Wizards of DysfunctionFriday, March 02, 2012
The Wizards are 7-28 and an unmitigated disaster. Credit interim coach Randy Wittman for actually trying to do something about it.
On Tuesday night, Wittman benched JaVale McGee for the majority of the second half. On Wednesday, he started Kevin Seraphin in place of McGee at center and also benched Nick Young in favor of Jordan Crawford.
McGee was asked if he understands what he’s supposed to learn from the benchings?
“I can’t say I do, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out sooner or later,” McGee said in typical McGee fashion.
That’s probably not the response that Wittman was looking for, but the bottom line is that McGee’s raw talent is something that the lackluster Wizards’ roster needs. They can’t just give up on a 24-year-old true 7-footer with a high ceiling. Look for McGee to get his starting job and 27-minute role back sooner rather than later. Hang on tight during the bumpy ride.
As we drive down the rest of the depth chart, however, we have even tougher questions.
* Andray Blatche (calf) practiced Thursday and is on track to return for Saturday’s game against the Cavs. Will he immediately regain his starting power forward job from rugged Trevor Booker? Probably not.
Blatche had gotten benched even before his injury due to performance and has since missed 15 straight games. Look for a timeshare at first, with Blatche getting eventually getting the starting nod if he keeps his head on straight. Wittman has to give the $35 million man a chance. The upside here is pretty high: Blatche averaged 16.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks in 63 starts a year ago.
* As mentioned above, Nick Young came off the bench Wednesday. He also bruised a knee and it was sore enough that he needed an MRI. The results came back negative, but it’s another strike against Young in his position battle with Jordan Crawford. Over the last 14 games, Crawford is averaging 15.4 points and 1.5 3-pointers per game while playing 27.8 minutes. Look for him to run with the starting gig over Young, who is set to walk in free agency after the season.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
As mentioned in Rotating Rotations earlier this week, the Bobcats rotation is a mess everywhere except for center. That’s what made Bismack Biyombo’s Wednesday night shoulder injury such a gut-buster.
However, owners got a nice piece of news Thursday afternoon when an MRI revealed a strain and no tear. The Bobcats didn’t reveal the grade of the strain, but have listed him as day-to-day. Consider the rookie a strong hold as he’s a good bet to ramp back up to 26-30 minutes once 100 percent.
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NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Here’s a piece of news hidden in the Jermaine O’Neal wrist injury: Coach Doc Rivers was going to start Brandon Bass over O’Neal even before J.O. went down.
“I actually like this lineup," Rivers said of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Bass and Kevin Garnett. "I was thinking about doing it regardless, if you want me to be honest.”
So even if/when O’Neal gets back from his injury, Bass is going to have some nice upside. In seven starts this year, Bass is averaging 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
NEWS OF THE DAY #4
Coach Monty Williams finally gave us some idea of what he’s thinking at point guard, where Jarrett Jack has come off the bench in six straight games. The Hornets are trying to manage Jack’s minutes thanks to his knee issues and Williams also likes the way Jack can score on an otherwise inept second unit.
“Some people may think because we’re winning games, I’m sticking with the lineup,” Williams said. “That’s not the case. I think the balance that we have with Jarrett being with that group helps us.”
Over the last five games, Jack has averaged 30.2 minutes while starter Greivis Vasquez Is at 26.2. That’s the timeshare we can expect going forward, even if Jack eventually takes back that starter’s tag.
THURSDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS
Russell Westbrook tweaked an ankle during yet another dominant performance, but it didn’t appear serious. He’s day to day. … Serge Ibaka only played 23 minutes because he’s a bad matchup against both Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson. … Kevin Love (flu, ribs) returned and logged 40 minutes. He’s fine. … Luke Ridnour’s last eight games: 11.1 points, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals. Not too shabby. … J.J. Hickson took a hard fall on his back and didn’t return. Yawn. … Not worried about Isaiah Thomas’ awful game. In the five before Thursday’s dud he was averaging 19.2 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds. … With Chris Bosh (personal) out the next two games, Shane Battier got the start. But if we’re reaching for deep spot-starts Udonis Haslem is the better play.
INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Manu Ginobili (oblique) is a game-time call for Friday. Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard (calf) is doubtful. … Kobe Bryant (neck/nose) missed practice Thursday, but will start Friday. … Nene (calf) is not expected to play Friday. … Stephen Curry (foot) is listed as day-to-day after being used as a decoy for three seconds Wednesday. … Ty Lawson (ankle) is no longer on the injury report.
INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Zach Randolph (knee) will not make his return this weekend. The Grizz are exercising extreme caution here. … Danilo Gallinari (ankle) is targeting Monday for his return. Corey Brewer remains a solid spot-start for two more games. … Spencer Hawes (Achilles) isn’t doing any running yet. The earliest he’ll be back is March 14. … Andrea Bargnani (calf) is not expected to play Friday or Sunday. … Dirk Nowitzki (back) fully plans to play Friday, but he’ll officially be a game-time call. … Paul Millsap (severe heel bruise) is day-to-day. … Emeka Okafor (knee) isn’t close. But Jason Smith (concussion) and Carl Landry (knee) are. Gustavo Ayon owners should be a little worried.
DEPTH CHART FAST BREAK
Lamar Odom (personal) is going to spend a game or two in the D-League this weekend to get his legs back. … Richard Hamilton has been told that his minutes will be increased gradually over the next few weeks. He hasn’t topped 16 minutes since returning to action two games ago. … Stephen Jackson isn’t even traveling with the Bucks. … George Karl said he doesn’t see Kenneth Faried playing more than 25 minutes most nights, even when Nene (calf) is out.