Considering he's always been a power forward in a small forward's body, Cunningham made a pretty decent effort of pretending otherwise. Given plenty of opportunities due to injury, Cunningham shot his customary mid range two's well, rebounding well enough for a man of his size, and proved he could play defense on most small and power forwards. He also turned it over only 25 times all year, leading all rookies in turnover percentage at 6.0%. This is helped significantly by the fact that he doesn't dribble, but nevertheless, it's a hugely impressive number. (Tyler Hansbrough was next lowest at 7.1% in his part-season of work; Marcus Thornton was third at 7.3%. The worst? Jrue Holiday, 21.9%. Then James Johnson. Then Hasheem Thabeet.)
In fact, not only did it lead all rookies, the only player that played significant minutes (i.e. more than 500) to have a lower turnover percentage than that was Maurice Evans at 4.5%. Michael Redd had only a 5.8%, but he barely played all season. And Steve Novak had a 1.8% in 57 games; however, he only played 14 seconds per game. (NB: That figure is exaggerated slightly.)
Flip Saunders will likely be the fall guy before the year is out, because someone has to be. But he’s trying, moreso than his players. You can’t teach a team that won’t listen. Washington’s offense is built around a point guard who can’t shoot, a shooting guard who won’t stop shooting, and a big man who shoots whatever he wants before blaming others for it on Twitter. All this is complimented by a defense that just doesn’t understand fundamental defensive positioning, nor that seems to want to try. In stockpiling assets and loading up on potential, all the Wizards have done is create a cast of misfits. Misfits who, for the most part, play as though they are in it only for themselves.
Dearth of on-court discipline notwithstanding, there is a genuine depth of talent to the roster. But even their genuine prospects are suffering. John Wall in particular is off to a terrible start, shooting 35 percent from the field, turning the ball over four times a game and looking thoroughly baffled in the halfcourt. Wall will however at least try to pass, but the same cannot be said for the whole team. As good of shot makers as they are, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford seem content with looking only for their own, running isolation after isolation, damaging their reputations, shooting percentages and team performance in the process.
If the team has such an inherent distrust of itself that veteran reserve Mo Evans (who is not guilty of the aforementioned crimes) saw fit to call a players-only meeting barely a week into a season, it isn’t hard to see where it stems from. The Wizards, frankly, do not play like a team.
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