The Washington Wizards didn't enter the season with high expectations, but their young roster showed some potential.
Heading into this week's All-Star break, the Wizards are already on their second coach, having fired Flip Saunders after a 2-15 start. Interim coach Randy Wittman has seen some improvement, but the Wizards still are among the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
In talking with analysts Shaquille O'Neal (TNT) and Jon Barry (ESPN), both see a Washington team that needs work but is far from a lost cause.
O'Neal and Barry believe ownership and management need to find free agents or make trades to acquire proven players to go with the Wizards' young stars.
How do the Wizards get back on track?
O'Neal » "The downside for Washington is you have a lot of young talent with no veteran leadership. If they had some veteran leadership it could be better. As a big man, I watch JaVale McGee and I see the potential that he has. Other times I watch him and wonder who is teaching this kid. If they had good veteran leadership, they could start to turn it around."
What have you seen from the Wizards in the first half of the season?
Barry » "I watched them win in Portland the other night, and if they played like that all season, they'd be pretty good. Unfortunately, that's not what we've seen this season. Obviously, firing your coach is a difficult situation, but there's a bunch of young talent on this team. The people that play aren't the true leaders. They don't have a lot of veteran leadership. Rashard Lewis is a quiet guy."
How would you fix the Wizards in the short and long term?
Barry » "They need to bring in a few players that have skills and leadership experience. Some players who have been there, done that. There is a lot of talent, but you need to have people that know how to win. John Wall is a tremendous talent, but he needs someone he can lean on. I think it's a lot to ask for a first- or second-year player to lead the team."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.