In place of my normal pregame blather atop the starters comments, betting line, and haiku, I'll turn things over tonight to BulletsForever.com's Mike Prada for answers to some key questions on the Wiz:
A: The funny thing about Eddie Jordan is that he truely epitimizes the Wizards. He's an offensive genius, and the Wizards wouldn't be where they are without him. It's not an accident that we've improved so much with EJ at the helm. At the same time, I really don't think Jordan is ever going to get the team to the next level. This team needs more discipline on the defensive end, and Jordan simply isn't the type of coach who can bring it. However, if you fire Jordan, who do you replace him with? There's literaly nobody out there right now who'd do a better job. As such, I'd probably be upset if he left unless he was replaced by a great coach. The situation would have to be like the Rick Carlisle-Larry Brown switch in Detroit for me to be really upset.
Q: What does your team need to be able to compete with Chicago and Detroit?
A: The Wizards need to learn how to defend. It's really maddening how bad this team is on the defensive end. They're in the bottom 10 in nearly every defensive category, rank dead last against the three, and don't even turn teams over as well as they used to. To get better on defense, a couple things need to happen. First, the Wizards need a disciplined defensive assistant (or head coach) who can teach proper defensive rotations. It's crazy how easy it is for teams to just pass the ball around and get an open shot on this defense. The Wizards have athletes, especially on the perimeter, but Arenas and Butler have no idea how to defend anyone. Second, the Wizards need more depth. Too much of a strain is put on the starting 5 because the bench stinks. When the Wizards need the bench to provide a lift, they fall short. It's no accident that the Wizards are 1-4 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Q: Which free agent/trade loss has been the most traumatic for you? C'mon, it was Kwame, wasn't it?
A: When the team got rid of Michael Jordan...just kidding. Honestly, I've been happy with pretty much every one of Ernie Grunfeld's decisions, so I haven't been upset recently when anyone left. If we're looking in the past, I'd say the Chris Webber trade to you guys. I don't think even Billy King would make the trade we did. Your welcome for your mini-dynasty.
Q: Caron vs. Larry: Ignoring all the injuries Hughes as suffered, would you rather have him alongside Gil and Antawn, or are you loving Caron?
A: Honestly, I'd rather have Caron, but there's a lot of things a healthy Hughes brought that are missed. Hughes was a much better defender than Caron, and that's what the team needs. But I'd have to give the edge to Caron because he's younger, less expensive, more consistent, and doesn't get hurt.
Q: Is this team better than last year's squad, the same, or worse?
A: Worse, unfortunately. Injuries to Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila have really hurt, and the defense is somehow worse than last year. If it weren't for some superhuman games by Arenas, this would be a 6-18 team. There's a lot of season left, and this team struggled a ton at the beginning of last year, but my 50 win prediction doesn't look good now. More likely, they'll win 42 games again and get bounced in the first round.
If Mike's 50-win prediction for the Wizards doesn't look good, how does my 50-win prediction for the Kings look?
Anyways, good to get some insight from someone who watches the Zards night after night. Let's now mind our own manor... but with a twist.
In honor of the big hubbub going down between the New York Times and the White House, let's imagine the Maloofs demanded to redact my statements about the now officially
woeful spirited Sacramento Kings. Enjoy.
PG - Mike Bibby
SG - Kevin Martin is the team's
SF - I think Ron Artest should
PF - Kenny Thomas is an
PG - Gilbert Arenas is completely normal, and to suggest otherwise indicates a deep self-denial about how strange we all are in the accuser.
SG - DeShawn Stevenson is about the most average player I can imagine.
SF - Caron Butler got traded for Shaquille O'Neal and Kwame Brown in the same year. He may or may not have self-image issues.
PF - Antawn Jamison's momma is not a fantastic speller.
C - Do not look the Brendan Haywood directly in the eye. Do not feed the Brendan Haywood.
Well. The Kings are 3.5-point favorites. This morning, I guessed the line would settle at even, or possibly -1.5 for the Kings. Hrm. I'm basing my decision to pick the Kings on the following: 60 points on Kobe notwithstanding, Gilbert is much worse on the road than at home; the Wizards offense is pretty bad on the road in total; and the Wizards lost Monday against a Denver team whose starting lineup was Andre Miller/Yakhouba Diawara/Linas Kleiza/Eduardo Najera/Marcus Camby. And Kevin Martin is expected to be back. So, the Kings.
INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Brad Miller's last five games: 19 pts, 4 pts, 10 pts, 2 pts, 19 pts. This pattern suggests
0 1,000 pts for tonight. Please no yes.
Phoenix, they are not -
But D.C. can score the ball.
Can Ron-Ron stop Gil?
This is likely the toughest game remaining this month (depending on the fate of the Denver game). Winning would be awesome. TNT affair, backend of the two-fer. Enjoy!