William Stokes: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I think of Ernie Grunfeld and management this season, and I’ve had an incredibly difficult time of it. The reason is twofold. First, the Wizards season has been fragmented into two halves, one where the Wizards were decidedly terrible and the other where the Wizards have been competitive and played over .500 basketball. The second reason is that Grunfeld has put his fingerprints all over this team (not necessarily a good thing), which makes it difficult to evaluate what work is his and what is the players.
I’ll start with the good. I predicted a 33 win season, and the Wizards are pretty close to that goal even with all of the injuries that have been incurred. So the team has exceeded expectations. The addition of Okafor has made the Wizards defense the best it’s been in years. Oh, and the Martell Webster signing turned out to be fantastic.
But other than the Webster signing, I really do feel like the Wizards were mortgaging opportunities to get better now instead of investing in the future. Look at this chart ranking the Wizards players in descending order of PER. The top 8 (excluding Crawford, since he is no longer on the team), only contain Wall and Beal in players the Wizards have developed. And most of those players are either getting older, injury prone, or in backup positions. So while the Wizards did well this year, I think they did well in spite of Grunfeld’s influence and development, not because of it. And when Nene gets older, Okafor and Ariza leave, and Webster gets lost in a bidding war, the Wizards might end up right back where they started. Sure, we’ll have Beal and Wall, but we have them because Grunfeld has been a bad GM and we got high lottery picks, not because he was a good one.