- Running on empty: EPA slashes biofuel goals because of ethanol shortage
- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
Wizards adjusting to their roles
In their first three preseason games, the Washington Wizards have provided a glimpse of what can be expected in the coming season should they remain healthy.
The team has scored plenty of points behind Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, averaging 103 points in its three outings. Coach Flip Saunders also has several different lineups and rotations at his disposal with four different shooting guard candidates and a versatile bench.
That doesn’t mean, however, the Wizards are ready for the regular season.
Gilbert Arenas has displayed flashes of greatness with explosive third quarters (24 points and eight assists) in back-to-back outings. But he also has shown rust (12 turnovers this preseason, a 1-for-5 shooting performance in the opener). Saunders has encouraged Arenas to play with his old aggression, but the guard appears to be feeling his way along as he learns a new offense.
And his teammates - outside of holdovers Jamison, Butler and center Brendan Haywood - are working to adjust not only to the returning floor general but also to their roles on a revamped team.
A telltale sign has been the Wizards’ unassertive play. As Saunders put it last week, “guys were being too passive at times,” looking to make one too many passes rather than just taking an open shot or playing with less fluidity than they have in the past.
Arenas’ re-acclimation comes as a result of missing 149 games in the last two regular seasons because of knee surgeries. Guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye are having to adjust after arriving in a trade from Minnesota over the summer.
Saunders has been able to see positives out of all of his adjusting players, and he knows how to cure the ills. Foye appeared disjointed when he first spelled Arenas in the preseason opener (partly because Foye expected to enter the game eight minutes in, but when Arenas felt good and wanted to keep playing, he admittedly was thrown off mentally). After finally finding his rhythm, Foye showed there won’t be much if any drop-off between the two point guards as he has a similar knack for scoring and creating offense.
Miller, who was acquired for his perimeter scoring prowess, has proved himself to be a better rebounder and facilitator than was believed, but at the same time he has shot poorly at times and passed up open shots at others.
Guard Nick Young played well with holdover teammates Arenas, Butler, Jamison and Haywood, but he has struggled while on the floor with newcomers Miller, Foye and Fabricio Oberto.
Saunders’ solution for Foye has been to bring him in at shooting guard to share the backcourt with Arenas first, then pull Arenas and turn the reins over to Foye once he has warmed up.
“It helps me just being in there at the same time as Gil, being off the ball and then being on the ball,” Foye said Friday. “It’s good. It helps your adrenaline running, and then I’ll be ready to go. That’s the process right there. The team has been together maybe 12 days, so it’s just a process through the season. Moving the ball and the more you play together, the better you get.”
Saunders’ advice to all of his players - but especially to Miller - has been to attack.
“He’s a very good facilitator, better than what people gave him credit for, as far as his ability to set other people up, distribute the ball and make plays,” Saunders said. “But I also talked to him that I want him coming off screens thinking shot first, not predetermined ‘I’ll shoot it if I don’t find anyone else.’ Because he’s too good a shooter to do that.”
The Wizards are confident that as the preseason progresses to their Oct. 27 regular-season opener that the kinks will get worked out. For now, however, they’re learning on the fly.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Russian bombers buzz U.K. airspace; jets scrambled to chase off 'Bears'
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- ISTOOK: Obama's sleight of hand hides hidden government's work
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014