Ted Leonsis has drawn many parallels between the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards whenever he reassures the Wizards fanbase that he has overseen a rebuild before and many of the same elements in our rebuild was also in the Capitals' rebuild. For example, the Wizards have John Wall as a number one pick, the Caps have Alex Ovechkin. The Wizards are rebuilding through a young core, the Caps did too. The Wizards are enduring multiple years of losing, and the Caps did as well to get to where they are now as a perennial playoff team with Cup potential. One crucial difference between our rebuild and the Caps rebuild is the fact that Wall dealt with a lockout season that ultimately resulted in a shortened season, while Ovie had an entire season cancelled (The season before his rookie year), where he stayed with Moscow Dynamo, his Russian team.
I don't like rehashing the arguments we had about the collective bargaining agreement, etc., but after watching this season unfold the way it did, I wonder if playing this shortened season hurt the Wizards' long term rebuilding strategy solely from the basketball perspective. Obviously, the Wizards and the NBA benefit when games are played because of the money, but the basketball product this year is what I will talk about and that only.
Reasons Why A Cancelled 2011-2012 NBA Season Would Have Benefited the Wizards
1. Players can fully commit to a plan and still develop without constant interruption
if the season was axed, in particular early on in the lockout, most of our guys would have went straight to Euroleague where they'd be forced to play fundamental and structured basketball, or they would be assistants on college teams. In John's case, Calipari would have him play against this years' champ squad at the University of Kentucky, but Coach Cal also would have provided insight and instruction on building his game. It wasn't the Drew League and pro ams that killed the Wizards, but the lack of knowing whether the season would or wouldn't start during September through December, and no regular formal training that really killed our season and development.
I know the NHL had some uncertainty as well, but at least in Ovechkin's case, he stayed with Dynamo and this likely helped him at least keep his mind in the Russian game during the 2004-2005 hockey season.
2. The Wizards Would Still Have A Great Chance At a Top Draft Pick in 2012 Anyway.
Given how bad we have been for the last four seasons, a draft lottery in 2012 would have given us a very good draft position by almost any measure.
3. Season Ticket Holders Do Not Have To See Really Bad Basketball
Though I personally believe that the 2009-2010 NBA season was the worst season in Wizards history, it wasn't the worst season based on the quality of basketball played. This year takes the cake there by far. Assuming most, if not all of our players were in some formal program (college or international), they would have added some skill set for 2012-2013 which would ultimately improve the team for sure.
Why Playing the 2011-2012 NBA Season Was Worth It For the Wizards
Aside from the financial aspects and the fact that Jeremy Lin got his chance to show that he can play, you could also argue that the Wizards playing this season at all was worth it. Some reasons I can think of are these:
1. We are able to see which players were truly dedicated in the offseason to improving their game and which players were being doofuses without the team checking up on them. The Nick and JaVale youtube shows certainly had to play a part in why they were axed, and it didn't look like either of them were trying to improve themselves professionally.
2. The Wizards were able to get all the players together and play under one strategy this season. Sure individual skills may improve on other teams, but yes, you gotta see the end product at some point, and we did. Things didn't go well at all.
3. The 2012-2013 season could have been worse if this season was cancelled. This kind of combines 1 and 2. Given the personalities on the team, especially before the trade, instead of six months of goofiness by some players, we could have had a year of it. God knows how much cinnamon would have been sniffed, and God knows only how much more out of shape Dray would have been in. Playing this year may have nipped some of these things in the bud.
Watching yesterday's game vs. the Knicks certainly is part of the reason why I wrote this, but seeing this bad season and the type of ball I watched certainly made me debate whether from solely a basketball mindset if playing this season would have been in our best long term interest or not. I only hope that the lockout effects don't haunt us into next season.