When the Wizards started their season two years ago (2009-10), their "projected starting 5" was Gilbert Arenas, Mike Miller, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Brendan Haywood, with Randy Foye, Andray Blatche, and DeShawn Stevenson as the top reserves off of the bench.
A lot has changed in two years!
When Ted Leonsis bought this team and took a wrecking ball to it's roster he made it clear that the team was "REBUILDING", with the intention of changing the makeup of their team from a veteran lead roster (see above) to a young core that will be able to stay competitive over a longer period of time.
As fans we immediately ate it up...as much as we could! After all the Washington Capitals were the area's best pro team and they were in the midst of a 4-5 year run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and getting better (so we thought). We saw how Leonsis built the Caps around young players, traded proven vets for picks, and had stockpiled "homegrown" talent.
Leonsis implemented his rebuild to the Wizards and warned the fans that their would be painful times before their would be good times. This is what I think many of us fans (short for fanatic) are forgetting. Instead of being quick to judge or overly negative, take a step back and looking at how the front office has totally retooled a veteran roster into a roster with 8 draft picks over the last two years...EIGHT...this is isn't the NFL!. Amongst those 8 draft picks, SIX...yes SIX are former 1st round picks!
However, this is the painful time Ted warned us of!
John Wall was named "captain" of the team before his first ever NBA game and instantly he has become the "face of the franchise", all before his 21st birthday. That's a lot of pressure to put on a kid! He's working hard and he's definitely trying to turn this team around, but in the end, he's the best player on a team with a lot of other unproven young players. He feels the pressure, you can see it on his face when he's playing, he's definitely not the loose player, trash talking, that we see in practice or from over the summer. Once he gets more comfortable on the court and gains some maturation, he will become the force that we all believe he can be, right now he's just forcing it to much.
Patience is what is needed right now!
This Wizards roster has lots of talent on it, but other than John Wall, there isn't a player they've drafted or acquired that was ready to step in from day 1 and be an NBA starter. Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, etc... none of these guys were "NBA ready" when the team drafted them. Booker, Crawford, and Singleton were solid NCAA vets, but not "elite" players in their class and projected more as good 6th-7th men off the bench. Seraphin and Vesely are young "Euro's" drafted on potential and upside. The same can be said of JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche from the Eddie Jordan era (they're just not European...well, JaVale was "Pierre" over the summer, but I digress).
Despite the current "tough times", Ted's plan has been executed perfectly!
This 66 game season is exactly what the doctor ordered, because it's setup for the team to play a lot of games in a condensed period of time, play their depth due to the amount of games ahead, and not really worry about their record, due to the short season. What matters this year is the development of those 8 draft picks (not so much N'diaye), along with McGee and Blatche. This is their chance to prove their case to be a part of the franchise's future and nobody knows that more than Nick Young, who's had first had experience that it's tough to become a respected NBA player when playing for an annual loser...talk about a much needed reality check!
Be patient with this group and let them get better. If there's a complete lack of effort (like on Friday), they need to be held accountable, but jumping on Wall, Crawford, Booker, Seraphin, and Singleton for missing shots, trying to hard, or being out of position, is unjust.
Ted's rebuilding plan is right on schedule!
This year is only the 2nd year of the rebuild and no real rebuild happens in just one year, this is a 3 year process at the minimum. At the end of this season, the 2nd full season of the rebuild, the Wizards will most likely have another top 5 pick and well over $30 million in available cap space, putting them in a position to be "playoff competitive" to start the 3rd season of the master plan...that's not bad people!
If you ask me the two preseason games are completely in line with that I expect to see during much of the regular season, after all the regular season starts on Monday! It's going to be ugly at times, the players are going to struggle to score on most nights, and the losses will easily hit 40 in this 66 game schedule, but it's not about that this year. It's a long term plan, with long term success as the goal. Pump the brakes with all of the "hate" and lets give these young players a chance to get some NBA minutes under their belts before we label them as "busts" or anything else.