Dec 1, 2010

Too Early to Quit

November has come and gone, which means the season is now roughly 20% over (the NBA: blink and you miss it). Although by no means definitive, each team has produced a body of work on which to reflect and prognosticate. As they head to Toronto, the Zards are 5-11, good enough for last place in the Southeast division and second-to-last in all the Eastern Conference (hat tip: Philadelphia). Among those losses were four discouraging blowouts, while two of the wins were squeakers in OT. Digging into the statistics, we find the Wizards are 26th on both offense and defense in a 30 team league. If you're discouraged, that's ok.

But we know you don't visit Zards ALards! for a daily dose of disappointment. Your high fiber cereal and the realization that law school is 3 years long takes care of that all by itself! Here at ZA we're in the sunshine business, and business is good. With that in mind, your ZA Official Forecast with 64 games left to play:


The guards are the biggest reason to hold out hope that the Wiz can turn this thing around. John Wall was sensational out of the gate (18 points, 9 assists, 2.8 steals per game) before missing 6 of the last 8 games with minor injuries. Gilbert hasn't played consistently in four years and it shows, but in the last 8 games he's flourished (20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds per game). The engaged reader will note that the return of Arenas has taken place mostly without Wall on the court. Happily, there's no reason the two shouldn't play well together. Arenas still doesn't look comfortable handling the ball and gets most of his points off assisted jumpers (1/2 his buckets are assisted, before the injuries it was 1/3). Wall thrives with the ball in his hands but can't really shoot. Provided Kirk Hinrich doesn't muck things up, this could be one of the top five starting backcourts in the league.


Ok, even the sunshine factory has trouble here. Al Thornton stinks and ZA wants no part of his breakout year. Flip has discussed a three guard offense, but what about a three guard defense? That doesn't sound as good. In theory, Josh Howard (if you forgot he was on the Wizards, that's ok) could be the answer. Before arriving in Washington, Howard posted three consecutive seasons of at least 18 points and 5 rebounds as the no. 2 option on a consistently excellent Mavs team. But he's also 30, still recovering from knee surgery, and has never played with the Wizards. It's just tough to see him meshing with the team.

Best case scenario, the NBA decides to play 4 on 4 after Christmas.

The Bigs

Andray Blatche and Javale McGee are going to dominate the discussion here, because Kevin Seraphin pronounces his own name wrong and Hilton Armstrong has the smallest head in the league.

Andray Blatche has braces. Also, Andray Blatche is fat right now. Also, Andray Blatche is 6 feet 11 inches tall and shooting 42% from the field. Also, one time Gilbert Arenas pooped in Andray Blatche's shoe.

So there's a lot of reasons to dislike Andray. But the thing is, he's also 24 years old, averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds a game, and getting better.

As for JaVale, well, basketball is a game based largely on jumping. And JaVale McGee can jump higher than anyone else.

JaVale's been having a great season (10 points, 9 boards, 2.7 blocks per game), but on Monday against the Heat he was frustrated all night long, fouling out in just 26 minutes. McGee stormed to the bench after his sixth foul, absolutely furious. But when Flip called him over for a talk, he immediately dropped the scowl and began listening intently. It was a beautiful moment for a player who sometimes looks like he's never met the coaching staff.

The truth is, both Andray and JaVale make a staggering number of stupid mistakes. Andray's are usually lazy (defense, passes), while Javale's are usually exuberant (goaltending, attempted goaltending), but they can be equally frustrating. Accept that those mistakes are like the price of admission for watching the funniest frontcourt in the league. These two are very young, very talented, and very fun to watch. Enjoy it.


Looking forward, it's clear the Wizards are flawed. Luckily, so is everyone else. In the East, ZA admits that Orlando, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, Chicago, and Indiana are better than the Zards (at the moment). After that, we concede no ground.

With a high scoring backcourt of Wall and Arenas, productive wackiness from Blatche and JaVale, and Nick Young lighting things up off the bench, Zards ALards! still believes that the Wizards will contend for the seventh and eighth seed come playoff time.

And with that vague and easily defended proclamation, thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Did Gil really shoebomb Andray? How did I miss that...

    And can you please get way ahead of yourself and explain what will happen to the wizards after they've not only contended for but WON the seventh or eighth playoff seed?