Changes reflected by Young-Crawford

Changes reflected by Young-Crawford
August 6, 2013, 12:00 pm
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I know, I know, the past is the past. Just leave it alone already. Fine, but sometimes in order to appreciate the present, looking back is necessary.

In this case, may we present Nick Young and Jordan Crawford squaring off on the court for summer basketball at the Drew League. The video montage is exactly what you would expect from a game involving noted point-producers "Swaggy P" and "Steez." It's all fun - and apparently no defense, as these games often are and should be. No shot is bad, minimal energy is wasted stopping the other guy from getting his.

Yet part of the reason why we can look fondly at this Young-Crawford matchup is because this scenario is there element. The structured NBA where two-way play is a must, not as much. Both have roles in the league - Young signed with the Lakers, Crawford remains with the Celtics - and should for some time. Scoring is a art and those two can paint scoring barrages with the best of them.

They just cannot be part of a team's true core, players a coach relies on nightly. At times with the Wizards, both were positioned as key figures for a rebuilding roster. Those various rebuilds didn't work. It's worth noting the Lakers and Celtics are heading toward their own transitional seasons, though Young and Crawford are more like mercenaries rather than building blocks.

During his final days in Washington, Young was unfairly lumped in with the negative elements of JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, but his care-free vibe didn't make for a team's centerpiece either. Crawford took over the scoring guard role when the Wizards dealt Young. When he couldn't grasp that head coach Randy Wittman didn't want him holding the motion offense hostage with his hero ball approach, the team shipped him as well.

As evidenced by the Wizards play over the second half of the season, this is a new team. One that is a top-10 defense anchored by Emeka Okafor inside. One that can score from all angles when John Wall, Nene, Bradley Beal and others are together. One that has a positive locker room thanks to playful sorts like Martell Webster.

Following last week's press conference announcing Wall's new contract, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis expressed confidence in Wittman, specifically the coach's "emphasis on defense and his ability to make the players accountable."

"Culturally, that's such a change for us, that accountability to each other and the coach to play good defense I think is another very positive step for us," Leonsis said.

The names Nick Young and Jordan Crawford were not mentioned. Same for Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. For a team trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008, for a franchise trying to mature into a professional winner on and off the court, that's a good thing.