MILWAUKEE— The Wizards have scored 84 and 83 points respectively in losses to New Jersey and Atlanta to start the season, but for coach Flip Saunders, the key to turning around the two-game losing streak still starts with defense.
“We’re searching a little bit, but you have to do it at the defensive end,” Saunders said. Saunders is in search mode to find the best combination of five players to put on the floor, which doesn’t necessarily include his starting five of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.
Through two preseason games and two regular season games, the second unit has shown more cohesion than the starters. The second unit would include Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack, Ronny Turiaf and Nick Young, although Young’s days as a second unit player are likely limited to his ability to get in game shape.
Even at 85-90 percent, which is where Young claims to be, he’s been the Wizards best offensive threat, having led the team with 16 points in the loss the the New Jersey Nets, and 21 points in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Young’s late arrival to the Wizards was due to his search for a long term deal in the $9 million per season range, which he was unable to secure, and he returned to the Wizards just as training camp ended.
But although two games is a small sample size, Young is making a case that he deserves a long term deal in the financial neighborhood he is seeking. At the end of this season, Young will become an unrestricted free agent.
“We was all happy to have him back, because we know he’s instant offense for us. We love the things he’s doing for us,” Wall said after the Atlanta game.
But in order for Young to cash in at the end of the season, he’ll need to show a little more versatility, such as improving his assist total, and working just a little harder on the defense end. Young had no assists in the home opener against the Nets, due in part to the Wizards woeful shooting, but had four in the game against the Hawks.
“I’m just about there,” said Young, who has trimmed down his unruly offseason hair to a much more manageable style.
“I got out there on the court a little more, and kind of blew it out. I get in a little more practice, get in some more running, and I should be good.”