The 14-27 Washington Wizards will host the Miami Heat tonight to kick off the second half of the season. The Wizards have survived injuries to key players, the passing of owner Abe Pollin, and the suspension of Gilbert Arenas. Can Head Coach Flip Saunders turn things around?
After the 2008-09 season, fans expected the 19-63 Wizards to bounce back in 2009-10. Washington had a new coach in Saunders, Arenas was back in action, plus Mike Miller and Randy Foye added depth to an already loaded Wizards team.
Unfortunately, Washington wouldn’t have it so easy. Antawn Jamison and Javaris Crittenton fell to injury prior to the season, and Crittenton is still out. Miller has been limited to only 13 games due to injury, and an injury sidelined Mike James, who has only played in one game this season. Arenas might not return this season due to his off-court allegations, while Crittenton’s case is still pending. Skeptics believe Washington might completely blow-up the team as a result.
Before we get carried away with all the despair and gloom which surrounds this ball club, let’s get back to the question at hand; can this team turn things around? Yes, but it’s not going to be anywhere near easy. Washington would need to win about 28 of their next 41 games to be in reach of an 8th seed in the East this season. 23 of the next 41 games are against .500 teams, and 20 of the next 41 games are on the road.
The good news is Randy Foye has fit in perfectly in place of Arenas at point guard. However, the bad news is the Wizards still do not have a shooting guard that can score points. DeShawn Stevenson has been given the nod as of late, and compliments Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison with his defense, passing, and the simple fact that they’ve played together. Washington is desperate for that kind of cohesion. Miller could swing in at shooting guard, but the Wizards bench needs his production.
Either way, Miller has to get minutes, as the numbers prove. Here’s a look at a few trends over the first 41 games of the season, things that worked, and things that didn’t:
Jamison gets 1 or more block
Jamison gets 5 or less rebounds
Jamison scores 10 or less points
Jamison gets 30 points and 10 rebounds
Butler gets 4 or more assists
Butler gets 20 points and 10 rebounds
Boykins scores 10 or more points
Foye scores 20 or more points
Young scores 20 or more points
Foye makes 5 or more free throws
Foye is a starter
Oberto is a starter
Blatche shoots 50% or better
Haywood scores 15 or more points
Miller scores 10 or more points
Miller knocks down 2 or more three pointers
Wizards commit less turnovers than opponent
Wizards shoot higher FG% than opponent
Wizards score less than 100 points
Wizards allow less than 100 points
Wizards Upcoming Schedule:
• 2010 All-Star Voting: Butler, Arenas, Jamison
• Gilbert Arenas suspended indefinitely by league
• CSN: 2009 Washington Wizards Review
• Caron Butler’s Annual Bike Brigade
• Washington Wizards 09-10 Media Guide (PDF)
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