doclinkin wrote:The GM assembled a roster of international players since he enjoys smart team play, and for years has been the director of international scouting or whatnot (participating in Basketball without Borders etc). His CEO also directs him to select nice guys who are hard workers. The CEO believes you are best prepared to succeed if you 'do well by doing good'. That's the double bottom line. SO, pick good guys and you will win. When in doubt select for character over talent. So far there is a dubious track record of this as a winning strategy in basketball or the world in general, but it makes him feel good about himself and makes for a congenial locker room even on perennially losing teams. He does vocally state that his team will "never tank, ever" despite all evidence that the ONLY way to build a dynasty is to Suck to Get Lucky in the right year, and land the next generational player. Fortunately for him, the team has managed to suck sufficiently that we have landed top 3 players in 3 of the last 10 years. And lottery picks in 6 of the last 10 years. (Lets not mention that we also traded away draft picks in 2 of those 10 years). Of those top 3 high picks only 1 is still with the team. We do have 2 recent lottery picks with the team, but only one of them actually plays. The one who is still learning how to play basketball since he was a baseball fan into highschool and was playing in a country that pretty much ignores basketball since they have no human beings over 6 foot tall in their population.
The current GM was the selection by default after a 70 person focus group ranged far and wide to select the next figurehead of the team. After the last guy spent 14 years squandering the teams future by dong just enough cover-your-ass moves and last second desperation trades for veterans to make it look like he actually gave a crap about his job. The GM search failed when it was made clear that every significant final decision would be vioted on by a board including everyone from the guy who replaces urinal cakes all the way up to billionaire widow Laurene Powell Jobs who bought a partial share in the team when she was convinced it was a good idea by a local politician she was dating. She likes philanthropy, maybe she can help save the orphans and stateless denizens of the District of Columbia by pouring a drop or two of her inexhaustible funds into a long time losing venture that on paper looks like it has a suppressed value. It is underperforming and somehow still worth nearly 2 billion dollars. Anyway. All sensible NBA GM candidates declined to take the position. We were left with an optimistic cheerleader GM who was in the vice-president chair of the last GM for a decade and a half. He has made a couple savvy moves while handicapped by the philosophy that only good guys win. That this is more important than talent. You want both of course, but when in doubt pick the team player. He admires this mindset since that's what works well in Europe. Guys who play well together. Otherwise the coaches will bench them. There are no stars in Euroball. But we do not have a Euroball coach. Who gameplans to make their team stronger than the individual players. We have the other kind of guy.
This GM did not pick the coach, who is in the last year of the contract. The coach is known mostly for being unable to take a team with 3 MVPs deep into the playoffs. But he was friendly-ish with Kevin Durant so the former GM figured that was enough to bring KD home. Despite all evidence to the contrary. KD left home and has stayed far away from home eery choice he has had.
The coach's chief short-coming: he was a scrappy scrub PG who fetishizes two things: star NBA talent, and scrappy scrub role-players. The shorter the better. The sad thing is he is actually trying to win, perhaps to save his job, or set himself up for his next job. He thinks giving the ball to 2 players and letting everyone else stand aside is the best way to do so. And if you are behind you should just throw as many scrappy scrub role-players on court and hope desperately they will bring the energy to make things happen. They do, they make their team lose. He simply does not have a roster that is scrappy enough, apparently, as he has driven away and misused a couple players who were in the smart high-IQ category, but who were more cerebral and less feisty. The roster is incomplete, but is not being used to its best advantage. It was not assembled to play like this.
Before the season the star player was seen on social media partying during a pandemic and throwing up gang signs, after he has spent 2 years rehabbing. The 'CEO' of the team decided he had had enough and forced a trade of the formerly pass-first point guard. The only available matching contract was for a disgruntled former MVP on a team in Houston with a roster that had zero gruntles left to dis. The swap was made, the team gave up a pick to gain him, victory declared. The one thing Westbrook brings with him is all the gruntling in the world. He brings energy to everything, including his terrible shot selection. It is both inspiring and wrongheaded. But a weak coach gets runover by this energy like a donkey on a train track. He still has all-nba talent, but he needs a smart tough coach to focus it.
Meanwhile we have computers watching our players for control and load management and analysis of efficiency. We hired the Godfather of Basketball Analysis in Dean Oliver. We apparently ignore his advice because our coach notably is the least prepared coach in the league, according to a former scout. He writes nothing on the white boards before games. Does not believe in reading scouting reports or gameplanning for particular teams. He believes in upping the usage rate to his stars while everyone else watches. Behind the scenes that stat svengali approaches the players during halftime and says, "Hey you know what i have noticed? When you do this one thing then suddenly you are scoring easy. Maybe try that a bunch in the second half and see if they can stop it. Whaddaya think?" Our tier 2 star has notably excellent 2nd half adjustments, But the team has not found a way to turn that into wins. Just valiant losses clawing back from the deficit of starting out woefully unprepared to play basketball.
However, we do have a director of medical et cetera who will enforce load management from time to time. Bradley Beal is legit injured, though he could probably play. To preserve his career, in case he chooses to stay with us out of misguided loyalty or belief that the owner has a plan behind his jolly personable flim-flammery, the team will enforce some play restrictions to try to prevent the sort of injury by overuse that put our former star player out for 2 years. That's why we hired a medical maven for the squad. To save our biggest assets from the coaches that tell them how and when to play.
The hope against hope is that we can poach your current GM with a huge offer, and perhaps promises of control and a really fancy title that has been researched as being even more important sounding than GM. (Emperor of All Things including Basketball. World Chief of Basketball Operations and Future Worldshaping). Whatever will make Daryl Morey jealous. The secret weapon on our side is that his wife has family in the area and he is friendly with a former US president who is still hanging out in the area sometimes. It's pretty much the "please save us from ourselves!!!" plan that was cleverly enacted to recruit Kevin Durant to the squad. Nice, maybe it works, if the CEO can keep his sweaty meddling paws away from the team and allow the guy to do his job, whether or not Ms Jobs notices or cares or votes on his decisions.
That's pretty much it. In short, yeah they started the year trying to win. Even now the coach would love to win. They are just doing it wrong. In a year where there are a handful of potential all-star players available in the top of the lotto, and a mess of really good players sprinkled lower down. Maybe not generational game-changing talents, but maybe enough that a good GM and coach combo could make something special out of the raw materials we got. Maybe despite all else lined up against us, we suck to get lucky. Which is pretty much the only hope for Wizards fans. Though when Hope and Luck are your only strategy, generally you end up without one or the other.