In the midst of what was a morale-crushing 119-97 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Super Bowl Sunday, Wizards color commentator Drew Gooden was asked by play by play announcer Justin Kutcher what has to change in order for the team to improve.
His first step? The team, he said, had to look inward individually.
“It’s gonna start with your veterans…How can you make others around you better? That comes into play with your veterans, so the Bradley Beals, the Russell Westbrooks—these are the leaders,” Gooden said. “So now, they have to set an example—not just vocally, but setting an example physically and showing how to do it.”
Gooden spent 15 seasons in the NBA, two of them in Washington before retiring in 2016. He was an integral role player for the Wizards’ playoff runs in 2014 and 2015. His last game in the NBA came the season before Scott Brooks took over as head coach in D.C.
He pointed to Brooks and his staff for also having an important role (obviously) in turning the season around but praised Brooks for making some rotation changes.
“Last but not least, it’s the coaching staff,” Gooden said. “That’s who’s managing the minutes, that’s who’s managing who’s going out there, the player development. You’re gonna have to look at if my rotation is the right rotation. Is this matchup the right matchup for tonight? Now, [head coach] Scott Brooks has done that. He’s changed his lineup…so he’s doing things to try to make some adjustments to see if guys will respond, but it’s just not making sense right now for the Wizards and what they’re displaying.”
The Wizards currently sit at 14th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-15, including Sunday’s loss to Charlotte. They have no time to dwell on these recent blowouts with a game in Chicago on Monday.
Decisions by the coaching staff haven’t been the only reason for the Wizards’ current slump, says Gooden, but a lack of effort by the players as well.
“This is the second time in a row that you’re in two ball games that are out of reach. You can’t let that become a habit,” Gooden said, referencing Washington’s 122-95 loss to Miami on Friday.