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Wizards need more than just better talent, need culture change

Jan 10, 2012, 10:52 AM EST

John Wall, Trevor Booker, JaVale McGee AP

There’s a reason, beyond just good scouting, that the San Antonio Spurs seem to find guys deep in the draft who can contribute. It’s a culture thing, a character thing. They have built a culture of responsibility and accountability around that franchise — no matter who you are you fit the system and play your role. Guys walk in and buy in.

When you watch the Washington Wizards play this year… well, that is pretty much the opposite. There is some talent there but everyone is out for themselves, nobody seems to try and fit in the system.

Michael Lee at the Washington Post spoke with scouts and front office people from other teams about the Wizards and the conversation was more about the toxic culture than just the lack of talent on the Wizards.

“No team in the league, if the environment was good, would be 0-for-the-season,” (an assistant GM for another team) said. “Whatever the optimum each guy has, it’ll never be realized when it’s dysfunctional. The talent on that roster can’t win. You can’t win with Andray Blatche. I don’t care what anybody says. He has talent. He has some talent. But tell me where he’s won. . . . John Wall is a young player. Where’s the veteran leadership for those guys? Gilbert [Arenas] was the former example. What kind of example was that?”

But what about the potential of Wall, Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee?

“teaser talent that isn’t ready for the prime time yet. It teases you in games, but at the end of the day, you aren’t going to get the win. Flip’s hands are tied there, because he doesn’t have a lot to work with.”

Flip Saunders job remains safe for now, according to everyone close to the team. And it’s not like Saunders forgot how to coach.

What Washington needs now is a veteran or veterans who will start to change the culture in that locker room. Leaders, who Wall and maybe others will follow. There are stories about how Kevin Garnett came into Boston and during training camp drills his first year pushed veteran Paul Pierce to do more, verbally and by example. That is the kind of thing a coach alone can’t do. The Wizards need a guy like that… and even then it will take some roster changes.

  1. gugurich - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Easily the worst passing team I’ve seen in forever. Wall’s a good, not great passer and nobody else on that team rates as even an average passer. They don’t even have a viable backup point but play a shot happy two guard at that position.

  2. bparmalee - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Changing the culture is a cop-out. The Spurs win because they get good, solid players that can be successful in the NBA. No matter where Tim Duncan went he would have been a great NBA player…same with Parker and Ginobili..culture be damned. The Wizards have a bunch of athletic, selfish players that look great in 1 on 1 drills. Some teams get wowed because a guy do some crazy dunk or can go baseline to baseline in some crazy time but they ignore that they cant play NBA basketball. They figure they have the “talent” we can develop them. How often does that ever work out? If a guy hasnt learned fundamentals by then its because he doesnt care to (in most cases). You can have all of the Anthony Randolphs and Eddie Currys you want…Ill take a Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson,Roy Hibbert or Nicolas Batum and Ill get them at a better value in the same drafts.

    • Justin - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      I agree. Especially about the athletic and selfish part. I watched the Wizards play when they played my Timberwolves and watching Javale McGee leave his guy and position in an attempt to make a block over and over again was hard to watch. Yeah he had some highlight blocks but he was constantly out of position when he would miss. And nobody wants to see your show boating afterwards when your team is down 20.

  3. tomtravis76 - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Its ashame that the Wizards front ofifice doesn’t commit to winning. DC is a major market with lots of basketball fans from the DC, VA and MD areas. The Wizards play in an arena that is accessible by public transportation and in an area with lots to do. The Wizards have accepted losing this season as they are doing very limited advertising in the region, that is a sign of not being committed to the fans and winning with their current product.The Wizards should be competing for playoffs year after year. When you have long droughts of losing,the blame goes to the owner and the front office, they don’t know how to build a professional basketball team. It trickles down to the scouts and coaches.

    Everyone but Jan and Wall should be available for trade. The Wizards need to start moving pieces and clearing up cap room to make runs at top level free agents… bye bye 22 million dollar Lewis.You might lose guys with potential ,but you have to make that change to try and improve. If all goes as seems , they will have a shot at Harrison Barnes, that is another nice piece to run along with Wall and Vesley.

    If you want to play fantasy wish list for Wizards, go get Beasley. Mike would be at home, this could be a good thing for his career and keep him grounded by being familiar with his surroundings and family/friends.

    • bparmalee - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      You cant be serious about Beasley….he is one of the most selfish players in the NBA. If you want them to commit to winning guys like Beasley are the last players they need.

      • tomtravis76 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        I just think Beasley is the kind of kid that being home would be good for his career. He looks like he is starting to “get it”, very slowly. He seems to realize that there are other good players in the league that work harder than him to become better. Beasley has so much talent and is only 23 years old. Playing with a pass first point guard is making him look better and JW is not that, but he still is a PG who can create. But with Derrick Williams looking like he has a future, Beasley could be the odd man out based on his past personality. Beasley just seems to screw up off the court, thats why being home could help. Nobody talks bad about Mikes game.

      • kinggw - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        What exactly makes him selfish? Is it because he puts up a lot of shots on a T-Wolves squad devoid of players who can create their own shot? Or is it because you have only seen him play once and are going off of the reputation he has?

        I don’t think Beasley is a selfish player. I would argue that he may be an immature player, but I dont think he is selfish. That being said, I dont think DC would be a good fit for him, at least not with Flip still there.

    • georgeanderson2 - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      The one guy to keep on the Wizards radar for down the road ,if they can improve over the next few years is Kevin Durant. Sure it sounds crazy seeing where his current team and the Wizards are in the league. Though Durant is another one of those young men who grew up in the DC area with the Wizards/Bullets. He comes off as a guy who would like to take his home town team to the top, but only if they are in position do so with commitment from ownership. Durant will give it his best in OKC for sure, but don’t be shocked if after 2016 he heads back to the DC area to make a run with the home team.

      “Oklahoma City holds Durant’s rights through the 2015-16 season.”

    • bparmalee - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Whats Beasley selfish is his lack on energy rebounding, the fact that if he gets the ball it dies there (by year 1.0,1.3,2.2,1.0 assists per game). He doesnt try on defense and wont even take the time to take good fouls. He averages 2.0 turnovers and 2.7 fouls per game. Not being a foul machine is fine but when his guy goes to the hole he starts heading down to the other end of the court. Thats why Miami traded him and only got a 2nd round pick for a guy that was the 2nd pick in the draft. I watch plenty of games and this is his game. He will always be a volume shooter on a bad team.

      • bparmalee - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        **What makes

    • bdeviled11 - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      What exactly makes him selfish?

      Well Kinggw, I think having a career average of 1.5 assists per game, while shooting (jacking up) 14.0 shots per game makes him selfish. Especially considering he averages 29.0 minutes a game. For the season Mr. Beasley has attempted 99 shots and has 7 assists while averaging 31.7 minutes a game. I believe the term “black hole” is appropriate.
      If Minnesota could rid themselves of Beasley they would get at least 5 more wins (speculation on my part). Also, putting a guy with past drug issues back home, may not be the best thing for him.

  4. ragingmouse - Jan 10, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    The wizards = The cowboys

    A lot of potential, no clear direction…

  5. pl4tinum514 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    The mistake was signing Arenas to that huge contract. If they hadn’t done that, their franchise would be heading in the right direction by now. It was stupid at the time, and it looks ridiculous now.

  6. mogogo1 - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I just have to comment on their jerseys in the photo. I love throwback jerseys and the Bullets had a pretty cool look, but taking the old Bullets gear and stamping “Wizards” on it is just lame.

  7. st7007 - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    This team has talent, every team has talent it’s just that the wizards are poorly coached and managed. There is no reason Javale Mcgee should not be posting up people downlow as well as Blatche, the team is heavy guard based there are no three point shooters on the team Mason used to be one but no real threat now. They have no real veteran leadership especially at the guard position. I have loss all respect for Blatche from which he stated on 106.7 when asked by Brian Mitchell “Do you workout?” Blatche responded “yeah but I do not get any results” LOL just like his lame post presence. I feel Leonisis need to take a good look around the league for a coach and GM the 76ers are playing better than wizards why they believe in there coach, The Bobcats play with heart and I can barely name anyone on there team.

  8. goforthanddie - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    They need someone to teach Wall how to play. Second year, he still shoots way too many bad shots and way too many TO. If they intend on building around him, shouldn’t they make the effort to improve him?

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