Ted Leonsis and the Washington Wizards surprised fans by firing team president Tommy Sheppard four years into a tenure that yielded four sub-.500 records and just one postseason appearance.
In this episode of The #SoWizards Podcast, cohost Ron Oakes-Cunningham and I discuss what Sheppard did well, what he screwed up, and the biggest reason the team persisted in losing. The conversation included trades (good and bad), the draft (almost all bad), an inability to reform the team’s culture, and some history (Andray Blatche came up).
For some reason, we didn’t get to Jan Vesely.
As I mentioned during the podcast — and before Leonsis’s exhaustive search for a team president landed on Sheppard — I wouldn’t have chosen Sheppard for the job. While four years ago, I thought Sheppard could have been a good NBA GM, I thought he was the wrong pick for the Wizards. The reason: the team needed a reboot of its culture, and I didn’t see how a guy who’d been second in command for 16 years and had been a big part of forming the existing culture could lead the kind of change that was necessary.
In the podcast, Ron and I agree that the biggest reason Sheppard failed to produce a winner is the strategy devised with Leonsis to build around Beal. That nonsensical decision gave the team an exceedingly narrow path to any kind of success, and Sheppard couldn’t find that path.
To me, his biggest undoing was whiffing on draft picks for four years. One or two different picks almost certainly would have had this team in the playoffs — probably with a winning record this season.
Listen here or in the embed below.