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Tag:Gilbert Arenas
Posted on: October 6, 2010 5:45 pm
 

Kentucky duo setting the early pace for rookies

DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall have huge debuts in preseason to set the tone for the ROY chase this season. And it may not be close.
Posted by Matt Moore




Say what you want about John Calipari, he finds himself some NBA quality talent. After producing the previous two Rookie of the Year award winners in Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, Calipari may end up having more than one horse in the race this season. Both John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were highly touted coming out of college, but through Summer League and their first preseason games, we're already getting a sense that it may be these two, and then everyone else for the top rook trophy.

Wall-Eyed


John Wall in his first game on an NBA floor? He was remarkable. Better than expected. Preseason? Sure. But you can't argue with the kind of production he provided, and not just the numbers that pop out to you. 21 points, 9 assists, 4 steals? Great. But he shot 42% from the field, and more importantly was 9-11 from the line.  Most crucial was just two turnovers despite having the ball that much. That's absolutely huge. That numbers will rise with better competition, but just to show the ability is huge for the Wizards as they look for him to become the future of the franchise.

But don't take my words for it. Here's what Wizards blog Bullets Forever had to say on the matter:

"It's possible I underestimated the effect of John coming at you in transition will have on his stats and the team's performance.  Dallas isn't exactly the fastest team in the world, but their only chance at stopping Wall coming at full speed was to foul him. 

Wall's half-court execution does still need work, especially his pick and roll offense.  He's still learning how to attack the pick in such a way where he actually uses it well.  But on the bright side, he didn't turn the ball over much and he realized that Dallas was often playing him to pass."


That's crucial. For some reason, beyond my comprehension, there's been this feeling that Wall's a natural scorer who will have to work to set other players up. If you watched him in college at Kentucky? You know that's not true. Wall more than any other player showed a skillset that fit passing in the NBA best. His drive and kick to the baseline jumper man was automatic, except it was college and no one hits that shot in college (except for Patrick Patterson). He establishes chemistry with a big man (JaVale McGee in Washington off the bat) and works to see him in transition. He's lightning quick but sees the floor at a slower pace.

Wall has the potential to distribute with this team, the question was if he'd be allowed to among veterans who like the ball. If the preseason holds any value whatsoever, that doesn't seem like a problem. Even Gilbert Arenas in his postgame comments made it clear . This is Wall's team. And if that's the case, that Rookie of the Year award is going to be within reach from the get go.

Run DMC in Full Effect

DeMarcus Cousins slipped all the way to the Kings at number five, and honestly, there was absolutely no reason for it. His character issues are all built around on-court blowups which aren't unheard of for a kid his age, and he hasn't been in off-court trouble since his sophomore year of high school. In the meantime, he was arguably the MVP of Calipari's Kentucky team.

Sacramento knows what they have in the combustible big and have marketed him all summer. Then in his preseason debut last night, he showed what he's capable of. 16 points, 16 rebounds, are you freaking kidding me? Check out the two highlights in the first starting at 37 seconds in here . That's what he's bringing, along with what was a good looking jumper.

Cousins has so much instinctive ability at the basket, and for a team looking to run this season, he focused last night on outlet passes. That's a terrifying concept for opponents, if he's able to finish in the post and start the break while bringing in rebounds. His wide body and instincts are going to bring those rebounds in, and preseason or no, 16 boards is a heck of a lot. Cousins already looks like the steal of the draft, and his physical assets put him a leg above Blake Griffin, even before the injury, though Griffin's upside is obviously huge.

Here's what Sactown Royalty had to say on the matter of "Boogie":

On defense, he was surprisingly active, contesting shots, denying his man position.  He still needs a bit of work, but I think he could be a quality defensive presence someday, especially with his knack for drawing charges.  Another nice thing about DeMarcus is that he eats rebounds and craps nice outlet passes.  Many a fastbreak was started last night after DMC corralled the board and threw it out to Tyreke or Beno.  His solid performance was not without flaws however, as he made a few silly mistakes with the ball (including once trying to run the ball up the floor himself after a rebound, leading to a quick turnover) which led to five turnovers, all but one of them because of careless mistakes that can be fixed with experience. 

Cousins' learning curve could be high as well, depending on how he and the coaching staff mesh, which of course gets back to the attitude questions. But with that kind of opening performance and the minutes he's getting from the start, it's clear Sacramento knows what they have with him. Alongside Tyreke Evans, Cousins has a great shot of being able to compete for the trophy based on opportunity and instincts.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 9:41 am
 

Shootaround 9.28.10: Table for three with Cuban?

Posted by Royce Young
  • Want to eat lunch with a billionaire? Jump on Ebay and top the current bid of $2,325 and you can have a nice sit-down with Mark Cuban. The proceeds to the auction are going to the Adrienne Shelley Foundation, a group supporting women filmmakers.
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts tweeted last night: "Now I can jus focus on getting W's & FGM. & STEALS. Y'all know I was top 15 in the league in steals before that guy stop playin me? Smfh!!!" That "guy" was Kiki Vandeweghe last season in New Jersey, if you were wondering.
  • Carlos Boozer on trash-talking with Miami : " We definitely trash talk a little bit, but we're excited. That's what makes the game so good. I'm friends with most of the guys in the NBA and you want to have bragging rights, especially me because I live in Miami in the off-season. So when I go down there, I want to be able to say we kicked their butts. This year, it's going to be different. They're going to want to say they kicked our butts. Those games are going to be lively and exciting… At the end of the day, we know that the Lakers are holding the championship trophy. Championship is going to go through LA. But as a competitor, you want to play against who is supposed to be the best team and you guys, not necessarily you guys, but people are dubbing the Miami Heat as the next best team to the Lakers. As a team that wants to through the best, to be a champion, we look forward to playing the Miami Heat and we look forward to playing the Lakers and Celtics and every other team that's supposed to be better than us."
  • Phil Jackson used the word "collude" to describe how the Heat got together. Matthew Bunch of Hot Hot Hoops looks into it: "Collusion is an interesting and, I’m sure, purposeful word choice. Collusion is an oftentimes illegal agreement among entities to limit market. All acts effected by this means are considered void. Obviously, the matter of the NBA pursuing tampering or collusion against the Miami Heat or its players is virtually dead, but Jackson is always known for playing a psychological game. Sometimes it’s the refs, sometimes it’s the league and maybe this time it’s the league’s fans, painting the Lakers as the good guys against the tainted Heat."
  • Gene Wang of The Washington Post: "Clad in a new No. 9 jersey, a fully bearded Arenas went about his media obligations without so much as a grin. The staid demeanor, like his updated number, represented a vast departure from his former Agent Zero persona, when Arenas carried himself as the exuberant face of the franchise and welcomed the adoration and attention associated with that standing. Arenas did not address specifically his tribulations from last season but mentioned a 'breath of fresh air,' signaling an inclination to redirect his energy toward remaking his image after the franchise reacted to the suspension by quickly removing all likenesses of him from Verizon Center. Part of that purge included an oversized banner hanging on the arena's Sixth Street side and all Arenas jerseys in the team store. 'Any product you own, if something happens to it, you got to do what you've got to do to save your company, so I understand it,' Arenas said. 'Now we've just got to move forward.'"
  • Zach Harper for Hardwood Paroxysm getting sciency with the Lopez twins: "If this theory is true, and I believe science is telling me that it is, then the theory of relativity will help my uneasiness with the Lopez twins. Even though Brook and Robin have different hair, different uniforms and probably different versions of Thor that they enjoy, they’re still so identical that it creeps me out. It gives me some solace to know that Brook is an offensive force while Robin is the answer to many of the Suns’ prayers for a defensive presence in the middle. I’m fascinated at the idea that the two of them excelled at very different parts of the game that probably heightened their skills even more."
  • Mo Williams talked openly about his retirement thoughts at media day: "You're at the beach and you're walking right to that water and you can feel it on your toes and you're a kid and your momma grabs you and says 'nope, you're not going into the ocean today,'" Williams said. "You're looking back and you're like 'wow, I was almost there.' You don't know when you'll be down by the ocean again."
Posted on: September 27, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 11:58 pm
 

Gilbert Arenas finally speaks

Embattled Wizards guard sullen at media day in return since suspension.
Posted by Matt Moore


A very different Gilbert Arenas showed up to Media Day Monday to make his first real public appearance that didn't involve a judge. Instead of the jovial cartoon-character that NBA fans have embraced as some sort of indie-pop-idol due to his blogging, quirks, and general persona, Arenas spoke with reporters at media day for what Michael Lee described as "3 minutes, 12 seconds." Among the juicy short cuts, courtesy of SBNation DC .

On changing as a person:
"I'm more to myself now.  I'm getting older, so you automatically grow.  Just another year. New team."
Just another year. Easy, Gil. Your excitement is contagious, don't want to get the guys up too much. Then again, this is supposed to be about him taking his job seriously instead of, you know, pointing finger gunz at teammates after an investigation is launched regarding his illegal weapon possession.

On not smiling in his pictures:
"The only place I want to smile is on the court. That's where my job is, that's where my love is. That's the only time I need to smile now."

You know how I got these scars? Why so serious ?

How do you plan to win back the fans?
(pauses) All I can do is just go out there and play hard.
Jeez. That's like the preseason version of "both teams played hard."

All in all, this actually isn't anything new as John Schuhmann points out. The only way Arenas is actually going to prove he's turned over a new leaf is to go out and actually do the things he talks about, like leading, taking his job seriously, and playing hard. It's possible he can actually deliver that this year. The talent may still be there. The question, as it has been for three years, is if the head and legs are there still, too.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 3:43 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 3:43 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Wizards

Posted by Royce Young

There will be an eye on Washington this season for one main reason: John Wall. The athletic, gifted point guard will be running the show for a rebuilding Wizards squad and the NBA world will be watching his development. But how does he fit in with Gilbert Arenas? The Wizards' camp will be more interesting than most in terms of sorting out issues. Going in, nothing is really set in stone, other than Wall will definitely get his minutes.

Training camp site: Fairfax, VA

Training camp starts: Begins with "Midnight Madness" Sept. 28 

Key additions: John Wall (draft), Kirk Hinrich (trade), Trevor Booker (draft), Yi Jianlian (trade), Hamady N'Diaye (draft), Hilton Armstrong (free agent), Kevin Seraphin (draft)

Key subtractions: Randy Foye (free agent), Mike Miller (free agent), Shaun Livingston (free agent)

Likely starting lineup: John Wall, PG; Gilbert Arenas, SG; Josh Howard, SF; Andray Blatche, PF; JaVale McGee, C

Player to watch: Gilbert Arenas. I'm going against the grain on this and saying Arenas, but his situation is far more interesting than top pick John Wall's. Arenas has played point guard his entire career and as of right now, the Wizards intend to move him to shooting guard. Gilbert Arenas, shooting guard. Write your own jokes here, people.

Chemistry quiz: By drafting Wall, the Wizards basically told former franchise players Arenas that he's both expendable and no longer the face of the team. How does Arenas, a player looks for his own no matter what position he's playing, handle this? This Wizards definitely have some personality with Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Arenas and Josh Howard. How they get along is probably the biggest question of the season for Washington.

Injury watch: Howard is coming off a major injury that ended his season early last year. He's not part of Washington's long-term plans, but if he's not healthy, this team is thin on both scoring ability and defensive-minded players.

Camp battles: The starting point guard position is Wall's, no doubt. But steady guard Kirk Hinrich will definitely make a push for legit minutes. Add in Nick Young trying to beat out Arenas for the starting 2, Al Thornton trying to win the small forward spot over Josh Howard and Yi Jianlian trying to move ahead of Blatche on the depth chart and you should see a competitive camp for the Wiz.

Biggest strength: Raw talent. The Wizards have some talented youth. Wall, Jianlian, Blatche, McGee and Thornton and Trevor Booker is a group of young guys that can potentially be serious impact players. But they're raw. They're inexperienced. They haven't tasted winning. And they may not know how to play together. But in terms of basketball ability, Washington certainly has a good amount.

Glaring weakness: Experience, chemistry and depth. So there was that gun thing last year. Then of course Andray Blatche might say who knows what. And JaVale McGee might do who knows what. To guess that the Wizards might be dysfunctional this season wouldn't be a long shot.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 10:31 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 11:13 am
 

Pop Quiz: Who's the worst?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Who will be the worst team in the NBA this season?


It's a depressing question, isn't it? Who's going to fail more than any other? Someone has to win the fewest number of games this year. So who's on the list?

The Returning Champ: The New Jersey Nets

You can't just let the reigning "champs" off the list without giving them a chance to repeat! The Nets were the worst team in the league last year, only able to avoid the worst mark of all time due to a late surge. It was a startling development, one that baffled a lot of NBA heads, because the team really did have talent. But for whatever reason (injury, chemistry, coaching, pure terrible luck), it never came together and the team plummeted into the depths. So are they doomed to repeat history?

The Nets struck out in free agency for the top names but still brought in good players. Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, and Troy Murphy will all be suiting up for the Nets alongside Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and Brook Lopez. With the development of the younger players, the addition of a few talented veterans, and a more demanding coach in Avery Johnson, the Nets may not be in position to push for the playoffs, but they are unlikely to repeat as the worst team in the NBA.

The New Kids: The Toronto Raptors


Our first victim of the free-agency summer of doom. After losing Chris Bosh to the triad, GM Brian Colangelo went on a firesale. He ditched Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa and sent Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright. He did spend some money, though, giving Amir Johnson a hefty new deal and bringing Linas Kleiza back from overseas. The Raptors lost a huge chunk of salary, and weren't that great to begin with. They are teetering on the abyss. Will they fall off?

Bear in mind that we're talking the worst here. Not bad, but the worst. And the Raptors could assuredly reach that mark if everything were to go wrong. But there are bright spots. Andrea Bargnani, for all his rebound-void, yogurty, forceless  weaknesses, can still hit from anywhere on the floor, and might actually get to play where he's best (high-post and mid-range) with Bosh gone instead of trying to impersonate a traditional center. DeMar DeRozan has the athleticism and range to be able to become a leader. Sonny Weems continues to impress, Amir Johnson will forever be lauded as the next great (whistle) defensive player (whistle) if only he could (whistle) stop fouling (whistle). If the Raptors drop off a cliff, it'll be because the chemistry wasn't fit to hold, or because the real problem in Toronto hasn't been Colangelo's roster, but Triano's coaching.

The Dark Horse: The Washington Wizards


How could any team with John Wall be the worst team in the league? When you have as fragile a chemistry set as this team does. That's how. The Wizards are a long shot to burrow into the trash heap the furthest, but with Gilbert Arenas anything but a sure thing, there's just no telling how this is going to work out. We thought the biggest concern with Arenas last year was if he could stay healthy a full season. We didn't even get to answer that. Andray Blatche is the third best player on the team, and that could go any number of ways. He could be a consistent scorer, working in tandem with Wall, and showcasing the scoring ability he showed last season. Or he could become a space cadet again. JaVale McGee showed great things in Summer League, but he's yet to prove he can be someone to be relied on as the primary big.

Wall is likely to be good enough to drag this team out of the very basement, and if everything were to go right (and I mean everything), the Wizards could find themselves in contention for the playoffs. But if another chemistry blow-up happens and Flip Saunders is unable to contain the damage and get through, the Wizards could be a two-year disaster.

The Favorite: The Minnesota Timberwolves


Okay, let's try the opposite. Let's try and figure out how the Wolves could avoid being the worst team in the league. Option No. 1, another team has a rash of injuries that makes Houston seem like Phoenix. Okay, barring that, Option No.2, we need the following to occur:

A. Luke Ridnour picks up where he left off in Milwaukee, being a solid game manager and reliable shooter.
B. Martell Webster slides in and immediately begins to contribute as he did in Portland, providing the perimeter scoring missing in Minny last year.
C. Wesley Johnson was in fact, the best player available at 3, better or at least within range of DeMarcus Cousins only without the chemistry problems, and is able to pick up the pro game's speed and awareness necessary to contribute.
D. Jonny Flynn recovers on schedule from hip surgery.
E. Kurt Rambis and David Kahn get over whatever problems they had with Kevin Love last season, and Love is allowed to be on the floor and become the player everyone else believes he is.
F. Darko Milicic actually was worth five years and $20 million, and alongside Love makes for a stout front court.
G. The triangle, one of the more complex and difficult systems to run, which has only been successful for two teams under one coach with the best or second best player in the league at all times, magically works for a lottery team lacking in both veteran smarts and talent.
H. Mike Beasley really was just misunderstood.

That's a lot that needs to go right. Wolves fans tend to think the media picks on them because of their market. As a proponent of small markets, I'm here to say that's not the case. It's because this team is bad. It was built badly, with bad contracts for bad players, with a bad system for its personnel, and it needs significant upgrades at nearly every position and at multiple depth levels in order to make itself right. The Wolves could come together and shove it in the faces of all the doubters. But until we see the actual manifestation of all the supposed potential the roster holds, your Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to be the worst team in the NBA this season.


Posted on: August 2, 2010 9:56 am
 

Where does Hinrich fit in Washington?

Posted by Matt Moore

When Kirk Hinrich was traded to Washington, there was this loud noise across the country. It was NBA fans and personnel across the land scratching their heads, trying to figure out how in the world Kirk Hinrich fits in with the Washington Wizards. The questions were about everything from chemistry to overall scheme to coaching approach. But the biggest questions were about what position he would play.

Hinrich will come off the bench, since John Wall was starter-ready yesterday, and he's the future of the franchise. Gilbert Arenas will start, because, well, he scores a lot of points and Wizards fans still have a soft spot in their heart for him, despite his injuries, inefficiency, and something-something-guns. So Hinrich is coming off the bench. But at what position?

Wizards blog Truth About It dove into the issue and came up with some interesting conclusions:

Remember, Hinrich said that he feels more comfortable playing PG, but feels “very capable” playing SG.  The numbers support his opinion.  Hinrich is a slightly better PG than shooting guard, but the difference in productivity between the two positions is negligible.  Hinrich’s (ordinary) statistics are encouraging.  Yep.  At this point in time, Hinrich’s role on the team is unknown, but he gives the Wizards plenty of flexibility in their offensive sets and in creating lineups, for example: Wall-Hinrich, Hinrich-Wall, Arenas-Hinrich, Hinrich-Arenas.

Hinrich's game makes him capable of playing shooting guard, but his mindset, his natural abilities, are much bettter suited for the point guard position. He's not a pure point, more accurately described as by Tom Ziller as a pass-first combo guard. In Washington, it's possible those pass-first tendencies might present themselves more forcefully, with mid-range scoring option Andray Blatche and Gilbert Arenas never one to turn down a field goal attempt. A Wall-Hinrich back court puts the onus of perimeter scoring on Hinrich, a weight that, for whatever reason, has become too burdensome for Hinrich in recent years.

Paired with Arenas, Hinrich could actually play the shooting guard to a certain degree better most-likely, acting as the facillitating swing on the perimeter to Arenas' ball-handling scorer role.

It's not a perfect fit, but from the research TAI did, we see that there is potential for Hinrich to fit in with the Wizards. Just don't offer up any card games on flights, Kirk.

Posted on: July 22, 2010 8:45 am
Edited on: July 22, 2010 9:51 am
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