The Washington Wizards' season-opening loss to the New Jersey Nets on Monday was as a result of many factors. John Wall was not himself. JaVale McGee got off to a nice start, but faded in the second half and was so bad defensively and on the glass that he had to be replaced. Jordan Crawford took some bad shots. Rashard Lewis was invisible a lot. The offense as a whole screeched to a halt after the second quarter. The pick and roll defense needs work. These are all issues.
And yet, the topic of conversation yesterday was about Andray Blatche and his itchy finger on Twitter.
This is to be expected, and I'm not defending Blatche. Even if you assume that Blatche had a point about needing the ball more in the paint -- it's debatable, but we're not going there -- the manner in which he raised it was wrong. Criticisms should be kept in-house, not raised to the press when the question asked wasn't even directly about his play and definitely not in cyberspace. This is not a media criticism. When Blatche sounds off like that, it's a story, especially given the Wizards' talk about making him a leader of the team. Put simply: leaders don't do that.
But there are other, bigger issues to solve. The team's pick and roll defense as a whole needs to be fixed (great breakdown here by Truth About It). The players need to move with much more of a purpose offensively, reading the defense instead of merely executing the play. Most importantly, Wall himself has to be so much better at getting the Wizards into their sets, taking care of the ball and not leaving his big men out to dry on the pick and roll.
You could even argue that Wall should be thanking Blatche for his comments. If it weren't for them, there'd be more focus on what Wall couldn't do on Monday and hasn't done even in the preseason. Monday was Wall's third straight game with too many turnovers, missed layups and defensive breakdowns. Throw in all the missed free throws, and he just played badly. But while Blatche's shortcomings are being solved in the open, Wall, who seemed out of answers when talking to the media on Monday, can solve his issues on his own. Thanks to Blatche, the franchise player didn't get the kind of scrutiny franchise players should.
That's why Flip Saunders was smart on Tuesday to not get too caught up in the Blatche hype. Finding a way to get a win requires much more than simply getting Blatche more post touches.