D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Hawks, Game 17
The last time the Wizards had an away/home back-to-back set, they lost to the Raptors in Toronto but came back to D.C. to beat the Lakers on the next night. The Indiana Pacers, Friday night’s opponent, are much better than the Raptors and tonight’s competition, the Hawks, are coming off one-point home win over Dallas. Atlanta now sits with a 9-8 record (same as the Lakers), which is good for third best in the East, but would be tied for 10th-best, with those same Lakers, in the West.
Teams: Wizards vs Hawks
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: WFED-AM 1500
Spread: Washington fav’d by 3.5 points
Wizards tickets … anyone?
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Q #1: A fifth of the way into the season, how are you feeling about Atlanta’s decision to match the four-year, $32 million contract off by Milwaukee to Jeff Teague this past offseason?
@BuddyGrizzard: Matching the offer sheet to Teague was a no-brainer for Danny Ferry. Even if Teague doesn’t make “the leap” that Bo discussed, it’s still a reasonable price for a competent starting point guard.
Last season Teague was one of only six players with 20 points and 10 assists in at least 10 games (courtesy of Bo). Jrue Holiday only had seven such games and made the All-Star team. Now he’s in the Western Conference and the only way Teague fails to make the All-Star team is if his production or the Hawks’ record falls off a cliff.
Q #2: Tell me about the progression of ex-Wizards Cartier Martin and Shelvin Mack in Atlanta. The strong play of Mack, whom the Wizards drafted with the 34th overall pick in 2011, is a particularly sore sport for Wizards fans as they watch Eric Maynor struggle to back up John Wall?
@BuddyGrizzard: Shelvin Mack is the beneficiary of the fact that Dennis Schröder came into the league with a very loose handle which has been badly exposed. Schröder fumbled his way to the bench and then Mack had one nice game against the Knicks. Keep in mind that Raymond Felton has been injured, Pablo Prigioni is old and Beno Udrih is Beno Udrih. We’re not talking about a top-flight point guard rotation here. Since that game, Mack has given the Hawks about what he gave last season. He’s steady, knows the plays, gets hot occasionally and doesn’t kill you with turnovers.
As for Cartier, the Hawks were beneficiaries of the Wizards’ crowded wing rotation. It’s not every year that you sign a player on the eve of opening night who is capable of hitting 38 percent of his 3-pointers. I asked Aaron McGuire from Gothic Ginobili for his thoughts on Martin and he replied, “very good 3-point shooter, awful mid-range, crummy finisher. Bad habit of not committing to his man and losing him on drives.” Martin has given the Hawks some much-needed size and shooting on the wing, but he hasn’t provided what the Hawks really need, somebody that can guard the 3-point line.
Q #3: Who’s play for Atlanta has most surprised you this season? Which unheralded Hawk should the Wizards look out for?
@BuddyGrizzard: The unheralded Hawk who has surprised me, and not in a good way, is Gustavo Ayon. I gushed about Ayon in ESPN.com’s Hawks preview after his surprise run to the FIBA Americas championship with Mexico. Like Mack, Ayon had one nice game against the Knicks and hasn’t done much since. We knew Ayon couldn’t shoot but he’s shown the same infuriating tendency as Zaza Pachulia to miss point blank shots that he should just go up and dunk. Nevertheless, watch out for Ayon on defense where his quick feet make him a factor against the pick-and-roll. He’s a smart, skilled player that just needs to get it together.
Q #4: About those Wizards bigs…
@Truth_About_It: The early reports (via Steve Buckhantz on Twitter) indicated that Nene might miss both last night’s game in Indiana and tonight’s game back in the District. Other thinking would guess that Nene rested for a likely un-winnable game against Pacers so that he would be more equipped to battle against the Hawks. Randy Wittman probably won’t have a clue until game-time. And, honestly, things like this had to be part of the plan: rest for Nene. The issue is that the Wizards are desperate for either Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin, and Jan Vesely, to step up and fill that frontcourt role.
If you go back to 2000, the Wizards have acquired the following big men via the NBA Draft: Kwame Brown (1st), Peter John Ramos (32nd), Andray Blatche (49th), JaVale McGee (18th), Kevin Seraphin (17th), Trevor Booker (23rd), and Jan Vesely (6th)—Oleksiy Pecherov (18th) doesn’t count. That is a terrible-looking track record.
But with some of those players, there’s still time. And with Nene being Nene, there will always be a chance.