The Detroit Pistons, who were pacing the NBA in futility, crushed the 76ers in Philadelphia last night, 94-76. Detroit attacked the rim for 48 minutes and outscored Philly 42-28 in the a paint. Greg Monroe led the way with a 19-point, 18-rebound performance. That win snapped the Pistons’ eight-game skid to start the 2012-13 season, and meant that the Wizards, who fell to 0-7 in Dallas, are the last remaining winless team in the NBA. (Fun fact: The Wizards got off to the worst start in franchise history last season, going 0-8; traditions, it seems, are tough to break.)
But Randy “Rodney Dangerfield” Wittman thinks he knows why his squad is falling short of (playoff) expectations: No respect!
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect,” Wittman told NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan. “We go to the rim and had 11 free throws. These young guys just have to make a name for themselves, and it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it.”
Wittman didn’t stop there: “Maybe we have to send the game film everyday to the league.”
One game has turned to two games has turned to three games, and the Washington Wizards have lost them all. But you can take the losses, right Wiz fans? We’re at 266 L’s and counting over the last five-plus seasons, so I’m betting you can.
There are, however, encouraging signs, in pockets. But I’m not here to sell you magic beans of what such encouragement can sprout, just that they won’t be hot pockets (Andray Blatche/WizzNutzz reference). This Wizards team is devoid of young knuckleheads, and that is refreshing.
“We are very tough to play against,” writes Ted Leonsis on his blog. True. Although, worth noting that two hard-fought games between Washington and Boston, with Boston narrowly winning both, is probably more of an indictment of the Celtics than an endorsement of Wizards promise.
But let’s not focus on encouragement and promise. Decent performances from a couple Wiz Kids need to be built upon before the potential is elevated too much. It’s nonetheless nice that Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, the relatively young Martell Webster, and Jordan Crawford have displayed some good episodes in certain instances.
Who knew that “Bieber Fever” was going infiltrate Washington Wizards practice Monday? I sure didn’t, initially. The throngs of teenage girls and reluctant dads outside of the Verizon Center parking garage/bus ramp quickly informed me. And now — look at me — I’m mentioning Bieber’s name in a blog post. Swell.
“pre concert warmup. ballin with the wizards. #DC”
That was Justin Beiber’s tweet this afternoon. No, I do not follow him. Otherwise, “ballin’ ” is a term used loosely here. Bieber, who is performing at the Verizon Center this evening, evidently ducked his head into the Wizards practice court and took a gander while Randy Wittman instructed his team, but he didn’t get on the court and start shooting baskets with the Wiz Kids. Do you think Wittman would’ve stopped practice for Bieber anyway? Naw.
[Video scenes from Wizards practice on Monday, October 22. Randy Wittman, before training camp, said that his team needed to make some highlights... Well, here some are, kinda.]
Cook Book Strong.
Most Wizards fans have yet to be visually treated to Trevor Booker’s two stellar preseason performances because the powers-that-be felt showing Wizards preseason contests in Toronto and Milwaukee weren’t worth the money. It’s kind of a shame in a ‘games don’t count’ sense.
Averaging 19 minutes over two contests, Booker is putting up 17 points (.640 FG%), 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals a night. On Monday after practice, he credited pick-and-roll action for his 22-point performance against the Bucks on Saturday. Just imagine if “Cook Book” had John Wall to trade recipes with. In the video below, Booker powers down Martell Webster with a strong paint move and a lefty baby hook before getting crunk over himself. Enjoy.
Undecided and undetermined, the Washington Wizards remain as they enter the final week of the preseason. They’ll play the world champion Miami Heat in Kansas City on Wednesday and the San Antonio Spurs on their court in south Texas on Friday before opening the season in Cleveland next Tuesday, October 30. Up until and through that date, one thing is certain with Randy Wittman’s team: competition.
“Intensity level this year has been a huge difference, both in games and in practice,” said the coach after practice on Monday, thinking about his environment a year after the fact. “That’s probably the biggest difference, we’ve got guys competing at just about every position, and that’s with guys out.” Wittman then ran down the list of those who have missed extended time this preseason.
On Monday, John Wall and Nene remained sidelined as scheduled. Kevin Seraphin sat out, working on basketball handling drills on the sideline while all other teammates played five-on-five basketball toward the end of practice. A blue team of A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, and Emeka Okafor (the same five who took the court to begin last Saturday in Milwaukee) started with the ball against a white team of Shelvin Mack, Steven Gray, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, and Earl Barron.
He still has two legs. Here, on Monday afternoon, he performs a dribbling drill with assistant coach Ryan Saunders. This is a John Wall update, in GIF form.
UPDATE on Kevin Seraphin…
He didn’t practice on Monday with that strained right calf muscle of his. A return is indeterminate according to head coach Randy Wittman.
“That’s one of those things that can continue to make great strides in a day or two, but then it could be a week, it could be two,” said the coach. “It’s one of those things — calf, hamstring, any kind of muscle injury — you just don’t know until it runs it course.”
Jordan Crawford and Cartier Martin work on their corner 3s during a post-practice shooting drill after the morning session of Washington Wizards training camp day one.
Last season the Washington Wizards attempted 329 corner 3-pointers, 16th most in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks led the league with 464 3-point attempts from the corner and the Spurs were next with 453 attempts.
Washington made 132 of their corner 3-point attempts, good enough for 40.1 percent and seventh best in the NBA. Atlanta made 39.7 percent of their corner 3s and San Antonio made 41.9 percent; the Golden State Warriors led the league in shooting 45.6 percent on corner 3s.
One could easily deduce: Hey, the Wizards need to shoot more corner 3s. From a tweet of NBA.com’s John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) in September:
Here’s a fascinating one: The league leader in assists on corner 3s was, by far, John Wall (77). Rondo was next w/ 59.
[Yi Jianlian vs. Nene at the London Olympics, original image via AP]
D.I.Y. stands for “Do-It-Yourself,” and it’s all the rage amongst the hipster kids aiming to minimize reliance on others to get things done (trust funds be damned). D.I.Y. can involve noble satisfaction. Have a leaky sink? Fix it yourself. There, satisfied. In a sense, this entire self-published blog website started as a D.I.Y. But D.I.Y. doesn’t work so well on the basketball court, as Wizards fans are all too aware.
Nene is not a D.I.Y.-er, and for this, John Wall’s point guard ability will blossom. For that matter, the entire Wizards team could flourish when they relent to the reliance on others. Might you be listening, Jordan Crawford?
Nene and the Brazilian team moved to 3-1 in Group B play after deconstructing China on Saturday and will finish the preliminary round with a game against Spain today. With the 98-59 victory (Brazil doubled China’s score by halftime, 42-21), Nene didn’t even have to play in the final two quarters, resting whatever might ail him (such as his ongoing plantar fasciitis). A highly effective 11 minutes off the bench in the first half was all Brazil needed; Nene contributed six points, five rebounds, two assists, and a steal in this time span. Brazil’s entire team put on an impressive display of unselfish basketball, even with the knowledge that China, now 0-4 in group play, has little in terms of talent. Nene’s contributions to the Brazilian team could have implications on how the Wizards will run their offense next season, as they would like to incorporate the same unselfishness cultivated by Nene on the international stage.
“The 5 and 4 is pretty much interchangeable in the NBA. A post player is a post player, and as far as the roles of 4 and 5, they’re becoming more hazy anyway. To me, 4 and 5 is who you guard … who’s going to guard the taller guy that game.
“Even within a game, you cross-match sometimes, so it really doesn’t matter.”
—Emeka Okafor from the summer league in Las Vegas
It’s never too early to ask the question. With the rapid development of Kevin Seraphin as a legitimate post scoring threat (defense and rebounding… working on it), and the last two primary trade acquisitions of the Washington Wizards — Nene and Emeka Okafor — which combination of big men will best setup the Wizards (and John Wall) for success?
Kobe and Nash will make a great duo. That’s what the numbers say anyway.
Nash had the highest assist percentage in the NBA (53.1) and made the most passes to spot-up shooters (389) in the pick-and-roll last season. More often than not, 62 percent of the time, Nash passed the rock in the two-man game, and his Phoenix Suns teammates shot 51 percent on those passes.
“With Nash taking over primary ballhandling duties and Kobe handling the ball less, expect the Lakers to get more open shots and shoot the ball at a higher percentage, including Kobe,” wrote Ryan Feldman and Rachel Eldridge of ESPN Stats & Info. “Kobe doesn’t get open very often, but when he does he’s a highly efficient shooter. If Nash is able to get open shots for Kobe, expect the Lakers to be a strong contender.”