The Wizards finished a short, yet eventful first week to the season. While nearly every team in the league has played either four or five games, the Wizards are tied for the fewest games played so far (3) with Orlando. Tonight Chicago and New York played each other for their respective fourth game tonight. However, if not for an asbestos scare Orlando would have played its fourth game against New York earlier in the week.
After one week, what do we know about this group of Wizards?
First let me say that it is much too early to draw any significant conclusions about this team - its only been three games. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let's talk about a few items. For nearly the entire Orlando game and for stretches during the Atlanta game, the sloppiness of the Wizards play made it feel like the preseason was extended by a couple of games. However, it is also fair to point out that Orlando was a very bad match-up for this young Wizards team. On opening night they were facing a veteran Orlando team that had a chip on its shoulders, playing at home, while they were opening their brand new building and on national TV. This game had disaster written all over it.
Playing without Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard, while Andray Blatche works himself back into game shape, this team is going to struggle offensively. This is particularly true in the closing minutes when the games are close and teams typically rely on their most talented players. This was felt very clearly against Atlanta, which relied heavily on Joe Johnson and Al Horford to help close out the win. And even though the Wizards finished with a win, Philadelphia relied on its two former All-Stars, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, down the stretch. It is clear that it will be difficult to get a full account of this team until both Arenas and Howard are back and playing at nearly 100%.
A little less than six months ago there was a "bit" of a debate as to whether the Wizards should select John Wall, Evan Turner or possibly DeMarcus Cousins with the number 1 pick. The truth is that none of us can predict the final outcome of these three or any of the other rookies. What we do know after one week is that the Wizards made the perfect pick, particularly based upon their specific needs, both on and off the court. Here is one glaring example as reported by Michael Lee of the Post:
Wall has quickly joined some elite company. He became just the fourth player in NBA history to have at least 20 points and 10 assists in his home debut, joining Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Oscar Robertson and former NBA champion Norm Nixon.
And through his first three NBA games, Wall has 71 points and 31 assists, which makes him the only player besides Robertson to have at least 70 points and 30 assists through three games (Robertson had 72 and 30 as a rookie for the Cincinnati Royals in 1960-61).
We know that John Wall's first week has only been matched by players who ultimately went on to the Hall of Fame. While I am not ready to predict that he will be a Hall of Famer, after one week (3 games), I am saying that he had an incredible first week in the NBA. A week that hasn't been seen in a very long time. And for a franchise that has not had a great deal to celebrate over the last couple of seasons, that accomplishment however small, should be appreciated.
We also know that John Wall's primary motivation is to win and that he does not give up on plays. After the Sixers game, Flip Saunders said, "He's [Wall] got an unbelievable will to win. I mean he wills the team." This will to win is the type of attitude transplant that this team has needed for quite some time. A "will to win" can't be measured on a stat sheet, but it can have a tangible impact on changing the culture of a franchise.
We also know that Cartier Martin is proving to be the kind of guy you want on your team. In this short week he made two of the most memorable plays - if you set aside Wall's highlight film that grows minute by minute.
Cartier began the week rejecting the shot of probably the most physically imposing Center in the league, not named Shaquille O'Neal.
He then "finished the week" hitting a three pointer to send the 76ers game into overtime. (A shot that he was fouled on I might add.) As Martin said after the game, "that was one of the biggest shots I've ever hit in my life." On a team that is short on three point shooters, Martin is proving that he can be an asset on this team.
Lastly, we know that Ted Leonsis is either a little crazy or a marketing genius - and with all due respect quite possibly a little of both. Today he issued a challenge to Wizards fans that if they sell out a home game this season, with the exception of the Lakers, Heat and Celtics games, he will perform the "Dougie." And who among us does not want to see Ted do this?