Wizards guard Nick Young recent joined some very exclusive company– we’re talking a club that only has 20 members over the course of NBA history (the time period being since 1979-80 when the 3-point line was officially introduced to the league). With his three 3-pointers made to just one assist against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Young now has 316 made 3-pointers for his career to 315 assists. There are now 20 players in NBA history who have: played in 300 or more games, played 7,000 or more minutes, and have more made 3-pointers than assists. This exclusive list, via Basketball-Reference.com, includes the likes of Rashard Lewis, Kyle Korver, Quentin Richardson, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kapono, Matt Carroll, Tracy Murray, Charlie Villanueva, Matt Bonner, Matt Bullard, Eric Piatkowski, Andrea Bargnani, and a handful of other cats. Young ranks 12th amongst the group in career 3-point percentage (38-percent) and is tied with five others for eighth most assists per 36 minutes (1.5 per 36 minutes). So… Congrats Nick! Otherwise, the Wizards play the Blazers in Portland at 10 pm EST tonight, and for today’s 3-on-3 we have none other than ESPN TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott (@TrueHoop), along with TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and Sam Permutt (@sammyvert). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) While reports indicate that Nate McMillan will not make a lineup change for the game against Washington on Tuesday, there are issues of concern that might need to be addressed; to be exact, removing struggling point guard Raymond Felton in favor of Jamal Crawford or someone else. Whatever the case, is any Portland point guard equipped to stop John Wall? Or does it not really matter given the surroundings that the PGs from each team have to work with?
HENRY ABBOTT: Almost nobody in the league can stop that short list of speed freaks one-on-one. But the team approach works well. Portland’s defense, in general, is as good as it has been — fourth in the league at defensive efficiency so far. So, the Wizards will have trouble scoring, regardless. The guard issue that worries me, as a Blazers fan, is on the other side of the ball, where Crawford has always been shoot-first, ask questions later, and now Felton has been looking gassed, with a five-game stretch of hitting 23 of his last 61 attempts, with a mighty seven total rebounds to go with 15 turnovers. But I’d play Felton, simply because he has to develop great chemistry with LaMarcus Aldridge if this team is going to make noise in the playoffs.
ADAM McGINNIS: Felton’s shooting percentages (37-percent FG, 20-percent 3P) are abysmal and his last game highlighted these woes, as he went 4-17 from the field in Portland’s double-OT loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Jamal Crawford never has been any team’s answer at point, where his strengths are instant offense off the bench and closing out games with his big shot-making ability. I would give rookie Nolan Smith a shot at starting since Linsanity over the past week has taught us that you never know what can happen, and especially since Smith displayed defensive prowess at Duke. The Philadelphia 76ers executed the most successful defensive game plan against John Wall. They crowded the lane with bodies, calling it ”Building a Wall to stop Wall,” so the Trailblazers will clearly need a team effort as well.
SAM PERMUTT: The fact that McMillan is refusing to start Jamal Crawford despite Raymond Felton’s continuing struggles is more of a vote in confidence in the rest of the team than in Felton. Though he has been struggling in nearly every facet of the game, he is still primarily a pass-first point guard who gets his teammates involved. The important thing in the point-guard match-up is not who is a better player (obviously Wall, right now) but which point guard can get his team to function at a higher level. No knock on Wall, but Felton is still good enough to “compete” with Wall simply by virtue of throwing passes to the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace.
#2) You have unlimited funds from a Dot Com Magnate / Oil Barron / Warlord and you have to construct a team to play in an exhibition game to be held in a specially constructed gym on the top floor of the glorious Ryugyong Hotel (and Water Park) in Pyongyang, North Korea. You get to start building your team with three players from Washington or Portland (the rest will be selected by the Dear Leader). So… who are you taking?
ABBOTT: If it pleases the Dear Leader, may we please have LaMarcus Aldridge, John Wall and Nicolas Batum. Gerald Wallace or Marcus Camby would replace Batum if Wall were older, but we have to think long-term, so I’ll take the wing with the most long-term upside. Also, we’re going to be long, quick and skilled at every position.
McGINNIS: In this scenario, my only requests are to have a yacht similar to the Octopus to get to the game and that the North Korean court is named after Michael Jordan. Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Washington’s John Wall are the first two off the board. Aldridge’s capability to score on the block and facing up makes him an impossible match up. Wall’s speed, athleticism, and youthful competitive fire is a must to run the team. My third pick would be Nic Batum because the team needs deadly outside shooting that the athletic 23-year old Frenchman provides. I wanted to select Gerald Wallace, but I cannot have player on my team sporting out-of-style braids while showing the communists how America rolls.
PERMUTT: Depends on the goal of the exhibition. If the point is to put on a memorable and exciting performance, I’m going with the Wizards dynamic exhibition duo of John Wall and JaVale Mcgee. John Wall may be the best exhibition point guard in the league (just check YouTube) and JaVale can run and dunk and plank with the best of them. Oh, and I’m bringing 24/7 ‘Dray, for… chemistry-building purposes. If there’s actually something at stake in the game and I want to win? I’m taking LaMarcus Aldridge (who is arguably the best power forward in the league this year), Gerald Wallace, and Wes Matthews. No brainer.
#3) Portland is a solid defensive team (98.4 DRtg, ranked 4th) that hits the defensive boards well (.747 DRB%, ranked 9th) and forces turnovers (.159 opponent TOV%, ranked 3rd). They hold opposing teams to 92.8 points per game, 10th lowest in the NBA. For the Wizards, 90 points is a good night (they average 90.3 per game, ranked 25th in the league). Does Washington score over 90 on Tuesday and does it mean they win?
ABBOTT: That’s a question that’s mostly about pace, where both teams are in the top ten. If the Wizards don’t get back, and the rested Blazers get to running, the Wizards will have more possessions over the 48 minutes to try to do whatever it is they have been trying to do when they have the ball. With enough attempts, even a torturous offense like that can score 90. So, my guess is both teams will play pretty fast, and 90 is likely — but will have no bearing on who wins, which will likely be Portland, as they are the better team.
McGINNIS: Over their last seven games, the Wizards are averaging 94.9 points, 97.8 in their last four contests. John Wall busting out of his early season slump and the emergence of Trevor Booker as a scoring threat are two of the main reasons for this upward diversion from the team’s scoring mean. The Wizards will score enough points but the worry is more on the defensive end. Can Washington stay out of foul trouble and prevent second chance points? Will some random Blazer have a career (or All-Star) night? Can Washington build off their 77 point defensive gem in Detroit? Aldridge will likely give Washington’s frontline fits, so Portland will catch fire from long distance in a convincing victory. Hey, at least they Wiz kids enjoyed their visit to Nike Town and delivered a hilarious video bomb.
PERMUTT: After playing seven games in the first 11 days of February, the Blazers had two straight days off leading up to tonight’s contest against the Wiz. They will have the scouting report down, and they will be especially hungry after an emotional loss to Dallas on Saturday. With a fresh and concentrated Portland squad, it will be difficult for the Wizards to find defensive holes and get easy buckets. That being said, if the Wizards can break 90, it’s probably due to some hot shooting and strong offensive execution, meaning they would have a good chance to win.
[All stats via Basketball-Reference.com]