Probably not a better time for the Wizards to show they care about playing basketball as a team than the first game in the New Year, one against familiar foes the Boston Celtics no less. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we Ryan DeGama from CelticsHub.com, Boston’s ESPN TrueHoop Network blog, along with Adam McGinnis and Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1 Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub.com: Rajon Rondo fancies himself the best (and fastest) point guard in the NBA. John Wall’s pedigree and potential mark him as a serious challenger to the top-PG throne. Project forward two years – would you rather have Rondo or Wall? Why?
DeGAMA: I love Rondo’s defense, even though he dogs it some nights, but I’m pretty critical of his offensive efforts, particularly his consistency from game-to-game, which remains a problem five seasons into his career. But I’m also leery of Wall’s shooting numbers, which suggest an uphill climb to competence. Ultimately, I tend towards Rondo in two years and Wall after that, because at 21 years old and four years younger than Rondo, Wall’s ceiling looks like it will ultimately be higher and more attainable.
McGINNIS: Although John Wall is currently mirrored in biggest slump of his professional career, I would still take him over Rajon Rondo in two years. I love Rondo’s overall game but Wall has greater speed and explosive athletic ability. Rondo’s ceiling is pretty much already reached while Wall still has potential to grow into more of an explosive scorer than Rondo once he acquires further NBA experience.
WEIDIE: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen didn’t get to Boston until Rondo’s sophomore NBA season, but the Celtics still had some veterans his rookie season and won 33 games. Wall, on the other hand, has been responsible for being the face of the franchise amidst a plan to rebuild through the draft without much leadership around (aside from a brief spell with Kirk Hinrich and NBA middle-of-the-pack has-been(ish) players like Rashard Lewis, Mo Evans and Roger Mason). So, I would be curious to see how Wall’s development thus far would have gone with more around him. But surroundings notwithstanding, all things considered with the talent of each individual player, I’d rather have Wall over Rondo.
#2 Adam McGinnis, TAI: Jordan Crawford had a reported spat with Kevin Garnett during a pick-up game in Las Vegas this past summer, leading Crawford, perhaps foolishly, to later say, “He messed with the wrong one.” The ‘no love lost’ history between Garnett and Andray Blatche is also well-known. What is the likelihood of a potential skirmish between Celtics and Wizards on the New Year’s Day?
DeGAMA: In the midst of his renaissance last season, Garnett made a comment about how inferior players were putting up big numbers against him in 2009-10, when he was still battling back from that brutal knee injury. I have always associated KG’s comments with this game, where Blatche went off for 31 and 11. So yeah, things could get testy. And given the slow start to Boston’s season, I’ll almost be disappointed if there’s not a bit of a scrum tonight or tomorrow. The Celtics could use something to rouse them from their early season slumber.
McGINNIS: When Kevin Garnett laces up for a basketball game, there is always a good chance for some extracurricular activities, and for opponents to be on alert for nut shots. There is a high probability something will go down because KG is not the type to let things slide and the Wizznutzz’s favorite twitter user, @JCraw55, will not back down. Maybe a fight would inspire the Wizards, because the start of this season has been an absolute dud.
WEIDIE: Garnett will try to instigate tonight, no doubt about that. And usually you would think that such would make a player like Blatche retreat mentally. However, seeing as Blatche, after a summer of big claims through positive talk, is playing some very bad basketball, even by his standards, some prodding from the Big Ticket could be just what he needs to get himself going. But who are we kidding? Crawford, on the other hand, could use to inspiration to make crazy buckets, or take ill-advised shots and wild misses. He might be the wild card for this game.
#3 Kyle Weidie, TAI: The Celtics have struggled out the gate, especially defensively (28th in Defensive Rating according to Basketball-Reference.com) with three straight losses (all on the road) to New York, Miami and New Orleans before notching their first win against Detroit at home on Friday. The young Wizards have struggled in all facets in losses to New Jersey, at Atlanta and at Milwaukee, but have historically been a bit more motivated against the Celtics. Which team needs this game more and who wins?
DeGAMA: I don’t think either team needs this game, but taking down the Celtics could be a rallying point for the Wizards, so I tip my cap in their direction. I think the teams probably split this mini-series, with Boston taking tonight’s game (they’ve got fresh legs and Paul Pierce restored some of their swagger Friday night). Tomorrow, the Wizards can win by running the floor and attacking Boston in the paint with their athleticism and length. The Celtics’ interior defense has been a problem so far and it only weakens on a 24-hour turnaround.
McGINNIS: Wizards fans are running out of fingers to point blame for the winless campaign, as every player in rotation sans Nick Young and Chris Singleton has seemingly been fingered along with coaches, management and ownership. The season is still way young, and I am still optimistic the team can turn things around. Wall’s bank shot three on the Celtics was a highlight of last season, and in March of 2010 Andray Blatche went for 31 and 10 on KG in Boston (when I was rooting for Wizards to tank, so there is a history of Wizards exceeding expectations in battles versus the Celtics). Washington will be victorious because Wall is due to bust out, setting the Wizards up to start 2012 with a bang.
WEIDIE: The assumption might be that Wizards coach Flip Saunders needs this game the most. Playing the Celtics will certainly help motivate a team that he has struggled to inspire. Not saying that Saunders’ job is contingent on this one game, or even the next five (who knows, maybe Leonsis is still intent on not having to pay a coach not to coach, meaning Saunders’ job is secured for the season). But each next game for these young Wizards is a big test in terms of building toward something better, rather than continuing to give reasons why the franchise has long been the joke of the NBA.
[photo: K. Weidie, Truth About It.net]