The Wizards lack a sense of continuity and coherence as they approach the one-quarter mark of the season.
Their volatility is the product of uncertainty.
Eddie Jordan is uncertain around most of the personnel, as he has been programmed to be by the personnel. All the uncertainty, understandable or not, has had a corrosive effect.
Antonio Daniels, the team’s lone free-agent signing of note in the offseason, has struggled at times to be effective after being dispatched to the bench in favor of Jarvis Hayes.
Pressing the issue is the act of a player trying to regain his relevance.
Daniels has been guilty of that, which only reveals his competitiveness.
He has made a number of forays to the basket with his head down, his teeth clenched and his face swathed in fury, only to be reminded that the tall timber often have the last say.
He has been urged not to dwell on his plummeting field goal percentage, which defies the conditioned response of players around a box score.
The box score is the sacred text of the NBA, studied incessantly by those whose livelihoods are dependent on the numbers.
The numbers of the Wizards have a yo-yo dimension, with the exception of Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, the team’s two All-Stars who remain above the game-to-game shuffling.
Brendan Haywood is liable to be engaged in the proceedings one night but inert the next.
This prompts Jordan to be ever interpretative of the body language and resourceful. This can lead to the appearance of the Poet, a cameo from Calvin Booth or, against the Raptors, a surprise call to Andray Blatche.
For now Jordan is consigned to a coach’s purgatory, unsure of far too many of his players.
Hayes finally met the responsibility of a shooting guard against the Raptors after going scoreless the previous game. That is the topsy-turvy nature of the personnel. Jordan has convinced himself to let Hayes determine his future, whether substantive or modest.
Caron Butler is stuck with the odd curse of being the team’s third-best player who sometimes loses minutes because his presence leaves the Wizards too small in the frontcourt. Butler is in the position of scoring 27 points in one game and being reduced to 13 minutes in the next.
All the comings and goings come with Jordan’s stipulation to be active on the defensive end.
The Wizards largely mock the insistence, which is why they have lost to the Clippers, Nuggets and Bucks at home.
They lost because of their proclivity to trade baskets, which nearly led to an embarrassing outcome against the Raptors, averted only in overtime.
The Raptors scored 61 points in the first half against the Wizards, mostly because the Wizards assumed they could dispatch the Raptors on a whim.
The Wizards refuse to accept an old basketball axiom, which is: Once you allow a team to feel good about itself, don’t be surprised if that team bites you in the rear.
The Wizards could ask Maurice Williams, a relatively undistinguished player with the Bucks who looked like World B. Free by game’s end.
It is not just Williams. The Wizards have a habit of ordering up Hall of Fame busts of the ordinary, whether it be Richie Frahm or Joel Przybilla or Hedo Turkoglu.
The Wizards seemingly have regressed, if you compare their two meetings with the Raptors: In Toronto on opening night and on Fun Street in Game 16.
That is what comes with a plethora of player combinations, varying substitution patterns, the match-up difficulties imposed by the opponents, the inconsistencies of the players, a dwindling interest in defense and a coach still endeavoring to push the right buttons and come up with an orderly scheme.
The Wizards have lots of parts, just not enough of the stuff that provides an able whole.
The Wizards are a 30-35-win team at the moment.