Wizards Still Seeking First Win of Season

If there ever was a chance for Washington to finally win its first game of the 2011-12 NBA season, Sunday afternoon was a golden opportunity.

Facing Minnesota, a team that has lost its last 10 road games and coming off a loss to Cleveland, the Wizards submitted a worse effort than during their first seven losses. 

Washington has struggled to score the basketball all season, coming into the contest averaging just 86.7 points per game, third worst in the league.

Not only have has the team not won a game, the way it is losing has been embarrassing, with opponents scoring 12.9 more points per game.

On Sunday afternoon, the Wizards scored just 72 points, their lowest output since Miami held them to 71 on Jan. 28, 2009 as Minnesota dominated throughout the contest.

Washington briefly held a 17-13 lead, but a 9-0 run by the Timberwolves to close the first quarter proved to be the difference.

Once the lead slipped away, there was no one to shift the momentum back to Washington’s favor, a problem that has plagued the team all season. In need of leadership, the youthful Wizards roster had nowhere to turn.

Rashard Lewis, the only veteran to play significant minutes this season, is out with a knee injury. Even though he is the second highest paid player in the league, is averaging 8.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and is shooting 36.5% from the field, sat out with a knee injury.

Following a promising rookie season, point guard John Wall, the first overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, was expected to have an All-Star caliber season.

John Wall's scoring, assist, rebound and steal averages are down from a year ago.

The Wizards have relied heavily on their 21-year-old point guard, but he hasn’t taken command of the offense.

Wall has yet to finish a game shooting 50% from the field, hit a three-pointer or dish out 10 assists, after averaging 8.3 per game as a rookie.

After finishing his debut season with 26 double-doubles and one triple-double, Wall hasn’t accomplished either feat through eight games.

Coach Flip Saunders attributed his regression to the lack of veteran’s on the roster. While this is true, with six first round picks and two second round selections from the last two draft classes are suiting up for the Wizards, a win is desperately needed.

Wall’s struggles can have reflected the rest of the team. Prior to the game against Minnesota, Washington has shot 44.3% from the field as a team, committed the fourth most turnovers while ranking second to last in assists.

On Sunday, Washington made just 30-of-87 field goal attempts, dished out 15 assists committed 15 turnovers and shot 56.3% from the foul line.

In every other aspect of the game, the Wizards dominated. Even with Kevin Love on the other end of the court, Washington had more rebounds, while finishing with more blocks and steals.

As a team, the Wizards lead the league in rejections and rank fourth in steals.

Through eight games, focus has been lacking.

The team often drifts through games, looks lost on offense and don’t have a player on the roster capable of turning around the down-slide.

In eight games, Washington has already trotted out three different starting lineups, has yet to score more than 96 points and have lost by less than 10 points just twice.

The Wizards have out scored their opponents in just eight of 32 quarters this season, and two were when the game was already decided.

The 0-8 start is the worst in franchise history and half of the losses have come by 18 points or more.

If the Wizards don’t win their next game, against Toronto on Tuesday, a win could be a long way away.

The next eight games all come against playoff teams from a year ago, except for Houston. The NBA record for consecutive losses to start a season stands at 18, set by New Jersey two years ago.

The problem is most players on the team are one-dimensional. Nick Young and Jordan Crawford are high volume scorers, but bring little else. JaVale McGee is a solid defensive presence, but has too many lapses on offense.

Andray Blatche is the most frustrating player on the team, talented, but prone to mistakes.

Jan Vesley, the sixth overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, made his debut, but finished with two points in nine minutes of play.

Washington is the only team without a win on the season and without a change to its roster, or a new coach, the first victory is still far away.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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