Posted by Neil Paine on October 27, 2010
Welcome to our 2010-11 NBA Blogosphere Previews, in which we contact the finest team bloggers on the web and ask them to contribute their thoughts on the squad they cover. What follows is their take, along with the team's depth chart (courtesy of ESPN.com), projected 2011 stats via our Simple Projection System, and polls where you get to have your say. Enjoy!
Coach: Flip Saunders
Record: 26-56, Finished 5th in NBA Southeast Division
SRS: -4.72 (26th of 30) ▪ Pace: 91.6 (21st of 30)
Off Rtg: 104.2 (25th of 30) ▪ Def Rtg: 109.4 (18th of 30)
Expected W-L: 28-54 (26th of 30)
2011 Depth Chart (with 2010-11 projected per-36 minute stats ... yellow = newcomer)
2010-11 Blogger Outlook by Kyle Weidie, truthaboutit.net
The Wizards’ biggest strength is also their biggest weakness (and please don’t picture Michael Scott or Dwight Shrute saying this ... I’m being serious): Youth.
Youth is going to bring a refreshing change around these parts, Washington, D.C., especially for Flip Saunders.
Saunders is adaptable. He’s the Chameleon. The short sharp shooter from Cuyahoga Heights, whose mere presence as a 5’2” freshman on the varsity squad peeved the parents of older children, now aims to show a group of NBA youths (and some castaways) how to transform and play like men.
Saunders has a brilliant offensive mind, underestimated because his career, while noteworthy, has underwhelmed for the simple fact that he has not won a championship. And he’s adapted and added onto his offensive system by willingly by soaking knowledge from the likes of Bill Musselman, Jim Dutcher and J.D. Barnett (among others), and by cutting his teeth at various levels (JUCO, college, CBA, NBA).
Flip takes about John Wall being a sponge and often says that point guards come from heaven. He also talks about how “he didn’t sign up for this.” Or rather, since it’s in the past, “that.” This and that being what boils down to Gilbert Arenas versus Caron Butler, and the rest of the veteran, set-in-their-ways situation last season that Saunders could have never controlled. Wall is not only a “Game Changer,” but he also could be a coaching career changer.
Enter hindsight: Saunders was a good hire, but a bad move ... considered with Ernie Grunfeld’s maneuverings in totality, staunch adherence to the gospel of Abe (Pollin) and the presumed infallibility built by a half of season of hope from “The Big Three: Arenas, Butler & Jamison”; also coupled with the scapegoat firing of Eddie Jordan, a man who himself was partially responsible for the ill-fated offensive beast that wasn’t reasonably suited for the NBA, or the subsequent coach.
“When you have a young team and you’re going through and you’re learning, a lot of times you don’t have to break bad habits. You can teach them how it really has to be done. I think we’ve got a lot of young guys that are like that … that are very committed to trying to be as good as they can be,” said Saunders after a recent home preseason game. And this was after Saunders spoke of last season’s veteran-laden team acting “entitled” with the ball and praised the receptiveness of this year’s team.
Without getting into the depths of the coaching carousel conundrum and how it’s affected by and affects today’s player-coach relationship (also not mentioning the fact that Saunders is considered to possess low levels of assertive authoritarian traits), this 2010-11 Wizards team will struggle because of its youth, but youth will also make them better than most can imagine -- under a coach with a playbook the size of your grandfather’s experience, but the savvy to put it on ipads.
Now multiply that by the presence of Sam Cassell and you should have a reason to be optimistic beyond player capability. These Wiz kids are going to be fun to watch.