Thompson: Can The Wizards Simply Improve?

Thompson: Can The Wizards Simply Improve?
October 3, 2010, 5:02 pm
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Sunday October 3, 2010 12:57 p.m.
By Ron Thompson

Can John Wall and Gilbert Arenas coexist? As shown by Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, or Ray Allen and Paul Pierce with the Boston Celtics, good teams with good players who have played similar positions find ways to win. Co-stars make adjustments among themselves. Then, despite any perceived disparities in media attention or minutes played, they unite on-court and play to their highest potential--usually with success.

So, why not the Wizards? Given the wild swings they endured last season, from the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin to the ripple effect from Gilbert Arenas' troubles, the Wizards enter this season with fresh leadership. With new owner Ted Leonsis, the Wizards (and Arenas) also have a new star in former University of Kentucky point guard John Wall.

But where many of us have often asked if this pair can coexist, a more pressing question is overlooked: How will the team fare at other positions? To me, Arenas' proven performance and Wall's high basketball-IQ don't bring many doubts about their roles. Yet what are the implications at the small-forward position if Josh Howard doesn't return healthy? Who will be the Wizards' rock in the middle? JaVale McGee was inconsistent during last season, in production and minutes played. Will his off-season experience surrounding Team USA positively impact the Wizards this season?

Regarding impact, what about Flip Saunders? Through no fault of his own, last season seemed to portray him as the substitute teacher struggling with a class of rabble-rousers, trying to manage all varieties of bad behavior. This pre-season, Saunders resembles what most others in his position and with his roster would reflect, a head coach.

Every team has its challenges, and the Wizards are hardly alone in dealing with varying degrees of adversity. Their renewed spirit and leadership suggests a more promising season than last year. So, all things considered, the issue of Gilbert Arenas and John Wall coexisting shouldn't be at the forefront of anyone's mind. The real question should be, can the Wizards simply improve?

I think so.