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Even Dumbledore Couldn't Rescue These Wizards

9:58 AM, Jan 9, 2012   |    comments
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It's just two weeks into the shortened NBA season, the winless Washington Wizards are already a total mess. Sunday's embarrassing 93-72 rout by the lousy Minnesota Timberwolves at Verizon Center was the nadir, at least to this point.

At 0-8, Washington is the NBA's only winless team. The Wizards can't shoot, hold onto the ball or stop their opponents. They rank in the bottom third of the league in most major statistics.
Look at the field goal accuracy of the top seven players in coach Flip Saunders' rotation: Nick Young, John Wall, Rashard Lewis, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Chris Singleton. Only big man McGee and rookie forward Singleton are even respectable. Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has been about as accurate (.351) as those who predict the end of the world on a certain day while fellow young guard Crawford is hitting .316. Blatche is shooting .393. Streaky re-signed free agent Young and the over-the-hill Lewis, 32, are at .387 and .365, respectively.

What makes the worst start in the 51-year history of the franchise even worse is that Washington hasn't even faced Western Conference powerhouses Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio or the Los Angeles Lakers yet. Minnesota and New Jersey are 1-5 on the road against the rest of the league, but they're 2-0 at Verizon Center.

Sure, the Wizards are very young. Only Lewis, reserves Roger Mason Jr. and Ronny Turiaf and injured veteran guard Maurice Evans are over 26. Wall is 21. Crawford and McGee are 23. Blatche is 25. Young is 26.

However, if Sunday's disaster against the T-Wolves - their second blowout defeat in three games - is any indication, the young guys are far from maturing any time soon.

When the season started, it seemed virtually impossible for Washington to lose as many games - 59 - as it did in 2010-11, its third straight year at no better than 26-56. After all, the schedule is 16 games shorter because of the lockout that lasted nearly five months.

But now? Sure, the odds of 7-59 record seem remote, but if the Wizards are going to get crushed by the T-Wolves at home, what game can be forecast as a victory? Even equaling the franchise-record low 18 triumphs doesn't figure to happen.

While Wall isn't going anywhere soon and shouldn't because of his potential on and off the court, the alleged core of Twitter twit Blatche, shoot first and then shoot again Young and little man in a big man's body McGee will apparently never be ready for prime time. The negativity that the troika has been through during its Washington tenure has seemingly become infectious and needs to be removed as soon as possible.

Owner Ted Leonsis pulled the plug on Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28 after the Capitals went 3-7-1 following a 7-0 start. And Boudreau had resurrected the Caps, winning the previous four Southeast Division regular season titles, although the team was always a postseason flop.

If I'm Wizards coach Flip Saunders, I wouldn't be making any long-term commitments. Saunders won 56 percent of his games with Minnesota (which no one else can match) and 72 percent with Detroit, but he's 49-122 in Washington. That .287 winning percentage is the second-lowest of the 15 coaches who have lasted at least a season with the franchise. Makes one long for the days of Bernie Bickerstaff or Doug Collins when Washington was merely mediocre.

And ninth-year general manager Ernie Grunfeld has to join Saunders on the hot seat. Grunfeld signed only Mason and Turiaf as free agents after the lockout ended last month, trusting the roster that went 23-59 last season to jell and improve. That decision is comparable to Redskins boss Mike Shanahan believing that his team could win with either Rex Grossman or John Beck at quarterback.

While it's early in the season, it's already too late for the Wizards, who welcome the not very good Toronto Raptors to the phone booth tomorrow night before playing eight games in 13 days against contenders Philadelphia (three times), Boston, Chicago, Denver and Oklahoma City as well as struggling Houston.

If there are no signs of improvement during that rugged stretch, the fans will stop paying attention with more than three months left in the season. Maybe that will make Leonsis decide to jettison Grunfeld and Saunders and begin the radical makeover that he gave the Caps when they were at rock-bottom eight years ago.

WUSA-9's Sports Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."

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