Have The Washington Wizards Lost Motivation?


The Washington Wizards have gone from being considered a contender in the Eastern Conference, to a laughingstock in a matter of a few weeks. They have gone 2-9 over their past 11 games and they are in danger of becoming a one-and-done Playoff team. This ship is sinking so fast, the rats have jumped off.

The Wizards played three games this week (at Detroit Pistons, vs. Golden State Warriors, at Minnesota Timberwolves) and all three of them ended in disappointing fashion. The team is playing uninspired, half-hearted and lazy.

Some of the problems fall on the coaching staff and some fall on the players. I don’t know if Randy Wittman has lost the ears of the players but they have been playing like a high school JV team. The lack of fundamentals are extremely concerning and if this team doesn’t begin to use some basketball IQ, they will be doomed to fail.

A lot of the Washington Wizards’ problems revolve around the three-point shot, offensively and defensively. They have shot a horrible 28.3-percent from beyond the arc over the past three games.

On the other hand, their opponents have made 42.6-percent of their three-point attempts. It is never good a sign when you have that large of a disparity in long-range shooting. The Wizards are playing a step slow when it comes to guarding the perimeter, and they are failing to close out shooters or get a hand in their face.

Turnovers have also been a constant issue. This week, the team is averaging 19.0 turnovers per-game (including a season-high 25 against Minnesota) and they have turned the ball over on 19.0-percent of their possessions.

Washington’s opponents have scored 57 points off of turnovers alone, which makes the matter even worse. A large portion of the miscues have come off of mental mistakes like sloppy passes and fumbled catches.

John Wall usually plays like one of the best point guards in the league but he has been the number one culprit in the turnover category. He was consistently outplayed in all three games this week. Wall averaged 10.3 points, 11.0 assists and 4.7 turnovers per-game, while shooting a horrid 34.1-percent from the field.

On the other side, his opponents averaged 18.3 points, 7.0 assists and 1.7 turnovers per-game (Including a 32-point performance from Stephen Curry). Wall’s 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly half of his opponents 4.1 ratio, which is unacceptable.

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You can’t lay all of the blame on Wall though.

The Washington Wizards have failed together, as a team. They have had leads in all three of these games, and they gave them up.

They led the Pistons by seven points at halftime, during their game on Sunday, and they managed to squander that lead and lose 106-89. They responded by jumping out to a surprising 9-0 lead on the Warriors a couple of days later.

That lead disappeared quickly but the Wizards still had a chance in the fourth quarter when they were down three with 4:39 left in the game. Of course, they ended up losing by seven. It seemed like déjà vu when the Wizards played energetic and jumped out to an 18-3 lead on the Wolves last night. That lead evaporated into thin air and the game turned into a blowout.

This week’s games have been a tale of two halves with depressing results. Washington has held their opponents to 143 points in the first halves, which isn’t too bad (47.7 point average). I don’t know what’s going on in the locker room but they have come out flat after the break. These games turned into landsides during the second half, with the Wizards giving up 174 points (58.0 point average).

This is a team with many flaws right now. They have been playing more like a lottery team than a Playoff-bound squad. Randy Wittman has been receiving a lot of heat for this recent slide and I can’t say that I blame the fans. His rotations have made little sense and his play-calling is weak.

During the Warriors game alone, he decided to play Martell Webster and Rasual Butler well into the fourth quarter, while declining to play Marcin Gortat with the game on the line. The Polish big man had 16 points and 11 rebounds through three quarters but Wittman decided to match the Warriors small lineup with a quicker version of his own (Nene at center, Paul Piece at power forward).

Wittman refuses to go with the hot hand and his rotations can be confusing at times. He is also inconsistent with who he would like to play from game to game. Otto Porter didn’t play one minute against the Warriors but he ended up starting the game versus the Wolves.

This team will continue to free-fall until they go back to the basics of basketball and begin to treat every play like it’s a crucial part of the game. If they don’t, they will be out fishing sometime in May instead of competing for the Eastern Conference crown.

Next: Should the Washington Wizards Fill Their Final Roster Spot?