WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- With a record of 7-26, a coaching change and some infamous blunders, the Washington Wizards will return from the all-star break Tuesday night in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks.
After the worst start in franchise history (0-8), the first half of the season turned out better than I expected. The Wizards locker room was a danger zone in early January, with the roof ready to cave in on the entire organization. Let's review some of the positives, some of the negatives and what to watch for in the last 33 games.
*The Wizards aren't the worst team in the league. The Charlotte Bobcats are 4-28.
*Beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-102 on January 18. The win was the finest during Flip Saunders tenure. Superstar's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 69 points in the loss.
*Firing Flip Saunders. The Wizards players, fans and finally the owner Ted Leonsis recognized that there wasn't a way Saunders could be apart of the team's long term future. The coach was sacked on January 24 and replaced with Randy Wittman.
*John Wall played spectacularly in the month of February. Although he still hasn't grasped how to elevate his fellow teammates around him on offense. That could come in time. Maybe. Actually it's doubtful unless a new general manager is hired, because Wall won't have solid players around him. Crap! I'm supposed to stay positive.
*Power Forward Trevor Booker without a doubt has sparked victories for Washington. He's the most unselfish player on the team and plays much bigger than his 6-foot-8 frame. He seems like he's going to become a mainstay in the franchises very uncertain future.
*John Wall didn't add any wrinkles to his offensive skill set -- especially his jump shot -- causing media members like myself to question the long term plan of the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison only made it out of the first round once, and were considered the second best team in franchise history. Regardless of the record, Wall's second year on the team has to be considered a disappointment because he has not taken the tremendous leap we all expected to see.
*Fifteen of the Wizards 26 losses have been by 14 points or more.
*Rookies Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton have not been the kind of immediate impact players so desperately needed by the Wizards. Point guard Shelvin Mack is the most competent rookie, but when he's on the court, John Wall is not.
*The veteran signings of Ronny Turiaf and Roger Mason Jr. haven't gone over as planned. Turiaf has played in just four games because of a broken hand, while Mason Jr. is averaging only 7.6 minutes per game, the fewest on the entire roster.
What to look for in the second half
Trade JaVale McGee
I didn't list McGee on the positive or the negative list, because each andevery game he finds himself on both. I am convinced McGee can become a solidNBA player, just not on the Wizards. There is a maturity disconnect somewherein McGee's head that I think is beyond repair in Washington D.C. Only a change inscenery could fully awaken McGee.
The 7-footer will be a restricted free agent following the season. Washington potentially could match any offer from an opposing team, but do they want to commit to a player who won't commit himself mentally? Why inthe world would he re-sign with Washington? His mother Pamela seems like she'spretty connected in some NBA circles and will be persuading her son that thenation's capital isn't the best place for him. I completely agree with her.
It does seem preposterous to trade a 24-year-old shot blocking machine with untapped offensive potential. But McGee is going to have plenty of suitorsfor his services this offseason, willing to pay him the type of money Clipperscenter DeAndre Jordan received -- four years and $43 million -- and probablymore. John Wall and McGee don't seem buddy-buddy enough for the point guard toplead to management to keep him either.
What could the Wizards get for McGee? At least a first round pick and aveteran player. If the Wizards do re-sign McGee in the offseason, I have astrong feeling we will be seeing a repeat of the Alex Semin situation with theWashington Capitals. The negatives about the player will always overshadow thepositives.
Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely need to play as much as possible
Yes, it will continue to hurt John Wall's stats. Yes, it will probablycontinue to hurt the total in the loss column. But this season is a washanyway. Why not season these guys as much as possible now? I'm talking aminimum of 30 minutes per game.
Working on offense during practice can only go so far. Both of these playersare challenged when they have the basketball in their hands. The only way theycan improve is to eat Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche and even Jordan Crawford'sminutes using bigger lineups.
Let John Wall and Shelvin Mack play extensively together
I keep repeating this phrase, but the rest of the Wizards season should be atrial run. I'd love to see the 6-foot-4 Wall dabble with some shooting guard.Not only will it give him practice to improve his jumper,it could actually work.
The Clippers, Pacers and Nuggets are teams who routinely trot out two point guard lineups and use them effectively. What if Wall thrives without the ball in his hands all the time? There is only one way to find out.