For the first time this season, John Wall and Gilbert Arenas were in the starting lineup together. However, with Al Thornton out due to injury, Kirk Hinrich joined Wall and Arenas to make for a very small backcourt, and the Hawks took full advantage. I can’t understand why Flip Saunders decided to go with Hinrich instead of Nick Young, who has been on a good run of form recently, but the move backfired. Atlanta out-rebounded Washington 49-38, and you could see the problems Atlanta’s size posed to Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee (19 points on 6-of-18 shooting, 14 rebounds). To make matters worse, Nick Young came off the bench and once again played well, scoring 20 points.
Wall and Arenas on the floor together didn’t seem to be much of an issue, as the duo combined for 15 of Washington’s 18 assists. Arenas made the only four three point shots for the Wiz, and the shooting percentage for Washington was pathetic (38.6% from the floor, 23.5% from three). Face it, even after a great comeback win over Philadelphia on Tuesday, it was hard to see how the Wizards would beat the Hawks in A-Town without a true small forward. Before the season, due to the injury of Josh Howard, there was no reliable threat on the wing. Thornton’s sprained ankle will keep him on the bench for a week or two, and I truly believe it is time to give Nick Young the starting job he has played well enough to earn. Until Thornton or Howard returns from injury, and depending on his production perhaps not even then, the Wizards should go with a Wall, Arenas, Young, Blatche, and McGee starting unit. Again, it is a tough stretch of games coming up, but if you are Flip Saunders and the Washington organization, you need to find out exactly what you have in Nick Young. Next up is the Magic at home on Saturday, and the Wiz will look to make this match-up more competitive than their opening night 112-83 defeat.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.