Keeping Things Simple
Reading some of the comments on the latest Wizards Insider entry made this post necessary. I feel like the problem with the Wizards through 7 games this year is not as complex as people are making it out to be. Time and time again, fans wondered aloud why the Wizards weren't taking the ball to the basket in this game. Ivan Carter himself even mentioned it. All these complaints ignored the fact that the Wizards scored over a third of their points last night on free throws. They were 36-40 from the line!!!! There are lots of reasons the Wizards got spanked last night, but a lack of aggressivness taking the ball to the rim is not one of them.
To me, the problem is much, much simpler. Jones on the NBA has a great post preaching patience and showing tons of examples of teams trying to do too much too quick. He applies this logic mostly in terms of front office moves, but I see the same type of things happening with the Wizards on the court. Players are pressing because they are trying to do too much. It's as if they are thinking in the back of their heads about their deficiencies instead of figuring out how to maximize their strengths.
Gilbert Arenas isn't going to turn into a playmaker overnight. Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood aren't going to be great every night right away. Jarvis Hayes hasn't played in a real game in a long time, so expecting him to suddenly fit in is unrealistic. I feel like the Wizards have failed thus far because they are trying to become a perfect team too quickly. Instead of looking at development as a series of stages, the Wizards want to jump all the way to the end.
I don't really have any emperical evidence to prove this, but it seems to me that the last two games have indicated that Wizards players are overwhelmed out there. Arenas is not playing with the same free flow as he did last year, probably because he's become overwhelmed with his deficiencies. Same with Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood. In general, the offense seems too routine; it's as if I can predict exactly what will happen on any given possession. Defensively, there have been high points and low points, but we can't expect the team to become a better unit right away.
What I'm advocating for is a simple mindset change. The Wizards have gotten away from their scrappy style in the last few games, and that needs to return. Interestingly enough, Detroit is another team that has to regain their mentality early on. I hate resorting to an argument like this, but the bottom line is that whichever team can regain their edge will win tomorrow.
Is this warranted? Should we actually be concerned after 7 games? Is this really the problem?