Published November 21, 2012
Philadelphia, PA – Where do you begin with the Washington Wizards?
Their record is 0-9 for starters.
Washington was destined for some hard times. Starting point guard and franchise cornerstone John Wall will miss several months with a knee injury. Starting center Nene hasn't played a minute yet because of a left foot problem.
How many teams in the NBA could survive absences at those critical spots? Very few would be the answer to that question.
With Wall and Nene in designer suits, rough sledding was expected. What the Wizards are experiencing could graciously be described as tobogganing down Kilimanjaro without the benefit of anything between them and the Earth.
Let's start with the positive - the Wizards are not horrendous defensively. They rank a respectable 12th in the league in opponents scoring.
And we're done.
The problem with the Wizards is they can not score. They score less frequently than the president of the high-school chess club.
Washington ranks dead-last in the NBA in scoring and field-goal percentage. Further delving into the Wizards' scoring woes reveal some seriously troubling signs.
Jordan Crawford leads the team in scoring. A few teams have bench players lead their team in scoring, no big deal. But Crawford averages 12.2 ppg. That putrid number ranks him 84th in the NBA.
To put it in perspective, the Orlando Magic, the next-worst scoring team in the league has four players averaging more points than Crawford. The Charlotte Bobcats -- THE CHARLOTTE BOBCATS FOR GOD'S SAKE -- have five players averaging more than Crawford.
Head coach Randy Wittman can not get scoring anywhere.
He's changed starting lineups, inserting Crawford and Jan Vesely for No. 3 pick Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza. Nothing.
He's playing almost anyone under contract on the roster. Nothing.
And Wittman may be starting to crack some.
"I don't know who to start, who to play, who not to play," he said after Monday's loss to the Indiana Pacers. "I don't know who's going to start, who's going to play. I don't know.
"This is kind of a broken record."
It is, but Wittman is firm in his belief that this group can win.
"These guys can win," he said. "I don't have any doubts of it. I come in here every day thinking this is the night. I feel good. I might be dumb. I believe in them."
It's not dumb, but it might be a little misguided. Even with Wall, Nene and Beal representing the core, this is not the strongest roster in the NBA. Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza came in an offseason trade and they're combining for 15.9 ppg and 11.1 rpg.
Kevin Seraphin is a nice player, but is he an answer long-term? Vesely hasn't shown much in his 15 minutes per night and he was the sixth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. For a bad team, he should be contributing more than 3.0 ppg.
"If I had a cell phone, I'd be calling the waiver wire, trying to find another body," said Wittman. "I'm just searching right now, searching for people to give me consistency."
He doesn't have a cell phone? My 96-year-old grandmother has one I think.
Things might be looking up for the Wizards. Reports indicate Nene could return Wednesday night. He won't help too much with the scoring woes, but he should stop the bleeding for a team with the second-worst rebound differential in the league.
Beal had 18 off the bench against the Pacers so maybe he's responding favorably.
At 0-9, it's so easy to be deflated already. The Wizards are already seven games behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast. Playoffs are probably out of reach already and we haven't had Thanksgiving yet.
But applaud the Wiz, they are out there playing hard. Of their nine losses, six have been by 10 points or less.
"We can't get down," said Beal. "We have to keep our spirits high. We always have guys who lift us up. The thing that I love about this team is we don't give up. We keep battling, we keep competing."
That's all they can do.
"I'll toss another group out there and we'll see if we can't find a group that starts off well. I'm going to keep trying," said Wittman.
- What a great rookie crop already. Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard appear set for a spectacular Rookie of the Year race, but the first-year guy who's really stepped up of late is Harrison Barnes. After a talking to from head coach Mark Jackson, Barnes is averaging 17.3 ppg in the Warriors last four and the team is 3-1.
- The Mike D'Antoni era doesn't truly begin until Steve Nash returns and that date was pushed back yet again.
- No easy answers for the New York Knicks when Amare Stoudemire returns. Does he ruin team chemistry? Does he come off the bench? Is he willing to do that? These are all legitimate questions.
- The most disappointing team in the league is the Denver Nuggets, but they've played a lot of road games.
- Let's take a brief trip to the college game and I will tell you that Grinell's Jack Taylor's 138 points, a new NCAA record for points in a game, is embarrassing. He took 71 shots from the 3-point line and 108 total. That's disgraceful. That's not basketball, that's circus stuff.
- Movie moment - The best Thanksgiving movie of all time is "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Sure there's the car rental scene and Steve Martin getting picked up off the ground uncomfortably, but it holds a place dear to me. It was one of two R-rated movies my parents let me see as a kid. The other was "Midnight Run." My folks must have had a thing for profanity-laced buddy road trip movies.
- TV moment - Know which movie actor I'd like to see get one of these cable shows? Alan Rickman. You know who he is - the bad guy in the first "Die Hard." I just think it would work. I shall work on that for Alan.