Wes Unseld Jr is a lucky man. In any other season, his performance as the head coach of the Washington Wizards would have drawn significantly more attention. Yet, the Detroit Pistons are so historically awful that they are rightfully receiving all the ridicule from national media and NBA fans. However, the 2023-24 Washington Wizards are also one of the worst NBA teams in recent memory, and Unseld Jr is one of the primary culprits.
The Wizards are 5-25 for the season with a net rating of -11, meaning they get outscored by 11 points per 100 possessions by their opponents, according to Cleaning the Glass. This is only the third-worst net rating in the league this season but would have been the worst in any of the previous three seasons. It is a 17-win pace for an entire season, which would be the worst record in Washington Wizards history.
The Wizards also allow 123.8 points per 100 possessions, not only the worst defensive rating in the NBA this season but also the worst in NBA history.
Everyone was expecting the 2023-24 Wizards to be bad, but not this bad. This roster is by no means high on talent, but it also has plenty of competent veterans. They don't play non-NBA-ready athletes or raw prospects. Most of the rotation consists of established NBA players. There is simply no excuse for the Wizards to be this awful.
Think of the Portland Trail Blazers. They are also young, rebuilding, and low on talent. But they compete hard every single night, playing close, competitive games, while having a respectable 19th-ranked defense. They are 8-21 but they play the right way, building a positive culture.
The same can not be said about the Washington Wizards. That is why coach Unseld Jr deserves the majority of the blame. Decision-making and shot selection on the offensive end is poor, and effort and intensity on the defensive end leave a lot to be desired. It is hard to argue that Unseld Jr has the buy-in from players, which impacts the overall play of the team.
It is rather obvious that Wes Unseld Jr is not the coach of the future for the Washington Wizards. It's difficult to point to one area in which he has succeeded as the head coach in the past 2.5 seasons. It behooves the organization to find the right coach for the future as soon as possible. Wasting more time in the current situation could have long-term negative impacts on the development of young players.