D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards at Pelicans, Game 33
These two teams faced each other in the preseason, but it wasn’t really seen by anyone in Washington or New Orleans. Featuring the only two No. 1 overall NBA draft picks in Kentucky history (John Wall and Anthony Davis), the Wizards and Pelicans put on an exhibition for the thousands in attendance at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY, on October 19, 2013, but the game was not broadcast by any sort of television production (and thus could not be found via any sort of bootleg Internet feed).
That evening, the Wizards fell, 89-93, after Bradley Beal’s layup attempt to tie the game with 11.9 seconds left was swatted away by Davis. Beal did score 30 points that night, but perhaps that block—along with Beal’s brittle bone injuries—provides some context to the ‘Why can’t Beal drive? / Why can’t Beal get to the free throw line?’ questions that continue to circle like vultures. We’ll discuss that and more below, but first let’s check the block via crowd video:
Teams: Wizards vs Pelicans
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Pelicans fav’d by 3.5 points
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: Shucks. We in Wizards Nation know about injuries, especially about injuries caused by Gerald Wallace (Gilbert Arenas!)… So, Ryan Anderson is out indefinitely with a herniated disk. What happens now? Do you make a move? Hope that someone fills in? Think (hope) more about tanking? Also, how much will his absence change the dynamic of New Orleans’ offense?
@BourbonStShots: Yeah, this squad has been dealing with health issues all season, only one of which caused Eric Gordon to miss three days. The various injuries have limited the Pelicans quintet of Anderson-Davis-Evans-Gordon-
As far as what happens next … well, Ryan attempts 7.5 3s per game (22 games). With him available, the rest of the team averages 11.6 3-point attempts per game. Without him, they average … 12 attempts. In other words, in the games he’s missed, everyone has just stayed in their lane, figuratively speaking. Essentially no adjustment was made. Up until today, it’s been short-term kinds of injuries, so maybe this one sparks a change, but likely not tonight.
As far as tanking goes … no chance. Philly has the Pelicans’ 2014 first-round pick unless it ends up being top 5. Given the head start teams in the bottom half of the East have on being horrible, it would be hard for the Pelicans to keep that pick.
Q #2: Tell me about this Anthony Davis fellow? Have you been surprised by his progression this year? Which of his weaknesses still frustrate you? And can you guarantee that he’ll be an All-Star (in New Orleans)?
@BourbonStShots: Davis is on his way to becoming the best big man in the NBA. Not today, not tomorrow, but he’s on the path. I’m in no way surprised by his progression … this is what we (and others) expected. His raw numbers are not as high as other players with similar time served in the NBA, but a deeper look or a glance over at the so-called advanced statistics—or just watching—will back up that this guy is something special and has become more so with every game.
As far as the All-Star selection goes, I doubt it. There are too many bigs with legacies, reputations, and winning teams out there for him to sneak in. If injuries are a factor, maybe it’ll work out.
Q #3: How do you feel about New Orleans’ general “plan”? Will this season be considered lost if they don’t make the playoffs? And do you see the Pelicans being active at the trade deadline?
@BourbonStShots: The plan is basically “Davis,” and that’s a great plan if you ask me. Beyond that, they have taken some care to bring in, in my opinion, potentially undervalued players on decent contracts. Yeah, I know some were skeptical on the Holiday and Evans moves, but those guys are movable pieces, especially two seasons from now. This team is not only intriguing, it’s a collection of movable assets and is not near its final form yet. Acquiring, growing, and swapping assets has been the M.O. since Dell Demps sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles. So far, it’s working. I also have a soft spot for seeking out market inefficiencies . . .
Q #4: After losing four in a row, the Wizards have won five of their last six games, so which lineups have worked?
@Truth_About_It: The Washington Post’s Mike Wise tweeted this not long after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game against the Bobcats:
Either Bradley Beal, Stephon Curry or Klay Thompson will supplant Ray Allen as the league's most potent pure shooter in less than two years.
— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) January 8, 2014
But if Beal thinks he’s going to be an elite shooter, he must, must, MUST get to the free throw line more.
Last season, Beal averaged 3.3 free throw attempts per 36 minutes. This year, that is down to 2.1 per 36, dropping his career average to 2.9.
Ray Allen has averaged 3.9 free throw attempts per 36 minutes for his career, but that has obviously dropped off as he’s aged. As a rookie, it was 3.5. As a soph, it was 4.3. Only once in Allen’s first 11 seasons in the NBA did his FTAs/36 drop below 4.1—in his rookie season and in his sixth season, when he lost 13 games due to injury. In his ninth and 11th seasons, both with Seattle, Allen averaged 5.0 FTAs/36 (a career-high rate).
Further numbers: Stephen Curry is averaging 3.9 FTAs/36 for his career—2.5 as a rookie and a career-high 4.2 this season. Klay Thompson only averages 2.1 FTAs/36 for his career (2.4 this season).
Beal is not that off track from these comparative shooters in being able to get to the line, but thus far in his second season, he certainly has regressed a bit. He’s only attempted a single free throw over the past six games, 160-plus minutes … and that free throw wasn’t even earned, it was due to a technical foul.
Have injuries made Beal tentative? Has he realized that while similar in height stature, Dwyane Wade’s wingspan is much longer (6-foot-10.75 to Beal’s 6-foot-7), thus making it a little less likely that Beal will be able to finish from up close (like Wade)? Has Beal discovered that going against his football-playing brothers in pads at the Y as a teen is much different than going against NBA rim-protectors the NBA (even if the physicality is relatively the same)?
This is another one of those things the Wizards are likely confident that the 20-year-old will eventually ‘get’ … the sooner he does learn more about spacing, weaving through defensive, absorbing contact, and being more confident in his ability at the rim (and, of course, to get to the line), the better for both Beal and his team that currently has a dearth in basketball-driving creators.
[stats via Basketball-Reference.com]
A) What’s the best place to get oysters on the half shell in the NOLA?
@BourbonStShots: Best, you’ll get a ton of answers. If you are in the Quarter, try Felix’s. Good oysters, shorter line than Acme, still in a great location if you are in town for a party. You know, just in case. Bonus bonus, sneak over to Luke and try those.
B) Which current NBA player (can be a non-All-Star type) is least likely to make it out of New Orleans alive after All-Star Weekend?
@BourbonStShots: I’ll say Glen Davis. He’s from Baton Rouge, went to LSU, and it’s clear this man learned to eat. He’s been in Boston and Orlando. I’m sure he’s doing just fine on his Chili’s quota, but when he sneaks into All-Star Weekend festivities, he’ll remember what real food is. Off of a coronary and landing face-first into a plat of étouffée? 2:1.
C) More likely: Otto Porter makes “Rising Stars” game or Saints win in Seattle?
@BourbonStShots: Saints win in Seattle. Porter is averaging 2.4 points per game against anyone. Saints average 7 in Seattle this season. Elementary. Of rookies playing at least 100 minutes, Porter just does not stack up in terms of what has been produced by other rookies. It’s OK, the Pelicans’ rookies have played either fewer minutes or are tearing up the D-League while looking to be traded from the Pelicans. Who dat, baby!