|This is the look of a confident coach. (Getty Images)|
The Washington Wizards are the worst team in basketball. They haven't won a game in nine tries this season. According to NBA.com, the Wizards have the worst offense in the NBA at 91 points per 100 possessions. According to TruthAboutIt.net and Basketball-Reference.com, Washington has the worst offense of the last decade and one of the worst of all-time.
The team is barely competitive and when they are competitive, they aren't competent enough to create good scoring opportunities. Head coach Randy Wittman seems to be at a loss right now and just begging for some consistency on offense. Via CSNWashington:
“I'm looking down the whole roster,” he said, “and if I had a cell phone I'd be calling the waiver wire trying to find another body. I mean, I'm just searching right now -- searching for people to give me consistency.”
“I don't know who to start, who to play, who not to play,” Wittman said. “It's the confusion of different guys every game. We have no consistency of play in our group.”
“It's just so inconsistent top to bottom,” he said. “I'd love to have an eight or nine-man rotation. That's my dream. And I'm playing 12 and 13 [players] every night. You can't do that in an NBA game. You have to develop a [starting] group and a group that comes in. I'm having a tough time doing that.”
It's easy to point to the absences of John Wall and Nene as the reason for their horrid start. Wall, for all of his shooting faults, is one of the better point guards in the NBA at setting up his teammates for easy scores. He finished seventh in the NBA in assists per game in both of his first two seasons. Last season, he was 10th in assist percentage. The guy can break down a defense and find the open scoring option.
As for Nene, he's been one of the most efficient scoring big men in the league for years. He's great in the post, facing up, and finding a way to put the ball in the basket. If you put him and Wall on the court and surround them with Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor, and someone that isn't Trevor Ariza, you'll see the likelihood the offense will be improved instantly.
But that won't end the Wizards' problems.
For years, this team has had potential on their roster and for years, we've seen that potential be seemingly wasted. Flip Saunders couldn't figure out how to bring it all together. If Flip couldn't do it, I find it hard to believe Wittman is going to find a way.
Some might remember that Wittman has tried this head coaching thing before. His best season coaching in the NBA was his first season as a head coach. He took the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 32-50 record in the 1999-2000 season. After winning only 30 games the next season, he was canned.
After Dwane Casey was fired in Minnesota in the 2006-07 season, Wittman moved down the bench and was given a chance to try his head coaching pants on once again. It didn't work out. The team went 12-30 the rest of the season, 22-60 the next season when he was allowed to continue, and he was fired after the Wolves began the 2008-09 season 4-15.
During that 2008-09 season, Wittman told his rookie big man Kevin Love that he wasn't allowed to shoot 3-pointers. How does that strategy look in today's NBA? (You know... when Love isn't breaking his hand.)
Wittman has often been the cheap replacement for failed coaches around the league. Owners and management move him down the bench and he's a stopgap until they can figure out where to go. For some reason, it happened in again in Washington despite a career winning percentage of 32.5 percent heading into his Wizards' stint.
When Wittman is accusing his players of inconsistency for their offensive woes, there is some validity to that. He should also remember that the best offense he's ever coached was in 2000-01 when the Cleveland Cavaliers finished 23rd out of 29 teams in offensive rating. Instead of looking at the players and blaming them, he should look at the system he's implemented that pretty much looks like "try to get a shot off before the shot clock expires. Now get out there and be somebody!"
The reason he's having a tough time developing a group through his own direction is because it doesn't appear to be in his skillset. By all accounts, he's been a very solid assistant coach during his long coaching career. However, that doesn't always translate to being a head coach and running the show.
Throw Wall and Nene back in the lineup, give them a couple of weeks to gel, and you're still going to have a mediocre attack without much leadership.
“These guys can win,” he said. “I don't have any doubts of it. I come in here every day thinking this is the night. I feel good. I might be dumb, but I believe in them. I really do.”
I don't believe you're dumb, Randy. I just don't believe you have the system to make any offense look consistent.