The story of the Wizards' 97-92 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies is pretty obvious: way too many turnovers. As noted in the game preview, the Grizzlies have forced more turnovers per 100 possessions than any team in the league in each of the last two seasons. Now, you see why. Their guards patrol the passing lanes like free safeties, and they have a way of poking their hands in on the dribble without being called for reach-in fouls. This is the absolute worst team in the league to jump-pass against. Yet that was what we saw far too often from John Wall and the rest of the Wizards' guards.
All in all, the Wizards certainly played hard, but they aren't able to beat Memphis at its own game. The Grizzlies have a bunch of tough SOBs that shove you around, crash the glass and disrupt teams defensively. Their offense isn't great, but they at least know where the ball should go in key spots. I think the Wizards' existing personnel would fit in well with a Grizzlies kind of style. It's a very different style than how I envisioned a Wall-led future, but it could work with the right personnel. The Wizards seem to be inching closer to that kind of team.
For now, though, the Wizards can't out-Memphis Memphis. That explains this loss.
Couple other notes:
- How about Kevin Seraphin, huh? I'm not entirely sure what has changed with him -- there were all sorts of references to improved "confidence" during the telecast, but that feels like more of a catch-all term than anything descriptive. Perhaps it's a matter of the Wizards tailoring their schemes to fit his game. Perhaps it's because the Wizards have played a lot of straight post-up centers recently (Tim Duncan, Chris Kaman, Marc Gasol, Andrew Bynum). Maybe he's just one of those guys who needs PT to play well. I hope it's not the latter, but we'll see.
- Jordan Crawford's catch-and-shoot game is much better than his off-the-dribble game. And yet, there he is, going off the dribble all the time.
- I credit Wall for staying aggressive and attacking the basket, but he knows all those turnovers cost his team.
- I continue to be disappointed by Chris Singleton. He needs to get stronger to have the kind of long-term impact he can have defensively, and he needs to be more active off the ball offensively. He's too limited as a shooter to just stand there and always space the floor. Shawn Marion is a good guy for him to study.
- Rudy Gay was really impressive tonight. While he's overpaid and not quite elite, he's exactly the kind of wing scorer that would help Wall out so much. Recently, Harvard professor Kirk Goldsberry presented a research paper that divided the court into 1,284 squares, each one square foot. The object? To see which players shot from many different places on the court. Gay showed up in the top 10 in distribution and efficiency (most squares with a points-per shot of at least one) in the study. In layman's terms, he's a guy that can at least create a shot for you from pretty much anywhere if the offense breaks down. The Wizards need a guy to do that, because the default is Crawford and that's a problem.