Andray Blatche is out 3-5 weeks with a strained left calf muscle, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman announced prior to tonight’s game. In the locker room a couple hours before facing the Chicago Bulls, John Wall spoke with the media about life, for the time being, without ‘Dray.
Q: How do you replace Blatche’s points?
WALL: “Look for Jan [Vesely], Book [Trevor Booker], Kevin [Seraphin], and each of those guys to step up in that role and play the four position… Just do the best they can. We’re not telling them to be ‘Dray [Blatche], but just be the player they is and do the right thing to help us out. You’re going to lose a lot of points from ‘Dray, but you can bring out the assets on the defensive end with the other guys. So they can still help us.”
Q: How does the offense change without the skill set Blatche provides as a big man?Read more »
Quietly, rookie Shelvin Mack is one of the few positives in another lost Wizards season in terms of wins and losses. Just about every day, Mack writes into his Twitter account, @ShelvinMack, ”Think Positive…….” So to not let something good go unnoticed, let’s talk about Mr. Mack for a second.
Thus far this NBA season, 34 rookies have played at least 100 total minutes. Mack’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) stands at 15.1, which is slightly above the league average of 15. For a rook, however, this is better than average. His PER ranks eighth best amongst the list of 34 rookies (via Basketball-Reference.com). Here’s the top 10:
Kyrie Irving – 21.5
MarShon Brooks – 19.5
Nikola Vucevic – 18.1
Jon Leuer – 17.6
Ricky Rubio – 17.6
Enes Kanter – 16.9
Kemba Walker – 15.4
Shelvin Mack – 15.1
Tobias Harris – 14.9
Kawhi Leonard – 14.9
To note, Chris Singleton has a PER of 10.0 (ranked 26th) and Jan Vesely has a PER of 6.4 (ranked 32) — no reason to be down on Washington’s first rounders in comparison to their second rounder, however.
Home fans didn’t even let Andray Blatche take the floor, miss a long jumper or two, before they started booing him last night. They let loose on him during pre-game introductions and just about whenever he touched the ball in the early going. Blatche missed a 21-foot jumper 22 seconds into the game, a 19-foot jumper about two minutes later. Relentless. And after a bumbling travelling violation midway through the first quarter, Blatche saw Trevor Booker waiting to check in and started sulking toward the bench. Problem was, Flip Saunders was sending Booker in for McGee instead. Keep playing 7-Day, was the presumed message.
When asked if Blatche earned the “moans and groans” of the crowd, Saunders said, “I’m sure he did, but I give him credit because he played through it.” Sometimes to success, sometimes not. Midway through the second quarter after a steal, Blatche found himself all alone on the break. No off-the-backboard dunking like JaVale McGee, but rather, simply a barely made layup.
“If ‘Dray would have missed that layup…” jokingly chimed in Nick Young several times while Blatche, with an uncontrolled sheepish grin himself, was giving his post game interview with the media, the ability to be laid back about the whole scene thanks to a 105-102 Wizards win.
Blatche didn’t make his first jumper until the third quarter, one that brought the Wizards within six points at 59-53. Fans barely knew how to react… pre-packaged cheers were muted by surprised golf claps. But 7-Day Dray got an ‘atta boy’ from his coach in the way he battled against bruising Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins. No one knows if the boos motivated Blatche to 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, two steals, and one block in 34 tough minutes back in the starting lineup. Or maybe it was a Marine.
Chatting with Wizards forward Trevor Booker in the locker room before his team takes on Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves…
Talk about the matching up against Kevin Love and his rebounding prowess. What do you need to do to combat him?
“He’s just an overall monster. He can post up, he can shoot the three. He’s relentless on the boards, so we just gotta keep a body on him at all times and keep him away from the glass.”
What about Minnesota, how are they scouting you? [NOTE: On the court for pre-game warm-ups, a Minnesota assistant coach pulled Wolves rookie Derrick Williams aside and told him to watch for Booker's left hand (since he is left handed), and told him to play the left drive hard in hopes of maybe drawing charges against Booker.] Read more »
Media members tend to attach themselves to keywords or catch phrases and then shape narratives around them. Guilty as charged. The Washington Wizards franchise has especially provided an abundance of excellent catch phrases over the years.
Recently, you have “pixels” via the web tech-savvy Ted Leonsis (and now, likely “erudite“). From Flip Saunders, we’ve had “Style over substance” as a JaVale McGee descriptor. Going back further, Gilbert Arenas helped popularize the term, “Swag.” Now most feel that word is overused, how oddly fitting.
“Just like Groundhog Day,” Antawn Jamison used to say. From “Get buckets son!,” via Oleksiy Pecherov to “I Love This Game!,” the NBA’s 90s motto that Gheorghe Muresan famously said in broken English over the television airwaves on draft night 1993, some phrases have been more relevant than others. And I’m failing to mention dozens of them, as they pertain to the Wizards.
Media Day for the Washington Wizards fell right on the heeds of Training Camp ending on Thursday afternoon. It was a bit of a frenzied whirlwind, as expected, and more coverage is to come. The lessons taught and the whirlwind of basketball don’t end, of course. The first preseason game is on Friday, and the smell of popcorn is in the air.
There wasn’t much basketball action, however, for the media to witness during Thursday’s session. After team owner Ted Leonsis spoke, the display of players was pretty much relegated to some individual shooting drills. Then Flip Saunders gave rookie Shelvin Mack the DC Hard Hat for a day of work well done. Mack’s teammates congratulated him by pounding him on the head once he donned the hat.
So, in lieu of footage from today, let’s look back at a couple quick training camp videos shot by TAI’s Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend.
McGinnis’ highlights of John Wall from Training Camp Day 3.
The Sacramento Kings closed out their season with a very emotional home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, there was a strong possibility that it was last game in Sacramento after 23 years as the team‘s owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, looked to move the franchise to Anaheim, California. The Kings broadcasters broke down on air, and fans organized a protest by refusing to leave the arena after the contest’s conclusion. Kings players returned to the court to address their adoring fans. There was great sense of empathy amongst sports fans online in seeing a team ripped away from a fan base.
When the move appeared imminent, I caught up with Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders and swingman Maurice Evans to ask about their personal experiences playing in Sacramento. In the video below, Saunders talks about the Sacramento Cow Bells, and Evans provides a funny antidote about a passionate Kings fan that still supports him every time he returns.
NEWARK, NJ: Chris Singleton said the Wizards considered picking him at six.That would’ve been a big reach, but the lengthy wing out of Florida State, touted by ESPN.com’s Chris Ford as the best perimeter defender in the draft, didn’t expect to slip to Washington at 18. Now he has the honor of being the last Green Room invitee selected in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Of course, the NBA no longer embarrasses the undrafted by making them sit by their lonesome. Those who have already been taken and their guests usually go back to their Green Room tables after the horse and pony show of post-selection interviews. Still, athletes often concoct all sort of reasons to self-motivate, and the moment didn’t seem lost on Singleton.
“I’m marking that,” he said when I asked him if he was making a list of all those that passed on him. “That’s all I can say, this day is marked in my history.”
What was lost on Singleton, in his interview video above, was exactly how many teams passed. I can’t blame him. Covering the draft live, it’s quite the whirlwind with picks flying off the shelves left and right. I can’t keep up, so we certainly can’t expect an anxious draftee to keep up. But for the record, 14 teams passed on Singleton, including the New York Knicks at pick 17 (much to the seeming chagrin of the local media).
Bunch old Wizards in the NBA Finals, this we know. Unfortunately, two couldn’t play in game three last night due to injury, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, so they sat on the bench in nice suits while a cat to the far left stuck some finger guns up his nose.
Speaking of finger guns, what is our old pal Gilbert Arenas doing here?
The highlights and good times from John Wall’s rookie year represent the icing on the big ol’ cookie (or cake) that vested hype-machine types gladly diddle themselves to while resting assured on pillows encased with media & PR mints at night. Fodder for rainbows, puppy dogs and ice cream, but relatively useless to Wall himself. He doesn’t seem to take comfort in digits and puffery. Rather, he’s the sort wired to be driven toward success by frustration and failure, i.e., he’s a non-believer in the injury/rebuilding excuses readily applied by some around him. Nor does he appear to possess a complacency or apathy toward loving the game of basketball as some of his teammates have so often conveyed. He actually appears to despise such attitudes. At least this is what dime-store pessimists such as myself optimistically believe.
No, it’s not ‘John Wall Wednesday’ here at Truth About It.net, although there could be a subsequent related post coming this evening that would make it three in a row about the 2010 No. 1 NBA Draft pick. But, you see, no biggie when it comes to the franchise pillar. Wall’s inaugural season has barely been put to rest as his NBA future looks to gainfully go from embryonic to full-on fetus mode. And then who knows… a crawl, walk or sprint into the postseason seems inevitable. Rookie year perspective is a prerequisite, yet no one will know how to properly assess Wall’s 2010-11 until a couple/several years from now. In the meantime, let’s take a videographic look at the experience of the rookie’s emotions through his carefully considered and well-trained quotes to the media covering his team, the Washington Wizards. Dissect this one way now and be ready to reconsider down the road.