Before tonight’s action tips-off, we tracked down the perfect guest to provide us with additional perspective on the matchup as well as examining a potential trade. Fim Oshin of Bullets Forever was kind enough to answer a few questions and give us a closer look at the Wizards’ season thus far and what may lie ahead in the future. We hope you enjoy our first installment of the Outsider’s Perspective!
1. Many left the Washington Wizards for dead after a rough start to their season (2-9), and on/off-court drama and trade speculation has surrounded the team every since. But in what appears to be some weird Wizards formula over the past few seasons, D.C. has rebounded, winning six of their last nine games. What’s been the key to their early turnaround? Can they keep it up?
I believe the reason why the team was as able to turn around a frighting start is adjustments to the lineup.
Dwight Howard has been missing in action this season due to a glute injury and the team initially struggled to find a rebounding presence in his place. Thomas Bryant has looked pretty good over the last few games, but he remains quite raw. Thus Scott Brooks, who is a somewhat stubborn head coach, finally adjusted to fielding a more modern lineup. For instance, having a five-man unit like Wall-Beal-Otto-Morris-Sato could give team many problems in transition. Brooks is finally realizing that playing his best skilled players in crucial moments of the game together is a positive.
Interestingly, it’s somewhat common knowledge that the Wizards like to start seasons sluggishly. In ‘16-17 the team struggled out of the gates with a 7-14 record through their first 21 games and trade rumors, a coach firing, etc. were a thing. They eventually heated up and overachieved to a 49-33 record — nearly winning 50 that season. The difference between then and now is there’s more turmoil so no one can say with any certainty that winning will cure the latest installment of problems.
2. The Wizards have plenty of talent. They possess abilities that could arguably rival any team in the Eastern Conference on paper. However, they haven’t been able to put it all together as a group over the years. We know injuries have played a role as well as some chemistry flaws. What would you say is the biggest reason for their short-comings?
Coaching has been their Achilles heel.
Many want to blame Wall, obviously, but Brooks has to put together better lineups and design stronger plays in order for the team to have greater success. Its basically the same situation they had with Randy Wittman. The previous head coach was a defensive maestro but was unable to adapt to the current “four ball” format we’re seeing in today’s league.
Brooks was regarded as a good coach, well-known for developing the likes of MVPs James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. He was brought to Washington to work his magic with Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre Jr., but the team has yet to reap the benefits.
We can also add that the front office hasn’t been that good either. Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith have been basically stealing money from the organization ever since signing on. Although they managed to build a decent roster around Wall and Beal this season, I still don’t trust Ernie though.
3. Pelicans media and fans alike have pondered about several Wizards as of late. Bradley Beal, John Wall, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tomas Satoransky, and of course Otto Porter Jr., are the names most commonly mentioned. But New Orleans isn’t the only team interested, and the Wizards have been said to be listening to all offers. Do you think they pull the trigger on any particular player in specific?
Unfortunately if the team continues to struggle, the organization has to make a move or two. But I’ll say it again: I don’t trust Ernie Grunfeld so undertaking another rebuild under the current regime (which will be his third) is far from ideal.
That said, Beal and Porter would bring back the most value while clearing the books some because...well...look at Wall’s massive max contract. No one is going to bite into that! Beal is the most desirable choice. He’s a young, durable All-Star who still has his best years ahead. Let’s just hope the Wizards do not have to go this route.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about the Wizards?
That’s really a good question. I feel many look at this team as a bunch of arrogant, loud mouthed, cocky punks — but really they aren’t. In this league a lot of star players boast their arrogance in some manner every day, yet when Washington players say something, they get quickly bashed for it.
I believe some NBA media personalities and fans haven’t liked Wall from the jump and have this weird vendetta against him. They always portray him as this brash dude — which he really isn’t — and recent comments about his lazy work ethic, beef with teammates, and his habitual partying are overdone.
Wall has been great during his nine years in D.C. He’s a charitable person and reps the city like no one else. He’s basically what teams seek in a franchise player.
Every locker room goes through ups and downs and Washington is currently yo-yoing. It just doesn’t help that year after year had some notable disappointment and the past is too hard to forget. (Jarvis and Gilbert arghhhh!)
5. Outside Perspective on the Pelicans.
The Pelicans are a pretty good basketball team. I really like Alvin Gentry as a coach, Anthony Davis is superhuman, to say the least, and the core around him is talented as well. Elfrid Payton is a solid playmaker, E’Twaun Moore is a great shooter and they have a little better depth at the three than in previous years.
One thing I particularly love about New Orleans is their two forwards: Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic. They’ve been great additions to the roster and compliment AD’s versatile style of play.
Of course, one cannot forget to mention Jrue Holiday, who has been supremely underrated and is playing the best ball of his career.
My biggest worry about the Pelicans, though, is the lack of shooters and playoff caliber depth at the wing positions. If they could add another scorer/shooter before the trade deadline, they’ll be scary contenders in a crowded Western Conference. They just need one more piece — Otto Porter?
These teams seem to matchup on paper, but Washington has an advantage because of true wing depth and a bevy of scorers. I think AD will have a big night, but the Wizards will be able to get the brooms out for the season sweep.
Washington 114 - New Orleans 102
That was the end of our time with Fim Oshin and Bullets Forever. But be sure to follow them on Twitter @BulletsForever and @olafimihanoshin respectively. You can follow us as always @thebirdwrites. Geaux Pels!