Through the Washington Wizards first five games, their best lineups include Eugene Omoruyi, Ryan Rollins, and Bilal Coulibaly — The Garbage Time Gang.
Mix-and-match the lineups with Anthony Gill, Johnny Davis, Delon Wright, and Deni Avdija, each of whom have imbibed of the garbage time elixir.
Sure, it’s all Small Sample Size Theater. Sure it’s almost certainly just a fluke of getting on the floor when the team is so far behind there’s no hope of changing the outcome.
But what is there to lose exactly?
If the Wizards came out Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers with a starting lineup of Rollins, Wright, Omoruyi, Gill, and Coulibaly, they’d almost certainly get run off the floor. Here’s the thing though: they’re already getting run off the floor with their “best” players out there.
Kuzma, Poole, and Jones are supposed to be the team’s best players. Through five games, the Wizards have been utterly destroyed with these guys out there.
None of this should be taken a criticism of Wes Unseld Jr. and the coaching staff, who I think are doing a professional job with this group. The offensive design is solid, as is their defensive scheme. The problem isn’t a lack of adjustments or playing the wrong guys. The truth is, they’re all wrong guys — at least for the role they have with the Wizards.
This is the nature of rebuilding teams. Some guys have to take on more responsibility than they should based on their skills and abilities while the franchise figures out if they can get the young guys to become good someday.
Kuzma’s best role is as a sixth man or fifth starter who plays more with bench units. Jones was an excellent backup and spot starter. Poole seems ideal for an instant offense off the bench role. As the top two or three players, they’re out of their depth.
That’s not a knock on them as players — each has genuine strengths and real value to an NBA team. Just not in the roles they have to assume in Washington.
What Unseld is doing in assembling a rotation is a kind of “least bad” calculation. He’s essentially estimating which players will be least bad in a bigger role. For good reasons, he’s chosen Kuzma, Poole