[Ed. Note: Adam Rubin is a relatively new contributor to TAI, you may have seen him in a D.C. Council or two. Follow him on Twitter: @LedellsPlace. -Kyle W.]
There is no way to sugar coat it. John Wall played a very bad game on Wednesday. And it was not just the poor shooting and turnovers (or as Wall likes to call it: “great passes” that his teammates dropped). It’s the body language. Wall looked like he would rather be anywhere but the Verizon Center. This screen shot shows Wall as he entered a very winnable game with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter and Washington down 88-81. Not exactly the look of someone ready to lead a comeback after sulking on the bench for ten and a half minutes.
Now it’s on Wall to snap out of it and prove them correct. The division leading New York Knicks, who enter the Verizon Center tonight riding a two-game win streak and looking to avenge a 106-96 defeat during their last trip to D.C. on February 6, provide as good a stage as any for Wall to stand up and lead his team. Read more »
Jose Calderon played flawless basketball for the first 47 minutes and 17 seconds of Detroit’s game against Washington. He had just six points on 2-of-6 shooting, but he dished out 18 assists–nine in the third quarter when the Pistons went from down nine points to up 12. Up to that point, Calderon had not turned the ball over, and he hadn’t committed any personal fouls. His only focus was on getting good shots for Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe (the duo accounted for 13 of Calderon’s assists).
With 43 seconds left in the game, Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer to bring the Wizards within six points of the Pistons, 96-90, and on the next possession, Calderon committed his first turnover of the game via an offensive foul. Coach Lawrence Frank immediately called timeout, and when play resumed, Calderon turned the ball over for a second consecutive time when he lost the ball off the dribble. Ariza grabbed the errant pass and was headed down the court for an easy layup, until Will Bynum committed a clear path foul. Ariza converted the two free throws, and the Wizards pulled to within 95-96 with 12.3 seconds left–with the ball. Here’s what happened next:
“Working out to be an Allstar!” via Jan Vesely’s Instagram
Mere hours before the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, Jan Vesely tweeted an Instagram picture of himself working out in a weight room captioned: “Working out to be an Allstar!”
Honza is not in Randy Wittman’s doghouse, per se, but he’s been definitely buried on the Wizards’ bench without a bone lately—the Czech has played just 13 out of 672 total minutes (over the last 14 Wizards games). Many folks on the message boards keep saying that Vesely is bust. Some have come to this conclusion since the former lottery pick, now a sophomore, missed his last chance to appear in the NBA’s Rising Stars exhibition during All-Star weekend. Now, while the wise man might say that setting overly auspicious goals (such as becoming an NBA All-Star) sets you up for failure, it’s certainly good to see that Vesely adopting an “I’ll show you!” mentality. Even if he’s currently frustrated in not playing, he’s still working to prove his critics wrong in the long run. The Czech media, in particular, is waiting to see whether their local hero will produce across the Atlantic.
But, does Vesely really have a chance to become an All-Star? At face value, his chances are slim… very slim, to be honest. Perhaps the question is: has anyone in his situation done it before?
Twenty-eight percent of 3-pointers taken in the NBA are from the corner, and they go in the basket 3.6 percent more than above the break 3-pointers. The Washington Wizards, with John Wall, are the best shooting team in the league from the corner. This is significant.
On January 28, Bradley Beal struggled in a home game against the Sacramento Kings. He played 24 minutes and went 2-for-6 from the field. His sprained wrist was bothering him, a lot. After that night, Beal missed the next five games while recovering from injury.
Jordan Crawford was given a chance to step up against Sacramento, and in the subsequent thee-game road trip: Philadelphia, Memphis and San Antonio. Instead, the Wizards lost all four games (in which Garrett Temple started at the 2, not Jordan Crawford). During the losing streak, Crawford played 73 total minutes, went 8-for-27 from the field, 2-for-9 from beyond the arc, and 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. He scored 21 total points, dished out four assists, and committed seven turnovers.
Now, Jordan Crawford is a Washington Wizards outcast. How did it happen so fast?
Crawford played extremely limited minutes in the two games after the Wizards returned to D.C. from San Antonio—five minutes in a win over the Clippers and six minutes in a win over the Knicks. He didn’t play at all in a February 8 home win over Brooklyn nor in a subsequent road win in Milwaukee. He couldn’t even get off the bench during a pitiful pre-All-Star break loss in Detroit, when the Wizards desperately needed scoring. And Crawford certainly didn’t play in the first game post-break, a pitiful loss against the Raptors at home. Didn’t act like he wanted to play.
Jordan Crawford is obviously in some sort of doghouse, perhaps even an outhouse. He obviously has a name that has come up in trade rumors. He is obviously frustrated, recently tweeting out his December 2012 stats:
It’s a label that no NBA player wants to see next to his name: DNP – Coach’s Decision. Washington Wizards forward Chris Singleton has found himself with that designation 15 times already this season. The second-year player appeared in each of Washington’s first 24 games—even starting eight times—until a home loss against Detroit Pistons on December 22, 2012. Over the Wizards’ next 21 games, he saw action in six of them for 30 total minutes.
In the six weeks since his bench status began, many Wizards observers have wondered what Singleton did to earn a stay in Randy Wittman’s dog house. I joked during the Wizards’ blowout win over Minnesota on January 25 that if it were a high school game, Singleton’s friends would start chants to put him in—he played three minutes of garbage time that evening. With Jan Vesely struggling to make an impact and Shelvin Mack being waived twice, Singleton’s demotion has highlighted the struggles of Ernie Grunfeld’s 2011 draft class. It’s an indictment of management when major pieces of the team’s youth movement might need to be scrapped in such a brief time. John Wall’s January 12 return has coincided with the Wizards finding success. The rotation became set and Singleton was still the odd man out. So we thought.
Washington was riding a three-game losing streak and taking a pummeling by the Spurs in San Antonio on February 2. Singleton entered the contest with 1:17 left in second quarter, with Wizards being doubled up 48-24, and immediately missed a 20-foot shot. He began the second half on the bench. Normally, that might have been it for him.