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By the Numbers: Washington Wizards Are Bad

You know, it's nice that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis wants to publicly support the team's young players. They're on the roster, they're working for him, presumably they're at least trying to work hard. Might as well support them publicly until they can be replaced with guys who are actually good.

That said, every time I read "Ted's Take" I'm left wondering if he's being intentionally disingenuous or if he's really just that clueless. This "public support" piece is a recitation of the same nonsensical claptrap he's been peddling since the offseason.

Summary: We have young players who are developing. We have seasoned veterans. We want to build around young players we have drafted and developed.

The formula according to Leonsis is Young Players + Veterans + Time = Success. There are many problems with this formula, the biggest of which is this: none of it matters if the team can't get GOOD players of whatever age or whatever source.

Leonsis says we have youth, we have veterans, now let's just keep 'em together. But -- in classically Wizards style -- the process is bass-ackwards. Good teams aren't good because they've stayed together, they stay together because they're good.

Bad teams should be revolving doors as they cycle through players who can't do the job. Good teams achieve stability because they have good players -- there's no reason to make major changes when things are going well.

The last piece of bunk I want to address is this: "We basically did start over, building a roster from scratch and a team that evolved around athleticism, running and two players -- Nene and Wall -- who have specialized skills and can make players around them fit in and play better team ball," Leonsis wrote.

So much manure jammed in that bag, the seams are straining. First, athleticism is a part of the game, but it should not be a foundational factor. Basketball is foremost a game of skill. Shooting, passing, ball handling, playing defense -- these are learned skills. The only way humans learn skills such as these is through practice.

But, this philosophy reveals precisely what's behind the jackassed decisions to pick a guy like Jan Vesely -- a good athlete who (despite being called "fundamentally sound" by Leonsis) is lacking in basic skills. It's why the Wizards seem to be fully stocked with "if only" guys -- for example, Wall will be a great PG if only he learns how to shoot and reduce his turnovers. Vesely could be a first-rate SF if only he learns how to shoot and dribble. The entire roster could be effective if only Wall and Nene were healthy.

At any rate, I'm waaaaaay off what I planned to do today, which is to post updated Wizards numbers using my own homemade, regression-based player evaluation metric. The number includes an accounting for defense. As always, 100 = league average; higher is better; and 60 = replacement level.

PLAYER  GAMES  MPG  LW  RATING 
Nene  21.5  205  163 
Emeka Okafor  14  21.9  110  125 
Martell Webster  13  21.5  117 112 
Earl Barron  9.8  116  111 
Trevor Ariza  14  25.6  94 97 
Cartier Martin  9.3 129 90 
Trevor Booker  24.1  85 85 
A.J. Price  14  29.6  83 78 
Jordan Crawford  14  24.4  73  74 
Shaun Livingston  19.8  -- 57 
Bradley Beal  14  27.7  57  49 
Chris Singleton  14  16.4  73 46 
Kevin Seraphin  13  24.5 28 32 
Jan Vesely  14  12.3 -16 -9 
Jannero Pargo  14.6  -65 -64 
         

The Wizards have four guys who have produced at an above-average rate so far this season -- Nene has been hurt, Okafor and Webster have been part-time players, and Barron is an established scrub.

This young core Leonsis wants to build around -- all but Booker rate below replacement level, and Booker is out the next 2-3 weeks with a knee injury. This whole player development thing is really working out.

Randy Wittman is left choosing between bad options. Nightly, he's searching for the lineup that will be least damaging. And frankly, he's not even accomplishing that much of the time. Compounding Wittman's lineup woes is the fact that whichever youngsters he's inserted into the lineup have immediately begun performing worse.

Beal continues to struggle, shooting just 33% from 2pt range. Vesely, Seraphin and Singleton have been awful. Livingston has been bad. Crawford is playing the best ball of his career, which is still substantially below average.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it until I see evidence that changes my mind: the Washington Wizards need a complete franchise reboot. New front office, new coaches, new roster -- one that's built around guys who are good basketball players, not good athletes who might one day be good players if everything goes just right.

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