D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Nets, Preseason Game 1
Back for another season, the D.C. Council Opening Statements is a game-day post asking three questions about the opponent, usually of a writer covering that team, and answering one question about the Wizards ourselves, amongst other game data and info. Today, Devin Kharpertian (@uuords) of the Nets site The Brooklyn Game.com joins us with three answers, along with your host, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).
Teams: Wizards vs. Nets
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, D.C.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Q #1: The Nets have obviously become a much more experienced and balanced team this summer, but what part of their team game appears to be the weakest going into the season?
@uuords: I’m as curious as you are. The media only saw the last few minutes of the team’s training camp practices at Duke University, and everyone looked pretty locked in during our few glimpses. If I were to point out any major concern, it’s rebounding—Brook Lopez, though underrated as a box-out battler, has never been a prolific rebounder, and Kevin Garnett has shied further and further from the basket as he’s aged. Reggie Evans is a historically good rebounder, but his minutes will be few and far between this season. Defense ends when possession is secured, and though the Nets have all the pieces for a solid defensive foundation, they’ll need to make sure they have the ball after a miss, too.
Q #2: Would you have picked Jason Kidd to coach this team? Do you think he’s ready to balance the roles of game manager (especially late-game coaching decisions) and locker room manager (with so many proud veterans)?
@uuords: I probably wouldn’t, but that’s also because Kidd is less coach than figurehead. The Nets have six—count ‘em, six—assistants, including Kidd’s former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, easing his transition. The Nets have a coaching hierarchy—John Welch runs the offense, Frank has done most of the coaching as this team implements a defensive philosophy, and Kidd darts in and out occasionally to impart wisdom and remind people (nicely) that he’s smarter than them. I imagine he’ll defer to Frank on decisions early on until he gets a feel for the flow.
Q #3: How has our friend Andray Blatche been doing during the roster transition, training camp, and leading up to the preseason. Any specific expectations out of him this season?
@uuords: He’s been good. I know that burns, but he has. He looks like he’s gained a few pounds (surprise!), but Lopez swears that Blatche was working out with him this summer, so those pounds may be muscle. He was doing much of what Brooklyn became accustomed to last year—dribbling well for a big man, making Lopez/Garnett work, and making the team high in “no, no, NO-good shot, man” shots. I know I’m inviting a bunch of anger by saying this, but Blatche was the only NBA player last year to average 19-9-2-2 blocks-1 steal per 36 minutes last year. It seems like he just needed a new situation to realize his talent, at least for one year…
Q #4: What should the general Wizards fan expect out of this first preseason game?
@Truth_About_It: Hard to say, since we’re always cautioned not to read too much into preseason games, yet the starts of the last two preseasons have been indicative of how the early season has gone. Last season, the Wizards started out in Charlotte without John Wall and got out-gunned in transition points, and they sent the Bobcats to the foul line over and over. Also, it was the Jordan Crawford show, amongst a comedy of errors otherwise. As the Washington Post’s Michael Lee put it:
In one of the worst possessions of the game, Crawford dribbled down the clock until there were almost four seconds remaining on the shot clock and fed Jan Vesely in the post. Vesely rushed a jump hook that missed badly, grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked the ball back to Crawford. Crawford fired up a quick baseline jumper and had it rejected by Bobcats forward Tyrus Thomas.
In the second half, Crawford thought Chris Singleton was going to cut to the basket for a layup and fired a pass ahead. Singleton didn’t react until too late and the ball sailed into the front row. On the next trip down, Crawford jumped but was ready to take a shot and the ball squirted out of his hands.
In their second preseason game in 2012, against the Knicks in D.C., the Wizards cowered to Carmelo Anthony, lost track of Steve Novak, and got down 17 points after one quarter. The year before, coming into a very brief, two-game, home-and-home preseason slate with the Philadelphia 76ers because of the lockout, the Wizards got blown out in the first game by 25 points. Former Wizard Mo Evans would later say this about the 20-46 2011-12 campaign.
“We were in disarray from the moment I got here, from the moment I stepped off the plane and seen we were getting blown out by Philly in the preseason, it just wasn’t looking good.”
The last two preseasons—coming out of uncertain lockout times with a team still featuring Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, and then entering the next one with John Wall and Nene sidelined—have involved extenuating, yet seemingly par-for-the-course circumstances for the Wizards.
This time, Washington enters preseason training ground with healthy stars, but missing a key cog in Emeka Okafor for a still indeterminate amount of time, and potential Wiz Kid contributors Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Otto Porter unavailable and nursing ailments of a various degrees (and frustration levels).
Expect mistakes, expect teams trying to feel each other in a fresh season, but also expect both the Wizards and the Nets to give a whole-hearted attempt to show what they’ve got … because both franchises have millions of dollars and years of frustrations in good reason. At least until minutes limits become more important than the score in a meaningless game. After all, it’s just the preseason.
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