Originally posted on Wizards Extreme  |  Last updated 3/25/13
In this week's 3-on-3 segment, Charles Lamar, Trevor Jackon and Mike Andrews give us their take on the Wizards' recent road-trip performance, John Wall's development as a leader, and their thoughts on the team's "built" core going into next season. 1. The Wizards went 2-2 on their recent road trip, losing their first and last games to Charlotte and Golden State respectively. How do you assess their overall performance? TREVOR: I give them a slightly above satisfactory grade for their road trip. Ever since they've started playing good basketball after the break, I have said expectations should be set at about .500. This is a very small sample size, but more of what I personally expected. Throwing out the Golden State game as it was the last game on a four-game road trip, I feel like they could/should have beaten Charlotte. Handling the Suns again was great, and beating the Lakers in LA is always a good feeling. Even more so for me since I won $10 off of a Laker fan with a straight up bet. CHARLES: The Wizards performance on the road trip was indicative of the Wizards performance of late. They start the road trip off losing a very winnable game against the putrid Bobcats, who have beaten the Wizards three times this season. They followed the ugly loss with an ugly win over a bad Suns team. Next up was the Lakers, and while the lame stream media wants to blame the Lakers for blowing an 18 point lead, I'd rather praise the Wiz for not giving up and stealing the game away. The Warriors loss was the result of fatigue, frustration and injuries. So this road trip was sooo #Wizards. MIKE: I'll take .500 record on a road trip any day of the week considering the way this team has been playing away from home all season. What's even more impressive is the way the other players have been stepping up with the flu bug taking out Okafor and Ariza. The win that really stood out to me was obviously beating L.A. at Staples Center. The atmosphere there is different and more intense than probably any other arena the Wizards have played in this season. To go in that house and be able to hang with the Lakers (although they are having struggles of their own), was exciting to me as a fan. Dwight Howard's play has been steadily improving after much criticism so far, and the Wizards were able to still make noise in the post and get the defensive stops necessary to pull out a gritty game.   2. Since his return from injury, we've seen John Wall really step up his role as a leader on this team. He's been fired up late in games and his teammates have been feeding off of it very well. Aside from his ejection in Golden State, what are your thoughts about John's determination and tenacity? TREVOR: This is the John Wall everyone wants to see. This is the John Wall we as Wizards fans have been waiting for. This is the John Wall that we wanted/expected when we drafted him #1 overall as our franchise "savior". During his 13 games in March, Wall has averaged 19.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 8 assists while shooting 51.5% from the floor. He has been aggressive getting to the free throw line nearly 5 times per contest this month. WE need John to maintain this level of production over a 2 to 3 month span, though, in order to feel like it is sustainable. Or better yet, over a whole season. But nobody can be upset with the way he has been playing lately. As far as the ejection, I don't mind it that much. Sure I would like him to let his play do his talking and keep himself from getting ejected, but it definitely shows his fiery side and passion for the game. CHARLES: I don't know what it was but something has clicked with Wall. He's finally becoming the leader that Coach Cal raved about while he was at Kentucky. The talk has been about his vastly improved jump shot, but that's not the only improvement he's made to his game. His decision making has been much better and he's finally figuring out how to properly pace the team. While his ejection was a little hot-headed, it was nice to see some fire from somebody on this squad. MIKE: I've seen a completely different John Wall over the past month, and I couldn't be happier with the role that he's made for himself on this team. He looks like he's enjoying the game again. During the game, he's got this look in his eyes. It's a look of straight focus and competition. No matter what Bradley Beal did while Wall was injured, this team is still clearly John Wall's. His off-the-court attitude is equally impressive, as well. He's much more loose in his post-game interviews. He's speaking up, he's not acting like his media time is a chore anymore. He seems excited about the strides that this team is making. He's confident--and it's hard to stop that level of confidence. 3. As the season winds down, it's beginning to seem a lot like the core for next year's team, along with the coach and front office, has been pretty much established and will remain intact. With the obvious return of John Wall, Brad Beal and Nene, along with the hopeful resigning of Martell Webster, how do you feel about what Ted and Ernie have "built" thus far and what do you expect from them next year? TREVOR: I have been very critical of Randy Wittman all year, and even more so Ernie Grunfeld for some time. But I have to admit I like the way Wittman has this team playing and I like the potential of the roster Ernie has put together. But with all that being said, I don't think front office shakeup should be out of the question. I still think in-game coaching can be improved and some roster tweaking needs to be done. This team only has 9 guys under contract for next season (not counting rookies) and are already near the cap. Some moves certainly need to be made. With all the recent "love" being spread around, this team -- even when healthy -- is not good enough. They need one more game changer, or at least one more game to game impact player to make a difference. Settling for slightly above average, which is what this team is and what this organization seems to strive for, is not acceptable to me as a fan. I don't want to be aiming for 6th, 7th, or 8th place in the playoffs just to find ourselves in NBA purgatory. So to answer the question, while I like the direction and the framework that has been built, more needs to be done. They need to be doing anything and everything to add the missing piece to this team. CHARLES: Although I've been impressed by the play in the second half of the season, I'm still not ready to go and get Ernie a GM of the Year trophy but credit must be given where credit is due. The team is in a much better place than they were last season. But the lack of development of the young players not named Bradley Beal is disturbing and worrisome.  And let's not forget that once again he was able to fix a mess that he created and like it or not the Wizards will still be in the lottery. So I'm skeptically optimistic for next season. MIKE: I feel great about the core of Wall, Beal and Nene (health pending). Webster should absolutely be resigned as he can take that permanent three-spot on the starting lineup. But other than that, I'm not sure who the Wizards will try and move over the summer. I feel that with a few moves (maybe a Booker/Vesely or Seraphin/Vesely package) this team is on par to take at least the 8th playoff spot in the East next season. But with the uncertainty of anyone not named "Wall", "Beal" or "Nene" and the uncertainty of injuries, it's hard to tell what to expect next year. This team could have been a playoff team this year, but the with Washington's habit of catching the injury bug, it ultimately derailed. If the team can stay 80-85% healthy next season, then the Wizards are primed for a playoff spot. However, if they lose more than one player for more than a span of a few weeks, then it may be another lost season.
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