Maurice Evans has had a great view of the Wizards games so far, but he would prefer the view from on the court than the one at the end of the bench. Evans had played in just three games for the Wizards this season, totaling barely 15 minutes, then played 15 minutes and 22 seconds in Monday’s overtime win against the Toronto Raptors.
“I had some good minutes, especially the first time getting incorporated back into the rotation,” Evans said.
“I just wanted to bring a lot of energy and try and focus on making the right plays that would help our team and not hurt us.”
Evans, 33, along with Roger Mason Jr., 31, are two of the Wizards veteran backup players that provide leadership to a squad of young players, eight of whom are still on their rookie contracts. But Mason and Evans aren’t getting nearly as much time on the court as they had hoped for this season. Ronny Turiaf, 29, fills that leadership role as well, but he’s still out with a broken hand.
“It’s been difficult,” Evans said of the team’s poor record, and his lack of playing time.
“The expectations that I had for us coming in [was to] hopefully trying to get that seventh, eighth seed in the playoffs, and it still isn’t unattainable. A lot of things have to come together for us, and we really have to pick it up.”
“Obviously I thought I would play a bigger role in what’s going on here throughout the year, and now I think its my opportunity to come here and help the team.”
Evans and Mason may start to see more playing time, since the mandate of developing the young players that comes from owner Ted Leonsis and President Ernie Grunfeld also has its downside.
The Wizards have a record of 5-20 record, are showing many of the growing pains common in a young team, including turnovers, an inability to hold a lead or close out games, and a falling into panic mode when they get down, and forgetting the game plan.
In the meantime, two veterans of playoff teams, Evans and Mason, remain on the bench watching. Only Rashard Lewis, 32, starts for the team and plays significant minutes, except when his knees give him trouble, and he needs to take a game or two off.
Coach Randy Wittman appears ready to make a few adjustments.
“Maybe I’ve got to play another veteran guy, other than Rashard [Lewis],” Wittman said after the Wizards 26-point loss to the L.A. Clippers on Saturday.
“It’s one thing to put the young guys out there, but they also have to learn to compete at this level of competition, and to me, I didn’t think that we were ready for that.”
Unfortunately for Lewis, he had to sit out Monday’s game due to a sore left knee, but says he’s day to day. It usually depends on how he feels when he gets up in the morning.
“I’m just taking it day by day right now,” Lewis said of his left knee.
“Hopefully, if I wake up tomorrow and it feels good, I’ll be playing tomorrow but as of right now, I can’t do do too much running or put a lot of pressure on it, so I’m just taking my time,” he said.
“I don’t want to rush myself back and injure it, not injure it, but have it get even sorer. We have a road trip coming up and that’s going to be brutal for us, and I want to be with the guys on the road.”
Following the New York Knicks on Wednesday and the Miami Heat on Friday, the Wizards will head out on a five-game road trip.
“He [Wittman] did tell me that the next morning [Sunday] when I came in, and I was thinking in the back of my head I hope my knee comes around,” Lewis said of Wittman’s plan to play the team’s veterans more.
But even though he was unable to play, he was glad Evans was able to step in.
“Mo, he’s obviously a leader in the locker room, as well as in practice,” Lewis said.
“He stays professional, he stays positive, he works hard in practice. Then, he did get some minutes yesterday [Monday], and I asked him how he felt at halftime, and he said he was tired, and that practice is totally different from a game.”
“You just have to work yourself into the rotation and get that rhythm.”