When the Wizards started 0-5 and Ted Leonsis blogged that the season was “going as I expected,” some wicked pixels rained down. I especially recall some radio hosts who were unhappy with that characterization of the season.
Since then, the Wizards have fired a coach, showed signs of life, suffered some severe relapses, and won four games, while losing a bunch more. And yet, in a video posted by the team before Wednesday night’s narrow loss in Orlando, Leonsis stayed with that message.
This long answer came when Leonsis was asked about seeing rookies Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton crack the starting lineup.
“Well, throw the kids in the pool, sese if they can swim, that’s the only way we’re gonna know what we have,” the owner said. “And I think we’re seeing that these kids can play, that they’ll be in rotations and they’ll earn their minutes and they’ll play hard.
“And we’re in the middle of a rebuilding process. We know that we need to add more talent and this is a very deep draft coming up. I hope we can bring in one more player that can crack the starting lineup. We’re managing our cap space well. We should be able to bring in a free agent to help the team. We have so many young assets, and other teams are gonna covet some of those assets. We should be able to make some trades at some point that bring in player that improve the team.
“And so we’re pretty much where I expected. I thought the Chicago game was indicative of what I’m hoping, that we can beat teams, but we when we play really really good teams that we can be very competitive. And I’m very grateful to our fanbase, our attendance has been very very strong, it’s up over last year. And the fans are starting to believe that these young kids have upside and that we can eventually build a team that they’ll be very very proud of.”
Leonsis was also asked about the coaching change that put Randy Wittman in the head chair.
“Well, I thought we needed to implement a system that played to the strengths of the players,” he said. “We’re young, we’re athletic, we’re long, and playing a more up-tempo game has made the team a lot more competitive. I think the players are adapting very very well to it.
“The game with Chicago, that’s one really really good team, also built around the draft, but we stayed with them and we played really really hard, played that pressing kind of defense, outscored them in the fourth quarter and that’s what we want to see. We want to show the fans that the team has upside, that even though we have nine players on rookie contracts, that we can be competitive....
“The young kids are growing up. They don’t look scared anymore. And that’s a natural evolution of their outlook towards games, and now we think we can win games.”