Tag:Washington Wizards
Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:49 pm

Rookie Wall leading Wizards as captain

Wizards rookie already taking reins as captain as team heads toward regular season.
Posted by Matt Moore

Can you teach leadership? The jury's still out, you have to think. There have been many players that have grown into being leaders after bouts with immaturity of sheepishness, and some players just never get it, despite the attention paid to them by coaches on the matter. But some players, at least, do get it right away. One such player is John Wall.

The prodigal point guard has already claimed captain status on the Wizards alongside Kirk Hinrich. And boy, if that isn't opposite sides of the coin. Wizards blog TruthAboutIt.Net has the scoop :

On Monday afternoon, when I asked Flip Saunders who had arisen to fill the team captain position(s) this year, he sounded pretty confident that 20-year old John Wall and soon-to-be 30-year old Kirk Hinrich would be his men. “Right now we’ve gone with Hinich and Wall. Those are the two guys, at this point, that have shown leadership through camp. So that’s where we’re at right now,” said the coach.

So you've got a 20 year old kid who has come in and been vocal enough to be a leader on a squad filled with NBA veterans, all while showcasing explosive athletic ability and tremendous vision at the most pivotal position in the sport. Yeah, I'd say that whole lottery thing worked out pretty well this year for the Wizards. Weidie at TruthAboutIt.Net went on to ask Saunders about Gilbert Arenas. You know, the former All-Star veteran who you'd hope has taken a forceful voice in practices in order to make up for the time he missed last year and repair his significantly damaged reputation:

“We just haven’t really talked,” said Saunders. “Those two guys have been our two most vocal guys and our two guys that have shown leadership.”

Well, then. That's unfortunate, though not unexpected.

Back to Wall, it's things like this that make you believe this kid could have a higher learning curve than even his Calipari-bred predecessors in Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. In fact, Wall may be the most cerebral point guard to come out of the top five since Chris Paul. All with excellent instincts, athleticism, and vision. Now if he could just get that jumper wet...
Posted on: October 8, 2010 5:49 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2010 5:50 pm

Yi has an extension "under construction"

Posted by Royce Young

It's kind of easy to be overlooked in Washington right now if your name's not John or Gilbert. Those two are the ones making all the headlines and news right now, both for different reasons.

But quietly, Yi Jianlian, who was nothing short of fantastic in Turkey during the World Championships, is off to a quality start in preseason. So much so that the Wizards getting to work on an extension for the fourth year big man. ESPN.com's Marc Stein tweeted late Friday, "Amid John Wall/ Gilbert Arenas focus, Yi's solid start ignored. Heard this week extension for Yi by Nov. 1 deadline 'under consideration' by Wiz."

In Turkey, Yi averaged 20.2 points and 10.6 rebounds and in Washington's first preseason game Tuesday, the Chinese big man put up 11 and 10. Then next game which was last night, he went for 16 points and seven rebounds.

Does "under construction" actually mean Yi will have an extension to sign before Nov. 1? By no means. But for a guy that looked like a bust in Milwaukee, to a guy that showed promise in New Jersey, to a guy that's looking at getting an extension and legit playing time in Washington, Yi has already walked a few miles in his short NBA career.

The Wizards gave Andray Blatche a nice big contract extension a few weeks ago and picked up the option on JaVale McGee, so there could be some question as to where Yi fits. He was acquired for Quentin Ross and cash, but if the extension talk gets serious, Yi might be a high value guy that can settle in and play three positions in Washington.

Posted on: October 7, 2010 1:18 pm

Arenas clarifies his "move on" statement

Posted by Royce Young

After Tuesday's preseason game, Gilbert Arenas spoke to the media and said, "Right now I'm out there to hit open shots, teach John [Wall] the ins and the outs of the game, and then eventually go on and move on - on my way."

Most interpreted that as Arenas' time in Washington was short. And by the sounds of it, it sure seems that way. Arenas even compared the situation to how Larry Hughes stepped aside for Arenas to become a star when Gil arrived in Washington. And by Hughes stepping aside, that meant he moved on as in moved out.

But Arenas tried to clear up his statement. Though it sounded like he wanted to be moved before the end of his contract which expires in 2014, he said he's happy staying where he's at.

"I've got four years left," Arenas told Michael Lee of the Washington Post. "And that's it. That's all I was saying."

Arenas is making the point that he understands it's not his team anymore. It's John Wall's. And the fact a player of Arenas' caliber is willing to admit that, especially at a time where Arenas is still in the prime of his career, is surprising. And also very mature and responsible. It's the new Gilbert Arenas, ya'll.

When the Wizards drafted Wall, things could have gotten awkward between Wall and Arenas. The top pick was walking into a situation where the team was already's Arenas' but it had been passed on in some ways because of the locker room incident last season. If Arenas wanted to be stubborn about this, it could upset things. Instead, the new mellow Gil has accepted his mentorship role and wants to just play with Wall, not against him.

That doesn't mean the Wizards don't want to trade Arenas though. However, both Marc Stein and Lee report that no trade is in the works right now and for the foreseeable future, Arenas is in Washington. Whether he makes it another four-year term in D.C.? That's to be determined.
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.


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: October 6, 2010 9:40 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:47 am

Shootaround 10.6.10: Get Pumped!

Posted by Royce Young
  • A website has compiled a big list of team slogans for all the major sports and it's pretty obvious the NBA has some pretty terrible ones. "Get Pumped!" and "CommITment Engergizes" just aren't doing much for me. Check out the whole list. It's fascinating.
  • Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: "The announcement was ominous: Dwyane Wade, strained right hamstring. Will not return. That is, the linchpin and soul of the new Miami Heat would not return for Tuesday's preseason opener against the Detroit Pistons. When he will return is unknown. Hamstrings are the recalcitrant divas of the muscle set, and often require extra coddling, stroking and pleading to attain cooperation. Wade could very well be good as new in a couple of weeks, but the sight of him limping off the AmericanAirlines Arena court barely three minutes into the game elicited a murmur from the festive crowd. Panic? No. Concern? Yes. Here, on the first night of the anticipated odyssey to an NBA championship, the Heat and its fans got a glimpse of the dreaded disaster scenario. What if one of the Big Three goes down with an injury? What if Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh winds up on the bench wearing a suit and tie?"
  • The Cavaliers played a preseason game last night too. Remember them? Bob Finnan of the News-Herald: "Their chance for a championship might have dimmed, but basketball is not dead at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers kicked off their new era of basketball without LeBron James on Tuesday in an 87-72 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in the preseason opener for both teams. 'It's home,' Cavs forward Jamario Moon said. 'It's never strange to go home. We were anxious to get in here and show people basketball is still alive in Cleveland.'"
  • Everyone was focused on what was going on in Miami last night, but did you know DeMarcus Cousins was awesome in his debut? Cousins put up 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Kings' win.
  • Truth About It on John Wall's debut: "Why, beyond statistics, Wall was worth drafting first overall. I hear DeMarcus Cousins had a nice night. And perhaps something he did sparked some energy in his team at some point. But overall, without the consistency and the label PG next to his name in the stat book, Cousins doesn’t come close to doing what Wall is able to do with his energy, effort, and passion for the game that’s absolutely contagious to his teammates."
Posted on: October 4, 2010 10:38 am
Edited on: October 4, 2010 10:39 am

Video: John Wall makes a layup

Posted by Royce Young

Some people make layups. And some people make LAY-UPS. (Can you feel my emphasis there?)

Everybody is excited about the John Wall era. The way Wall plays is so fluid, so smooth and so flasy . Much like Derrick Rose, Wall just moves in a way other players don't. So of course when Wall split two defenders with an electric crossover and the halved another two defenders while making a 360 layup, it got people like me extremely fired up. Just watch this beauty from the Wizards open practice from over the weekend:

Via Wizards Extreme
Category: NBA
Posted on: September 29, 2010 7:22 pm

The owners are not kidding about a hard cap

Washington owner reveals onwership desire for a hard cap in labor negotiations, no one is pleased.
Posted by Matt Moore

The NBA labor talks had been pretty cordial so far . Both sides had made some noise in the other's direction, but things looked like they might be headed towards progress. That's great news for those of us wanting to avoid a lockout and get back to the business of watching basketball. And then, Ted Leonsis decided to get all loose-lipped.

Leonsis spoke to a group of Washington businessmen Tuesday and accidentally, or perhaps "accidentally" let slip a significant aspect of the NBA owners' approach to the labor talks. In short, they really do want a hard cap, and they intend to get it. Buckle up.

"In a salary cap era -- and soon a hard salary cap in the NBA like it's in the NHL -- if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, its the small nuanced differences that matter," he said.
Whoops. NBA commissioner David Stern was quick to bring the hammer down to try and contain the damage today in a statement to reporters.

"We're negotiating and that was one of our negotiating points," Stern told the Associated Press, "but collective bargaining is a negotiating process, and that was not something that Ted was authorized to say and he will be dealt with for that lapse in judgment."

Geez. Hope Ted doesn't own any horse stables. The NBAPA obviously did take notice of the little slip of the tongue, and commented the following on Twitter.

Wiz owner Leonsis likes NHL-style hard salary cap. Must like lockouts, too. http://tiny.cc/jikrx @dwadeofficial @kingjames @carmeloanthony
Yikes. Message received, loud and clear, NBAPA.

This is a pretty big tip of the hand by the owners, and an attempt to gain public favor for a hard cap represents a pretty big violation of unspoken rules for the negotiations. This is all beside the fact that a hard cap? It's going to be total war for the owners to get. There's no middle ground here. The NBA currently has that middle ground, with a salary cap exceedable by various exceptions. A hard cap is an all-or-nothing element of the negotiations, and it represents a total victory for the owners. It's also the last line in the sand for the players, who in no way will want to play under something which restricts their salaries to that degree.

Leonsis either intended to reveal the ownership's desire for a hard cap, in a calculated effort to get the issue into public discussion, or really did slip, in which case he's not nearly the braniac we thought he was. This complicates the negotiations in general and enflames both sides.

Like I said, buckle up, kiddos. This is going to be a a long, hard lockout.

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.
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