The Wizards in their very last game played another non-playoff bound team in the Indiana Pacers. Wizards started every game like they always do, with the lead but it ends with something we hoped to see more than 40 times this year, and that was a win.
Wizards won as they were lead by their current superstar Andray Blatche, who had 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assist. Ladies and Gentleman, if he does this next year with a new squad in Washington, and a healthier squad at that, then we are in for one helluva ride. He is a walking triple-double. Flip stated in his post game that you don’t get a 6`11 power forward of his quality every day. So to have Blatche next year is a huge plus for this organization who is trying to start the new season as soon as possible after having one of the worst seasons in franchise history. For every negative there is a positive. Andray Blatche is one of the main positives and feel good stories for the Washington Wizards organization this year. One player that the organization wishes that could be as good as or even better than Blatche, would be JaVale McGee.
I spoke to an unnamed source of the Wizards and he told me that JaVale McGee is, “hard headed” and “doesn’t want to listen.” JaVale McGee, who is labeled as raw but has the potential to be a superstar, is known to be immature. Grant it, he is still young but needs to mature soon, in order to win over this coaching staff and fans if he ever wants to become a superstar, along with living up to those expectations. I feel as if he just needs time and more exposure of a veteran presence to show him how to live the NBA life and become a better player. McGee never had such a presence, even with Brandon Haywood here. Brandon even went to say that he won’t help McGee because he has to learn the hard way. Haywood being selfish was basically saying that he would not help a guy, with the potential that he has, to excel and take his starting job at that time. If McGee can hit the weight room hard this summer, refine his game, meaning he can use his basketball IQ , and get maybe two post moves, then McGee would be on his way to stardom in this league. Tim Duncan isn’t the most agile or athletic guy but he has something McGee needs, and that is fundamentals.
JaVale is oozing in potential and is more athletic than most shooting guards, which is scary knowing that he is 7 feet tall and can run the floor like a guard. My suggestion would be for him to learn under a Hakeem Olajuwon and maybe have a nice little jumper by next season. He had a good game and took advantage of his minutes and Flip stated that he has improved over the last 6 weeks, and hopefully he will become that full time starter for the Wizards.
Things will look up for the Wizards as they have around $18 million dollars to play in Free Agency. Along with a possible top 10 draft pick in this year’s 2010 NBA Draft. There are many combinations a Wizard fan can think of that could help this team. One dream scenario would be Wizards drafting a Demarcus Cousins, or even hit the jackpot and get the #1 pick to draft PG sensation John Wall. Along with this, they could go after a Rudy Gay, who plays SF or SG. If you add that, and superstar Gilbert Arenas, you have yourself an exciting season to look forward too.
Wizards had their exit interviews as the media gathered to interview the players and Coach Flip Saunders one last time, before this horrible season ended. It was great to see the Wizards win and end on a good note. They started the season off with a win and end it with a win. It’s a moral victory which is better than any losing victory. As one source of the Washington Wizards told me, “it never ends, this season ends today, but next season starts tomorrow.”
• One fan who was in the 200 section yelled “feed the big man,” and everyone could hear him. Crowd was pretty dead except towards the end of course.
• LaVar Arrington attended the game to help a cause for Cancer. LaVar Arrington is a class act.
• James Singleton grabbed 10 rebounds in the 4th quarter alone, 17 total rebounds in the game.
• Attendance at the Verizon Center for the Wizards last game was 16,126
• Earl Boykins was the only Wizards player not to play as he was a DNP- Coach’s Decision
WIZARDS HEAD COACH FLIP SAUNDERS
On the season:
“Since we made the trade all in all this team has been fun to coach. We lost games, but there were really only two games that I can remember that we didn’t at least compete (the back-to-back games in Milwaukee), but they played hard every night they went out and the young players are very receptive and trying to improve. Because of that, the only reason to be anxious for the season to end is that every time something ends there’s something that begins; for us it’s a beginning.”
On the off-season:
“I’m not a patient person. There aren’t many people who have a forward (Andray Blatche) who can go out and get 20 and 10 a night, no matter who you’re playing against, and he didn’t do it for five games, he’s done it for 25 or 30. So now we have someone to play off, and have an All-Star player coming back in Gilbert Arenas. There are other players that have developed. You’re going to have three of the top 35 players to come out of high school, Europe or anywhere to put into the mix, along with the flexibility of the salary cap and to sign some of the players we have here.”
On what to work on during the off-season:
“The number one thing is physicality. We have to get stronger, we have to get bigger physically and we have to get more aggressive. Those three things will help us defensively, and then we just have to learn how to run better.”
On grading himself:
“I don’t grade anyone when things are good, I don’t grade anyone when things are bad; we’re graded as a team. We didn’t make the playoffs and we weren’t successful, so as a team we’re not graded to where we’d like to be but you can’t point out just one person, no matter who it is.”
On continuing the two-guard offense:
“We went to it because I thought it would be a more conducive offense to Shaun (Livingston), but the other positive is one guard can initiate and the other can play off of it. It’s not going to change with Gilbert (Arenas), in fact I think it will make him more effective because there’s so much more movement people won’t be able to lock in.”
WIZARDS FORWARD ANDRAY BLATCHE
On his growth during the second half of this season:
“I grew tremendously with the opportunity that the Washington Wizards organization gave to me – I capitalized off of. I’m looking forward to next season, having a stronger team and going back to being a playoff team.”
On his next challenge:
“The next challenge for me is going out and continuing to do the things I was doing the second half of the season, next season. That’s my next challenge and that’s my next goal. I want to go out and compete next season. I want to lead my team as far as I can.”
WIZARDS GUARD MIKE MILLER
On the Wizards being a winning team next season:
“Obviously, I believe so. They have the right people in place to do it. The coaching staff is incredible. Ernie knows that he’s going to make the right moves up top. We’re going to have to be aggressive this summer and we’ll see what happens.”
On the season:
“For (Flip Saunders) to do what he’s done is impressive. The players hung in there and we played hard. I’ve never really been injured (like I was this season). To tear a calf muscle and to dislocate your shoulder – that’s two major injuries. I’m just ready to heal up and be ready to go back out again.”
WIZARDS FORWARD AL THORNTON
On the final game and offseason:
“It’s good to go out with a bang. We can go into the summer, prepare, and get ready for next year. I’m going to work on all my weaknesses, come into camp in really good shape and be ready for next season.”
WIZARDS GUARD SHAUN LIVINGSTON
On the season:
“It was a great opportunity to come here and to gain all of this experience.”
On the off-season:
“I’ll mostly be at home in Illinois with my family. Once I start training I’ll be between L.A. and Chicago. I’m going to work on getting stronger, putting on some weight and working on my jump shot and perimeter work. I just want to continue to get better.”
WIZARDS GUARD NICK YOUNG
On next season:
“I’m looking forward to next year and I’m excited on how I finished it off. I feel I’m ending on a positive note and looking forward to next season.”
On the off-season:
“I’ll probably be out here a little more this year. It’s my fourth year; I’m going to be a veteran, so I want to be around. I want to get stronger and work on my ball handling.”
PACERS HEAD COACH JIM O’BRIEN
On tonight’s game:
“Good game for them to win, last game at home. They pulled it out; they made some good shots down the stretch. We couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean as many open threes as we had. When we shoot the ball like that from the three-point line we’re not going to win many games.”
PACERS CENTER ROY HIBBERT
On the game:
“I was just trying to get a deep post position and establish myself and ultimately I knew we are not playing for anything but I just wanted to go out playing strong. Back home I got booed a little bit from the crowd who obviously weren’t Georgetown fans but I just had fun out there.”
On returning to Verizon Center:
“I always get nervous playing here and usually have bad games. This is the first good game I’ve had here in my two years but unfortunately we lost. I was feeling like I could have my way in the post but (Fabricio) Oberto and (JaVale) McGee are pretty strong players and gave me different match-ups and the last shot we took just didn’t go in and it was crucial.”
PACERS FORWARD TROY MURPHY
On the game:
“It would have been nice to get a win at the end of the season but it wasn’t in the cards. We couldn’t get stops when we needed them. We got some good looks at the basket but weren’t able to knock down shots. The Wizards played hard and they have a good coaching staff. They were prepared and ran some good stuff and made shots.”
PACERS FORWARD MIKE DUNLEAVY
On the game:
“We would have liked to finish on a winning note but we just didn’t play well, we had some good looks at the end that were just in and out but it should have never come to that.”
Pre-Game with the Enemies, Georgetowns very own Roy Hibbert
Wizards Pre Game Shoot Around
Post Game and Game Highlights courtesy of Comcast Sportsnet
WizardsExtreme.com Correspondent Asad Naqvi