I recently adopted a young puppy named Lana.
I trust that she’s going to be a really good dog sometime soon. But for now, she’s very much a work in progress. One minute she’s delighting people with her precociousness, and the next she’s peeing all over the carpet. She’s smart, she’s fun, and oh, my God, why is she biting my toe?
Watching the Washington Wizards play basketball makes me think of my new puppy.
Last night, the Wizards blew a perfectly good chance to secure their first back-to-back wins of the season when they hosted a depleted Knicks squad at Verizon Center. With Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony out of action, the Wizards fell victim to the NBA’s latest sensation: Linsanity.
Jeremy Lin, the undrafted point guard out of Harvard, ran circles around Washington defenders on his way to a 25-point and 10-assist performance. As great as Lin was, he wasn’t any better than the man playing opposite him.
John Wall had another stellar performance; the difference was that he didn’t have the support of his teammates. Where Lin was able to run an effective pick-and-roll offense, Wall was often left to his own devices. Give Wall a pick-and-roll partner like Tyson Chandler and a hot hand on the wing, and he’ll deliver wins like these.
Instead, Wall is paired with JaVale McGee and Nick Young. The former has the attention span and awareness of little Lana, while the latter is campaigning to take part in the NBA’s three-point shootout despite shooting a decidedly average 36 percent from distance.
Both players will be free agents after this season, and it’s getting harder to see why the Wizards would be very eager to bring them back. McGee, for all of his spectacular highlights, still can’t defend the pick-and-roll or establish himself in the post. Young is a one-dimensional player who believes he’s a star just waiting to emerge.
As we saw last night, surrounding your point guard with the right kinds of players makes all the difference in the world. The Wizards need to start doing that as soon as possible, or else this whole rebuilding project is liable to fall apart.