Original ISH CLTHornet
Join Date: Sep 2009
Re: Insider Request
The Wizards, individually and collectively
Good golly, what a mess. The Gilbert Arenas fiasco is merely one element, as this season was headed off the rails long before he and Javaris Crittenton engaged in their gun hijinks.
The key number here is 49.4 percent. That's the percentage of Wizards baskets with an assist this season, and it ranks 29th in the league, ahead of only Memphis. The Grizzlies are a good offensive team that happens to run a lot of isolation plays for their best scorers. The Wizards, on the other hand, are just selfish. Too many players -- most notably Arenas, Caron Butler and Nick Young -- have broken the offense to seek their own shots, and as a result, the talented team ranks 22nd in Offensive Efficiency.
But the problems are deeper. Washington's young players are clueless, DeShawn Stevenson and Fabricio Oberto have been several leagues south of worthless, and Randy Foye and Mike Miller have failed to deliver the expected impact when Washington traded for them this offseason. Coach Flip Saunders, who previously worked with harmonious, ball-sharing squads in Minnesota and Detroit, has spent most of the season with various looks of disgust on his face. You half-expect him to come out for a game with "all alone" written on his shoes.
And I already covered this in a column last week, so I won't belabor the point now. But for posterity's sake, any list of disappointments pretty much has to include a team that's 4-47.
The Bobcats are flying high thanks to superior seasons from three perimeter players (Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson) and, as I mentioned Tuesday, the outsized contributions of Nazr Mohammed. As for their projected starting frontcourt of Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw … er, not so much.
Diaw was lights-out after a midseason trade from Phoenix last season. But this season, he's gone back to the soft, passive, out-of-shape Boris who left Suns fans so vexed. He has lost four points off of his per-40-minute scoring rate, shot just 32.5 percent on 3s after nailing 41.9 percent post-trade last season, and slumped to a measly 10.85 player efficiency rating.
However, that is actually better than Chandler, who has made Oklahoma City's doctors look like geniuses by missing half the season with foot and ankle problems. When he's played, his turnover rate has been this-must-be-a-typo bad. But it's no mistake -- 26.5 percent of the possessions he uses have ended in a turnover, leading the league by a wide margin and taking his PER down to a ghastly 9.78.
I'm wondering if Diaw is patient zero in some kind of contagious frontcourt infection. Not only has Chandler's play fallen off, look what happened to Vladimir Radmanovic. Traded to Golden State early in the season, Radmanovic has been brutally awful despite relocating to what's seemingly a friendly environment for his game. V-Rad's normally feathery touch has deserted him. Making only 27.8 percent of his 3s and sporting a miserable 44.9 true shooting percentage, he has fallen out of the rotation for a 13-37 team.
Daequan Cook, Heat
Seriously, what happened to this guy? He won the 3-point contest as a 21-year-old and seemed well on his way to becoming a valuable role player with his long-range shooting and decent athleticism. Just a season later, his invitation to the 3-point contest as defending champ is about the only thing reminding people he's still alive. He's shooting 29.3 percent this season. Yes, 29.3 percent. That's not his mark on 3s, that's overall.
It gets worse. Cook is making just 30.2 percent on his 3-pointers, has earned 17 free throw attempts the entire season and averages just two assists per 40 minutes. Perhaps we should have seen one red flag: He was the league's worst 2-point shooter last season and has redoubled his efforts this time around. Nonetheless, for such a young player to take such a major step backward is shocking.
Mike Bibby, Hawks
Want a little secret? Here's how Boston lost to the Hawks in Atlanta almost two weeks ago: They attacked Bibby right away on defense and got him in foul trouble, limiting to a mere nine minutes. Bad idea. As a result, Jamal Crawford checked in to the game early in both halves and played 39 minutes, savaging the Celtics with 28 points and six assists in a 100-91 Hawks win.
Bibby's acquisition two seasons ago was important for Atlanta in terms of both getting a more vocal locker-room voice (Joe Johnson, as one of his former employers noted to me, "would be perfectly fine not talking for three or four days if it weren't for other people") and getting a steadier game manager at the point.
That said, he has really slipped this season at both ends. Offensively, he's lost more than four points off his 40-minute scoring rate while his field goal and free throw percentages have fallen. He still can't be left open -- he's shooting 38.3 percent from 3 -- but those attempts now comprise half his shots, as he's no longer a threat to drive the lane. Defensively, the backflips the Hawks do to try to hide him have been increasingly tortured and more easily picked apart. At this point, he's a stretch as a starter on a top-four playoff team, but as the only true point guard on Atlanta's roster, he's locked into that role for the foreseeable future.