Judging Flip Saunders as Wizards coachPosted by Inside Hoops
Mike Jones of CSN Washington reports:
A winner everywhere he’s been, Saunders was supposed to come in and take the Wizards from the middle of the playoff pack to the ranks of the league’s elite. But, like his talented roster, he came up short. It’s difficult to give Saunders’ coaching this season a precise grade because there were so many derisive elements involved this season. He – like his players – talked about the need to set egos aside and sacrifice for the greater good, but when things got going, Saunders couldn’t get the Wizards to play together.
Saunders was heralded as an offensive genius, but we never really saw him work his magic on the Wizards. Because he wanted to give Arenas, Butler, Jamison and Haywood time to get used to play together again, Saunders didn’t make them run much of his system. Over-estimating his players, he admittedly let them freestyle while they got back into the groove. But they never got there. The player that suffered the most was Butler, who often looked lost in the system. Was that because Saunders didn’t use him effectively, or was it a result of a lack of focus on Butler’s part, or his bad chemistry with Arenas? It turned out not making Arenas play within a system was a terrible decision because he wasn’t capable of running the show and balancing scoring with distributing. And so, the Wizards’ never clicked.
How much of it was Saunders’ fault, though? With the agendas that the Wizards had, would the coach have had any success if he did direct them to play within his system? By December, Saunders was publically criticizing his players for terrible shot selection and not playing together, “In all my years of coaching…I have never had to yell at a player for taking bad shots…until this year,” said Saunders, who also stressed improved ball movement.