This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent and Eddie Jordan’s former team, the Washington Wizards. This trip to the District of Columbia is the second game of a three game road trip for the Sixers.
We feel like we’re writing this a lot lately, but the Wizards much like the 76ers have struggled mightily here at the start of the 2009-10 season and a lot of ills that have plagued the Sixers are hurting the Wizards efforts early on this year. The Wiz struggles have mostly been associated with poor shooting (43% from the field), adjustments to a new coach and new roles for key players. Sound familiar?
This is going to be a tough game for the Sixers to win. Yes the Wizards are a mess and there is some infighting going on in the locker room, but Washington is athletic, potentially they can score from outside, the team certainly has a great set of bigs (Haywood & AJ) to compliment their perimeter shooting once that gets going and they also have a go to player for clutch moments in Gilbert Arenas. Plus they are familiar with Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense. If you can even call what the Sixers have been running in the half-court offense a form of the Princeton offense. It’s more like the adopted kid brother that nobody likes to Pete Carrill’s version of this “read-and-react” offensive scheme. So the Wizards present a load of problems for the defensively challenged Sixers. Still the Sixers showed signs of turning the corner against Cleveland and dare we hope possibly getting this season back on track. So, there is a glimmer of hope that the Sixers can steal one down in the nation’s capital tonight
For a little more insight into the Wizards team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Kyle Weidie from the Wiz faithful blog truthaboutit.net .
Philadunkia : The Wizards are 3-9, tied for the fourth-worst record in the NBA and they have lost the last two by a combined 41 points. The bickering has started already (12 games into the season) as Haywood and Arenas seemed to have a beef with each other that they’re willing to handle through the media. How do you see this drama playing out — as a minor-short term thing or are you expecting it go on all year?
Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net : Well, the bickering stopped being about Arenas and Haywood yesterday (seems like it never was between them), and shifted to something between Arenas and Caron Butler … which was subsequently squashed.
And it wasn’t much of a beef in the first place. Just a bit of finger pointing because everyone is confused about the Wizards’ horrible start after there was so much positivity and championship talk going into training camp. Everyone is to blame.
So no, I don’t expect the finger pointing to continue (although it is rather silly and unproductive to be making such cryptic and irresponsible comments in front of media ears) … nor do I expect the losses to keep mounting at such a pace. But at the same time, this team has a long way to go. It’s almost like they are trying to get acclimated with each other from square one, eschewing all that time spent working together in the preseason and training camp.
Flip Saunders and his players, led by Arenas, Jamison, and Butler, don’t have time to spare. They need to figure out a way to make things work (especially in these next eight games which would get the Wizards to 20, the initial window Saunders gave himself to place true judgment on this team) … because if they don’t, there will be a lot of grumbling in D.C., a city starved for sports success, and the pressure will be on Ernie Grunfeld to make a drastic move.
Philadunkia : A lot of experts predicted that your Wizards would be significantly improved this season. Obviously that has not happened yet. What in your opinion is behind the Wizards struggles?
Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net : A ton of unexplained theories that hold themselves relatively invisible to both trained and untrained eyes.
Injuries suffered this year, the integration of new players, the reacquainting of old players who were injured last year, the arrival of a new coach and a new offense, instilling a new focus on defense … all of these things add up. Should they add up to a 3-9 record? I’m not so sure.
In my opinion, for the Wizards to get on the right track, Arenas and Butler need to accept their new roles and just go play basketball … the team knocking down shots wouldn’t hurt either.
Two Points of Analysisfrom Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net :
1) The Wizards are bad at moving the ball. Their 16.72 Assist Rate is fourth worst in the league. Only 20% of their made shots within 10-15 feet are assisted upon, worst in the NBA; and only 73.8% of their three-points field goals are assisted upon, third worst in the NBA.
Stats via: http://hoopdata.com/
2) Brendan Haywood is having another career year (last had one in 07-08 before being injured for almost all of 08-09), and “coincidentally,” it’s a contract year. He’s averaging career highs in points (10.7), and rebounds (11.0, 5th best in the NBA). He’s also averaging 2.17 blocks per game (5th best in the league).