Training camp is set to begin today for the Washington Wizards. Actually, it’s starting right about as I hit ‘publish’ on this post. Roger Mason Jr. is your newest Wizard, Mo Evans might be set to return, and Nick Young… well, we’re not quite sure yet. Could be a couple days.
The TAI team will do our best to cover training camp happenings, but we are also old cats with regular jobs, and other stuff. For instance, Adam McGinnis and I coach a Boys & Girls club basketball team (10-11 year old boys), and we have a game this evening that might preclude attendance at tonight’s initial training camp media section. Another TAI regular, Rashad Mobley, is very close to celebrating the birth of a new child. So, Wizards basketball will come. In the meantime, a couple of training camp musings…
Leadership of John Wall?
One training camp question that Mike Prada posed on SB Nation is ‘How is John Wall relating to his teammates?’ The idea is to hope Wall becomes even more vocal as the team leader. Personally, I feel he will be just fine in this regard. It brings me back to Wall’s very first NBA summer league game in July 2010. Right off the bat, he certainly wasn’t bashful about imploring JaVale McGee to rebound the ball with two hands. Since, there have been countless observed instances of Wall being vocal, barking court orders to his teammates.
On the flip side, if Wall’s teammates aren’t aware that he is the unquestioned team leader going forward, and that true success means getting on the same page as him, then they are stupid. Sure, there will be veteran guidance from Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr. and perhaps Mo Evans. But here’s where Wall needs to be careful: he’ll need to keep his ego in check. Not to say he’s got an ego now, but with being a leader comes being a good manager. Wall will have to always be conscious of how he interacts with teammates, or weary of how he might sound when criticizing teammates through the media. But overall, Wall is a high effort guy, knows well-enough to be unafraid to communicate to anyone, and doesn’t show signs of backing down from opponents. His leadership will be just fine, as long as his teammates are ready to follow.
But What About Defense?
In his opening post-lockout press conference, Flip Saunders mentioned that the key to the big men improving their rebounding was getting better perimeter defense from the guards. They will have to do a better job of thwarting dribble penetration so the bigs don’t have to help as much. But who was Saunders talking to? Well, all the Wizards guards, clearly. But as the leader, it starts with Wall.
Wall must improve his energy and effort on defense. He allowed himself to be infected with giving up on too many plays last season. He also must get more intelligent with his defensive footwork and scouting-report decision making in how to defend ball screens.
According to Synergy Sports Technology…
- In 859 defensive plays that ended in a FGA, TO or FTs Wall allowed 0.94 Points Per Possession (PPP), this ranked 331st in the NBA. Wall was scored upon 42.6-percent of the time.
- In 550 defensive plays of the same nature, Nick Young also allowed 0.94 PPP. He was scored upon 41.5-percent of the time.
- In 234 defensive plays with the Wizards, Jordan Crawford allowed 0.95 PPP. He was scored upon 43.6% of the time.
According to 82games.com…
- The Wizards’ defense allowed 2.4 more points per 100 possessions when Wall was on the court as opposed to when he was off. (The Wizards also scored 1.4 less points per 100 possession when Wall was on the court.)
- Assisted field-goals for the Wizards went up 3-percent with Wall on the court. That being said, opponent assisted field-goals went up 4-percent when Wall was on the court as well.
- When Crawford was on the court, the opposing team scored 3.3 more points per 100 possessions. When Young was on the court, opponents scored 0.4 less points per 100 possessions. (RE: Young… Rather negligible in terms of evaluation, but at least not a negative.)
- Total team rebounding decreased by 1.5-percent when Wall was on the court, decreased by 1.2-percent when Crawford was on the court, and increased by 0.3-percent when Young was on the court.
Essentially, these kids need to put in a lot of work.
No surprise, Gilbert Arenas has been amnestied by the Orlando Magic. No, the Wizards will not be bringing him back, but I will be curious to see which team(s) try to pick him up. Until then…
Headlines you can’t make up:
“Gilbert Arenas and Jacob Johnson Arrested For Stealing 97 LBS. of Copper From Communications Tower in San Antonio”
Of course, it’s a different Gilbert Arenas (this one age 54), and the real headline is ‘Copper theft leads to arrest of San Antonio pair,’ but you get it: Google Alerts. My guess is that San Antonio Gilbert Arenas is way into heroin or meth.
For the hell of it, for the love of Google Alerts, Michael Jordan’s first dunk in a Washington Wizards uniform:
The Wizards have fallen a long way since the Jordan era and have made significant progress in returning the franchise to relevancy… but they still have a long way to go.
But training camp 2011-12 is here! So LEGGO!