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Flip Saunders Says John Wall, Wizards Played in Too Many Summer Leagues

The NBA has been back since Christmas, yet the Wizards picked up their first victory of the season on Tuesday. There are a  couple of other teams with two wins and several others with only three, but at the moment Washington appears to be in a class of its own. Naturally, people want answers. The Wizards were one of the league’s worst teams a year ago and vowed to improve with their young talent this season. Instead, they have gotten worse. On Monday, Flip Saunders gave an interesting excuse regarding take on what has contributed to his team’s struggles.

“I’ve never been a proponent of (summer exhibition games),” Saunders said according to CSNWashington.com. “I think you pick up too many bad habits and a lot of things you think are going to be very easy [are not]. I don’t think I saw a charge all summer long.

“Usually what happens is it’s on the best player and the coach. That’s part of the responsibility that we all have. The positive thing is that when you’re the best player, you’re usually the one that can (help most). You can help change things around as the coach can.”

While JaVale McGee and other players also participated in summer exhibition leagues, Saunders is surely talking about John Wall.  Wall called out his teammates for playing selfish basketball last week, but his game hasn’t exactly been sharp either.  He is averaging just over 13 points per game and has turned the ball over nearly four times per game.  Like many other players on the team, it often appears as though Wall can’t shake the lockout cobwebs.

Between Andray Blatche complaining about his role in the offense and Rashard Lewis sitting out after an argument with an assistant coach, the Wizards seem extremely unfocused.  The good news is there is plenty of time to turn it around. The bad news is there is ample time remaining for it to get historically bad.

H/T to Eye on Basketball for the story

Flip Saunders: I Could Beat My Players 1-on-1

The Washington Wizards are easily one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this year. With a loaded payroll and team full of talent, they were expected to contend for one of the middle playoff spots in the Eastern Conference like they had with the Arenas, Jamison, and Butler trio in the past. Unfortunately things have not panned out as planned and the Wizards are a putrid 10-20. Sick of watching his team invent new ways to lose, Flip Saunders has finally pinpointed the team’s problem: pathetic defense. The team’s head coach made some strong comments following Washington’s blowout loss at home to the Thunder, a game in which they allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 54% from the field:

“Guys want to come out of the zone and play man-to-man, but they can’t guard anybody. I can go out there on that floor and take anybody on our team on one-on-one at 52 years old and drive right around them,” Saunders said. “We’ve got to wake up. As I told them: Don’t think it can’t get any worse, because it can. There’s no question it can. We’ve got to have a sense of urgency.”

Even though the team is 10 games under .500, I’m not ready to give up on them just yet. They have far too much talent to be that bad, especially in such a crappy conference. Earlier in the month they could not close out a game and wound up losing six straight games by a combined margin of 14 points. Getting some tougher defense inside is a pipe dream, but closing out games better is a necessity. This team is much better than they’ve shown. I understand the point, Flip, but don’t get too carried away with your abilities.