A while back, I polled several prominent Wizards bloggers/internet personalities, asking them to answer some key questions facing the Wizards this offseason. Eventually, many of them got back to me, and now, their answers to each question will be posted here over the next few days.
- Kevin Broom, Real GM
- Jamie Mottram, Yahoo! Sports and Mister Irrelevant
- Jake Whitacre, Bullets Forever and Gilbertology
- I Watch the NBA, My Swog is Phenomenal
- Bobtimist Prime, DC Optimist
- Truthaboutit, Truthaboutit and Bullets Forever
- Kingly-1, Les Bullez
- Me, Bullets Forever
Part 1 is here. Here's the second question:
What do you think are this team's biggest weaknesses? How would you propose fixing them? What changes should be made to the roster?
Answers below the jump...
Kevin Broom: The team's biggest weakness continues to be defense. They were adequate in the playoffs, but that was against a predictable offense. And they got scorched in games 2 and 6. They've made a point of trying to protect the paint, but they give up way too many open looks from three. Their much ballyhood defensive improvement this season was almost entirely a function of pace--their actual improvement amounted to about 0.4 points per game. As far as roster changes -- the number one thing to get would be a rebounding and shot blocking PF/C who could play 24 minutes a night off the bench. Blatche could end up being that guy -- if he improved. A lot.
Jamie Mottram: The team doesn't have any bigs who can score and/or rebound consistently (Antawn doesn't count, even if he does grab 10 boards/game), but I'm unsure as to how to remedy that without losing Arenas or Jamison; two guys I couldn't stand losing.
Jake Whitacre: When you're talking about weaknesses, inconsistency and spotty bench production are a concern, but defense is still the biggest culprit. Randy Ayers has done a lot to help improve the D, but there's still a long way to go to being where it needs to be in order to be considered a legitimate contender. I don't think that improving the D needs a major roster shakeup to make it work, just a better commitment and more time in Ayers' system. I'd like to add a lowpost defender with the spot that's going to open up with Mason's likely departure, but that's the only change that I can really think of.
I Watch the NBA: I reserve the right to change my opinion, but i think our biggest issue was points in the paint. Rebounding is also a problem. As well as Haywood played this year, I think an upgrade down low would do wonders for the offense. Haywood did up his game this year, so there could be a GM out there who may take him on. I'm not sure he could start on many other teams other than some of the bottom feeders, but I think he would make a very valuable back-up center. Maybe Houston? I'm not even sure at this point who out there could replace him, but if we find someone that averages closer to 20 and 10 rather than 10 and 7, EJ could put out a starting lineup with 4 real scoring threats.
Bobtimist Prime: While I would be quick to say "Avoiding the DL," as it is really the total 100% problem with this and every mildly successful Bullets/Wizards/shit, even Redskins incarnation, but I think the real problem is (and stop me if you've heard this one ad nauseum) the lack of a post scorer. I don't know if you've noticed (cuz Phil and Buck damn sure never do, although they do notice if a defender has his feet in the restricted area during a flop) but the Wiz often have stretches of ice-freaking cold play. Usually it lasts for like one quarter (I like to call it the "one shitty quarter syndrome," or OSQS), then they ramp it up, begin to sink jumpers, hit threes, stop feeling faces, etc. Sometimes, the OSQS stretches for entire games, thus the 7 games losing by 30+ or whatever. If the Wiz had somebody to toss the ball to in the post who could force a few points and stop those gawd-awful 17-0 runs, then they would be friggin' epic. During those halcylon heydays of early 06-07, Gilbert often forced himself into the lanes, drawing fouls when not scoring, sort-of negotiating that need. With him out, the need for a "run-stopped" (hey, football reference!) grew exponentially (this also negates that lame "better without Gilbert poppycock"). I know he is broken down, expensive, moody, and has the largest forhead this side of Rihanna, but Jermaine O'Neal at the five spot would so totally work this conundrum out. Can't he whine his way out of Indiana like every whiney superstar ends up doing when they can't stand to be paid 20-mil per to play on a suck-festing team?
Truthaboutit: Defense & Rebounding....two standards. For one...we should consider Etan Thomas a roster change or "addition" -- hopefully he can come back at full strength and really improve the team rebounding. After that, use the mid-level exception and draft (or bi-annual exception) to add some supporting pieces aka role players.
Kingly-1: The Wizards are somewhat like the Suns in the West; they are a run-and-gun offensive team that struggles to defend and score in the half court set. As we all know, that formula does not win very many championships in the NBA these days; as evidenced by the Suns trading for Shaquille O'Neal. A change of that proportion may be needed in Washington. At some point, the Wizards are going to have to give up some scoring power in favor of a dominant, low block scorer and rebounder. A strong, powerful player who is 6'9'' or above who can consistently pull down 10+ rebounds a game while commanding a double-team offensively. That sort of player will create open shots for the other players on the floor and opportunities for offensive rebounds for the other big men.
The second pressing issue is the need for a defensive-minded, true point guard. Arenas plays the position adequately, but he would be more effective if a pass-first point guard set him up for open loos at the basket. Juan Carlos Navarro (editor's note: What?) or Steve Blake could have been that missing link, but the Wizards traded them away before knowing what they had in their grasp. If the Wizards can somehow scquire these two pieces (Pass-first PG and PF/C), that will allow more flexibility in the lineup and a better defensive presence in both the front and back court. Arenas could move to the SG position, allowing him to concentrate on scoring; while the new low-block player could start at center, providing motivation for Haywood to be more of a rebounding-force in the middle coming off the bench. This would also allow Jamison and Butler to stay at the position where they have excelled on this team.
Me: As long as we have our Big 3, the offense is in good hands. I get that sometimes it becomes inconsistent, but on the whole, it works. Defense is clearly the problem here, and I find it interesting that many people are clamoring for a more physical player. To me, we'll at least get enough of that with Etan's return, though I'm still clamoring for a Songaila/18th pick for Nick Collison trade to at least get a rebounding upgrade. On the other hand, if we're really so terrible at defending the three, wouldn't it behoove us to get some length? I think that if we had a lengthy, athletic defensive wing to pair with Stevenson, we could get away with packing it in and forcing jumpers. New Orleans has used that strategy against San Antonio, but the difference is they effectively challenge three-point shots. Either way, that's the big thing that needs improvement with this roster, and we don't have to make a major change to do it.