Ted Leonsis came out in a stance of public support for the Wizards young players, tossing fans a proverbial life vest in the process but don't expect anyone to stop reminding him why the franchise is riding unexpectedly low in the water.
Ted Leonsis isn't writing to me when he mentions the media in his statement of public support for the Wizards young players. Yet, I feel compelled to respond.
First thing's first: bravo. As Jeff noted when penning Monday's edition of links, this comes in the aftermath of Andray Blatche's shot across the organization's bow. Athletes live inside their own head, especially as young players, and hearing ownership express their confidence and understanding of both the challenges and learning curve those players are facing is a good thing.
I was planning to expand on the pitfalls of the 'draft picks by volume' approach and how an army of combo forwards is not conducive to player development, but Mike beat me to the punch and I couldn't have said it any better.
But Ted is also tossing out something of a strawman when he talks about the media writing off Jan Vesely. Ted makes mention of the Jason Reid piece, and while Reid's cherry-picking of Grunfeld's whiffs while stating who-we-coulda-had doesn't do his argument any favors, there's no challenging this simple statement of fact:
In Washington’s last five games, [Vesely] has played a total of 32 minutes and scored two points.
As Mike stated, this is an indictment of roster construction ... ahem. The NBA is dominated by star talent, breaking offensive and defensive gameplans with players that can't be adequately represented by Xs and Os. Ernie Grunfeld has handed Randy Wittman a roster that takes all the pressure off the defensive gameplanners. Opposing teams have only to press the Wizards above-average defense until it breaks (no defense is suffocating all night long, basketball is a game of runs). Meanwhile, the Wizards are left praying relentless execution is enough. The Wizards resemble the Redskins of my youth; I watch agonized, hoping defense and grit can carry the team to enough victories to reach any metric of success and keep my head up as the offense inevitably falters.
Again, I applaud letting young players know you got their backs. Stories of Pardon the Interruption coming on in a despondent Wizards locker room in years past are still fresh in mind. Negative media attention can affect the players. But spare me the strawman, this isn't about writing off Jan Vesely and you know it.
So, we will continue to develop our young players. We will bring back our injured players slowly and appropriately. Their long-term health and well being is very important to them, to our fans and to us. We will work free agency to add to the team. We will try to make astute trades to improve, but we also must develop cohesion, chemistry and structure around a system with so many new and young players in the rotation.
I like hearing that the team is still committed to doing things the right way from here on out. But that's been said before with distinctly underwhelming results. As PasqualeGMP quoted:
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill
A measured plan for the Wizards to go forward from here is reassuring, but doesn't change the fact that here sucks. And no one is asking why. They already know. Sooner or later, someone is going to have to account.