Well, this is discouraging.
"Hilton Armstrong's had a really solid camp. He's actually played better than JaVale McGee has through camp right now. We've got to get JaVale defensive rebounding right now. With him, we need more substance than style. He's always been a style guy, and we got to get some substance out of that position."
That's Flip Saunders talking yesterday after the FanFest scrimmage, via Michael Lee and SB Nation D.C. Sigh.
The "style vs. substance" line is pretty damming, whether it's being used to motivate McGee or because it's the truth. Worse, McGee seems somewhat unwilling to completely throw away the "style" of his game.
"I just don't want anything for them to be like, 'Oh, he's not doing this. He's not doing that.' I'm doing every thing they say and try to throw my little stuff in, as long as I'm doing what they want me to do."
You have to wonder what "little stuff" McGee means. If it's dunking, the Wizards' coaching staff would have no issues. If it's his post-play celebrations -- again, it's cool if it's as a result of a positive play. Otherwise, the "little stuff" can only be things that are detrimental to the team, like failure to run back on defense or a loss of concentration on the weakside. Style or substance, those are issues that need fixing.
And they do have to be fixed, because Hilton Armstrong is not really a "substance" guy either. Sure, he's not jumping and flailing around like McGee, but it's not like Armstrong is a wide body that gets physical and mean. The knock on Armstrong has always been his lack of strength and toughness inside. It's why he failed despite being given many opportunities in New Orleans and elsewhere. For his career, Armstrong averages just 7.4 rebounds/36 minutes, snaring only 12.4 percent of available boards. He didn't even crack the top 50 among centers in rebound rate last year. If your lack of substance and defensive rebounding is standing out in comparison to Hilton Armstrong, then we have a serious problem.
It's early, but this is not an encouraging sign by any means.
(Sidenote: there's also the whole Gilbert Arenas sitting out with an ankle injury thing, but I'm not concerned. Saunders said Kirk Hinrich has played really well and would probably start if the season began today, but that's simply because Arenas hasn't played for much of camp. I think that'll work itself out).