The Golden State Warriors will face off Sunday evening against a Washington Wizards team that struggles on the road. Some of their troubles can be attributed to the team’s youth but that would only tell part of the story.
Remember a few years back when the NBA had the illegal defense rule? The spirit of the rule was that the defensive player had to be within proximity of the player he was guarding at all times. Double teams prior to a player receiving the ball were forbidden and thus players could not just stay in the lane guarding no one, waiting for the ball to reach the opposing team’s star. The end result was that zone defenses were essentially outlawed.
The unintended consequence of this rule was that by the late 1990s, teams stopped playing as a unit. Instead, they would rely on one guy to isolate his defender at the wing and try to break him down to get to the rim. Because teams had to be cautious in how they provided help on defense, it meant that players often had lanes to drive and there wasn’t much of a deterrent to prevent them. It made for boring NBA basketball since you would have two offensive players on one side of the court playing together while the three other players on the weak side would just observe their teammates try to play a two-man game.
The NBA eventually figured things out and swapped the illegal defense rule for the defensive three-second rule, which has since made the NBA easier to enjoy. Defenses still have some restrictions as far as how they can provide help to their teammates during games, but it still forces teams to involve every player on the court in the execution of their offense to get quality shots.
But why the history lesson? Because the Washington Wizards have the look and feel of a team from that era of basketball. Other than John Wall, the players do not seem all that interested in passing the ball. Between Nick Young, Javale McGee, Josh Howard, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche and Maurice Evans, every game seems like a contest of who can get theirs as each player tries to break down their defender once they catch the ball at the wing.
At times, the Wizards offense can result into some pretty spectacular plays, which usually come courtesy of a Nick Young corkscrew move in the air that leaves your mouth open for a good five seconds. But more often than not, the one on one style they rely on results in a low percentage shot from the wing, which turns into a fast break for the opposing team.
And yet, the basketball gods seem to have a twisted sense humor reminiscent of Dave Chappelle’s. They allowed the Washington Wizards to win last year’s NBA lottery and thus have the opportunity to bring John Wall on board. Indeed, one of the most talented team oriented point guards in the association is playing for one of the most selfish teams in the league. How’s that for irony?
Let’s count ourselves lucky because the Wizards could easily have set NBA basketball back 10 years if not for Wall. And we call them the Wizards…
Just more irony.