Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Wizards will never get anywhere, and here's why

Caron Butler is a workhorse with no name, and he will stay until he gets his career on track. Butler has the ability to do something great. In at least one season, he has lead the Wizards in points per game, assists, steals, and he's come close in rebounds. But this has led him nowhere but to two trips to the All-Star game.

However, it's not his fault. Since arriving to the Wizards, Butler has exhibited a boatload of talent, but the Wizards over-rely on him to demonstrate his abilities.

Nobody can tell who Butler truly is. A scorer? A playmaker? A defensive specialist? A combination of all three?

Washington relies on him to be a combination of all three, but few swingmen truly are. Kobe Bryant is all three. LeBron James is all three. Dwyane Wade is all three. The Wizards must realize that they cannot make him into one of those players.

The problem lies in the coaching. Eddie Jordan, the predominant head coach in Butler's tenure with the Washington, has been a players' coach. He has done everything in his power to help his players reach their potentials.

Jordan transformed Butler and Gilbert Arenas from scrubs to all-stars since they arrived with the Wizards, also helping Antawn Jamison improve his shooting and rebounding to create one of the NBA's most talented trios.

That's all fine and dandy, but the Wizards haven't won a round of playoff action since 2005, the year before they traded for Butler. The X factor in the team's disappointments lies in the chemistry.

Jordan made Arenas and Butler into household names, but Arenas became a shoot-first combo guard and Butler has never had enough energy to lead both the offense and defense, despite the Wizards' beliefs.

The Wizards players have reached their potential as individuals, but they have never reached their potential as a cohesive unit.

New coach Flip Saunders isn't going to change that, because like Jordan, he's a players' coach.

With the Pistons, he made four players into all-stars in his first season, but after Larry Brown led the team to two straight NBA Finals, Saunders couldn't lead the team to the promised land in three years with the team.

Now Brown coaches the Bobcats, and tonight he reminded Saunders again why he's the superior coach.

Charlotte may be the least talented team in the NBA. Gerald Wallace is the leader, but he would likely be the fourth best player on a championship team.

But Brown has made his impact in just over a year with the Bobcats. The message is clear: Defense wins. The Bobcats have started the season first in defensive rating, which has kept them out of the basement of the Southeast Division.

That's where the Wizards are. The Bobcats beat them 92-76, holding the Wizards to 38.5 percent shooting.

Butler had another good game. He scored 19 and held Wallace and Stephen Jackson to 25 combined points. The rest of his team couldn't follow through.

If Butler had reached his potential as a teammate, he could have helped the Wizards when they were struggling.

Maybe then a team with three all-stars wouldn't have been blown out by one of the NBA's least talented teams.

But Butler will feel deja vu all over again under Saunders' control. The Wizards have a great group of players, but that will never be evident in their winning until they are taught to play the game correctly.

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