Wes Unseld Jr.
Jordan Poole has been extremely disappointing and Corey Kispert has been underwhelming. However, the main culprit of the Washington Wizards’ struggles to begin the season has been head coach Wes Unseld Jr.
Perhaps the Wizards fans shouldn’t be disappointed. Unseld Jr. hadn’t shown much to be excited about in the first two seasons of his career, finishing both years with 35 wins and out of playoff contention. Yet, this season was supposed to be different. Unseld Jr. had a good track record of developing players and it made sense to keep him around to oversee this young team in the first season of a rebuild.
Nobody was expecting a winning team, but they expected a better, more competitive team. Bilal Coulibaly’s performance has been encouraging and Deni Avdija has shown more offensive juice than he has so far in his career. Other than those wins, there isn’t much to be happy about with Unseld Jr’s performance.
The Wizards’ defense has been hopeless all season. The perimeter defense is horrendous, rim protection is minimal, and the constant communication mistakes have been apparent. The level of defensive effort and discipline has been abysmal all season. The offensive execution in late-game situations is miserable.
That is one of the primary tasks of a head coach. You can’t control whether the ball goes in on either end of the floor. But you can control their intensity, discipline, and your player’s understanding of your defensive and offensive schemes.
If a team suffers one desultory loss after another due to non-existent defense and lack of offensive execution, it means you have failed to get the players’ buy-in. And it’s clear that Unseld Jr. doesn’t have the buy-in from some of his more prominent players. No coach can succeed under those circumstances. If things don’t improve soon, the front office’s faith in Unseld Jr. may begin to dwindle. It will be one of the storylines to keep an eye out for the rest of the season.