Andray Blatche sat out today’s practice session following last night’s loss to the Celtics in which he sprained his left ankle. He’ll be a game-time decision for tomorrow’s 1 p.m. home game against Cleveland.
DeShawn Stevenson also was out today, which doesn’t come as a surprise. The team is listing him as day-to-day, but Stevenson said last night that he’s planning on sitting out 2-1/2 weeks while trying to get treatment to help heal the pinched nerve.
With the team struggling, it’s understandable that every player is questioned as the Wizards faithful try to figure out who deserves the blame, and I’ve gotten a few emails asking what’s up with Caron Butler’s sudden drop-off in production. Since moving to shooting guard, Butler’s numbers have indeed dipped. He scored 31 in his first game — against Charlotte on Dec. 23 — but just six points against Cleveland and eight against Boston.
I spoke to Caron about it following lat night’s game and he said he’s struggling to produce despite having to take on a different role in the team’s offense. It’s not difficult playing shooting guard, he said, but the Wizards’ scheme calls for its guards to be facilitators rather than the prime scorers and although Ed Tapscott wants Butler to continue to score, the Wizards are working on maintaining the flow of the offense, while also re-aligning things so that Butler can be as effective.
“I’m a facilitator now, more than a playmaker,” Butler said. “My scoring opportunities go down, but at least my assists will go up,” and then he chuckled.
Butler for the season was averaging 15.1 shots a game as the small forward, in the last two games as shooting guard, he has averaged 11 shots a game. Meanwhile, after averaging 4.3 assists a game as a forward, he is now averaging 7.5 dimes a game as a shooting guard.
The Wizards must continue to find ways to generate more offense. Dominic McGuire is doing a great job in the hustle department, but teams don’t respect him as a scorer. He needs to take advantage of opponents neglecting him and get quality drives to the basket.
I think Javaris Crittenton and Nick Young can be a strong tandem off the bench. Crittenton is getting more comfortable and loves pushing the ball up the court and dishing the ball off to a teammate before the defense has a chance to set up. With Young seemingly having rediscovered his shot, he’ll be a key recipient of Crittenton’s playmaking abilities. But, all this — as it’s been said before — will take time. Hang in there Wizards fans.