The Wizards assembled some talent in the offseason, adding Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the rotation. They were getting Gilbert Arenas back, after he missed most of the last two seasons. And they hired a proven regular-season winner in coach Flip Saunders. Certainly I expected some time for the new pieces to acclimate, which is why I was so impressed by the season-opening road win over Dallas. Injuries to Miller and Antawn Jamison followed, leading to a rocky stretch, but they stood at 7-10 in early December. They've gone 3-8 since and have exhibited infuriating tendencies. On Saturday, Arenas forced shots on his way to a 10-for-28 night. That's double the attempts any other player took, and he had seven of the team's 16 turnovers. Guys were jacking up jumpers early in possessions and there was no ball movement. The Wizards had just 12 assists. Most infuriating is that they got out-worked by Minnesota. The Timberwolves crushed them on the glass, turning 19 offensive boards into 22 second-chance points. And they got to the line 15 more times than the Wizards. Defensively, once the Timberwolves jumped to a lead, there was no rotation and little effort. A win would have left the Wizards in a tie for eighth place and given them momentum heading into a week with upstarts Memphis and Oklahoma City, and traditional power San Antonio on the docket. Instead, I'm left scratching my head that a team of talent continues to play like a team of individuals. They are built for the here and now. There's no salary-cap freedom to look forward to. There's still time to salvage the season -- especially in the Eastern Conference -- but at this point
the Wizards are my most disappointing team.
As for individual disappointments, with apologies to T-Mobile, here's a look at "My Disappointing Five."
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers started every game for Miami has a rookie in 2008-09. He was adept at hitting 3-pointers, creating space for Dwyane Wade, and getting into passing lanes to rack up impressive steal numbers. We were expecting a little development in his game. Perhaps playing more minutes in his second NBA season with some knowledge as to how to involve others in the offense. After all, it benefits the Heat if Wade doesn't have to direct the offense in addition to the burden of scoring the ball. Well, Chalmers failed as a distributor and still doesn't defend on the ball very well. A recent transgression -- not the Tiger Woods' kind -- when he showed up late for a shootaround cost him the starting job to Carlos Arroyo, who's an even worse defender than Chalmers. The Heat is 5-1 with Arroyo as the starter, and Chalmers is left to fight for the job he once had a lock on.
Runner Up - D.J. Augustin.
Shooting Guard: John Salmons was part of the reason the Bulls felt they could let Ben Gordon walk last offseason. Money was the primary reason, however, Salmons shot 47 percent from the field (41 percent from 3-point range) after coming over from Sacramento mid-season in 2008-09. This year, he was to become the Bulls' long-range threat and replace some of Gordon's scoring. Well, without the threat of Gordon, defenses have closed out on Salmons and he's averaging five points less while shooting just 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from long distance.
Runner Up - Brandon Rush
Small Forward: Richard Jefferson was acquired from Milwaukee for nothing. It looked like he'd be a great hedge against injuries to any of the Spurs' big three. Jefferson has averaged over 21 points in the past two seasons, but is putting 13 points per game on the board with the Spurs through the first 28 games. While his shooting percentage is fine, he's not getting the same number of shots in recent years, which makes perfect sense given the Spurs' offense runs through Tim Duncan first. And the Spurs made some major changes to their rotation over the summer, and it's taking the team some time to acclimate.
Runner Up - Al Thornton
Power Forward: Boris Diaw has been a multi-faceted player, capable of directing offense from the forward position, but has seen his playmaking role diminished since the arrival of Stephen Jackson. He's averaging just 2.3 assists per game in December and his assists for the season are down by nearly two a game relative to his numbers with Charlotte last season. He's shooting less, scoring less and rebounding less, and none of that has anything to do with Jackson's arrival. He showed up to training camp poorly conditioned, according to coach Larry Brown.
Runner Up - Lamar Odom
Center: Mehmet Okur is averaging nearly five points less per game while his shooting accuracy from the field and three-point range has dropped significantly. He's scored more than 20 points just once this season, a 21-point effort in a double-digit loss to the Rockets Nov. 2. Much of Okur's value is tied up in his ability to hit long-range jumpers. Post scoring has never been a strong suit and doesn't need to be with Carlos Boozer around.
Runner Up - Brad Miller