USA TODAY Sports
Play no defense, win no games. Rinse, wash, repeat
Someone wearing a snarling lupine logo has to see it, right? Right?
58%. Say it with me, kids. Fifty-eight percent.
That's what the Wizards shot against your defenseless (pun intended) Puppies tonight. 58%. That now makes 8 games out of 13 just this month that the Wolves have given up 50% or better shooting to their opponent. It's like someone turned out defense into a little orange tabby cat and then went all
Don't fight the cuteness. Embrace it. Those tiny felines are the happiest Hoopus thing that you'll get all evening.
I've spent some time thinking about this problem, and well....opinions are always welcome. But here's how I see it:
- The team is injured.
True. But unless Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and what's left of Brandon Roy are the core of what you'd consider a stalwart defense, then this isn't it. The Wolves are consistently winning the turnovers battle (meaning it's not a lack of smart players on the floor) and the rebounding battle (the other team wouldn't shoot such a high percentage if they were scoring on second shot attempts anyway) so defensively speaking, we aren't missing much here.
- The team is tired.
Rubio didn't start playing until a month ago. Williams, Steimsma, and Amundson (and to a certain extend, Shved) all were on limited minutes. Barea and Pekovic have been in and out of the lineup with injuries. And as best I can tell, Dante Cunningham is immune to such trivial things as exhaustion. That means only Kirilenko and Ridnour really have any sort of claim to being possibly tired. This isn't it either.
- The team doesn't have any chemistry.
True, yes. But it didn't in November or December either. While it might be logical to think that it's the constant influx and outflow of healthy and unhealthy players, the bottom line it that's been happening all year. It wasn't a problem for the first 8 weeks. Just the last 4.
- The team has given up.
The core of the January Wolves has been Rubio, Kirilenko, Cunningham and Barea. Four guys who I think we all know don't understand the word 'surrender'.
- The team is poorly coached.
Like I said a few wraps ago, defense is 90% preparation. And a lot of that's on the coach. Game tape, defensive assignments, practice. If the coach isn't good at studying the tape, explaining the assignments, and running the drills, then his team is going to get caught flat-footed pretty easily.
It's not like the Wizards are a complicated team. They don't have a stock of particularly crafty players and aren't led by a particularly bright coach. And yet when they play the Wolves, they look like the Spurs.
I don't dislike Terry Porter. I'm sure he's a good dude, and he did a lot of great work as a player in this league. But he's flamed out as a head coach twice already in his very short coaching career, and he doesn't appear to have improved anything since. Yeah, it sounds pretty convenient to say this problem started when Adelman left, but....well, it did. And if it's not the other bullet points, then what else is there?
I'm not even sure what to write anymore. The last month of wraps has basically been the same thing over and over. Play no defense, win no games. Rinse, wash, repeat. I could read all 13 of them and come out with nothing more at the end than
- Since everyone is asking, yes. As I said in the day thread (and I'm sure most of you have read on Wolfson's Twitter by now), the Wolves are looking to keep both Gelabale and Johnson. How, I don't know. I'm told Jellybelly is the more likely to stick, meaning if it comes down to one or the other, Mick takes the last roster spot and Johnson gets left out. That's obviously by necessity, as the immediate need is wing players (currently, we have Kirilenko and....that's it...) But I think everyone would agree that the team has seen a bigger impact on the floor replacing Steamer/Amundson minutes with CJ. It'll be a damn shame if Chris is let go. He's proven he deserves that spot more than the veterans. It really shocks me he hasn't stuck somewhere already.
- Derrick Williams has steadily improved this month. As a power forward. And tonight was a great example of why he needs to be a power forward. When he's the small, faster guy, he not only has a physical advantage, but a confidence one. When he's bigger and slower, he starts overthinking things and tripping over his own feet.
- If only this Martell Webster had played for us last year...
- The lack of deep shooting really hurts this team. Even with Budinger and Love healthy, they're going to need at least one more legit three baller at one of the wing spots.
- Denver should have ditched Wilson Chandler and kept Nene.
- Greg Steimsma shoots with all the finesse of a 16"/.50 caliber Mark 7 WWII battleship cannon. 'Hard of the iron' doesn't even being to describe it. Oof.
- And how in the blazes did Steamer end up leading us in assists??
- The CJ/Jellybelly shot count is now 29-45...64%. So they do actually miss shots sometimes. Kind of.
- Kyrie Irving. Holy hell. The guy came into the league with the expectation he'd be kinda-sorta like Chris Paul. But at this rate, Paul is going to end up looking up to Irving in the end.
And finally, there's this dude. Who made a halfcourt hook shot during the Miami game. Which won $75,000 for the Boy's and Girl's club (awesome organization. Add Denzel Washington's 'A Hand to Guide Me' to your reading list)
Oh. And got him a standing ovation and tackled by LeBron.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, eat your heart out.