R-E-L-A-X, This Team is Just Fine

John Wall

Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Everyone OK?

The Wizards are currently on a three game slide and look just as inept on defense (their strength) as they do on offense.  Aside from the Charlotte game, the Wizards found themselves down 19+ points in the second quarter in three consecutive games.  This includes against the lowly Lakers which they ended up winning.  People are calling for lineup changes, trade talk is in the air, and their toughness is being questioned.  There’s no denying, this team is currently in a funk and cannot wait for the All Star break to arrive.

Although disappointing, the Wizards faithful need to take a step back and realize that this team is just fine.  Even with this slump, the Wizards currently sit in 3rd place with a record of 31-18 and are just two games behind the Toronto Raptors who we just can’t seem to beat. During this current slide, we are 2-5 and are losing in a variety of ways; blown leads, slow starts, blowouts, etc.  But the sky is NOT falling.

The NBA season is a grind.  Every single team during the NBA season will fall into a lull at some point.  Minimizing these slumps is the key to a successful season.  In the eastern conference outside of Atlanta, every single team has experienced a disappointing stretch in games.  Yes Cleveland is hot as they have won their past 11 games but it took them 40 games to figure things out. 40!!!  If this Wizards team was 20-20 at the midway point, that would have definitely fallen short of expectations.

In addition, the Bulls are 4-6 in their last 10 games.  They had a nice win in Golden State but their current slump includes losses to Orlando, LA Lakers, Utah, and Miami.  The only loss that the Wizards have in their slump that compares to any of those was the 22 point drubbing at home to Brooklyn.  In addition, the Raptors aren’t running away with the 2 seed as the Wizards are just two games back.

On a positive note, Bradley Beal and Kris Humphries are starting to pick things up.  It took a while for Brad to recover from his wrist injury which sidelined him for the first 9 games of the season.  Brad received criticism from his coaches and the media for being too passive and not attacking the hole.  Brad has responded by scoring 15+ points in 5 of the past 7 games including 16-38 from three point range (42%) during that span.  Brad is also averaging 4.7 rebounds over that seven game stretch which is very good for a shooting guard.

Kris Humphries has provided some great play off the bench during Gortat and an inconsistent Nene’s struggles.  Kris has 10+ rebounds in 4 of the last 7 games and has recorded three double-doubles.  He only recorded one double-double prior to this team’s funk.  Kris’ play shows that he is a player who can be counted on night in and night out coming off the bench.  This will be very valuable come playoff time.

On the flip side, the play of Rasual Butler and Marcin Gortat has been very frustrating to watch.  Let’s be real now, Rasual was the last player to make the roster after summer camps were done.  He surprised many by coming in off the bench and being automatic from thee point range. But relying on him to shoot 48% from 3 for the duration of the season is ludicrous. Slumps happen for all shooters; it’s unfortunate that it is happening while the team is slumping.

As for Gortat, his shooting has declined significantly but he’s still a big presence on defense as his rebounds and blocked shots have not dipped during this slide. Unfortunately, a combination of his shots not falling and him catching the ball way too far from the hoop have contributed to his decline.  To me, this seems like a confidence issue in his shot.  If we can get Gortat some easy layups or dunks early, this should not be a huge issue going forward.  Whatever happened to him and John running the pick and roll by the way?

This is the first time this team has faced real adversity this year.  It was reported that the team held a meeting after the Charlotte game to discuss these difficulties and inefficiencies.  This can happen during the “dog days” of the NBA and no team is immune to it.  With games against the Hawks, Hornets, Nets, Magic, and Raptors; if the Wizards can go 3-2 during that stretch and avoid injury, there will be nothing to worry about.  Keep in mind, there were two games where John missed a triple-double by one rebound (Lakers) and two rebounds (Toronto).

If we are having this discussion in mid-March then that might be a cause for concern.  In the meantime, R-E-L-A-X.


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