“I need the ball in the paint to be effective. I don’t want to be that pick-and-pop guy I used to be.”
The captain — yes, Blatche was designated “team leader” this year — later tweeted that thought to the world. Having reamed out Blatche many times for trying to be Dirk Nowitzki instead of Moses Malone, all I have to say is:
You go, ’Dray.
And to think, all those jumpers launched from 18 feet and beyond from a 6-foot-11 forward, Blatche never wanted to take those; his coach made him.
One game in, Flip Saunders sees his flawed team jump out to a 21-point lead by letting the ball do the work, five players acting as one. Then they grow lazy offensively and eventually tired, falling apart in the final minutes in a game they easily could have won before losing, 90-84.
Part of you wants to tell Blatche not to be so down — that of the 65 games remaining for the Wizards in this post-lockout season, the chances are Washington is going to be on the losing end of more than half.
Another part actually likes the disappointment this early, instead of some 70 games into last season when Blatche announced that he had found the fire.
’Dray now cares. Every day. Perhaps this is what was meant when the giveaway T-shirts announced this year’s theme: “NEW TRADITIONS.”
On the back of that shirt, it read: “BIG things are coming.” The organization curiously didn’t say when.
If you are going to Verizon Center this season to watch a very green team embark on a surprising playoff run, you will be disappointed.
If you are going there to see eight players with less than two years of NBA experience under their belts either become breakout contributors or wasted draft picks, then you are approaching reality.
Chris Singleton is already showing to be a smart pick. He doesn’t need the ball, goes to the floor for everything and knocks down a shot when he needs to. More important, one game in he’s already a voice of reason: (“We didn’t want it anymore,” he said after the Wizards squandered their lead. “It’s something we got to change around here.”)
John Wall is still flying upcourt at warp speed, trying to see if the fourth-youngest team in the league can catch up with him. They can’t, which is part of the problem.
You almost wish rookie point guard Shelvin Mack played alongside Wall on occasion just to slow the tempo down, so that many of the half-court set Wizards could contribute offensively.
Given that their No.
5 6 overall pick in the draft, Jan Vesely, is nursing a hip and probably at least a year away from anything resembling special, and Nets all-star point guard Deron Williams had as many rebounds (eight) as any of the Wizards’ front-line players, dropping a game by six points was not a crime.