On a night where the Wiz Kids were playing a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls team, Washington had every opportunity to escape the windy city with a win and take a 2 game win streak with them to Philadelphia.
Despite Chicago's tenacious defense, Washington was able to overcome another dreadful shooting performance from John Wall by playing team basketball and spreading the rock.
Instead, they squandered an opportunity to build that win streak and in the process, made Bulls fans forget Derrick Rose was the reigning MVP.
*Insert John Lucas III comment here*
Despite being 1-9, I really am trying to stay positive and recent changes in the line up have made me feel a little better about the direction of this team for this season. First and foremost I think having Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton in the starting line up makes this team so much better on defense.
When talking to fellow Wizards Extreme correspondent Abdullah Sharif about this, he said something that made sense to me:
"The team basketball is so much more fluid."
He's absolutely right.
No longer are you seeing teams get easy buckets because of the team's inability to cover the low post. The Wizards are making the opposing team work for every basket and we've seen the results during the last 2 games. Both Toronto and Chicago put up only 78 points in back to back games and I credit that directly to the aggressive play on defense.
We saw flashes of Jan Vesely's athleticism and hustle in the game against Toronto when he was able to force multiple steals and generate fast break opportunities.
Shelvin Mack showed that he is able to come in to the game and fill in admirably for John Wall.
Flip Saunders said it himself after the Minnesota game: "We're just not good enough."
When your team doesn't match up well (talent wise) against the other teams in the NBA, you have to be willing to out work your opposition. Having guys like Booker and Singleton in the game helps your overall team defense which, in turn, will translate in to offense. Singleton and Booker aren't going to give you the same offensive production night in and night out as Andray Blatche, but what this does is it takes the pressure off of Blatche and he's no longer forced to think that he's the "go-to-guy" on the floor.
Key words to note in the last sentence, "forced to THINK that…"
With all that said, I still am extremely disappointed out of the play from our #1 overall pick. I know he's not a pure shooter and a scoring threat, but seriously, C'MON MAN…give me SOMETHING. Give me more than 33% shooting, give me more than 9 points a game, give me MORE. At this point, I almost want John to take the, "what's the worst that can happen" mentality and take it upon himself to win or lose the game.
I know he doesn't have the talent around him, I know this is only ten games in to year 2, I GET IT. TRUST ME…I GET IT! But one thing I want from our starting guard is the ability to make the other guys around him better and right now, I'm just not seeing that. This team does not have a go-to guy when the game is on the line and I want John to at least assert himself to want to be that guy. He's not going to grow if he continues to be 3rd to last in the league in FG%.
The opportunity is now! This team is 1-9 and isn't going anywhere this season so let's see what you can do! Don't hold back. Give the fans something to look forward to!