Friday night, I sat down to watch my first full Wizards game of the season, against the Milwaukee Bucks. I thought this was an interesting match-up because, entering the season, the optimistic Wizards fan would say that this Bucks team is the type of team that the Wizards would compete with for one of the last playoff spots. The two teams would slot somewhere in the 7-10 range in the Eastern Conference. Of course, this was before we learned that Nene and John Wall would be out indefinitely, but it was still an interesting match-up in my mind. That being said, I had a few take-aways from this game, as the Wizards continue their search for their first win of the season.
- This team plays hard- I know this is something of a cop-out: they’re a professional basketball team, they SHOULD play hard. That should be a given. Well, it certainly wasn’t last year. I know this is the baby step of all baby steps, but, as a fan, it’s an important one. The Wizards of last year would have completely fallen apart after they blew their early lead in the first quarter. This Wizards team continued to fight and try to chip away at the Bucks lead throughout the game. Even in the final two minutes, the Wizards staged a mini-rally when it appeared that hope was lost. And when hope WAS finally lost, the Wizards still battled: Bradley Beal committed a hard foul on Monta Ellis, preventing an easy lay-up. Brandon Jennings flipped out afterwards and a small melee ensued, but I couldn’t be happier about that foul. That says that, no matter what, this team is going to continue to scratch and claw. I really like that attitude from Beal and the entire team.
- A.J. Price doesn’t seem like a great fit for this team- I know that Price had a solid game the next night in Indiana, but I couldn’t help but think that Price was a square peg in a round hole Friday night. This team was built to play up-tempo, fast-break basketball with John Wall. Price is a shoot-first, half-court point guard. He doesn’t do a tremendous job of creating off the pick-and-roll and getting his teammates open looks. He has this floating tear-drop shot that is passable. He is a decent long-distance shooter. None of these things are what the Wizards need. Trevor Booker’s ability to beat everyone down the court is wasted if your point is guard is sauntering up the court. Please get back John Wall. Quick sub-point: I don’t want to spend too much time on this, BUT, it has to be addressed. Jannero Pargo was absolutely AWFUL in relief of Price. He couldn’t run the offense (turnovers galore), couldn’t shoot and couldn’t play defense on the opposing point guard because he’s just too small (and it’s not like Milwaukee has the biggest guards in the league by any stretch). To repeat: Please get back John Wall.
- Emeka Okafor is a dainty center offensively- Okafor had his best game as a Wizard Friday night, which isn’t really saying much. He was force at the defensive end, and accumulated some points at the offensive end as well. However, I couldn’t help but notice that Okafor’s offensive game resembles something like that of Christian Laettner’s. He can pop out and hit a 15-footer, which is nice. But anytime the ball was dumped down to him on the block or underneath the hoop, Okafor’s shot was either errant or rejected. This is our starting center. It looks to me that Okafor doesn’t have the height/elevation to really be a force in the paint, which is disappointing.
- Jan Vesely is still very much a work in progress (that’s the kindest way I could think of to say it. I should get a Christmas card from Vesely for that phrasing). Great work on that pick Ernie
- Bradley Beal has been inconsistent this year, but when he has turned it on, he has been exciting. Remember that he is VERY young for a rookie.
- Chris Singleton is a lot more active this year. He’s playing with more confidence and it shows in the results. He’s improving.
- I wasn’t actively offended by Trevor Ariza’s game Friday night. From what I’ve read about the other Wizards games this season, that’s an improvement.
I don’t want to draw too many more conclusions based on just one real game, but those were the things that jumped out to me. Let me know what you guys think.