With the Wizards season at an end, head coach Flip Saunders and several players shared their thoughts on what they took away from the season, both the positives and the negatives.
We will start with Saunders, and then hear from several other players before they begin their off-season plans, knowing that they all look forward to the days when they will be playing, not watching, when the NBA post-season begins.
On the season overall:
“It’s been a long season. It’s been a year of ups and downs in some ways. It finished on more of a high note, but I think in some ways it was somewhat rewarding, not from the standpoint of the wins, but you’re hoping that the process that we’ve gone through and the evaluation and the development of the players that we’re going to reap the dividends this next year.”
On team continuity:
“In the last two years, we’ve almost turned the roster over three times, four times. I think the biggest thing though is that we had continuity for the first time. Continuity and winning in this league is very important. This last month, we had pretty much the same 11 players, core players the whole time, so they had a chance to build some chemistry, they had a chance to understand what their roles are and learned how to play off each other.”
“It’s tough on the coaches, but how about for a rookie like John Wall? Every time he goes out, he’s playing with different players and different roles that they have to play, and you have to adjust your game depending on who’s playing that night. Moving forward, we know continuity is extremely important.”
On staying healthy:
We’ve got to find a way to keep guys healthy. We had a lot of freak injuries, but we’ve got to do whatever we can, whether it’s improving our strength program, our rehab program, and all those things. I think if we get continuity, it’s going to be the first step towards us having more success.”
On John Wall:
“I think he was phenomenal. I think if Blake Griffin was a rookie last year when was supposed to be, the accolades John would be getting would be off the charts. You look at a guy that averaged almost 17 points, over 8 assists, top 10 in steals; his competitiveness and how he approached the game every night and win or lose, the next day he had a positive attitude.”
“He held himself accountable. There were times when things weren’t right and we lost games, he’d point the finger at himself. He took responsibility and I think that’s the first step of a great leader. He knows what he has to work on to get better, but John doesn’t want to [just] get better; John wants to be great. He wants to be the best.”
“For me, respect for the game is really important. I think John really respects the game. If you really respect the game, the game’s going to give you back tenfold, and I think that’s why he’s going to be great for our organization and he’s going to be great for the league.
On how the team can improve:
“We’re going to need to bring in some veteran players, because we are very young. We’ve got to maintain what we did this last month, and that’s maintain a physical presence on the floor – playing hard, playing aggressive and getting after it, so the people we bring in have to fill those roles.”
On Young, McGee and Blatche:
“They understand and appreciate the opportunity they had. Almost everybody had career type years, now we have to take the individual development and turn that into wins. Nick has to continue to get stronger, gain flexibility, JaVale has to get stronger in his lower body, and Dray has to get in the condition he needs to be in to perform how he’s performed these last few weeks.”
On preparing for next season:
“No matter what happen our players will really work on development. We’ll be able to see our players over the next two months. We’ll set up programs for them to follow – conditioning, rehab, individual skill development. We think our guys will be motivated to work on that all summer.”
Next up: John Wall