of a deal. Then, here are the guys that I'd be willing to part with: Jamison, Etan, Haywood, Blatche, Pecherov, Hayes, Ruffin and Donell Taylor. I'd be willing to let Jamison go, because we presumably would be getting a power forward in return and Jamison also has a big contract. I'd be willing to give away Blatche and Pecherov because this squad might be ready to really win before either of those guys are ready. Anyways, here are the targets that we ought to be looking at:

Kevin Garnett – I'm not going to bother going in to all the ways in which he could help this team. He's a stud and he's going to be traded. Minnesota needs to blow things up and start over, so they might welcome something like Jamison, Blatche, Pecherov, a future 1st rounder and maybe a couple 2nd round picks.

David West – He's tough and is a solid rebounder. He is much more of an inside player than Jamison, as well as being much younger.

Zaza Pachulia – Not quite in the same class as the first two, but he could probably be had for relatively little. He could be an upgrade in the middle for sure. Possibly not enough of an upgrade though.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Pretty good perimeter player, but he can clearly play down low, as evidenced by his playing center this season for the Kings. I like him, but I'm not sure exactly how much he would help this team.

Brad Miller – He has a pretty big contract, but he is a very good rebounder, he's tough and he's a good passer. In addition, he can shoot three's and score in the post. I'm having a hard time thinking of a reason not to make a move to get him, unless of course we can land Garnett. Something like Jamison and Haywood for Miller, Corliss Williamson and Francisco Garcia. Jamison's probably wouldn't be a big deal to them, seeing as how he has two years left on his, to Miller's five. And we could always throw in a draft pick or something. The more I look at this deal, the better I like it. (Realgm.com's trade checker approves this deal).

So once again, we need an inside player. I'm voting right now for Garnett, but if we can't get him, let's make a run at Brad Miller.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Billy Hunter

What is the Executive Director of the Players Association doing? I don't mean that he is doing something outrageous and I want to know why. I mean, what is he doing? The dress code, the crackdown on arguing with the refs, the restrictions on arm bands, the restriction on shifting ones' weight during the national anthem (no joke, David Stern wants the players to remain motionless while the anthem is being sung), the fines for untucking ones' jersey while sitting on the bench, the fines for wearing a rubber band with your name on it, the age limit and last and worst, the new ball. These are all changes that have been implemented in the last two years. And for the life of me, I can't see anything that Billy Hunter has done for the players. Literally, he has done nothing.

I'm assuming that Hunter goes to work every day. I'm assuming that his subordinates work hard in assisting him. But I can't figure out what they are assisting him with. Because if he has been working hard, then it's got nothing to do with representing the players. He caves on every proposal that David Stern makes. He gets next to nothing for the players and yet, almost nobody really questions his competence. How does he still have his job?

I'm bringing all of this up because of John Hollinger's look at the statistical impact of the new ball. He notes that statistically, it has made almost no difference at all. That may be true, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't changed the way the game is played (and not necessarily for the better). Even if the new ball doesn't have a huge effect (the Wizards might disagree though, after Vince Carter's BS trey to send a game into overtime), why is the ball a good thing? The players, the media and the fans all agree that the new ball sucks. So why is it a good idea? I have yet to hear any answer other than, "Now, every ball is the same. It's all uniform." All that means is that every ball is equally crappy. And it's not like the old ball had major consistency problems. So again, why the new ball?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Renaldo Balkman for All-Star!

OK, so I know that Renaldo Balkman is not on the Wizards. But, he's taken a lot of crap over the last five months for something he couldn't control. I mean, it's not like he could have stopped Isiah Thomas from picking him 400 picks too early (in a 60 pick draft). So, he's been getting ripped by everyone for something that he couldn't control. I say, it's time to do something nice.

So, I'm proposing a Renaldo Balkman for All-Star campaign. If you go to http://www.nba.com/allstar2007 you can vote once every 24 hours.

Balkman isn't on the regular ballot, but the ballot has a write-in section. So, everyday, go to the site and select him as a write-in candidate.

I'm serious about this. Let's make this guy an All-Star.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm not the biggest fan of the new ball

I know I'm a couple days behind on this, but I can't believe the Wiz lost to New Jersey. For everyone who missed the replays of Vince Carter's shot that sent the game into overtime, it was complete BS. He even admitted as much. The ball hit the back of the rim, which if it were a real basketball, it would have bounced back out to the 3pt line. This piece of crap ball stopped dead on the back of the rim and fell through the net. I do think that Sports Guy is on to something, saying that this ball is being played in order to increase scoring. Shots that would have looked gawd-awful, are dropping. This is a travesty. How can anyone even appreciate a higher score if everyone knows that it's bogus? OK, I'm ranting now. I'll get on to better things now.

I'm actually going to be at the Wiz game on Saturday when they play the Cavs. I figured that I had to go to this game, since I've never seen LeBron in person. I can't remember if I ever saw Jordan play. I remember going to a Bullets/Bulls game, but I have no real memory of it. Anyway, I'm not going to let that happen with LeBron. Or Gil. These guys are just too good to only watch on TV. I can't begin to express how excited I am about this game. To quote Homer Simpson, “I feel like a kid in some kind of a shop.”

I am probably going to have too much to do this week, so I'm telling all four of you readers to check back here on Sunday. I'm sure I'll have something good to post.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Whose fantasy is this?!?!?

I hate Gerald Wallace. I hate Andrei Kirilenko. I really really really hate Boris Diaw. The problem here is that I like all three players a whole lot, but they are killing my fantasy team. Wallace seems to have forgotten how to steal the ball or block shots. Kirilenko can't figure out how to score, pass, rebound or steal the ball. Diaw hasn't figured out anything except the five fast food joints that are closest to US Airways Center. Damn these guys.

In my league, each team is allowed to keep two players from the prior season. Last year I had Gerald Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Boris Diaw, Brad Miller, Lamar Odom and Rafer Alston. (fyi, in my league, you play head-to-head, start 2 g, 2 f, 1 c. We keep track of pts, reb, ast, stl, blk, to) So I was definitely going to keep Kirilenko. At the end of last year, Diaw was available to play at all three positions. Thinking that would carry over, I kept him, too. Turns out he can only play guard and forward. That was already a blow to my team. Then came the draft.

In order, I took Gerald Wallace, Ray Felton, Andrew Bogut, Kendrick Perkins, Bonzi Wells, Mo Williams, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Banks, Ryan Gomes and Jackie Butler.

Wallace is off to a horrible start, averaging under 10 pts, only 4 reb, 1.3 ast and 1.2 stl, .8 blk and 1.75 to. Compare that to last year: 15.2 pts, 7.5 reb, 1.7 ast, 2.5 stl, 2.1 blk, 1.8 to. Holy crap. What happened in the last 5 months?

Kirilenko is off to a similarly crappy start. I think he is actually averaging in the negatives for points. All of his numbers are way off what they have been the last few seasons. Hey, thanks AK47. You AKforty-suck.

Felton has been a disappointment. His scoring and assists are not what I had hoped they would be.

Bogut has been only mildly disappointing. His numbers are horrific, but they could and should be better. It would be nice if he blocked the occasional shot.

Perkins has been god-awful. I thought this was going to be a break-out year for him. I was expecting him to be a solid reserve at center to the tune of about 8 pts, 8 reb and 1.5 blks. That didn't seem unreasonable. Now, it seems that we're more likely to see him running the point than we are to see him post decent numbers consistently.

Bonzi has barely played, but I expected that. If he can do what he did last year, I'll be happy.

Mo Williams has been a little disappointing. I didn't think he was going to light the world on fire, but I was hoping for something in the Mike James range. His rebounds and assists are pretty decent, but his scoring needs some help. And the occasional steal would be welcome.

K-Mart is getting knee surgery! The other day, one of the other owners offered me Maggette straight up for K-Mart. I declined, saying that it wouldn't really improve my team and I'm not going to make moves just to make them. Then I read a couple hours later how Martin is having knee surgery. Holy crap. Now I'm trying to decide whether to drop K-Mart, forfeit the rest of my season, go to a Nuggets game and yell at K-Mart, or maybe do all three.

I dropped Banks, Gomes and Butler. That Gomes move was pretty stupid in retrospect. Although to fill those three spots, I've got Kevin Martin, Andris Biedrins and Hakim Warrick. So I'm pretty happy with that.

So you thought I forgot about Boris Diaw? Oh no, I saved the worst for last. He's averaging 8.6 pts, 3.8 reb, 2 ast, 0 stl, .4 blk. On the bright side, he is turning the ball over more than in any other season in his career. So right now, one of my keepers is my #9 guy. At the forward spot, he's behind Warrick, AK47 and Wallace(a G/F). At guard, he's behind Felton, Williams, Wallace and Martin. I need to move on to another topic before I start typing in all caps and saying things I might regret later.

Anyways, long story short, my fantasy team absolutely sucks so far. Thank the lord that at least the Wizards look pretty decent.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Can you tell that I'm psyched?

Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Wizards wreck the Pacers tonight, but just looking at the box score, I like what I see. Gil dropped 40 off of only 20 shots. We got 17 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks and 4 turnovers from the center position. Now, I know that isn't spectacular, but it's enough. A couple days ago, I said we need to get 17, 13 and 3 or 4 blocks out of the Etan/Brendan duo and just look at the result tonight. Yeah, we still got out-rebounded, but we're getting better. The story of the night though, isn't that we dropped 37 on them in the 3rd quarter (hell yeah!), the story is that my man Andray Blatche got to run tonight!

Blatche played 18 minutes and didn't shoot well, but he pulled down 7 boards and stole the ball a couple times. Seriously, if we can get him 10-12 minutes per game, there's no telling what he'll be able to do by the end of the season. Just look at Andrew Bynum. He worked hard for a year and all of a sudden the guy is dominating. So if we can't find a way to get Blatche on the floor for at least 10 minutes per game, then we've got to either send him down to the D league to get some PT, or hire someone to work with him one-on-one. Kareem has been working with Bynum for the last year. Is there any way that we could get someone like Danny Manning to work with Blatche everyday? OK, I've got to get ahold of myself; I'm starting to sound like a cheerleader. Anyways, I know that the season hasn't started perfectly, but there's a lot to be excited about right now.