There is no shortage of top stories this week involving the Washington Wizards. But most aren't for the right reasons.
Wizards go 1-3 on their Western Conference road trip, host the Charlotte Hornets Saturday
The Wizards lost on Friday, December 11, to the New Orleans Pelicans, 107-105. On the next day, they won 114-111 over the Dallas Mavericks in a game that shouldn't have been that close. In both of those games, John Wall scored 26 points and was en route toward an honor for Eastern Conference Player for the month of December.
Unfortunately, Wall wasn't able to sustain his momentum as a scorer as he scored a season-low six points in a 112-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Then on Wednesday, the Wizards lost 114-95 to the Spurs to close the trip out.
The Wizards will play the surging Charlotte Hornets on Saturday who are 14-10. You'd think that home games will make things easier for Washington, but they're 4-7 at Verizon Center this season.
Defense and injuries make the Wizards a bad team. (But you knew that by now, right?)
After the road trip, the Wizards are 10-14, last in the Southeast Division, and 12th in the Eastern Conference. Things aren't looking good at all.
Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post posted a sobering fact on a column he published Thursday that I encourage you to read. This quote pretty much sums up the season so far -- and possible as a whole:
A season that was expected to have so much promise for the Wizards – both for the present and the future – has been unable to get off the ground, and it’s hard to see how it will anytime soon.
The disconcerting sentiment coming from the Wizards’ locker room after Wednesday’s loss was the unanimous agreement from Coach Randy Wittman and his players that, injury issues aisde, this team has problems with commitment, energy and effort.
Bontemps also noted that the Wizards are 37-44 in their last 81 regular season games after starting the 2014-15 season on a 19-6 run to start that year. That kind of performance is barely mediocre, and it's not a good marketing case for decent free agents who may be considering a change of scenery next summer, let alone Kevin Durant.
The main reason why the Wizards aren't playing well this season is because their defensive identity has changed. In the past three seasons, Washington was one of the Top-10 teams in defensive rating. This season, they are 25th.
Three-point defense is one area where the Wizards have been bad. Opponents are making 40.9 percent of their long distance shots against the Wizards, which would be the worst in NBA history if it keeps up. Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post wrote on Wednesday that this hasn't gone unnoticed:
"We’d set an NBA record if they stopped the league today," Wizards point guard John Wall said after practice at a local church in San Antonio Tuesday. "And it’s all about simple stuff, man. Overhelping, doing too much when you don’t have to. You need to have the IQ to read certain things."
Others around the net have written about the Wizards' poor performance. Our own Alan Jenkins wrote about that and three other takeaways from the first quarter of the season over the weekend.
Elsewhere in the Wizards blogosphere, Ben Mehic of Fansided's Wiz of Awes also conceded that the Wizards are bad. Mehic didn't blame it on talent, clowns in the locker room, or head coach Randy Wittman in his piece. He placed the blame primarily on injuries to multiple players which forced the Wizards to play with unconventional lineups (microball anyone?)
Finally, Jesus Gomez of SB Nation's national team wrote an in-depth column on Friday morning about how the Wizards' pace and space system has gone wrong. In short, the Wizards are playing as fast as they want to, but the spacing isn't there yet. Gomez's last paragraph doesn't sound like something you want to hear, but it's the truth (no pun intended for Paul Pierce):
Washington's season has been a nightmare so far. They need to start putting it together as soon as possible, or their once bright future will start to look bleak.
Injury Report: Beal and Porter join an already long list of sidelined players
Before the Wizards' four-game road trip began, Nene and Drew Gooden III had calf injuries and didn't travel with the team. But two more players also suffered injuries, one of whom may be out for awhile.
Last Friday, the Wizards announced that Bradley Beal would miss the New Orleans Pelicans game due to a right leg injury. On the next day, they announced that Beal will miss at least two weeks due to a stress reaction in his lower right fibula. He has missed games due to injuries in his right leg and/or fibula in each of his first four seasons in the NBA which is disturbing. The not-so-bad news is that the Wizards' medical staff is catching these reactions early, but you don't want to assume that this is always going to happen.
If that wasn't enough, Otto Porter left in the third quarter of Wednesday's Spurs game due to a thigh injury. He apparently had it for several days.
With all of that in mind, Alan Anderson, please come and save us!
Gilbert Arenas angered the WNBA and more people with his Instagram posts
Last Tuesday, the former franchise player posted several derogatory posts against the WNBA which forced a response by the league. If you want to read a detailed initial analysis on those posts, we got you covered.
Since Wednesday, Arenas has apparently taken down a post featuring some Legends Football League players, but the original post is still on his page. If you are wondering what he has done since then, he posted a video of his 60-point game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, since he did that on December 17, 2006, nine years and one day ago.
Since this week's news has hit Wizards and women's basketball fans pretty hard, I'll share some insightful links I found.
Nate Robinson releases statement - The free agent guard and three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion issued a statement on Instagram. The picture is of Gilbert Arenas with the "Most WNBA players are ugly lesbians" line and the caption isn't showing properly so I'm not embedding it. But the statement in that post is shown below:
I usually stay in my own lane but this was so uncalled for in so many ways... One cause I have a daughter who loves hoop, & one day she might want to make it to the WNBA one day, hoop is hoop no matter what a woman looks like ... #LORD4giveusall
The Nation's Dave Zirin and former Wizards player Etan Thomas spoke about Arenas on WPFW-FM's "The Collision" on Thursday - In the show, Thomas gave his personal insights on Arenas, where he described him as a good-natured man who was generous to the community. However, Zirin and Thomas were forceful in their condemnation of Arenas' comments.
Zirin also noted something about women's basketball at the 17-minute mark that I didn't know about. It was the first organized team sport women were allowed to play in the early 20th century. Thomas also made a point to say that even though many people share the sentiments Arenas wrote on Instagram, it still isn't acceptable in our society. We here at BF agree wholeheartedly.
Zirin and Thomas interviewed former WNBA player Rushia Brown, the President and Founder of the Women's Professional Basketball Alumni Association, an organization to help professional women's basketball players make successful post-career transitions. Brown also expressed her disappointment in Arenas and her thoughts on the pressure all women face in society. Here's a link to the one-hour podcast. A must listen in my book.
Swish Appeal's Chris Bullock wrote an open letter to Arenas using his personal experience - Though I am not a father, the following excerpt from our WNBA and women's basketball site sums up the general thinking of my 2,000+ word post into three succinct paragraphs:
Just because the WNBA doesn't flaunt its sexuality, doesn't mean that they aren't appealing. Arenas referenced Skylar Diggins, who is fairly attractive. Yet he doesn't recognize her overall talent, including her on-court game.
Arenas also doesn't appreciate the efforts of the WNBA to become a diverse game. You don't have to be an A-list model to have talent; just as you don't have to have a college degree to play in the NBA. At least, the WNBA has a policy in place that you have to be 22 in order to be draft-eligible.
Lastly, Arenas has five kids, including two daughters. As a first-time father of a baby girl, I would love to be able to raise my child to know that she is on just as equal footing as a man when it comes to basketball ability. I would love to be able to tell her that shedoesn't have to be a sex symbol in order to garner attention.
Click here to read this well-written open letter, especially because it comes from a parental perspective.
Phoenix Mercury forward Monique Currie wrote an open letter to Arenas on Thursday - Many WNBA players expressed outrage over Arenas' comments this week. However, they generally were left to short tweets and Instagrams.
On Thursday, Currie wrote a column on Women's Basketball 24.7 from more than just a WNBA player's perspective. She is a Washington D.C. native, played for the Mystics from 2007-14 (where she would have interacted with Arenas at various points), and a die-hard Wizards fan.
From her letter:
I really hate that this happened because as a native Washingtonian I was a fan of yours Gilbert. I am a Wizards fan and you brought excitement to our city. You were different, you had charisma and on top of that you were a pretty damn good ball player. I even bought into the whole hibachi craze with your buzzer-beating game winners. I was excited when you lead us to four consecutive playoffs seasons. Yea we lost in the first round three years in a row but still. I could finally represent my home team and not hear a bunch of hate from the haters. We loved you Gil, the entire city was on your side. We even rooted for you when you were traded to Orlando. The hibachi grill was definitely turned off but we still wanted the best for you.
Currie goes on to express her disappointment with Arenas' posts and indirectly touched on the fact many, if not most NBA players are WNBA supporters themselves.
"You would think you would be an ally Gil, a brother in basketball, but I guess not," Currie wrote toward the end of her letter.
Click here to read Currie's letter, because it's the best open letter from a Wizards fan and WNBA player perspective out there.
That's all I have in a summary post that is already getting lengthy. If you have something more to add, feel free to do so in the comments or in a FanPost. Enjoy the weekend, and let's get a win Saturday against the Hornets!
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