Wizards Blog Truth About It.net http://www.truthaboutit.net Washington Wizards Blog, ESPN TrueHoop Network Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:48:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.8 Ramon Sessions in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/ramon-sessions-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/ramon-sessions-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:34:44 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=48075 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin; then Paul Pierce; Alan Anderson; Otto Porter; Kris Humphries; and Rasual Butler. Now: Ramon Sessions, by John Converse Townsend. Read on…]


John Wall, Washington’s superduperstarfromcackalacky, is third in assists per game this preseason (9.0). One of the two players ahead of him is Ramon Sessions (10), who the Kings returned at the trade deadline in exchange for then-Wizard Andre Miller.

Big deal. It’s one game. It’s one preseason game.

What about all the games before this? Sessions was OK, as Wall’s understudy in 2015.

Offense isn’t really his thing. No one expected him to light up the scoreboard, especially from beyond the arc, given he was shooting just 21.4 percent from 3 before joining the Wizards. But then, BUT THEN, he made two 3s in a game. TWICE. Two of his best long-ball-shooting efforts since Sessions made three 3s in a game in spring 2012, after being traded from Cleveland to the Clippers.

Before he got to Washington, Sessions was 0-for-4 on corner 3-pointers. In D.C. and often playing next to Wall, Sessions went 4-for-7 on 3s from the corners. Progress, even if incremental. And at the end of the regular season, Sessions had knocked down a nice percentage, 40.6 percent (but that’s probably more of a blip, given his 31.2% career average).

That was nice. Not nice: Sessions shot 22.2 percent from midrange.

Even less nice: Sessions missed more layups than he probably should have. Seriously, though. He made less than a third of his attempts in the paint (30.3%). And he shot just 51.5 percent in the restricted area. You’ve gotta make more than that when you’re right … at … the rim.

At least he was getting there, says the counter argument. Indeed. Mobility!

That Sessions was not 38 years old—merely a graduate assistant to the tenured Professor Andre Miller—is the primary reason the Wizards brought him to D.C.

In 17.7 minutes per game in Sacramento, Sessions averaged 4.0 drives. Those drives produced 2.1 points for the guard and 3.6 points for the Kings, on average. He drove about as often in D.C., averaging 19.5 minutes over 28 games, but his efficiency improved. His 3.9 drives per game as a Wizard produced 6.9 total points (2.7 personal and 4.2 for the team). His scoring rate in Washington compared very closely with Minnesota’s Zach LaVine.

Now, compare that to Miller’s 2.1 drives per game (in 12.4 minutes) that netted Washington 2.2 points per game as a team… Yeesh. And this data doesn’t even do justice to the change of pace Sessions provided the Wizards. Miller insisted on pounding the ball in the half court, looking for just the right needle to thread.

The rapid reaction to the trade was full of questions. Primarily, Would Sessions be an upgrade to Miller on the defensive end? In short, he was. Sessions put up a 94.3 DefRtg, which was better than all but one player, Toure Murry, who doesn’t really count anyway because he got injured after four games. Miller, for what it’s worth, finished his stint with the Kings with a DefRtg in the low 100s.

In terms of Defensive Real Plus-Minus, Sessions (-0.31) was right there with Patrick Beverley (ball and chain) and Pablo Prigioni (pest, who averaged as many steals as Dwyane Wade). Miller’s -2.13 squatted down in the dumps with Kemba Walker and Greivis Vasquez’s DRPM.

So, the $2.1 million question: Is he worth the roster spot this season? Yes! He plays OK basketball, and he’s fast.

Can’t ya read?

Plus, Sessions went nuts in the playoffs when John Wall was sidelined with a broken hand/wrist, which leads me to….

Best Moment.

…Ramon Sessions’ best moment of 2015!

He came, he shot, he went bonkers, to the tune of 21 points in Game 2 of Washington’s series versus Atlanta. In 40 minutes as a starter.

I described Sessions that night as Patroclus, son of Menoetius, with sitting-out-the-fight John Wall playing the role of Achilles. Epic.

But here, digest the the short summary:

What can you say? What a performance. A bit unexpected, even, but what a show. His “quickness, energy and defensive presence” that was promised by team president Ernie Grunfeld was on full display. Sessions scored 21 points on just 14 attempts and led the Wizards in free throw attempts—not much of a surprise, given he holds the team’s best Free Throw Rate. Sessions also held Jeff Teague scoreless (0-for-5) in one-on-one situations.

Worst Moment.

Moments. Asterisk.

Picking just one moment doesn’t seem worth it, to me. So I’m going to pick a bunch of them: everything that Sessions did, and did not do, over the last two games of that very same Atlanta series. To wit: 26 total minutes, 2 points, 1 assist, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover, no free throw attempts.

Zero impact.

The Wiz lost those two games by a combined four points.

Curious Stat.

If the shot clock is winding down, maybe don’t give the ball to Ramon Sessions.

His FG% by time remaining (in seconds):

  • 24-22: 66.7%
  • 22-18: 45.5%
  • 18-15: 58.8%
  • 15-7: 40.0%
  • 7-4: 18.2%
  • 4-0: 25.0%

More? Fine.

His FG% when a defender is within two feet, 46.5 percent, is about the same as it is when he’s wide open, 46.2 percent. Curious.

If Ramon Sessions were a type of food, he would be…

Sweet potato fries. They’re not exactly good for you, but they are better than the regular deep fried Idaho spud.

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Washington Debuts ‘Blogger Ball,’ Crushes Philadelphia 129-95 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/washington-debuts-blogger-ball-crushes-philadelphia-129-95.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/washington-debuts-blogger-ball-crushes-philadelphia-129-95.html#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:39:12 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=48037 truth about it, adam mcginnis, washington wizards, preseason, otto porter

Picture via Monumental Network

The main storyline out of the week-long Washington Wizards training camp was the team transitioning to a new offensive philosophy. The previous system—running heavy offensive sets through the low or high post, or letting John Wall just do his half-court thing—has been jettisoned for “pace-and-space.” The fresh focus is now on driving, dishing and shooting 3-pointers. The long 2s are out and “Blogger Ball” is in. Randy Wittman is even spouting off metrics, while Bradley Beal is emphasizing the need to launch more 3-pointers.

These are encouraging signs to long-time critics (/raises hand) of Washington’s usual plodding offense that produced mediocre results. TAI’s Kyle Weidie recently drilled into these proposed shifts. Many of his concerns are still applicable.

It is one thing to talk about a paradigm change and another one entirely to actually implement in game situations.

If the opening preseason tilt against Philadelphia is any indicator, the modern approach is off to a successful beginning. The Wizards blitzed the 76ers with speed and precision for a 129-95 victory at the Verizon Center. Washington pushed the ball relentlessly, attacked clear driving lanes, and, most importantly, found open shooters who knocked them down. They finished an impressive 15-for-26 from behind the arc, racked up 36 assists, and put up 73 second-half points.

Otto Porter picked right up from his strong post-season last spring by pouring in 22 points on a perfect 4-for-4 on treys. Beal only took three 3-pointers, but he drove to the hoop successfully on numerous occasions. Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries, who are the top candidates to fill the “stretch-4” position with Jared Dudley out, each went 2-for-4 on 3s. John Wall is still the All-Star leader. Backup point guard Ramon Sessions dished out 10 assists to only one turnover. Newcomer Gary Neal splashed three triples in four attempts.

This was a meaningless exhibition matchup that counts for nothing and will be forgotten in three weeks when the real games kick off. Philadelphia is also a bottom-feeding club. However,  something different is brewing with this Wizards team and everyone appears to be finally getting it. The offense might not always click the way it did on Tuesday night, but ‘small ball’ is here to stay. Five-plus years of wanting the team to design an offensive system around Wall’s strengths has … finally paid off? 

This could be the start of a very special ride. Giddy up, Wiz fans!


  • The young triplets—Wall, Beal and Porter—combined for 51 points.
  • Bradley Beal had difficulty breaking out of old habits. He forced an off-balance 3 and took several midrange jumpers.
  • John Wall and Marcin Gortat‘s two-man game displayed much rust. They never could get on the same page on their pick-and-rolls. Wall was visibly frustrated because Gortat appeared a step slow on his action to the basket.
  • Kris Humphries struggles to adjust to a new system were quite apparent in the beginning. He played an awful first half and was pushed around down low. He did pick it up in the second half, though.
  • Randy Wittman remarked post-game that Nenê was in the best training camp shape of his Wiz tenure. The Big Brazilian provided an anchor on defense for the second unit, but he could have finished better around the hoop.
  • Ramon Sessions was sensational. He penetrated, drew fouls, dished to open guys, and drilled open looks. The back up spot behind Wall, often a question mark, looks in excellent shape.
  • Drew Gooden picked up many silly fouls, but he was active throughout.
  • Garrett Temple was a stat stuffer, finishing with a near triple-double (7 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists).
  • DeJuan Blair cleaned up in garbage time and showed off his soft touch around the rim. He tallied 12 points in six minutes.
  • Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley, Martell Webster, and Alan Anderson all sat out due to various injuries.
  • Wall and Anderson are becoming BFFs. They continually laugh on the bench and even danced together. (Video below.)
  • Anderson is going to be a fun player to watch for his sideline celebrations. After every Wizards 3-pointer, he would do a Usain Bolt type of move, three times. My attempts to record them were unsuccessful.
  • Jahlil Okafor told me before the game that he is good friends with Oubre and they worked out together this summer in California. He always believed that Oubre would be in the NBA.
  • Ex-Wizard Jared Jeffries was at the game and I was unable to find out why. (He’s currently a scout for the Denver Nuggets.)
  • There was no video montage or dimming of the lights during the starting introductions. It was preseason for everyone.
  • The official attendance was 11,670, but, by my estimate, there were 2,500—tops.
  • During the third quarter, the popular “Sweet Treats” ice cream stand had zero people in line. Regardless of the weather, this spot is always packed. It was an exhibition for the concessions as well.
  • Temple mentioned that one of the refs asked the Wiz if they were going to play this fast style all season, because it is hard on the guys in black and white, too.


Coach Wittman on the new system:

“As long as we don’t over dribble the ball, the ball has got to move, we have to make quick decisions. If you have an open shot, I don’t care who you are, you gotta shoot it. If you don’t, either got to pass or penetrate. You can’t hold it and dribble and dribble.”

Drew Gooden on the fast offense:

“I would have hated to guard us tonight. Swing, swing, close out, 3 goes up, you think that you play defense but the ball goes in. Now you gotta take it out. That is draining mentally. Shooting the ball lights out like this and playing defense, getting stops. It doesn’t matter who shoots the ball offensively, it is a tough cover. You saw what Golden State did last year and they came home with the ring.”

Wittman on Otto Porter’s stellar evening:

“He really played well. I thought Otto had, start to finish, as good a game as you can play. Activity, hands on balls. Forget about the shots that he made. Being in position, his knack for being in the right place at the right time, whether it is offensively or defensively.”

Garrett Temple on the simple style:

We joked around how there are only three plays. Like I said, there are quicker reads, even on makes … Witt probably don’t want to hear this, but it feels like we are playing kinda “pick-up with principles.” It is natural. That is why there is a natural feel, playing basketball off the feel of your teammates. When you have teammates that know what you wanna do, it is even easier. It is kind of surprising that we were able to pick it up, first game.”

Porter on the condensed offensive:

“It is just reads. It is open floor for John to create for himself or our bigs rolling. If the defense sucks in, it gives me and Brad, Hump, space to work.”

Ramon Sessions is a believer of new system

“Teams are making it relevant. All the way back to Mike D’Antoni. Now one team (Golden State) winning a championship, that don’t hurt. It is proven to work. We are picking it up, but it is still early for us.”

John Wall on wearing down Philly:

Yeah, they got tired. That was the key, as long as we are not turning the ball over and we are sharing it like we did. Everyone was just happy that we were moving and driving and kicking. It was different guys making plays. I mean, (Ramon) Sessions had 10 assists, (Garrett) Temple had seven. Everyone was just moving the ball and trusting the offense.”

Porter on the mission of training camp:

We are trying to accomplish something, build something with this team. We are looking to win championships so everybody is focused.”

Wittman on smaller lineups:

“I can view a lot of starting lineups with this team depending on who we’re playing and how we want to attack. I’ll have to keep working at that, which we will do. I wanted to see early on Nene at the 5 and Marc (Gortat) at the 5, go smaller around them and see what we can produce there.”

Sessions on the Wiz not sacrificing their true identity:

“Coach preaches defense. First thing he said at a team meeting at beginning of season was ‘defense.’ We are known as a defensive team. We are going to stick with that. But in the meantime, we are going to try and play fast. Everybody better get into shape, get ready to go, because it is a lot of up and down.”

Marcin Gortat wearing his old number 13 again:

“For some reason, the whole thing started bad, I got poked in the eye. They jammed my two fingers. My shot get blocked twice. I am thinking, ‘What the hell is going on?’ The new thing is supposed to be different. The first half was a wake up call for me. It was fun running with the number 13. For five minutes, I couldn’t find my jacket. It was right in front of me with number 13 but I was looking for number 4. It was weird but I will get used to it.”

Garrett Temple’s new hairdo:

“Yeah, it is new little style man. I think they call it the ‘South of France.’ I had my hair grown out before and had regular clean cut before … I saw one of my friends with this style so I figured that I would try it out. I’m liking it.”

Wittman on Kris Humphries shooting 3s:

He scared the shit out of me in the first half… He has never played that way before. I thought he did fine. Again, he got tired. It is not ‘take the ball out, walk down to the block.’ This is different for him.”

Humphries responds to Coach Wittman:

“I don’t think Randy’s wife would have liked that very much. I will have to talk to her about it when I see her next.”


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A new jumbotron segment was playing the song “Watch Me Whip,” and featured fans doing the “Nae, Nae.” During a time out late in the fourth quarter, the popular dance song was on again and newcomer Alan Anderson decided to bust out his moves. Nene and Beal took notice but then Wall (who else?), came over to join him in the “Stanky Leg.” My favorite part is Assistant Coach Howard Eisley enjoying their funny performance but trying not to laugh at the same time.  Watch.

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Key Legislature: Wizards 129 vs 76ers 95 — Finally Playing to John Wall’s Strengths http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-129-vs-76ers-95-key-legislature-preseason-game-1.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-129-vs-76ers-95-key-legislature-preseason-game-1.html#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 07:00:13 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=48032

There's no more comforting sight for a Bullets/Wizards fan than @SteveBuckhantz and Chenier. NBA is back. #dcRising pic.twitter.com/vDB3EJUFYO

— Ledell's Place (@LedellsPlace) October 6, 2015

The biggest off-season question was answered 30 minutes before tip-off when the starters were released. Randy Wittman warned not to read into preseason lineups, but it was impossible to ignore a healthy Nenê starting on the bench—especially when his replacement (Kris Humphries) could barely sniff a minute in last year’s playoffs.

The Brazilian big man is now a backup center in Washington’s new-age, run-and-gun system. Wittman’s off-season comments foreshadowed it, his preseason lineup demonstrated it, and his post-game comments confirmed it, saying of his starting lineups, “I’ll have to keep working at that, and look at Nenê at the five and March [Gortat] at the five, and see what we can produce there.”

Sure, Nenê will get the occasional start against bigger front courts, like Chicago and Memphis, but it will be the exception, not the norm.

It was only one game against a very bad team but the floor spacing was noticeably expansive. With shooters glued to the perimeter, John Wall was free to do what he does better than anyone else in the league: create opportunities for others—more specifically, 3-point opportunities.

Wall slashed into the lane and dropped gorgeous swing passes into the waiting hands of his teammates. Washington shot 5-for-7 from deep in the first quarter. The added space was not just a boon for 3-point shooters. With Nenê (and his defender) removed from the paint, the lane was wide open for Otto Porter to slash to the basket. With defenders preoccupied with protecting the 3-point line, preventing Wall’s penetration and slowing Gortat’s rim rolls, Otto seemed to be left uncovered. He slashed to the rim for a couple easy baskets and planted himself on the perimeter for wide open looks.

Much has been made of the career 3-point shooting percentages of Washington’s off-season acquisitions—Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, and Gary Neal. But those numbers do not even take into account the John Wall boost. An NBA player, like Gary Neal, may be a career 38 percent 3-point shooter, but that number jumps dramatically on uncontested attempts. If this game is any indication, there are going to be a lot of wide open, long-range looks in Washington this season.

Even Humphries got into the action. Kris planted himself in the deep corner on several possessions and his defender was not going to cover him that far out. The Wizards even once ran a play to get Humphries an open look from the corner 3 spot (Gortat set a nice off-ball screen for him). Wall obliged, once getting a direct assist and once picking up the hockey assist thanks to Porter, and Humphries shot 2-for-4 on 3-pointers. As a team, the Wizards shot 15-for-26 from deep, numbers that would have been unfathomable in last year’s offensive system. Seriously, Washington only attempted 26 or more shots from 3 on four occasions during the 2014-15 regular season.

Welcome to the new era of NBA basketball, coach Wittman. I think you are going to like it here.


  • Jahlil Okafor picked up right where he left off in the Las Vegas Summer League. He’s a mid-range beast and will terrorize less mobile and smaller defenders. Gortat simply could not contest his jumpers.
  • Bradley Beal still has trouble dribbling in one-on-one isolations. In the first quarter Wittman gave Wall a possession off and let Beal bring the ball up the court. He ended up over-dribbling then forcing a drive into a double team and turning it over. In the second half, however, he found Gortat with a nice wrap-around pass off pick-and-roll action.
  • It’s early, but Alan Anderson has my vote for favorite new player. He was vocal throughout the game, encouraging teammates, yelling out nicknames, celebrating 3-points shots and making Beal laugh with some advice for Ramon Sessions.

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Enter Small Ball: Navigating Washington’s Change in Philosophy http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-small-ball-randy-wittman-nene-gortat.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-small-ball-randy-wittman-nene-gortat.html#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:06:15 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=48024 2015-randy-wittman-small-ball-wizards

The Wizards will unveil a brand new offensive philosophy tonight. How drastic the change will be is still uncertain. Randy Wittman definitely won’t show his entire hand in the first preseason game against Philadelphia. “Don’t read anything into who we play tomorrow or who starts tomorrow,” the coach has already warned from his porch to those looking at his lawn via binoculars from afar.

Wizards fans are, nonetheless, excited about small ball talk. Perhaps overly excited. It’s D.C. sports, remember. Yes, there will certainly be more hallmarks of small ball—more running, more long-distance shooting. In the initial days of training camp, Wittman had his staff tape boxes around the 3-point line on the team’s practice floor, anchoring the corners and the wings: a telltale sign of change even if the coach played coy when asked about it. Visuals should help to condition players on new spacing, and the overall idea is to give the John Wall locomotive enough oxygen to breathe fire.

Wittman has even been talking #BasketballMath.

“We were below average in terms of all the numbers, points per game, points per 100 possessions, pace of play. All those things got to be better,” said the coach, as relayed in the Washington Post.

And excuse Wittman if he will gladly remind you that past personnel didn’t always allow for a small ball arrangement. Which came first, not having a stretch 4 or Nenê?

“We’re going to do some things differently offensively, with the personnel that we have, the versatility that we have now on this roster that I didn’t have last year,” went the coach’s Media Day refrain. Verifiable.

The ability to play smaller, run more, take (and hit) more 3s, and spread the court for Wall to melt defenses like butter or burn them like toast does not hinge on whether one Maybyner Rodney “Nenê” Hilário is in the starting lineup alongside Marcin Gortat, Bradley Beal, John Wall, and presumably Otto Porter. But, a more mobile 4 is a key cog in the small ball machine, so much to the point where Marcin Gortat is rather comfortable discussing it. A member of the press squad threw a soft ball in the trajectory of the St. Louis Arch in Gortat’s direction on Media Day.

What going into this season has you most fired up?

“I’m going to play probably as one big in the lineup,” the Polish big man claimed. “We might go with the four smaller guys, guys that want to shoot the ball, and I’m going to play inside. The whole paint’s going to be open for me, and it’s going to huge opportunity for me to work on my game and prove that I’m one of the better dominant big men in the league.”

Big words for Gortat to back up. And he’s capable, especially when receiving the ball on the move. But sometimes to be effective with a small lineup it helps to have a big man who can post. That’s not what Gortat does best. Well, actually: the pink elephant buried at the bottom of Randy Wittman’s toy chest full of action figures is that none of his bigs are effective with their backs to the basket. The team posted-up a bunch in comparison to the rest of the league, but wasn’t really good at it as a whole.

The Wizards ran Post-Up plays 10.5% of the time, seventh-most frequent in the NBA. They scored 0.81 points per Post-Up possession, ranked 23rd in the league. (NBA.com/stats)

NBA.com player tracking data defines a “Post-Up” as when a player receives the ball with his back to the basket within 15 feet of the rim and a possession-ending event occurs—a shot, drawn foul, or turnover.

Gortat posted-up 22.7 percent the time (216 possession-ending events). That’s in the range of Brook Lopez (22.3%) and Carmelo Anthony (22%), and even less than Kevin Love’s frequency (24.1%). Post-Ups accounted for 32.1 percent of Nenê’s possessions and 43.4 percent of Kevin Seraphin’s possessions last season. The NBA’s heaviest hitters on Post-Up frequency would include Al Jefferson (57.1%), Nikola Pekovic (55.8%), and Dwight Howard (49.2%).

Gortat averaged 0.87 points per possession (PPP) on Post-Ups, which compares with DeMarcus Cousins (0.87, 30% frequency) and Greg Monroe (0.87, 41.3% freq.). Nenê averaged 0.74 PPP, comparing with Dwight Howard (0.75, 49.2% freq.) and David West (0.74, 23% freq.). Seraphin averaged 0.82 PPP, comparing to Tim Duncan (0.81, 28.7% freq.), Jordan Hill (0.82, 17.5% freq.), and Robert Sacre (0.83, 37.2% freq.)

The NBA’s most efficient Post-Up scorers include LaMarcus Aldridge (0.96 PPP), Marc Gasol (0.95), Blake Griffin (0.95), Brook Lopez (0.94), and Al Jefferson (0.93).

Minds amongst Wizards brass, from old school grit to new school analytical, quickly became aware of the team’s weakness in post offense leading up to and during last season. The idea was once that, when on the floor together, Gortat and Nenê would dominate the paint defensively, and while they might get in each other’s way on offense, each player would be able to hit enough jumpers to space the floor. Under NBA defensive rules that allow for light zone play, the limited spacing that two traditional bigs offer became impractical. And when other teams went really small, a defensive advantage with Gortat and Nenê anchoring the paint suddenly became a disadvantage.

Ultimately, if you rely too much on Gortat and Nenê (together or apart), to hit jump shots in order to create spacing, you’re in trouble. Both players, along with their erstwhile teammate Seraphin, were often content settling for these attempts. Not that they can’t hit them. Mid-range jumpers from big men are often more reliable than shots from guards because of how set and open their looks tend to be.

Gortat, playing with four wing players, will be expected to continue to make teams pay for leaving him open. He was one of six NBA centers who attempted at least 200 shots from 8-to-16 feet in 2014-15. Here’s how Gortat compares, per NBA.com/stats:

Player FGM 8-16 ft. FGA 8-16 ft. FG%
Al Jefferson 138 327 42.2%
Marc Gasol 137 316 43.4%
Nikola Vucevic 132 283 46.6%
Brook Lopez 122 256 47.7%
Roy Hibbert 176 348 35.7%
Marcin Gortat 87 204 42.6%

Nenê shot 38.4 percent from 8-to-16, Seraphin shot 43 percent, and Humphries shot 45.8 percent.

For more of a variance, Gortat attempted:

  • 82 shots from 15-to-19-feet, made 41.5%
  • 107 shots from 10-to-14-feet, made 43%
  • 166 shots from 5-to-9-feet, made 36.7% (this is Gortat’s midrange, apparently)
  • 414 shots from within 5-feet, made 72%

Gortat’s ability to hit jumpers from beyond 10 feet, layered atop his athletic ability in the pick-and-roll, can be just as much a key to success with smaller lineups as having a 4-man who can hit 3s.

“I think me and Nenê, we automatically took away a lot of drives from Brad and John,” explained Gortat on Media Day. “You know these guys, obviously they can play, they can shoot the ball, but if we open up the paint for them, we don’t have to only rely on shooting from outside or post-ups. We can add more pick-and-rolls, we can add more transitional play, just penetration and finishes and layups around the rim.”

The core of the complaint about the Wizards taking too many long 2s, which is now apparently being addressed by Bradley Beal (because he, “looked at the stats”; no word from Wall’s end) is that 3-point shots are worth 50 percent more than 2-point shots. The Wizards are finally banking that the John Wall Effect will mean something to the shooting percentages of several teammates who are capable of knocking down the long ball. It’s about time.

More 3-point attempts should be a given, considering how Washington was a top 10 3-point percentage team last season, but bottom five in attempts per game, was covered ad nauseum by this blog and other outlets. But what’s often lost in this discussion is the role of the big man in Washington’s lineup and how Wittman will seek balance while integrating a new style of play. The pick-and-roll combination of Wall and Gortat with a spread offense should be more dangerous than it’s already proven to be. Wall has found an elbow jumper that helps in any P&R situation and probably will attack the rim more with one less big man drawing defenders into the paint. Gortat can finish at the rim, as we’ve covered, but is also great at kicking it to the corners; a Wizards wing or a hoping-to-be-stretch big man like Kris Humphries can also always patrol the baseline for secondary offensive action. Nenê is not that great of a roll man, but perhaps his willingness to pop, given more consistency in his jumper (think all the times he hit over Joakim Noah in the 2014 playoffs), will better open the lane for Wall and Beal to penetrate.

No big man on the Wizards last year was particularly adept at scoring as the offensive roll man. Again, this could be a spacing thing. The roll man play type tracking on NBA.com is defined as rolls to the basket, pops for a jump shot, or slips on screening action when a possession-ending event occurs.

Offensive Roll Man Action: P&R

Player Frequency PPP TO Frequency
Gortat 21.6% 1.01 9.2%
Humphries 17.2% 0.94 3.2%
Nenê 14.5% 0.92 12.7%
Seraphin 8.5% 0.76 4.0%

Some of the most proficient roll men in the NBA include Tyson Chandler (1.41 PPP, 21.5% Freq.), DeAndre Jordan (1.36, 12.0%), Chris Andersen (1.27, 22%), and Tristan Thompson (1.25, 18.6%). Gortat, however, put up a PPP close to Brandon Bass (1.03, 21.1%), Marc Gasol (1.02, 21.2%), and Tyler Hansbrough (1.02, 21.2%).

As a team the Wizards were not particularly adept at scoring as the pick-and-roll screener nor as the ball handler. On offensive roll man action they were average in frequency (6.7%, tied for 15th in the NBA) and below average in PPP (0.96, ranked 18th). On offensive ball handler action, they were below average in frequency (14.7%, ranked 18th) and in the NBA’s bottom four in PPP (0.71, ranked 27th). Worth noting that the play type details available to the public do not include secondary action created from pick-and-roll, nor data on pick-and-roll effectiveness by five-man units.

The preseason is here but Washington is far off from determining which lineup combinations will work best. Three bigs—Gortat, Nenê, and Humphries—are still in among the top seven most talented players on the Wizards, and Wittman will still often turn to his jumbo set in an attempt to make teams adjust.

Wittman gave a roundabout answer to a roundabout question about whether Nenê not starting would make the bench stronger (of course!), which was a thinly veiled probe into small ball insights.

“We’ll see if we’re going to be bringing Nenê off the bench,” Wittman said on Media Day. “Again, I think we have the versatility to play or start anyway we want. Sitting here today, I can tell you that you might see different starting lineups … and not be a set situation there. But yeah, no question. If he is a guy that is coming off the bench, to have a guy like that makes your bench even better.”

Garrett Temple, utility infielder and probably a coach-in-training, was even more diplomatic about the change in offensive philosophy.

“Ernie (Grunfeld) and Tommy (Shepherd) have done a great job of putting together a team that is built to play small but also play big,” Temple said. “Let’s not forget we still have Gortat and Nenê in there if you want to play big at times, but the game has gone to that. You see a team like Golden State winning a championship with the guy 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7 at center.”

Earlier in Media Day, Wittman made it known that his team was not Golden State. Indeed, they do not have a Draymond Green, whose 5-and-3-and-D player archetype is the next thing on trend in the NBA.

Nenê was neither diplomatic nor forceful about probes into small ball. He deferred.

“I know he (Randy Wittman) will use the players to depend on who will play. But I think the formations going to be the same … just with this specific team, you know, when you have a set form about it. I think he’s going to see, and he’s going to talk to our players, and see what happens,” said the single-named Brazilian entering his 14th year in the league. “If that’s what he’s thinking, then for sure. But I don’t want to say who’s going to start or who’s going to sit on the bench. What matters is if you’re going to give your best to the team. That’s what matters.”

“It might be a bigger change, it might be a bigger change for us,” Gortat said, when asked about the shift in coaching edict. “It’s no secret that me and Nenê, both of us are are not going to be able to keep up with John at the same time. Always one of us has to take the ball out and then sprint the whole court, and just run under the rim. Hopefully having the 4 man, who’s going to be able to take the ball out, is only going to sprint to the 3-point line and stop and be a threat automatically. It’s going to be a good opportunity for us, but again coach is going to figure out where we’re going to do.”

Give Nenê some credit, he is smarter than his pride and competitive nature—traits of so many players—would have you believe. In spite of Nenê’s insistence, just two offseasons ago, that he play 4 next to a traditional 5, I had to ask Nenê what he thought of this changing NBA; about this “small ball.”

“I think when they try to explore more space, and when you have a skilled big man and a quick point guard and great shooters in the corners, that’s the best way to do,”  Nenê said on Media Day—more elementary, less of a revelation. “The game is changing, it’s been changing. Just maybe be able to accept it and do our best.”

If Nenê can change, and Wittman can change, and Rocky can change, and Ivan Drago can change, then maybe the Wizards can change, too.


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Opening Statements: Wizards vs Sixers, Preseason Game 1 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-vs-76ers-preseason-game-1-opening-statements.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/wizards-vs-76ers-preseason-game-1-opening-statements.html#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:16:14 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=48005 Washington Wizards vs Philadelphia 76ers

With mostly the same players, aside from an aging, one-year mercenary future Hall-of-Famer, the previously reluctant Wizards of Randy Wittman aim to turn a new leaf this evening. They don’t exactly know what’s under the leaf and at times said leaf will feel like it weighs 200 lbs. But the eye test and good ol’ fashioned data has revealed that a change was necessary, and that change hinges on playing faster with the fastest guard with the ball in the league, attempting more shots from distance that count for 50 percent more than closer attempts, and playing just a bit smaller to facilitate Speed-&-3 ball.

The new-look, same-face Wizards will face-off against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first preseason game tonight. Philly’s leaves have been continually turning over the course of an unheard, unseen, and unfathomable experiment for the past three seasons. The Sixers are also well ahead of any team already thinking about future seasons before the imminent season even begins. They are probably the only ones in the tanking race right now, although teams like Portland and Denver are within sight. Crazy, just a tad, that Philadelphia has spent so much effort on a rebuild with so much third-tier talent when the constant reality in sports is that directions can change and plans can come crashing down so swiftly, so authoritatively. We are still dealing with humans, right?

With that I introduce another human who is most definitely not a human-bot hybrid tasked with making slideshow lures such as “16 NBA Player Yoga Pants Accidents That You’ve Got to See to Believe” that you’ll end up biting on anyway. And now you’ve got a hook stuck in your cheek.

Alex MacMullan (@AMacMull) is a friend of TAI’s @ConorDDirks bot; author for the ESPN TrueHoop Sixers blog, Hoop76; and couple-time contributor to #content at Truth About It.net. Alex stops by today to answer a couple questions about the 76ers for tonight’s game. Let us go, henceforth.

Teams: Wizards vs. Sixers
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN, NBATV
Radio: I guess.
Spread: There are no spreads in the preseason, you junkie.

#1) The Sixers drafted Jahlil Okafor third overall; they acquired Nik Stauskas and Carl Landry; they inked Kendall Marshall (a John Feinstein fav!), and added some other future picks and randos like Pierre Jackson. How would you grade Philly’s Summer?

@AMacMull: I felt that the summer was a mixed bag. There were some very encouraging highs and some deeply depressing lows. I’d give the front office a B-plus, but the offseason as a whole a C-minus. I’ll explain the disparity….

As much as I’d like to say otherwise, Joel Embiid missing another season is the biggest news of the 76ers offseason. I may be more pessimistic about the whole thing than most, but my outlook on Embiid moving forward is now officially “Anything we get from him is a bonus.” After seeing Noel miss a year and come back as a ROY contender in his first season on the court, 76ers fans were very optimistic—perhaps too optimistic—about Embiid doing the same despite a much more complicated injury. That optimism is shot now.

The Okafor pick was the result of another turn of events that was not entirely in the 76ers control. For the second straight year Sam Hinkie was left to draft the member of the first tier of draft prospects that the teams with the first and second overall picks had passed on. While most of the city wanted D’Angelo Russell leading up to draft day, this one burned a lot less than missing out on Andrew Wiggins did in 2014, especially after seeing Russell’s less than inspiring summer league performance. It’s also important to remember that at draft time there were concerns about Embiid’s health, but the seriousness of the Embiid setback was not known. Drafting a third big man in three years was a lot less difficult to get on board with once Embiid officially became a long-term question mark.

The highlight of the summer, especially for those of us that “Trust the Process” was the Kings trade (Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, a first round pick—likely in 2018 and unprotected after just one year, with the 76ers getting the right to swap first rounders with Sacramento in 2016 and 2017 for 76ers second round picks Arturas Gudaitas and Luka Mitrovic).

It was a great reminder of the potential benefit of all that cap flexibility Hinkie has been hoarding since he arrived. People make fun of/criticize the 76ers for not stuffing their roster and (salary cap space) with veteran players that will help them “compete,” but when Vivek and Vlade decided they were really ready to do something stupid in the name of cap relief, the 76ers were the only team capable of accommodating their stupidity and extracting way more than anyone could have expected from Sacramento. Of course, it will take until at least the end of this year to really know how big of a heist that trade was, but given that the 76ers gave up absolutely nothing in the process, I’m pretty confident it was a positive move no matter what comes of the assets they got back.

#2) Guard play. Of all the moves and maneuverings over the past couple of seasons, from the outside it still does not seem like the Sixers ‘really’ have a promising guard prospect in the pipeline.

Names like Isaiah Canaan, Tony Wroten, JaKarr Sampson, as well as the aforementioned Marshall, Stauskas, and Jackson, literally litter the roster with options. Am I forgetting anyone? What cream if any will rise to the top? And is there concern over not having a better point guard to develop with bigs Okafor and Nerlens Noel (and maybe Joel Embiid one day)?

@AMacMull: I’d have to respectfully disagree on this one—with emphasis on the word prospect. I’m fairly amazed at how quickly many have given up on the idea that Nik Stauskas might be a really good NBA player some day. I completely understand that statistically his rookie year, on the whole, was unimpressive. But honestly, unless he was an absolutely transcendent player, it is difficult to see how he could have succeeded in that nightmare in Sacramento. He had three coaches over the course of the year. The Kings drafted him a year after using another lottery pick on a player that played the exact same position as him. Boogie Cousins is also a volatile star player to play alongside. Stauskas was not given regular playing time. The list goes on…

Additionally, taking a look at his splits two trends become clear: (1) He improved as his rookie year went on; and (2) he was a lot better in games where they actually gave him significant minutes. (Sample No. 1: 34.9% FG and 24.1% 3P in November, versus 45.5% FG and 47.1% 3P in March; Sample No. 2: 4.0% FG and 5.3% 3P in games where he played less than 10 mins, versus 52.4% FG and 62.5% 3P in games where he played at least 30 mins.) Neither of these trends are surprising, but both are encouraging. Hollis Thompson and Robert Covington could also develop into rotation players on a playoff team. So, while the 76ers are missing the John Wall-type guard cornerstone, they may be on track in filling out the supporting roles of their future backcourt rotation.

#3) A casual Sixers fan I know has expressed excitement that this will be “the last year of tanking.” But what say you?

@AMacMull: If “tanking” means being really bad and not doing too much to improve in the short term I’ll say … we’ll have to wait and see what is available to them. I think that the front office and ownership has probably reached a place where they feel they have collected a enough assets to make a significant move. If a disgruntled star player decides he wants a change of scenery, the 76ers could put together an attractive offer. If the right player is available in the draft when they pick, it could accelerate the rebuilding. Of course, as this offseason showed, the 76ers don’t entirely have control over what players are available to them. So while having more to offer might make them bolder in looking to make improvements it won’t change their patient approach or their aversion to making improvements that only help in the short term.

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Fresh Pixel-and-Roll Podcast: Interview with Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/fresh-pixel-and-roll-podcast-interview-with-jorge-castillo-of-the-washington-post.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/fresh-pixel-and-roll-podcast-interview-with-jorge-castillo-of-the-washington-post.html#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:56:15 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47999 PNRCastillo

Over the past few years, I have produced a video and audio show called “Pixel-and-Roll.” Similar to the Wizards raising their game, we have finally upped our own production level. I secured a microphone and have plans on doing a regular weekly podcast show throughout the season. Mr. Truth About It, Kyle Weidie and I, jammed about Washington’s summer going ons that was broken down into three episodes. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Other recent podcasts have been about Monumental finalizing an agreement with the city of Washington for a new Wizards practice facility and our impressions of Media Day last week.

The newest podcast that just dropped was an interview with Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Last season was Castillo’s first year on the Wizards beat, and he provides a fresh perspective on the team.

Topics in our hour-long discussion include: Castillo’s background, covering Derek Jeter’s last season with Yankees, experience on the Wizards beat after a year, dealing with Coach Randy Wittman after he called him out in a press conference, how much he knew about Washington’s franchise history, impressions of John Wall, reporting on Wall at the All-Star game in NYC, how he includes analytics in his NBA writing, reflections on last year’s playoff run, playing small ball, evaluating the off-season moves, the Kevin Durant factor in 2016, a potential contract extension for Bradley Beal, and his outlook of this year’s squad.

The Pixel-and-Roll Show is available in various formats:

Listen and Subscribe! Thanks for your support.

Jorge Castillo on Social Media:

bradley beal, washington wizards, truth about it, adam mcginnis, jorge castillo, interview, podcast, pixel and roll show, nba

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Rasual Butler in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/rasual-butler-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/rasual-butler-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2015 17:57:34 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47989 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin; then Paul Pierce; then Alan Anderson; then Otto Porter; then Kris Humphries. Now: Rasual Butler, by Conor Dirks. Read on…]


When Rasual Butler joined the Wizards for training camp prior to the 2014-2015 season, he was scrapping for an NBA job for the third year in a row. After being cut by the Raptors following the 2011-12 season, spending a year out of the league, and then landing a meager rotation role with the Indiana Pacers, Butler printed a new copy of his resume and hit the training camp circuit with the Washington Wizards as a 35-year-old. And Butler was impressive among the pups of summer. Impressive enough that noted old-dude lover Randy Wittman and second-round pick slangin’ Ernie Grunfeld made Butler the final preseason addition to Washington’s roster.

Why Rasual? The Wizards were reeling from losing one of the most dependable 3-point shooters on the team, Trevor Ariza, and uncertain whether Paul Pierce’s game was suited to volume 3-point shooting. Otto Porter’s sample size after his rookie year was even smaller than his impact, and Martell Webster’s offseason back surgery only threw his value further into doubt after a poor end to the 2013-14 season. The team needed shooters, and Butler, despite his age, fit the bill.

Teams benefit from the presence of seasoned, scarred veterans, even if it’s easy to discount on-court value. And the Wizards have become better at finding the right kind of locker room voice, somewhere between corporate professionalism and the wonky candor of the previous Wizards era. Players like Al Harrington, Drew Gooden, Pierce and Webster have supplemented John Wall’s emerging voice well as he saunters into the spotlight.

But Butler’s contributions last season weren’t necessarily those of the typical aging veteran. When the season started and Bradley Beal’s injury kept him out of the lineup, Butler was one of the major recipients of those newly liberated minutes. So fuck all that stuff I said about locker room voices and elevating the discourse: the winter of 2014 belonged to Rasual Butler, basketball player.

In November, Wittman deployed Butler, end-of-the-bench guy and recent signee, for 17 minutes a game. All Butler did was shoot 58.6 percent from the floor and a cool 55.2 percent on 3-pointers (compared to career numbers of 40.2 and 36.3, respectively). The eye test was even more fun, as Butler’s run of big shots was one of Wall’s more reliable tools during Washington’s 19-6 start to the season. As November turned to December, Butler’s minutes increased to 26.4 per game, his shot attempts almost doubled, and though his percentages took a little dip from November’s plenty (47.6% overall, 46.9% on 3-pointers), Butler felt like Washington’s second-best option at both the 2 and the 3 behind Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce. It was, essentially, unreal. And essentially so.

Butler’s best lineup on the season was one featuring Wall, Otto Porter, Kris Humphries, and Marcin Gortat. That five-man unit played 41 minutes together and was bonkers defensively, allowing 85.1 points per 100 possessions while putting up 127.8 points per 100 possessions. It won’t surprise people familiar with Wall’s impact on the game, but every lineup Butler played with that also featured Wall was a net positive. But when Beal returned to the lineup, and more and more of Butler’s minutes came with Andre Miller (or later, Ramon Sessions), the opportunities and space for Butler to hit shots waned.

And then, of course, any discussion of Rasual also became about Otto Porter. Beal’s return meant a more zero-sum approach to minutes distribution between Butler and Porter. In December, Butler played twelve minutes more than Porter per game. Whether this was the right lineup decision (it was, until it wasn’t) didn’t matter as much as the conceptual tragedy, to some. But knowing what we know now, that Butler’s legs eventually gave out and Porter’s confidence eventually ballooned, it’s worth remembering the two months that Butler spent holding off the grim, mossy creep of time.

The rest of the season for Rasual? Well, it went to shit, mostly, and it went to shit as the team started looking average, uncreative and frustratingly ponderous. And suddenly, the kudos that the Wizards slathered themselves in for punting on the entire 2014 draft (the first-round pick went to Phoenix in the Gortat trade, and the second-round pick went to the Lakers for some Tap-the-Rockies cold cash money) felt more like bathing in warm Ensure. The fact that Butler’s drop-off was likely (or inevitable, if you want to be cute) complicates the equation when viewing Butler’s season as a whole.

But that’s unfair. It is definitively not Rasual Butler’s fault that the Wizards sold off the second-round pick that became All-Rookie First Teamer Jordan Clarkson to maintain space on the roster that he temporarily filled. And more importantly, Butler performed well early in the season, a span that ended up sustaining the Wizards through stretches that included back-to-back losses to Philadelphia and Minnesota. Butler had a high-demand skill (3-point shooting) in an offense suddenly without a real 3-point threat, and was smart enough to find his spots regardless of his lack of familiarity with Wall, Wittman or the Wizards offense.

And now that Butler is in training camp with the Spurs, he’ll be enshrined in the secret vault of Wizards lore, accessible only via password in the collective unconscious.

Best Moment

This is easy. The best moment of the season was when Rasual Butler dunked on the Knicks with 4.4 seconds left in a game the Wizards won by 14 points. This was the best for a few reasons. First, it provided everyone in the D.C. area with discounted pizza. Second, and more importantly, it really pissed off Frank Isola, Derek Fisher, and others who were very mad about sports. Isola was even mad online.

Of course, what followed was an orbital strike of pizza memes, reducing Isola’s Twitter account to little more than a mound of rubble and smoldering limo stories. A proud moment.

Butler, for his part, didn’t seem to be in on the gag. When he was told about Fisher’s anger at his last-second dunk, Butler said:

“That’s my guy, I have a good relationship with him. I definitely wasn’t trying to show them up, I’m not that type of person, I do apologize for that. But they were trapping, and I just kind of got caught up into the play. I thought about it afterwards and it wasn’t the classiest thing to do so my apologies out to him and his team and the fans, because you gotta dribble that one out. We have a relationship beyond basketball, we’ve grown close over the years, so he knows my character and he knows I’m really not that type of guy.”

As my colleague Rashad Mobley summarized:

“Rasual took the high road and is all class as usual. But given Fisher’s post-game comments and Knicks forward Quincy Acy’s history with the Wizards back on Christmas Day, one has to wonder if a rivalry, or at least a healthy disdain, is stirring. Or perhaps this is just a reminder that the playoffs need to hurry up and arrive. Either way, any time the never-ending angst of Frank Isola can be worked into a TAI article, it is indeed a good night.”

Worst Moment

I promised I’d never speak of this again, but you seem nice.

The box score was ugly during Washington’s 127-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 20, 2015. The loss officially pushed the Cavs a half-game past the Wizards in the standings. The entire affair reeked of resignation. Chief among those resigned to their fate was Butler, whose feet moved at dial-up speed as he tried to guard LeBron James. In the midst of an extended shooting slump, Butler also went 1-for-6 from the field and compiled an impressively unimpressive minus-30 in plus/minus differential. It was one of the worst moments of Butler’s campaign, and one of the worst moments of the Wizards season.

Runner up: the first game of the year, wherein Miami’s James Innis almost ended Butler’s season before it began.

Curious Stat

Butler may be on the last leg of the Oregon Trail, but he was able to mask the inevitability of career dysentery by cleverly limiting his mileage. More than any other player on the team (save Otto Porter), Butler’s baskets were assisted by another member of the team. In total, 79 percent of Butler’s makes were assisted, per 82games.com, which was a huge leap from the previous year in Indiana, where only 65 percent of his makes were assisted. Breaking it down even further, 88 percent of Butler’s jump shots were assisted. All these catch-and-shoot attempts meant less contact with opposing defenders, and less wear-and-tear on Butler’s wagon wheels.

If Rasual Butler were a type of food or an entire meal of food, he would be…

A genetically modified tomato with unnaturally durable skin that falls out of the back of a truck and bounces resolutely to the HOV lane.


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Kris Humphries in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/kris-humphries-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/kris-humphries-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 21:34:15 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47983 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin; then Paul Pierce; then Alan Anderson; then Otto Porter. Now: Kris Humphries, by Bryan Frantz. Read on…]


I’ll admit, I was not a fan of Kris Humphries when the Wizards signed him before the 2014-15 season. I was hardly the only one to have negative feelings toward the guy, and as is the case with many who dislike him, I didn’t know his game all that well. But he won me over throughout the season with his willingness to crash the boards, his 1950s elbows-out baby-hop jumper, and his occasional displays of remarkable athletic ability.

Humphries was a quality role player in his first season with the Wiz,
averaging 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds over 64 games. His primary responsibilities were to grab rebounds and space the floor—sort of—and he did both well enough. There has been talk recently about him extending his range to beyond the arc, but he has made exactly two 3-pointers in his NBA career, both of which came in his rookie season.

Still, Kris “My 3-Ball’s Wet” Humphries has confidence from distance. He attempted seven triples last year, the most he’s ever put up in a season, and with the Wizards allegedly looking to go small in 2015-16, this could be the year he starts hoisting up treys for real.

With Kevin Seraphin gone, Nene expected to take on a slightly reduced role, Drew Gooden now 34 years young, DeJuan Blair being DeJuan Blair, and the small-ball concept not yet a reality (much less a permanent reality), Humphries might very well find himself as Washington’s starting 4 at some point. In 17 games as a starter last season, filling in for an injured Nene, Humphries averaged 8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 26.4 minutes per game. Gooden averaged 9.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 29 minutes over the seven games he started. Worth noting that, per NBA.com/stats, over the 673 minutes that Gortat and Humphries played next to each other, the Wizards were plus-4.8 in Net Rating (NetRtg, points per 100 possessions better or worse than the opponent). In 1,189 minutes featuring both Gortat and Nene, the Wizards put up a NetRtg of plus-7.6.

Nene is probably still the favorite to start at the 4, and there’s always the chance the Wizards go small and start Otto Porter or Jared Dudley there. Gooden might get a crack at the job, as well. But Humphries might make the most sense as the full-time starter, if Washington doesn’t begin games with a small-ball lineup. Gooden probably won’t hold up for a full season as a starter, and Nene hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since 2010-11. Plus, the idea of a Dudley-Gooden-Nene frontcourt off the bench is somewhat appealing.

Best Moment

Humphries loved playing against the Denver Nuggets last season. Maybe the matchup was favorable, maybe the altitude cleared his mind, maybe he just really likes Colorado. Whatever the reason, Humphries went off in the two games against Denver to the tune of 41 points on 16-for-24 shooting and 18 rebounds.

The better of the two games came on January 25, when he put up 21 points and 14 boards in a game that kicked off an impressive personal run of four straight games with at least 11 rebounds.

Worst Moment

Humphries was one of the more consistently productive reserves for the Wizards last season, yet Randy Wittman decided to catch up with the times all of a sudden in the postseason, and his small-ball lineup did not have a place for Humphries. Drew Gooden, who isn’t necessarily anchored inside the 3-point line, was the primary beneficiary among big men, as he received a whopping 178 minutes in the postseason.

Humphries, meanwhile, managed just five total minutes, despite averaging 21 minutes per game and making 17 starts in the regular season. On Media Day Humphries addressed this by saying that the groin injury which caused him to miss a month of action from late-February to late-March was the reason he fell out of the postseason rotation, but there’s got to be more to it.

Curious Stat

The man hates short jumpers. Just hates them.

Humphries put up 446 shots in the 2014-15 season. Of those, 166 came from within five feet of the basket, and 206 came from at least 15 feet away. That means he attempted just 74 shots (16.6 percent of his FGA) from 5-to-14 feet out. That’s unusual for most players, but especially big men, and especially players in a Randy Wittman offense. It’s not far from Humphries’ standard, though. In 2013-14, he hit 44 of 106 (41.5 percent) from the 5-to-14-foot range, which represented just 23 percent of his field goal attempts.

The unconventional shot breakdown worked well for Humphries, though. He drained 57.2 percent of his shots from within five feet and 43.7 percent from outside 15; his field goal percentage from 5-to-14 feet was an abysmal 35.1 percent. For comparison’s sake, Marcin Gortat, hardly known for his jumper, shot 39.2 percent from the same range last season.

If Kris Humphries were a type of food or meal of food, he would be…

Bottomless mimosas at brunch. While wearing flip-flops. Not technically a food, but bros gonna bro.


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Czech Mate: An Insider’s Take on Tomas Satoransky, Jan Vesely, and the Wizards http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/czech-mate-an-insiders-take-on-tomas-satoransky-jan-vesely-and-the-wizards.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/czech-mate-an-insiders-take-on-tomas-satoransky-jan-vesely-and-the-wizards.html#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:22:33 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47968 [Ed. Note: Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow) is TAI’s Czech correspondent. Since 2011 he has helped cover the careers of fellow countrymen and Wizards draft picks, Jan Vesely and Tomas Satoransky.

Vesely, as you are well aware, ceased being a Wizard in February 2014 after being drafted sixth overall by the team in 2011. Satoransky was selected by the Wizards in the second round of 2012 and the team has maintained his rights while he’s played overseas in Spain. Satoransky, per multiple reports, is expected to join Washington for the 2016-17 season.

Today Lukas brings us commentary from Lubos Barton, a veteran Czech basketball star and national team teammate of Vesely and Satoransky. Click here for Lukas’ past coverage.]

[Czech National Team at EuroBasket 2015, courtesy of the Czech Basketball Federation]

[Czech National Team at EuroBasket 2015, courtesy of the Czech Basketball Federation]

Lukas Kuba:

I’d been trying to track down Lubos Barton since the summer of 2013. The veteran Czech basketballer and occasional blogger played four seasons (1998-2002) at Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he still ranks fourth all-time in career points, fifth in rebounds, and seventh in assists (1). He has since played for several teams in Europe and has been a stalwart on the Czech Republic national team.

I’ve always enjoyed Barton’s style of writing and insights into the world of basketball. My goal at the time of EuroBasket 2013 was to see if he was interested in writing about two budding stars of Czech basketball and Washington Wizards draftees, Jan Vesely and Tomas Satoransky. The issue was that I didn’t have a direct contact to Barton and couldn’t reach him by email, Twitter (he’s not on Twitter), or Facebook. The idea fizzled over time, as did Vesely’s career with the Wizards.

Fast forward to this summer: The Czech national team literally did wonders at EuroBasket 2015, finishing in seventh place. This might not be a big deal to hoops fans outside of the Czech Republic, but a top eight finish  was a success for the national team. In fact, it was the best finish for the Czech Lions since 1985—the year I was born—when Czech and Slovak brothers battled under the flag of Czechoslovakia and came away with a silver medal, upsetting Drazen Petrovic’s Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals and Spain in the semis before falling to the mighty Soviet Union squad and its young MVP, Arvydas Sabonis, in the final.

It’s impossible to compare these two accomplishments. However, what the Czechs did, led by its two young stars, Vesely and Satoransky (and their run-and-gun style of ball), got rave reviews from sports fans across the country.

More important: Mission accomplished. The Czechs qualified to play in one of three qualifying tournaments for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and rekindled the popularity of men’s basketball in the Czech Republic. It was in this atmosphere of joy and congratulations that I was mailing back and forth with my friend Petr Janouch, a former Czech basketball player, NBA expert, and play-by-play announcer. Don’t know why it took me so long, but I realized Petr is good friends with Jiri Welsch (former NBAer with the Warriors, Celtics, Cavs, and Bucks) and Barton. (Satoransky calls them “The Grandpas.”) So I was finally able to connect with Barton, who, despite a busy schedule, kindly got back to me. Barton recently signed to play for FC Barcelona “B” team; Satoransky plays for the main FC Barcelona team. Without further ado, keep reading for Barton’s thoughts on his Czech-mates.


[Jan Vesely and Tomas Satoransky at EuroBasket 2015, via the Czech Basketball Federation]

[Jan Vesely and Tomas Satoransky at EuroBasket 2015, via the Czech Basketball Federation]

Lubos Barton:

For as long as I can remember (I am 35), the Washington Bullets and later on the the Wizards were one of the mediocre teams in pro basketball. They were not quite the worst, but they never had any high-caliber playoff teams. Mismanagement would be the first and main reason for it. I actually can’t remember a single draftee (besides Juwan Howard) from 1993 all the way to when Wizards took John Wall with the first pick overall in 2010. Oh, yeah, now I remember. There was the Kwame Brown experiment back in 2001.

I don’t want to be harsh but basically the Wizards have never been on my radar when it came to following NBA. Not until they drafted Jan Vesely with the sixth overall pick in 2011, exactly one year after they drafted John Wall. I was excited. The future was bright and sky was the limit. Two top athletes at their positions would team up and change the course of the franchise. Well, it didn’t end that well. Not for Jan.

I don’t want to get into details but, from my point of view, Jan never got comfortable and never played his game. His weakness were on display and his virtues were hidden. That would ultimately cost him valuable playing time, a role on the team, and eventually he would end up sitting not only at the end of the bench, but also sometimes behind the bench in street clothes.

Again, I thought to myself, they are still the Wizards. This would never happen on well-managed teams.

In 2012, the Wizards drafted yet another of my countrymen, Tomas Satoransky, this time in the second round with the 32nd overall pick. An athletic guard playing then for one of the better teams in Spanish ACB League, Seville, Satoransky didn’t get as much exposure as Vesely did with Partizan Belgrade, but his combination of athleticism and skill made him a very interesting prospect. Probably the best thing that happened to Satoransky is that he was drafted in second round and could thus stay in Seville and work on his game. His ACB team then unloaded its roster from veteran players and took the “young and cheap” road. All of a sudden, Tomas was one of the main and seasoned players, still at age of 21 at the time. It also didn’t hurt that Seville signed a legendary Spanish coach, Aito Garcia Reneses. Aito allowed such players as Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro (2), Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio to debut in ACB and actually excel. Within two years, Satoransky became one of the top point guards in the league and powerhouse FC Barcelona signed him to a multi-year contract.

The Wizards still have the rights to Satoransky, who is coming off a very impressive first Euroleague/ACB season with FCB. Turning 24 this fall (Oct. 30), he is just entering his best years, when athleticism links with skill level and understanding of the game. Satoransky further impressed at EuroBasket 2015 with the Czech national team and was one of the best PGs in the tournament. Tomas has one more year on his contract with Barcelona, and if he continues to play at this level it will be very hard for them to keep him. The Wizards could use another player to complement the Wall/Beal duo, and to me it’s a no brainer.

But again, we are talking about Wizards here. They were both good and lucky with their second round pick, and they should cash in. But they will have to make quite an effort because Satoransky is not that desperate to leave his well-earned spot at FCB. Not for a minor role on an NBA playoff team. Don’t get me wrong. The NBA has always been a dream of his, and he would sacrifice a lot to achieve it, but the situation has to be right and both sides have to make it work. Trust me, the way the Wizards mishandled Vesely still triggers many question marks. Stay tuned.

I got to play with both players at the brink of my career. If I had to characterize them, I would go as simple as this: they are both extremely athletic and versatile players, good defenders, and always look to finish inside. Tomas improved his outside shooting a great deal, which will also help him within the NBA ranks. Vesely’s jump shot isn’t broken but it usually isn’t working, either. He has to have confidence to take them and make them. He has developed a very quick and lethal floater/teardrop, and that is actually his best shot right now.

The biggest difference between the two of them is that Tomas is always thinking basketball and Jan is not quite like that. For better or worse, Jan has a simple and straightforward approach to basketball. His best skill is that he plays instinctively and with lots of energy and passion. His best games are always those when his adrenaline flows high—he got maybe too much of that in Pioneer Arena in Belgrade, where Partizan plays its home games. For those who never been there, it’s quite a sight. Jan would feed off that energy and would play to another level.

Tomas, on the other hand, I’ve known him well for four years now, can’t go more than five minutes without mentioning basketball. He likes to pick my brain about different subjects, and I assume he does that to many others about the game. His combination of physical attributes, skills, and mentality has him destined to be a great player. Based on hoop skills alone, I would be surprised if Tomas isn’t playing in the NBA next season.

Vesely’s return to Europe was a wise one. He signed with Turkish Fenerbahce, in Istanbul, and improved under yet another European coaching legend, Zeljko Obradovic. Vesely got his rhythm and confidence back and ended up being one of the best players in Euroleague. He also has one more year on his contract and his level of play should open many doors in the NBA. This time, whoever decides to sign him, should know what kind of player Vesely is and how to play him.

There is no doubt in my mind that both Czech players belong in the NBA. It would have been sweet to see them playing side by side, for the same team. It would be better, however, if they get a chance (a second chance for Vesely) and actually performed up to their abilities.

In Cannes, France this summer, Barton met with his childhood idol and inspiration for playing basketball, Magic Johnson, for the second time.

[In Cannes, France this summer, Barton met with his childhood idol and inspiration for playing basketball, Magic Johnson, for the second time. Photo courtesy of Lubos Barton]

[Photo courtesy of Lubos Barton]

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Otto Porter in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/otto-porter-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/10/otto-porter-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 14:46:22 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47956 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin; then Paul Pierce; then Alan Anderson. Now: Otto Porter, by Troy Haliburton. Read on…]


With great power comes great responsibility, the old adage goes, and if Otto Porter has anything to say about it you won’t notice a drop off in production at small forward in 2015-16. Yes, Porter is still an unproven third-year player with the tendency to produce some of the most jaw-dropping gaffes on SportsCenter’s Not Top 10. But he has shown that he can also be an exemplary jack-of-all trades role player.

No one is asking Porter to be the departed Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce, but it isn’t too much to expect Porter to fill the void, given his recent playoff performance.

It’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgic moments of Pierce’s “I called ‘game’” shot, but at 37 years old he was not the sole reason why the Wizards were on the cusp of reaching the 50-win plateau. Pierce was an above replacement level player with a 3.9 nERD—numberFire.com’s efficiency metric that indicates how many wins a player adds to a team as a starter over 82 games. nERD is similar to Win Shares, but while Win Shares evaluate only games played, nERD projects player contributions for the entire season. Otto has shown some indication that he is capable of playing to that level, if not greater.

Of course, most of that popular confidence comes from a small sample size of just 10 exhilarating “Stretch Otto” playoff games, but it gave Wizards fans a damn good reason to start counting their chickens before they’ve hatched. Porter is by no means a finished product; but with the proper motivation from an old-school coach like Randy Wittman and a newfound self-confidence, Porter just may be ready to establish himself as a reliable NBA player going forward.

Before we began to look forward on Otto, let’s look back at the ups-and-downs of Porter’s sophomore year.

Best Moment in 2014-15.

Otto’s best moment of the year was his deflection on a potential Terrence Ross tip-in with 0.4 seconds left in Game 1 of the Wizards’ overtime win in Toronto to open the playoffs. It was no slam dunk, but the play encapsulates all of the ancillary things that Porter brings to a basketball team. If Porter didn’t make that play, the Wizards’ (mostly) impressive playoff run could have been spoiled.

Worst Moment in 2014-15.

We all know where this one is going. I can still hear echoes of Gortat screaming “OTTO!” as Porter distinguished himself on the “Shaqtin’-A-Fool” wall of shame. That infamous play, where he was trying to guard Tony Snell but somehow ended up stuck in cement, turned out to be a moment of clarity for Yung Simba’s career. After that misstep Porter found himself buried on the Wizards bench for about two weeks and he must have come to the realization that the number one objective for a professional athlete is knowing your assignment and sticking with it. No napping.

Curious Stat.

The most curious stat relating to Porter might be his 1.82 Offensive Real Plus-Minus, which isolates the unique plus-minus impact of each NBA player by adjusting for the effects teammates and opposing players. Porter ranked 11th in the NBA at the small forward position, despite the fact that he only played 19.4 minutes per game during the regular season. What this stat tell us is that Porter is an efficient offensive player, who, given an uptick in minutes, should see an even larger uptick in production.

Over 82 games Porter put up a meager stat line of 6.0 points per game (PPG), 3.0 rebounds per game (RPG), and 0.9 assists per game (APG). In the playoffs, Porter’s minutes bumped up to 33.1 minutes per game, and his stat line jumped to 10 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 1.8 APG. The crazy thing is that despite Porter’s increased minutes in last year’s playoffs, his usage rate actually dropped from 15.1 to 13.8, meaning that he had the uncanny ability of doing more with less in terms of productivity.

Otto also saw his 3-point shooting percentage increase significantly from 33.7 percent during the regular season to 37.5 percent during the playoffs. It is not out of the realm of possibility to expect a focused Otto Porter to put up a stat line close to those playoff splits for the 2015-16 regular season.

Where Otto Can Improve For 2015-16.

Porter can further help his offensive efficiency by redistributing his shot selection.

In last year’s regular season, 22.5 percent of Porters shots came within three feet of the basket, 29.2 percent from beyond 16 feet but inside the 3-point line (the dreaded long-2), and only 26.6 percent from deep.

In the playoffs, Porter’s shot selection was much more aligned with the 21st-century analytical wave of offensive production: 34.1 percent from 0-to-3 feet, 10.2 percent from long-2 territory, and 36.4 percent from behind the arc. If Porter can make a concerted effort to continue attacking the rim via intelligent cuts down the lane, while also honing his craft from deep, he will have all of the makings of a quintessential 3-and-D player.

Speaking 3-and-D, Otto could definitely use a little improvement on the defensive end if the Wizards are to remain one of the top contenders in the East. Last season Porter produced a porous minus-0.59 Defensive Real Plus-Minus, ranking him outside the top 40 among small forwards. Added muscle in the offseason should enhance Porter’s defensive abilities.

Porter has admitted to concentrating on ball handling this offseason. The eye test tells us that Porter is much more comfortable handling the rock with his dominant right hand, allowing himself to get all the way to the rim. When he tries to go left, he is much more likely to pull-up rather than trust his ability to get closer to the basket.

Of course, the Wizards want Porter to enhance his playmaking skills. But because of the ball dominance of their backcourt, any play-making from Otto is really an added bonus.

If Otto Porter Were a Particular Type of Food, He Would Be…

A loaded baked potato. Hearty enough to stand on its own as a meal substitute, but works best when it’s accompanied by that juicy porterhouse (i.e., franchise player).

[via @SwedenDC]

[via @SwedenDC]

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Wizards 2015 Media Day Hits: New Squad, Same Goals http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/wizards-2015-media-day-hits-new-squad-same-goals.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/wizards-2015-media-day-hits-new-squad-same-goals.html#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:48:59 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47917 John Wall, Selfie, Washington, WIzards, Washington Wizards, Media Day, Adam McGinnis, Truth About It

NBA Media Day always brings a sense of optimism. Everyone is in great shape, everyone spent their summer working to improve their game, and everyone is excited for a fresh beginning.

This was my sixth straight year covering the press gathering. While it was not the circus frenzy of Emo Gilbert Arenas returning in 2010, it still was a spectacle.

TV cameras crammed for limited space around players, several media members asked inane questions, and somehow a Spike TV show called “Celebrity Sweat” was securing interviews. A Wizards championship belt and Twitter-themed selfie stick were the new team-approved props involved.

Perhaps foreshadowing the future landscape of “Media Day,” Monday felt more designed for Monumental Network and Washington’s in-house communication organs to gather #content than for outside press on the Wizards beat. The overwhelmingly majority of the players’ time was spent at stations set up for the team. The kid reporters, who I adore, received unique access to every player. Monumental TV’s interview with Bradley Beal trumped a hoard of reporters who stuck around specifically to chat with Big Panda. The scrums around Randy Wittman, John Wall and Beal were so intense that, similar to the playoffs, they probably should have set up those three on a podium. The lack of a set interview schedule wasn’t ideal, either. But, heck, what would Media Day be without a frenzy (whether it was by design or not)?

Anyhow, you want to know more about what’s going on with the team than my observations about media arrangements.  So, Leggoooo!


  • The main themes were shooting more 3s, playing small and getting over the second-round postseason hump.
  • John Wall spent the summer working on his shot selection, 3-point range, floaters, and post moves.
  • Nenê, who often dodges interviews, was in a jovial mood. He spent over half an hour chatting up everyone. This will likely rival his total of availability to the media for half of the season.
  • Bradley Beal did his usual routine of saying a bunch of stuff without much substance. However, to the jubilance of #WizardsTwitter, Bao Bao did finally concede that he needs to limit long-2 attempts.
  • Marcin Gortat sported no mohawk this year (neither did Martell Webster). Instead, the Polish Hammer was pumped to finally have his No. 13 jersey back, given Kevin Seraphin’s departure.
  • Towson University graduate Gary Neal is enthusiastic to be back in his home area. He already has a ticket plan for his friends and family. Neal mentioned he grew up a Bullets fan. Rod Strickland and Mitch Richmond were his favorite players.
  • Chef José Andrés was in attendance, taking pictures with Wall and Nene. I was able to interview Andrés about his Wiz fandom (check the quotes below). He opened up a new restaurant, Beefsteak, in Dupont Circle on Tuesday.
  • Winner of the Moronic Questions of Media Day … well, it was a tie between one journo asking Wall about a fashion rivalry with rookie Kelly Oubre and another wondering about Nene’s thoughts on Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper. The Big Brazilian missed the Nats altercation; he said he was playing with his kids.
  • DeJuan Blair strolled around in a PhunkeeDuck. He supposedly has lost 30 pounds.
  • Kelly Oubre’s hair is something else. He comes across as a very nice and cordial kid. Also, he’s been staying at Wall’s house in the lead up to training camp.
  • Kris Humphries is scared of clowns and mimes. Go figure.
  • Getting someone to jam about their vacation is usually an easy task, unless it is Otto Porter. Young Simba took a summer trip to Poland with Gortat and my questions about it were longer than his answers.
  • New additions Jared Dudley (back) and Alan Anderson (ankle) are both dealing with injuries. #SoWizards.
  • Martell Webster attended several weddings this summer, including that of his former Wizards teammate Trevor Booker.
  • Drew Gooden was his animated self, cracking many jokes about being a veteran and striking funny poses with the championship belt. He is still doing hot yoga and took a summer excursion to Venice, Italy, with his family.
  • My favorite part was watching Nene do Silento’s “Whip/Nae Nae” dance that is included in the video at the bottom of this post.


Gary Neal on playing for the Wizards:

“I wanted to get back to playing with a point guard with John’s capabilities—All-Star, pass-first point guard. As I am getting older, up there a little in age, I wanted to be around guys that I feel can make the game easier for me. Also, getting a chance to come back home. And playing for a team that expected to be top 4, or top 5, in the Eastern Conference. It was a perfect situation for me.”

Kris Humphries on talking with Coach Wittman about not playing much in the playoffs:

“We talked at the end of the year. I am kinda looking at this as a new opportunity. Last year, a lot of things come into play with getting hurt at end of year… Cant really focus on last year, it is more about what we’ve got going on tomorrow.”

Drew Gooden on the team:

“One of the reasons that I like the additions, we have about 10 guys right now that are free agents next summer. There are going to be a lot of guys in tune, not only collectively as a team but as individuals on what they need to do to help them keep playing in this league, extending their careers. So if we can put that together, we could be a powerful team.”

Nene on his offseason:

“I just rest my body because, in the next two years, there are going to be bruises. Season, offseason with Olympics in Brazil… I took time off of basketball to spend with my family to do something else I like a lot, which is soccer.”

Chef José Andrés on his Wizards:

“I have always loved the NBA. Twenty-three to be in D.C., with [the Verizon Center] next to all of my restaurants and where I live, it is a dream come true. I will be in the kitchen and ‘OK, the quarter is going well. Let me go one second and watch a quarter then go back to the kitchen.’ I am lucky that I can do that and I love the Wizards.”

Kelly Oubre on being a rookie:

“I need to just play hard. It is going to be tough. I am a rookie. Just do all the little things that he (Coach Wittman) needs me to do. No matter what it is. He told me to just stick with it.”

Marcin Gorat on breaking up with Nene:

“It is not a secret that me and Nene, both of us, we are not going to be able to keep up with John at same time. Always, one of us has to take the ball out, sprint the whole court, and run under the rim. Hopefully, having the 4-man being able to take the ball out, only just going to sprint to the 3-point line and stop to be a threat automatically. This will be a good opportunity for us. But again, Coach will figure out what we are going to do.”

Otto Porter on Otto Porter:

“My role right now is to be Otto Porter. Go out there and play. Do all the little things to help the team.”

Bradley Beal on summer work:

“I worked on my ball handling, long 3s, and floaters too. Just being able to create a shot that is a little bit closer than long jumpers. The biggest thing is just getting to the basket and free throw line.” 

John Wall on the season:

“Basically, the same goals, we want to get to 50 wins, definitely want to get home court advantage, and want to get out of second round for once.”


Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster

Webster loves to photo bomb

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Watch Me Whip, Watch Me Nae, Nae, Nene, Brazil

Watch Me Whip, Watch Me Nene

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Martell Webster

MC Martell is ready for the new season

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Marcin Gortat, Poland, Scrum

Gortat still won’t discuss what caused his funk last season

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Jared Dudley

Dudley is a sharp dude but also injured

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Kelly Oubre, GMan

Kelly Oubre flexing with G-Man


Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Kris Humphries

Still bummed didn’t get a chance to talk wake boarding with Humph

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Drew Gooden, Championship Belt

Gooden would my Wizards pick for a future spot in the WWE. He can talk the game and his flopping skills in the ring would be on point.

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, John Wall Shoes, Adidas, J Wall 2, John Wall, Red

J Wall 2 Shoes

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Jose Andres, John Wall

John Wall with Chef Jose Andres

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis

Alan Anderson cracks up

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Kelly Oubre, Camera, Rookie

Oubre tells local news his first love was not basketball, but taekwondo.


Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Otto Porter, John Wall shoes

Otto chats up 2 season ticket holders in Orange J Wall shoes.

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Nene

Nene explaining his soccer skills

Media Day, Washington Wizards, Truth About It, 2015, NBA, Verizon Center, Adam McGinnis, Bradley Beal

Bao Bao BACK

Social Media.

kelly oubre, alan anderson, bradley beal, john wall

Wall, Oubre, Anderson and Beal making funny faces at Training Camp (via Anderson’s IG)


Training Camp Invites:



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Alan Anderson in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/alan-anderson-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/alan-anderson-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 18:37:13 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47909 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin. Next up was Paul Pierce. Now: Alan Anderson, by Kyle Weidie. Read on…]


Alan Anderson, the way he sounds when he talks, reminds me a little bit of Slim Charles from “The Wire.” The actor who played Slim Charles, of course, is Antawn Glover, son of D.C. and co-founder of the go-go music troupe the Backyard Band. Slim Charles had a smooth, methodical demeanor. He was practical, or rather he knew that versatility and a cool head could keep him afloat in “the game.” Charles ended up being one of the last characters standing from the Avon Barksdale crew (having later survived by moving on to work for Prop Joe).

“No, not yet. But I know I’m going to play, so that’s a good thing,” Alan Anderson uttered, after a humming pause for effect when asked on Media Day if he’d spoken to Randy Wittman about his role with the team.

Anderson’s not the type of guy who needs a role, per se. He’s played the 1-thru-4 before, he insists, since his days in college at Michigan State. Sounds like he just wants to be on the court, having suited up to play ball in Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel, Spain, China, and the D-League since going undrafted in 2005. The Wizards are his fourth NBA team.

I asked Anderson about the highlight of his summer. He spoke not of hanging out on the beach like other teammates, but rather concentrating on getting his ankle right. He had surgery in mid-May to remove bone spurs from his left ankle. He’s still taking it slow. “Training camp is here, we’ll see how much I can do,” he said on Monday. CSN Washington’s J. Michael further reports that Anderson “may miss” the start of training camp. (The Post’s Jorge Castillo relays that Anderson sat out the first day.) Anderson will turn 33 on October 16, best to be careful, especially if Anderson is called upon to do some bruising in small-ball lineups. He could even be considered to have an outside chance to start the season at the 4, or at least be a key part of a 3/4 combo.

“As you can see, Golden State won it like that, playing small-ball. You just need a 4 who can stretch but also be physical, even though sometimes he’s giving up some size,” Anderson observed. “We have so many versatile players that it’s going to be interesting. Anybody can play from the 2 to the 4, so we can be interchangeable. It should be fun.”

Move aside, Garrett Temple, there’s a new utility infielder in town.

“Alan Anderson shot 41% on catch and shoot jumpers and an opportunistic 61% at the rim in the half court in 2015. Useful offensive role player,” tweeted Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) after the Wizards inked Anderson to a one-year, $4 million contract in July.

TAI’s Troy Haliburton added this in light of the cost-effective signing:

At 23 minutes per game, Anderson was the sixth-ranked shooting guard in the entire NBA at Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DPRM): his DPRM of 2.21 ranked just ahead of defensive stalwarts Andre Iguodala, Iman Shumpert, and Danny Green. Anderson is the type of player who has tasted “Basketball Siberia” (almost literally) with career stops in Russia, Italy, Israel, and the D-League, and he knows that maximum effort on the defensive side of the ball could keep him on this side of the Atlantic.

At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Anderson gives the Wizards the type of defensive versatility that they need to compete with the dominant wing players scattered throughout the Association (i.e., LeBron James, the gatekeeper for any Eastern Conference team).

Count Anderson amongst those who felt that the Wizards should have beaten the Atlanta Hawks to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“They’ve been knocking at the door the last couple of years, a couple injuries here and there, bad timing with the injuries, and they didn’t get to go to the Conference Finals like I thought they should have,” he said when asked what attracted him to Washington. “They’re right there, man, they’re right there. A few stops, a few baskets, whatever it is, I think I can just help them bring that out, so I came.”

‘But what will your role be?’ — perhaps the most cliched question posed at media days ‘round the world. Anderson was asked that question twice by the comers-and-goers of media day scrums.

“Hmmmm,” he again countered to the second instance with a pause and a husky rumble from his throat. “I don’t really know the role yet, I just know I’m going to play, I’ll be ready to play, and I’m just going to spill it, like I always do.”

Best Moment in 2014-15.

Matching his career PER of 10.6 last season, Anderson upped his play for Brooklyn in the 2015 playoffs and put up a PER of 17.7. He didn’t jack more 3-pointers, he just made them count.

During the regular season, 47.7 percent of his field goal attempts were 3s and he made them at a 34.8 percent clip. In a six-game series against the Hawks, just 39 percent of his shot attempts were 3s, but he sunk them at a much better rate: 62.5 percent.

Worst Moment in 2014-15.

Anderson had a busted beginning to the 2015 calendar year, shooting below 40 percent (39.8) over 15 games, two starts, and 384 minutes in January. But with 11 starts and 338 minutes in February (he started 19 total games for Brooklyn last season), he upped his field goal percentage to 48.2. The Nets went 3-12 in January, 6-5 in February.

Curious Stat.

According to 82games.com, Anderson didn’t consume any of Brooklyn’s minutes at the 4 last season; rather, he spent 32 percent of team minutes at “SG” and 11 percent of team minutes at “SF.”

But Anderson was featured in two of the more effective 5-man units that flashed small-ball/3-point shooting play. In one, Anderson was a small-ball 3-4 combo with Mirza Teletovic, alongside Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson at the 1-2 and Mason Plumlee at the 5. Teletovic, a 3-point shooter, is a better rebounder and two inches taller than Anderson. In another lineup, Anderson was also paired with Teletovic but with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at the 1-2 and Brook Lopez at the 5.

Anderson averaged 6.1 total rebounds per 100 possessions last season, worse than Garrett Temple and Andre Miller (6.3). With that a factor, Anderson is seemingly more technically suited to be a 3 next to a small ball 4 like, say, Otto Porter.

If Alan Anderson were a type of food or an entire meal of food, he would be …

Nachos. They can feature a little bit of everything, are not exactly a staple like pizza, and can incorporate only veggies and be acceptable. (I’m not totally sure what this means.)


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What’s Most Up For Grabs? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/whats-most-up-for-grabs-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/whats-most-up-for-grabs-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:11:17 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47899 Part 3 in a series of Wizards 2015 training camp questions: What’s most up for grabs?

Could be the starting 3 or 4 spot, or backup ball-handler, or 6th man, or first big off the bench, or 15th man. What battle of present-day minutiae will be the most important?

Part 1 asked about Randy Wittman’s sleepless nights, Part 2 thinly dissected areas where John Wall might improve. Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) pick the likely battles for Part 3. Keep reading…

[Nene with belt -- photo via K. Weidie]

[Nene with belt — photo via K. Weidie]

MOBLEY: It is absolutely paramount that the Wizards have a backup facilitator. Will Bynum and Ramon Sessions provided temporary relief in this department, as did Garrett Temple. But far too often, when Wall went to the bench Coach Wittman relied on Bradley Beal to bring the ball up the floor, get the team into some semblance of an offensive set, and provide scoring punch. As great as Beal is, and as much as he’s improved as a passer, his ability to score is his strength. If he’s on the floor with the second unit, his sole concern should be getting buckets.

Ramon Sessions is the best candidate to fulfill this role. Given that he’ll have training camp and the latter part of the 2015 season under his belt, he should know exactly what is needed of him. But Gary Neal, Anthony Anderson, Otto Porter, and maybe even a player the Wizards have yet to sign could prove to be stiff competition to the inconsistent Sessions. Those aren’t exactly the best options, but for the Wizards to succeed and for Beal and Wall to keep fresh all season long, this backup playmaking void is a must-fill.

RUBIN: Starting small forward. This feels like a 50/50 toss-up between Alan Anderson and Otto Porter. Otto is the incumbent, of sorts, having put in two years under Wittman and showing in the playoffs that he is ready to take on a much more substantial regular season role. But Wittman is partial to veterans and adverse to change. He might prefer keeping Otto in an energizer role off the bench while leaning on Anderson’s experience to anchor the starting unit. Either one works for me, and it may come down to whoever shows the most chemistry with Wall and Beal in the preseason. Unfortunately for Anderson, an ankle injury may keep him out of a chunk of his preseason audition time.  

WEIDIE: Looking at the “Drives Per Game” player tracking statistic on NBA.com, Bradley Beal’s 3.6 per game puts him in a class with … Gerald Henderson. Not as great as the 4.0 drives per game from Austin Rivers, Greivis Vasquez, or Ramon Sessions, but better than the 3.1 drives per game from Trevor Ariza and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In other words, not great at all.

The position most up for grabs is slasher/driver/attacker off the bench. The team has gone through great lengths to condition Beal on the art of dribble—whether it be a pick-and-roll to create action for him or teammates, or simply being able to get to the rim and finish. It’s a justifiable act. If Beal is going to keep elevating as a player, he must improve his comfort with the ball, and his effectiveness will dictate how much the team uses those developed skills later.

The combination of Beal and Wall can’t do it all, we’re well aware. They need help getting through opposing defenses, making defenders recover in order to expose gaps in protection, and creating an environment that facilitates ball movement. The absence of an attacker off the bench was seen as one of the top issues last season, which is why a trade deadline move keyed in on exchanging Professor Andre Miller, the elder, for Ramon Sessions, who bounced back nicely from a disappointing run with the Sacramento Kings. This isn’t to say that Sessions is the primary answer (critical note: he can’t finish at the rim). It could come from the wing in a player who can catch a pass from Wall or Beal and immediately slash, looking for his own bucket but just as importantly looking for other opportunities that exist (maybe giving John or Brad a hockey assist in the process).

Filling this team need must come from somewhere, and playing time exists for whomever steps up to bat.


This stuff also happened at media day:

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Have You Heard of This John Wall Kid? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/have-you-heard-of-this-john-wall-kid-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/have-you-heard-of-this-john-wall-kid-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:42:56 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47894 Next up on the 2015 Wizards 2015 Query Tour: John Wall.

First, we wondered about Randy Wittman’s sleep habits. Now we ask where the team leader ‘MUST’ improve, or else (1).

Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) throttle our brains for answers. Keep reading…

[John Wall 2015 Media Day Scrum Shot -- via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[John Wall 2015 Media Day Scrum Shot — via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

MOBLEY: On one hand it’s unfair to ask an All-Star to improve when, for two consecutive years, he’s reached a level that very few players ever do. However, Wall is a franchise All-Star, which means not only does the fate of the Wizards lie firmly on his 6-foot-4 shoulders, but he’s also expected to improve deficient areas in his game the way all the greats do (think LeBron in the post, Jordan with his 3-point shot). Wall could stand to improve his post game and his jump shot still lacks the desired consistency, but it is quite possible that a jumper may never be a reliable aspect of his game.

What Wall MUST improve upon is his ability to get to the free throw line. He averaged six free throw attempts over his first three seasons, but over the last two seasons that average dipped below 4.7, including a career-low 4.6 attempts per game last season. To add some perspective, 31 players averaged more free throw attempts per game than Wall last season. Russell Westbrook averaged 9.8 attempts last year, second in the league to James Harden, and wreaked havoc on defenses by basically treating the paint like his own catwalk, nightly. If Wall can better use his speed to get opposing guards (or even big men) in foul trouble, or worry about his frequent lane visitations, it will free Beal, Dudley, Porter, and even the big men for open shots. Wall hasn’t shown the ability to be a consistent outside threat, but he has the ability to get into the lane and that skill should be revisited and repeated.

RUBIN: I object to this question on principle. Wall established himself as a top-10 player in the NBA and carried his team for large stretches of the season, let alone his post-injury performance against the Hawks. Having said that, and in deference to editorial standards at TAI, I will respond. Wall needs to improve his end-of-game, half-court scoring and decision-making. Wall settles for jumpers a little too often. Now that Paul Pierce is gone, the team needs to establish a new last shot taker. Wall doesn’t necessarily have to take the last shot (his eFG% with four seconds or fewer is 31.6%), but he does have to do a better job of making sure whoever takes the shot is in the best position to do so.

WEIDIE: Free throw attempts (and shooting). Clutch performance… Or both.

Wall was an 80 percent free throw shooter his third and fourth years in the league. Last year he dipped to 78.5 percent, only better than his rookie season’s 76.6 percent. Wall did shoot slightly better at the line than Bradley Beal last season (78.3%) and was only topped for the team lead by Ramon Sessions (81.2%) and Rasual Butler (79.1%).

Washington’s team free throw percentage of 73.5 ranks 24th over the last three seasons. We’ve spun this scratchy record before. Franchises such as the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets, also funded by DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard hack-a-thons, have been able to compete while being in the league’s bottom third in free throw percentage since 2012-13. Otherwise, the Wizards don’t keep good company with this dubious distinction.

The combined win percentage of the top half of NBA free throw shooting teams since 2012: .541. The bottom half of the league Win%: .459. The Blazers, Thunder, Raptors, Spurs, Mavericks, Bulls, and Warriors rank as the NBA’s best free-throw-shooting teams over the past three seasons. There’s some consistency here.

Wall needs to be the team leader in this department. Of the 24 NBA players who have attempted 1,000 or more free throws over the past three seasons, Wall’s hit rate of 79.8 percent ranks 13th. Not bad. That’s better than Monta Ellis, Ty Lawson, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, but he should, ideally, be in the range of Russell Westbrook (82%), Carmelo Anthony (83.2%), or even James Harden or Damian Lillard (86.1% each). Kevin Durant leads the crew with 88.5 percent. Michael Jordan was a career 83.5 percent free throw shooter (80.5% as a Wizard).

Wall has never been the classic shooter that some of those others are, but his free throw shooting has generally been contrary to a player pegged with poor shooting ability entering the league. In consideration of how his jump shot has improved, truly, Wall really doesn’t have an excuse not to do the same from the charity stripe. Wall is climbing toward greatness as a player, now he needs to keep striving for it as a winner. Free throws can be part of that difference.

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Sleepless Nights for Wittman? — Wizards 2015 Training Camp Questions http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/sleepless-nights-for-wittman-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/sleepless-nights-for-wittman-wizards-2015-training-camp-questions.html#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2015 23:29:28 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47883 Washington Wizards Media Day 2015 is in the books. Players have been in town for the past week or so gearing up for the season, training camp starts on Tuesday at Towson University in Baltimore, and Head Coach Randy Wittman probably didn’t get nearly enough sleep this summer. And we start our series of 2015 training camp questions with just that: What kept Randy Wittman tossin’ and a-turnin’ past the witching hour this summer?

Three TAIers, Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace), and yours truly (@Truth_About_It) attempt to answer. Keep reading…

[Wizards arrive at training camp - via instagram.com/washwizards]

[Wizards arrive at training camp — via instagram.com/washwizards]

MOBLEY: Coach Randy Wittman was justifiably questioned about his reluctance to go small during the his team’s second-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He and his assistant coaches probably spent parts of the offseason figuring out how to make those small-ball lineups more of the norm and not the exception.

What Wittman could not easily dismiss or plan for is the fear that the core of his team (Wall, Beal, Gortat, Nene, and, yes, even Otto Porter) had already plateaued—no matter how many coaching pivots, lineup tweaks, or savvy free agent moves were made. Two seasons ago, not much was expected from Coach Wittman, yet he preached a commitment to defense and team ball, and the Wizards advanced to the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Indiana Pacers. Last year the expectations were high and went slightly higher with the signing of Paul Pierce. They once again reached the second round and, despite Wittman’s stubborn lineup decisions and Wall’s non-displaced wrist fracture, the Wizards were another Pierce clutch shot away from surviving and possibly advancing. This offseason, Coach Wittman had to be wondering if a slow start, a crippling injury to a star, or just a simple failure to improve on the past two seasons will cost him his job.

RUBIN: Immediately after Washington lost to Atlanta, Randy Wittman started talking about going small and playing Nene at backup center. Even Marcin Gortat publicly stated he is ready to move on from his bromance with Nene and play alongside a stretch-4. Now that training camp is here, Wittman is about to have an awkward conversation with his sensitive (and sometimes surly) big man. Has Randy been staring in the mirror, practicing his best, “It’s not you, it’s me” routine? Has he been searching Yelp for a quiet restaurant in Towson to break the news? Will he be able to go through with it once he’s sitting across from those sad eyes? All these questions must be causing some restless nights.   

WEIDIE: Randy Wittman wanted to sleep well this summer. He really did. And he’ll insist that he has … while his poker tells betray him. A downward glance and a scratch of his temple will indicate that he hasn’t.

For one, Wittman still probably earnestly believes that the Wizards had the talent to make it past the second round, and maybe even get to the Finals, but that a couple bounces of the ball simply did not go their way. Perhaps true, Randy, perhaps true. What #CoachSpeak around the league is finally learning, however, is that having the talent to compete is more of a minimum expectation given increased/improvised/better parity in the NBA. Or maybe the coach just tells himself this and internally he knows better. We should give him more credit.

A new NBA has kept Wittman up at night and paying more attention to sleep aid commercials. Can he be comfortable with adjusting the styles and strategies he’s known all his life? Will his roster let him? Right now, Nenê is really the only player who can reasonably be penciled in as the starting 4. That would keep me up, too. Maybe the answer will come to Randy in his dreams; maybe not having a better answer will continue to haunt him.

What Says Randy?

When asked at Media Day about the questions he wants answered during training camp:

“We’re going to do some things differently offensively, with the personnel that we have, the versatility that we have now on this roster that I didn’t have last year.”

When asked about playing more ‘small-ball': 

“The good thing is that we’re very versatile, we can go really small… Can an Otto Porter, can a Martell Webster, can an Alan Anderson play a stretch-4 position? I think Jared (Dudley) has proven that, that he can do that. Can Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden spread the floor enough to create that? That’s all going to be seen here in the month of October as we move forward.”

When talking about the ability for the Wizards also play big and how he appreciates that versatility:

“We’re not Golden State … I want to be able to play both ways.”

When asked about bringing Nenê off the bench (and if that will provide a boost to the second unit): 

“We’ll see if we’re going to be bringing Nenê off the bench. Again, I think we have the versatility to play or start anyway we want. Sitting here today, I can tell you that you might see different starting lineups … and not be a set situation there. But yeah, no question. If he is a guy that is coming off the bench, to have a guy like that makes your bench even better.”

[First #WittmanFace of the season -- via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[First #WittmanFace of the season — via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

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Paul Pierce in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/paul-pierce-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/paul-pierce-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:51:57 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47876 [TAI’s preview/review series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season continues. First up was Kevin Seraphin. Next up: Paul Pierce, by Bryan Frantz. Read on…]


John Wall was quite obviously the best player on the Wizards last year, and many would tab Bradley Beal as the second-best. The argument could also be made for Marcin Gortat as the runner-up to Wall, and, despite plenty of criticism, Nene could stake a claim to the spot as well.

However, the numbers make an intriguing case for Paul Pierce—his Win-Shares per 48 Minutes, 0.138, ranked only second on the team to Gortat (0.168). And that doesn’t even include Pierce’s other-worldly exploits in the postseason, or the many intangibles he brought to the team.

In his 17th pro season, Pierce was not dominant throughout the year. He was sometimes very good but often a replacement-level player, and he had numerous glaring weaknesses, most notably on defense and on the boards.

What he did was not easily measured by statistics; how do you quantify “grown man savvy”? As he loves to declare, Pierce was brought to D.C. (and Brooklyn, and probably Los Angeles) to knock down big shots in close games. He did that numerous times last season and put on one of the most impressive displays of big-shot making in the postseason that the NBA has seen in years.

He was also brought to Washington to provide leadership, guidance, and championship experience to the young core of Wall, Beal, and Otto Porter. It quickly became evident how much that trio respected the future Hall of Famer, and their confidence seemed to be on a completely different level than it had been a year earlier.

“Just being around a guy like that who knows how to win and knows certain situations, he can help us young fellas out as much as possible,” Wall said early in the season. “When you have 17 years and you win a championship, you can tell me whatever you want, I’m listening.”

When that ESPN article by Jackie MacMullan came out in mid-April, just before the playoffs, all anybody focused on was how Pierce had called out the Toronto Raptors for not having “it,” but just as important was Pierce calling out those three young Wizards. In the article, Pierce said of Wall and Beal: “Both of those guys have the potential to be great. I love them. But sometimes I’m not sure they realize what it takes.”

He also questioned whether the young duo wanted to be great or simply good, then he wondered the same thing about Porter, saying, “I’m just not sure how badly he wants it every day.”

“That kid just needs to get mad,” Pierce added about Porter. “If he came to practice ticked off and to the games ticked off, he’d be fine. But it’s hard to get Otto mad. I should punch him one day just to get him riled up.”

When that piece ran, there weren’t talks of locker room strife, or Pierce throwing his teammates under the bus, or anything of the sort. (1) Instead, the Wizards rattled off a sweep of the Raptors, and Porter put together a helluva postseason performance.

On the court, Pierce racked up five 20-point games in the regular season. That was well below the 11 times he managed in his lone season with the Brooklyn Nets, but each of those outbursts in a Wizards uniform came against an eventual playoff team. The Wiz won four of those five games (25 points from The Truth in D.C. wasn’t enough to take down the eventual champion Golden State Warriors), and Pierce led Washington in scoring in all but one of those games.

Then came that glorious postseason. Well, not so glorious for the Wizards, who suffered a near-identical downfall in the second round as they did the previous season, along with a broken wrist for their star point guard. But Paul Pierce was a goddamn demigod for 10 games.

Pierce talked his usual shit, once again calling out the Toronto Raptors for their lack of moxie, then he backed it up by putting up 15.5 points per game as the Wizards rolled to a four-game sweep of the Raps (2). In the season-ending series against the Atlanta Hawks, The Truth did just about everything one could ask for in late-game situations, but it was ultimately not enough, and the Wizards came up just short in a series many felt they should have won. Pierce scored 14 points per game and drained 19 triples versus Atlanta, and he did so with Wall unable to spread the floor for most of the series.

Pierce, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, will be dearly missed in Washington. But his impact should carry on with Wall, Beal, and Porter, who will now have the minutes necessary to thrive. But who will take the last-second shots? And whoever it will be, will he make even half of what Pierce would’ve made?

Best Moment.

Pierce had more memorable plays in the postseason alone than the rest of the Wizards combined, and he had a few noteworthy performances in the regular season, but nothing compares to the instant-classic, “I called game.”

Worst Moment.

Pierce was not the same player last year that he was on, say, the Celtics. He had his fair share of games where he was mostly irrelevant, and he struggled on defense for most of the season, but he was rarely a detriment to the team. With that said, his worst moment of the year was also probably the most painful moment for the entire team: when the season ended on a miracle shot that somehow dropped … just not in time.

Curious Stat.

At 37 years old, on his third team in three years, and surrounded by young, athletic playmakers like Wall and Beal, Pierce’s game needed to adapt. The biggest adjustment he made was loitering on the perimeter more and serving primarily as a spot-up 3-point shooter. There was talk before the season that Pierce would basically serve as Trevor Ariza 2.0 (3), but the two players provided very different outlets for Wall. While Ariza attempted 180 3-pointers from the corner and 257 3s from above the break in 2013-14, Pierce hoisted up just 59 corner 3s in 2014-15 compared to 244 above the break.

More of Pierce’s shots during the regular season came from downtown (46.2 percent) than in any of his previous seasons, and his 3-point attempts per 36 minutes (5.7) tied a career high, but some of that can be attributed to playing with Wall. Then again, he played with Rajon Rondo while in Boston, who is also a drive-and-kick point guard. That’s not to say Rondo and Wall are the same, or even really similar players, but the difference shouldn’t be quite enough to explain the change in Pierce’s game when he came to D.C.

There was no greater disparity than his postseason long-range shooting.

The Truth attempted just 99 shots in 10 postseason games last season. Of those, 63 came from beyond the arc, and 33 dropped through the hoop. His .524 clip from long range in the 2015 playoffs was well above his previous career best of .447, which came in the 2011 playoffs, and his (new) career average of .356. With the exception of Will Bynum’s 1-for-2, the only Wizards to shoot more than .400 from distance in the postseason were Pierce and Drew Gooden (.462).

If Paul Pierce Were a Type of Food, He Would Be…


Three reasons behind this: First, he’s been around forever. Second, as he’s now on his fourth team in four years, he’s good for sharing. And third, he’s money at the end.

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Kevin Seraphin in the Old/New Year — A Wizards Preview Series http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/kevin-seraphin-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/kevin-seraphin-wizards-review-preview-2014-2015-2016.html#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 04:03:32 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47866 [We have turned exactly one turn of the crank and out popped some sort of review, and a little bit of a preview, of a Wizard (or ex-Wizard).

And so begins TAI’s series on the Wizards going forward with a look-back on those who graced the team in the past season. We start with one of the departed: Kevin Seraphin, by Kyle Weidie. Enjoy.]


Where will Kevin Seraphin live in New York? In signing a one-year, $2.8 million contract with the Knickerbockers, temporary housing is likely. Will he be a Manhattanite with a view, or will he play around a Brooklyn brownstone on a neighborhoody street more akin to his old stomping ground in the quaint village—as New Yorkers would say—of the District of Columbia? More importantly, what will come of Seraphin’s Segway jaunts in the avenues?

For that matter, what will come of his pet skeleton, the memory of a lost pet snake (Snakey), and all of his social media accounts? After five seasons and 326 games with the Washington Wizards, the always happy-go-lucky and sometimes (1) oblivious “Frenchman” from South America has departed to the Big Apple. He follows the footsteps of the franchise’s flock of failed young big men out of Washington: JaVale McGee, Jan Vesely, Oleksiy Pecherov, and beyond. Peter John Ramos … anyone?

Seraphin, aka Hashtag: #KSLife, wasn’t the most promising of the bunch, but he ended up being the best. Or, more fairly stated, better than the rest (so far). Drafted in John Wall’s 2010 class under the hokey sincerity of Flip Saunders, he always took coaching well, even if often subjected to the achingly obvious icy daggers base jumping from the eyes of Randy “Wittmanface” Wittman.

Seraphin learned over his time with the Wizards. We (I) insist our observations tell us this is true. Defensive awareness improved, incrementally, with plenty of pains. Understandable since he started playing basketball around age 14. Even so, in the DoD (Department of Defense), he stayed unreliable. Seraphin was, however, a decent rim protector and should get plenty of chances to fill that role for the Knicks. Robin Lopez (penciled as the starer), Kyle O’Quinn, and young Kristaps Porzingis will compete with him for playing time.

According to player tracking from NBA.com, Seraphin was one of 22 bigs who held opponents (2) to 48 percent shooting or worse on shots attempted at the rim. Seraphin ranked 19th out of 22 at 47.6 percent, slightly better than Pau Gasol, Andre Drummond, and Robin Lopez, slightly worse than Timofey Mozgov, DeMarcus Cousins, and Draymond Green. (3) Marcin Gortat’s opponents shot 48.6 percent against his defense at the basket, and Nene’s shot 51.7 percent.

Still, defensive issues are primarily what kept Seraphin from getting paid this summer (and the Wizards from fitting him into their long-term plans). Rim protection be damned, the Wizards allowed 100 points per 100 possessions (DefRtg) as a team in 2014-15, but a 104 DefRtg when Seraphin played and a 98.3 DefRtg when he sat the bench, according to NBA.com/stats. The only Wizards players who fared worse in on-court DefRtg with 150 or more minutes of action were DeJuan Blair (105.8), Andre Miller (107.3), and Martell Webster (109.4).

Seraphin also never really figured out how to handle a double team on offense. Even coaches whose defensive philosophy included ‘NEVER DOUBLE THE POST’ would caravan doubles Seraphin’s way whenever he had the ball. That, in tandem with deficiencies in team defense, is what ultimately pushed Seraphin to the free agent market and off the Wizards’ roster. His turnovers per 100 possessions never improved over his time in Washington, and he set a career high in this category last season (respectively: 3.4, 2.9, 3.9, 3.7, and finally, 4.1 turnovers per 100 possessions in 2014-15).

Seraphin’s camp will rightly believe that New York offers more playing time (in a Phil Jackson rebuild) and thus a better chance to score a payday with a rising cap next summer. Whether he actually earns more money is debatable, but at least there will theoretically be a larger sample size to sate the curiosity of potential suitors.

It’s certainly not hard to see the allure of the life, the Kevin Seraphin Life, that is: a naturally soft touch with either hand, perhaps the best hook shot in the league (really, look it up … or keep reading for a ‘curious stat’), a big body that can create space (when he wants), and a fairly coachable attitude. Whether Kevin is actually hearing Jimi Hendrix (versus listening, to relate to 1992’s “White Men Can’t Jump”), is another matter altogether.

We bid a fond adieu to Kevin Seraphin. Fond in celebration of his departure, as the blood pressure of Wizards fans, Wittman Faces, and Randy Wittman’s alike will no longer rise when he is forced into action. But also fond in a sense that Seraphin was not exactly in the category of knuckleheads like Blatche and McGee, or headcases like Vesely. Like Pecherov but with more post moves, Seraphin got buckets. But alas, he is gone, certainly not forgotten, and hopefully not merely another one who got away.

Best Moment in 2014-15.

Seraphin’s season-high of 17 points came in a January 13 home win over San Antonio, the Wizards’ first victory over the Spurs since 2005. Gambling with the hot hand, Randy Wittman left Seraphin and Nene in the game together to close the fourth quarter, and it worked! Seraphin dominated a game-deciding run that took the Wizards from down one with just under seven minutes left to winning by eight.

Here’s what I wrote in the game’s Key Legislature:

Later on the locker room, Seraphin happily jumped up to be the first victim of media scrutiny. Eleven of Seraphin’s 17 points and five of his eight rebounds off the bench came in the fourth quarter.

“You ain’t going to run out on the media today, huh?” blurted out Paul Pierce for the audience as he exited the shower.

“I just play, I just play basketball,” Seraphin had just finished saying to the scrum, as he continued to field questions.

“Hell naw!” added someone else from the peanut gallery.

“Guess one of them days, huh?” chimed in Andre Miller.

“Going to stay and talk a long time tonight, huh?” Pierce continued. “French AND Spanish.”

The locker room was rolling, and Seraphin couldn’t help but flash a smile. How could he even hold back? But Kevin Seraphin’s life was merely the shiny belt on Washington’s final use of the hands to win the title of the night.


Reaching 79 regular season games for the second time in his career (plus six 2015 playoff games) (4), Seraphin in his shot-happy ways off the bench scored more than a dozen points on nine different occasions in 2014-15. One of those came in Playoff Game 6 versus the Hawks (his last game as a Wizard), as he filled in admirably for a sick Marcin Gorat with 13 points, eight rebounds, and only one turnover in 28 minutes. But it was for naught, Washington lost. Je ne sais pas.

Worst Moment in 2014-15.

In limited minutes over the course of last season Seraphin was quite terrible, particularly on offense. Not sure which came first, however, the chicken in that Seraphin knew he’d receive little time in a particular game and thus jacked shots to shine, or the egg in that his poor play led him to be yanked and benched. (Or vice-versa.) Probably a combination of everything in the world. It was a common theme of his tenure in D.C.

Seraphin saw zero-to-9 minutes in 13 of his 79 appearances in 2014-15 and shot 40.7 percent with an OffRtg of 64. He saw 10-to-19 minutes in a majority of his appearances, 53, and fared much better with 51.3 percent from the field and an OffRtg of 96. He further improved during the 12 contests in which he saw 20-to-29 minutes of action, shooting 54.6 percent with an OffRtg of 107.

One of the aforementioned low moments came during a late-March, 91-99 loss to the Houston Rockets in D.C. He checked in at the start of the second quarter and missed three shots—all settled-for jumpers outside of 12 feet—in the period’s first 150 seconds. Meanwhile, Seraphin allowed Dwight Howard to get into a rhythm and the Rockets built a 59-46 halftime lead that the Wizards could not claw back from.

An even worse moment: Seraphin lent his name to a club party promotion with a C-list porn star named Kakey in late-April.

Curious Stat.

Not as much curious as it is amazing, Seraphin was the most accurate hook-shot maker in the NBA last season (minimum 25 attempts, via Basketball-Reference.com). He shot 70.3 percent (90-for-128) on such shots—from any range. Teammate Marcin Gortat was third in percentage at 67.1 percent (51-76), and Nene ranked tied for 18th in the league at 58.1 percent (18-31).

Thirteen total NBA players attempted 125 or more hook shots. Roy Hibbert, second-best to Seraphin in making them, shot 8.9 percent worse than Seraphin (129-210, 61.4%). Other offensive talents didn’t come close—Pau Gasol (70-136, 51.5%), Greg Monroe (98-200, 49.0%), and Al Jefferson (62-127, 48.8%).

Seraphin was similarly a hook shot beast in the previous 2013-14 season, leading the 78 NBA players who attempted 25 or more by making 74.5 percent (38-51).

If Kevin Seraphin were a type of food or an entire meal of food, he would be [BLANK]…

‘Snake Surprise,’ as featured in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

Wait, no. Thirty seconds of brain-racking before the answer was obvious: Crème brûlée.

Occasionally on fire, sometimes torched, and generally resulting in burnt cream/custard. OR…, while not food-related, this classic assist from the WizzNutzz sums up poor ol’ Kevin Seraphin’s tenure in Washington. Bless his dear heart.

SeraPics, via his Internet.

['My boy @paulpierce34 just got me this shirt lol cause he thinks I'm a beast on the court. #kslife #beast ' -- via Twitter: @kevin_seraphin]

[‘My boy @paulpierce34 just got me this shirt lol cause he thinks I’m a beast on the court. #kslife #beast ‘ — via Twitter: @kevin_seraphin]

[via instagram.com/24janvesely]

[via instagram.com/24janvesely]


Kevin Seraphin has found a Halloween friend - via Kevin Seraphin's InstaGram

[via instagram/kevin_seraphin]

[via instagram/kevin_seraphin]



Check this out! #kevinseraphinlife

Check this out! #kevinseraphinlife


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Wizards Facility Deal Not Perfect But a Necessary Step Forward for D.C. http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/wizards-facility-deal-not-perfect-but-a-necessary-step-forward-for-dc.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/wizards-facility-deal-not-perfect-but-a-necessary-step-forward-for-dc.html#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 15:25:37 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47857
[SE-SW freeway basketball court, photo by K. Weidie]

[SE-SW freeway basketball court, photo by K. Weidie]

Public funding for sports-related ventures serves as a curious but understandable crossroads. At it sits right-leaning conservatives staunchly against wasteful government spending, and left-leaning liberals who would rather see that money serve a public good which is more clearly defined. It’s hard to deny the unique connection professional sports can make with a community. Hometown teams can be a source of pride (even in losing times), but how public dollars are used in support of these connections should be scrutinized.

Washington Wizards team owner Ted Leonsis and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser have reached a tentative deal to construct a new facility on the campus of St. Elizabeths, a relatively defunct mental hospital in Southeast D.C., per the Washington Post. The facility would serve several sporting interests—a practice center for the Wizards, a 5,000-seat arena where the WNBA’s Mystics would play their games, and a possible venue for a Wizards D-League affiliate (if they ever get one). The facility would also be open to the public for various events (sports, arts, culture, and otherwise), an underlying requirement and one Leonsis is happy to abide by in pursuit of his “double-bottom line.”

Any official deal will ultimately have to be approved by the D.C. Council. Construction would begin in 2016 and would be scheduled for completion in fall of 2018.

It’s easy, and perhaps noble, to take a stand against taxpayer dollars being used to prop up the interests of sports franchise owners. But if this deal to revitalize St. Elizabeths didn’t involve a local pro team, would the outcry against it be so vocal?

St. Elizabeths was built in 1852 on a 346-acre plot of land atop a bluff looking north across the Anacostia River toward downtown Washington and west across the Potomac River into Virginia. It sits less than a mile south of Barry Farm, home today to the famed Goodman Basketball League where NBA stars, pickup ballers, and the local community unite.

By the 1950s and 1960s the facilities at St. Elizabeths began to sharply decline due to a variety of reasons, including neglect, and the number of patients served dwindled as usage of the land changed. Today, the property is divided into an east campus owned by the D.C. government (118 acres) and a west campus owned by the federal government (182 acres). The D.C. government assumed control of the east campus from the federal government in the late 1980s.

Usage of the east campus has been limited for decades; the west campus is run by the General Services Administration (GSA), houses U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, and is set to be the new home of the Department of Homeland Security. Development efforts for the St. Elizabeths campus overall have been stagnant, while the surrounding Wards 7 and 8 have long been desperate for an anchor to spark redevelopment. Despite being a site with panoramic views of the nation’s capital that is a stone’s throw from a Metro stop (Congress Heights on the Green Line) and Interstate 295, the private sector has generally stayed away from investing in St. Elizabeths.

A 2007 Washington Post article highlighted the various complications—mainly the cost of revitalizing an area designated as a National Historic Landmark, which is why federal projects like Coast Guard and DHS facilities have been the primary drivers for any action. Of course, the DHS headquarters is a decade behind schedule and $1.5 billion over budget—something else typical of the federal government.

In the District, where vertical growth is limited by building height restrictions (which nicely contributes to aesthetics but doesn’t allow for urban density, which in turn drives up the cost of living), city builders must ensure that valuable but unused space is put to good use. In particular, either via tax dollars or corporate funds, creating magnets for development in neglected areas of the city bound by poverty are a worthwhile bet.

The Post’s Jonathan O’Connell reports that the Wizards practice facility will cost an estimated $56.3 million (the joint Wizards-D.C. press release said $55 million). Events DC, an organization dubbed as the “official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia” and is funded by tax dollars, technically, will contribute $27 million to the project and manage both construction and the property. However, Events DC is legally separate from the D.C. government and is run more like a private company and less like a government agency. The tax dollars that fund Events DC are comprised of a 4.45 percent sales tax on hotel room charges and a 1 percent sales tax on restaurant meals, alcohol consumed on premises, and rental vehicle charges. The organization’s purpose is to facilitate tourism and encourage the type of spending with which it is funded.

Washington, D.C., set an all-time record in 2014 with 20.2 million visitors who spent $6.8 billion (a 1.9 percent increase from 2013, reports the Post). This is where half of the funding for the St. Elizabeths sports facility is coming from. The narrative about D.C. taxpayers footing 90 percent of the bill is misleading.

Fellow blogger, D.C. resident, curator of pro hoops history, and damn good pick-up basketball player, Curtis Harris (@curtismharris), weighed in on Twitter when the news initially broke: “My neighborhood school could use some investment since it’s filled with asbestos. But the Wiz need my tax dollars more, apparently.” Local pol (and also a pretty good pick-up basketball player himself) Bryan Weaver (@BryanWeaverDC) added to the Twitter machine: “The Timberwolves, Lakers, Nets, Bulls, Warriors, Portland Trailblazers all have new privately financed practice facilities. #justsaying”

The D.C. government, indeed, will directly provide funds that some believe should solely come from privatized sources. In 2012, the D.C. Council under Mayor Vincent Gray approved around $113 million to make capital improvements to St. Elizabeths—more than $80 million of those appointed funds remain available. This is where $23 million of taxpayer dollars committed by Mayor Bowser are coming from: dollars already partially dedicated to spawning commercial development. If not a relationship with the local basketball team, then what?

Perhaps claims from the official press release to “attract more than 380,000 annual new residents and visitors per year to Congress Heights and produce more than 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs for both the arena and Phase I infrastructure of St Elizabeths East, with priority given to Ward 8 residents” are merely painted with PR-friendly brushes. But promises to bring 90 non-basketball related events per year, on top of Wizards and Mystics events that will span the calendar, to a neglected area near a Metro stop seems like a good way to command attention and cultivate interest from private investors who have shunned the area for so long.

Improving schools or other public services in the District isn’t accomplished solely by allocating tax dollars differently, or by clamoring that tax dollars already dedicated to city events and commercial development will continue to be spent on such. Certainly there are underlying concerns about ensuring that such improvements are set up to serve the community and not push out most of those currently living there. This is always a concern with development in any major city faced with urban plight, but especially so in D.C., which has seen several neighborhoods, including both Navy Yard in Southeast D.C. after the construction of the Nationals stadium and Chinatown/Mount Vernon near the Verizon Center, gentrify at an accelerated pace.

Ted Leonsis—the Wizards—will contribute $10 million to aid the surrounding community as well as $5 million up front toward the cost of construction (instead of paying what would equate to $22,000 per month in rent over a 19-year lease). OK, fine, he gets off with paying about the same amount he’ll pay John Wall to play basketball next season.

Developing land for professional sports action will never please everyone. Potomac Yards, just across the Potomac River from D.C. in northern Virginia, was originally where Jack Kent Cooke sought to move his NFL team into a new stadium in 1994. Ultimately both sides could not reach a favorable agreement and the plan was abandoned in late-1992. “The announcement was cause for celebration in Alexandria, where many city residents and virtually all city officials had bitterly opposed the stadium,” relayed a Washington Post article. Citizens Against the Stadium, a community group that led the fight, said the plan’s failure “is a powerful example of ordinary citizens prevailing over the powerful and greedy.”

Today, on the site of Potomac Yards, stands a strip mall featuring just about all the big box stores you could name, a large movie theater chain, rows upon rows of cookie-cutter condos, and heavy traffic almost as many days out of the year as total wins the Washington pro football team has had since 1970 (365). And now the team plays 20 miles outside of the city in a stadium nobody likes.

The moral of this story is looking for a happy medium between the needs of the community and what feeds the professional sports toys of billionaires.

Sports can play an important role in propping up cities, and it is often difficult to begin better serving a community without an anchor that facilitates development. This practice facility is that anchor and a necessary sacrifice of tax funds. Observers of this deal can’t let the big dollars of professional sports cloud the reality: A practice facility could just as easily serve Fairfax, VA, or Silver Spring, MD, leaving the campus of St. Elizabeths without much promise for progress past large, cold federal government facilities.

Tom Coburn was a Republican senator from Oklahoma who retired last January. Both socially and fiscally conservative, he was nicknamed “Dr. No” and was famous for producing his annual “Wastebook,” which highlights ridiculous examples of government waste. He was recently profiled by CBS 60 Minutes—Coburn and President Barack Obama are considered good friends, despite drastic differences in philosophy (and to the chagrin of some of Coburn’s Republican colleagues). They nonetheless found common ground in how to advance smarter government spending.

In the 2011 edition of Coburn’s “Wastebook,” he criticized the fact that $765,828 of federal funding went to the Anacostia Economic Development Corp to build an International House of Pancakes (IHOP) in my neighborhood of Columbia Heights in Northwest D.C. The funds were designated so that the IHOP could be constructed in the DCUSA shopping center and to train workers in what was dubbed an “underserved community.”

Coburn argued that Columbia Heights was not “underserved,” pointing out the presence of other big box stores that are part of DCUSA such as Target, Marshalls, and Best Buy, as well as various nearby restaurants with pricey cocktails and gourmet food. I’m not here to argue whether the funding was right but do disagree with Coburn’s designation of Columbia Heights. True to D.C. and the city’s generally earnest attempts to maintain fixed-income housing so that gentrified and newly developed areas are truly diverse—economically, racially, and otherwise—Columbia Heights is the most eclectic area within D.C. The necessity of federally funding an IHOP is eminently debatable—that this particular franchise is locally and minority-owned is why it qualified for funding—but the restaurant not only provides jobs and training, but also provides an option for relatively low-cost meals for working class people that’s not another burger joint.

No, most in the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group are not minorities, but Sheila Johnson is a vice chair with Leonsis’ holding company and the first African-American woman to be an owner or partner in three professional sports franchises: the Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics. Johnson serves as president and managing partner of the Mystics and would be directly associated with the St. Elizabeths project, making clear at the press conference announcing the facility that she would keep greater community needs in mind.

Mayor Bowser also has her eyes set on what’s best for D.C. As one of her first acts as mayor, she took off the table a deal agreed-upon by a previous administration that would have provided valuable property at 14th and U streets NW (where a government building currently stands) to a private developer. In exchange, Washington would have received cash and land for the proposed site of a new stadium for the D.C. United Major League Soccer team. Bowser, even before as a member of the D.C. Council, saw the property at 14th and U as too valuable and wanted to maintain the option to use the space for affordable housing or other city needs. As mayor, she instead reached a deal for a new soccer stadium that, it could be argued, was more beneficial to the city. (Although critics will rightly point out that the soccer stadium deal will delay funds going to schools for improvements.) Bowser also listened to community outcry resulting from interest in building a Wizards practice facility in the neighborhood of Shaw in Northwest, where development is already happening and does not need the same injection that a facility would bring to St. Elizabeths and the surrounding area.

Bowser is trying to make an impact on economic development while having a track record, albeit very brief, of looking out for the interests of the city and taxpayer dollars. Leonsis has been a good tenant of the Washington’s professional basketball and hockey space. If it were another mayor and owner at the wheel, there would be major cause for concern. But with more scrutiny and checks than ever over city allocated funds and pro sports, opponents of this deal are doing more to delay progress at St. Elizabeths than they are promoting it. Using tax dollars to help fund a Wizards practice facility within city limits is not another example of government waste, rather it sets the table to help the District move forward.

Additional Resources:


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Euro-Hammers: Marcin Gortat and Poland at EuroBasket 2015 http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/euro-hammers-marcin-gortat-and-poland-at-eurobasket-2015.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/euro-hammers-marcin-gortat-and-poland-at-eurobasket-2015.html#comments Mon, 14 Sep 2015 18:10:28 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47848 [Ed. Note: Bartosz Bielecki is TAI’s Polish correspondent. Bart covers all things Marcin Gortat from the mother country, including transcribing Gortat interviews with Polish media (which are classic, by the way). Bart also once wrote-in Paul Pierce on the Polish presidential ballot. Check out his previous work on TAI.

Today, Bart provides an overall look at Poland’s performance with Gortat at EuroBasket 2015. Poland went 3-2 in opening stage games but got eliminated by Spain this past Saturday in the knock-out stage.]

[Photo credit: Marta Wojtal for Poland's "Champion" magazine.]

[Photo credit: Marta Wojtal for Poland’s “Champion” magazine.]

Perhaps for the last time in his career, Marcin Gortat suited up for the Polish National Team for FIBA EuroBasket. But before we analyze his 2015 performance at the event (which started on Sept. 5 and ends on Sept. 20, taking place in France, Germany, Croatia, and Latvia), it’s important to drive down Poland’s road to the European tournament.

Gortat skipped last year’s Eurobasket Qualifier games, something Poland could easily afford, as Germany was the only serious rival at that stage. Even without the NBA’s only Pole, Poland managed to advance to this year’s Championships.

Due to NBA rules, Gortat joined the team late—on the first of August, the same day that Poland was to play its first test-game against the Czech Republic. Despite joining the team just a few hours before the game (Gortat rushed through half the country in his Porsche Panamera to make it on time, per his tweet), the center for the Wizards logged some minutes off the bench. It was possible without any practice because Poland coach Mike Taylor has worked with Gortat for a while and has implemented a system well-known by him—Poland’s playbook this summer is actually similar to that of the Washington Wizards. The plays even had the exact same names, so Gortat knew what the point guard was calling out.

What’s interesting is the fact that the Polish Hammer initially denied rumors about the Polish National Team implementing Washington’s system to help make him joining the team easier. The story with the Wizards’ playbook began in an unlikely place: coach Taylor shared this information directly with a journalist. Most intense followers of the Wizards could recognize some of the plays, anyway, especially the inbound ones. Coach Taylor was able to pull it all off thanks to the good relations with the Wizards’ staff. Last season he was a frequent guest at the Verizon Center. The relationship worked both ways, as the Wizards’ Senior VP of Basketball Operations, Tommy Sheppard, flew to Poland for the scrimmage against the Czech Republic, so he could also talk to Tomas Satoransky, a 2012 second round pick of Washington (32nd overall).

Poland’s pre-Eurobasket games finished with mixed results. After beating the Czech Rep. twice, Poland lost to Latvia, Slovenia, Germany, and Spain, but they were able to beat Turkey, Angola, Belgium, and a couple of less-demanding opponents like Iceland and Lebanon. My takeaway from those games was that there were too many plays run for Gortat. That string of friendly games was when the “Poland is addicted to Gortat” opinion was born amongst close observers of the team. The Polish Machine was getting better with every game, yet Poland wasn’t looking great overall with him on the court. Polish players treated Gortat as the Michael Jordan of the team and looked to deliver him the ball at all times, even when there were no passing lanes. What made things look even worse was when Gortat was given a day off, Poland beat Turkey and looked really good as a team. Mike Taylor admitted after the game that he rested his star to see how the team would do without him. The next night, when Gortat returned to the roster, Poland lost to a Dennis Schröder-less Germany team.

Poland officially opened this year’s EuroBasket with a game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on September 5 in Montpellier, France. Without its biggest stars—Mirza Teletovic, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nihad Djedovic—Bosnia was seen as Group A’s weakest team. Poland ended up winning the game, 68-64, but it surely wasn’t the performance everyone was looking for. Adam Waczyński, who plays in the Spanish league, led the Poles with 15 points.

The next day, Poland faced another team that couldn’t count on its biggest stars: Russia. Despite the absence of NBA players, Russia is still a very good team. After a dramatic finish (Gortat fouling a Russian player during another Russian player’s shot, resulting in a five-point play), Poland prevailed and won by a narrow margin, 82-79. Despite the mistake, which Gortat later called “one of the worst mistakes of [my] career,” it was Marcin’s best game of the tournament. The Polish Hammer recorded 18 points and six rebounds, but Waczyński once again topped all scorers with 23.

The next game on September 7 was a matchup between teams with perfect 2-0 records—Poland versus France, the reigning EuroBasket Champions. Gortat was matched against Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz for portions of the game. The young Frenchman stood up to Gortat, finishing lobs, blocking Gortat’s shots, and even dunking on him. The Polish Hammer got a chance for revenge, as he had a wide-open, buzzer-beating 3-point shot to send the game into overtime, but the ball bounced off the rim and Poland lost, 66-69. Gortat recorded his only tournament double-double in this game, adding 11 rebounds to his 10 points. Waczyński, who celebrated his son’s first birthday, was once again on fire, leading Poland with 18 points. Tony Parker led France with 16 points and Gobert scored eight points with seven rebounds.

Next up: Israel on September 9. Before the game, Poland already secured a spot in the elimination round of the Eurobasket. The game versus Israel was easily Poland’s worst game of the tournament. The Poles committed 23 turnovers and lost, 73-75. Waczyński and Damian Kulig each had 13 points, while Gortat added 11. Gal Mekel and Omri Casspi—Israelis who’ve spent time in the NBA—paced their team with 18 and 14 points respectively.

Finland was Poland’s last opponent in the group stage: not a star-loaded team, but a good and unselfish roster led by the coach Henrik Dettmann. Poland’s second unit’s performance was the story of the game, as the team caught fire when the starters, except Adam Waczyński, were subbed out. Poland ended up winning the game by 13 points and advanced to the Round of 16 full of hope. As EuroBasket watchers might expect, Waczyński scored 17 points to lead the team. Gortat was benched after a few minutes of the third quarter and did not return. After the game he admitted that he asked coach Taylor to keep the bench players on the court, as they were the better unit that game. Gortat and his backup, Przemek Karnowski, each scored 10 points.

Unfortunately, the EuroBasket elimination round matchup wasn’t very kind to Poland, as they had to face Spain—one of the best teams in the world, even with the absences of Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, and the injured Rudy Fernandez (Spain did, however, have Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic). It is safe to say Poland wasn’t a worse team than Spain through the first three quarters of the game, despite the relative no-show from Gortat. Unfortunately in the final quarter, Spain, led by the older Gasol (who finished with 30 points), built a decent lead and eliminated Poland by winning 80-66. And for the first time in the tourney, Poland’s Damian Kulig, not Waczyński, led the team in scoring with 10 points. The table below displays Gortat’s stats in each EuroBasket 2015 game:

eurobasket table off

How do we assess Gortat’s overall performance at EuroBasket 2015? Sorry to disappoint Wizards fans, but it wasn’t good. There were some rumors about Marcin being injured, but all were denied by team staff. Some journalists covering the action tried blaming Gortat’s poor performance on his age.

What needs to be stressed is that the Polish national team was a different squad at the EuroBasket tournament than it was during all those friendly test-games. Gortat wasn’t force-fed the ball as much once EuroBasket started. He was the third offensive option behind Waczyński and Ponitka. Was that a part of the game plan? Perhaps yes, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Gortat’s poor basketball form made him the third offensive option of the team. In one of his post-Eurobasket interviews Gortat went after one of the Poland’s most accomplished journalists, Łukasz Cegliński, who wrote a piece criticizing Gortat for not living up to expectations. The Machine responded by saying that it’s impossible to please Polish journalists—when he scores a lot, they write that he dominates the team offense too much, but when he shares the ball and tries to get everyone involved, they write about him not scoring enough.

There is definitely some truth to this. At times Gortat really looked like the team’s best passer. Marcin averaged 2.5 assists—the third-best average on the team. Despite running an offense partially based on Washington’s system, Gortat didn’t score a whole lot of points off pick-and-rolls. Gortat set picks and rolled to the basket often, but because of the FIBA rules (smaller court, no defensive three seconds), and the difference between the point-guards—John Wall and A.J. Slaughter—the pick-and-rolls weren’t as effective .

A.J. Slaughter, a naturalized American, had a sneaky good tournament, and even though he wasn’t regularly pulling up for jumpers, he was kind of in the shadow of Gortat, Ponitka, and Waczyński. His passes weren’t really that incisive, but he still managed to finish as the team’s third-best scorer (9.5 ppg) and the first assist man (5.0 apg). Despite being a good team player, Slaughter was rarely able to find the rolling Gortat—partially because of the lack of space for the pass and partially because Slaughter is more of a shooter than a passer.

Another factor was the chemistry. Although Slaughter was praised by everyone around the team, it is really hard to create a good pick-and-roll chemistry between two players in just six weeks. But even when Gortat received the pass and had enough space to finish, he had trouble making layups (something Wizards fans are familiar with), especially in the game versus Israel when he botched a couple of easy ones. Gortat actually provided more points when playing with his back to the basket. His moves in the paint were tough to stop for most of the European players. His hook shots were falling and one could only wish Poland had run a few more post-up plays for the Polish Hammer.

One last thing about the offense—and this might be nitpicking—but Gortat wasn’t dunking enough. At times he was left open running towards the rim and decided to lay it in instead of jamming it home and giving the team and the fans some extra energy. Additionally, he often chose the lay it up in the situations that he usually dunked the ball with his left hand during the NBA games. Hopefully this is more of a temporary style choice, and not a sign of his age.  

Then we’ve also got the defensive end, where you would normally expect Gortat to shine. Poland struggled to grab defensive rebounds and Gortat couldn’t make a game-changing difference. His 6.3 rebounds per game led the team and usually help him win individual rebounding matchups. But his opponents often outplayed him overall, averaging 13.3 points per game and shooting at 61 percent from the floor.

The table below shows the stats of Poland’s opposing starting centers that Gortat was matched up against:

eurobasket table def

Gortat openly admits that he doesn’t mesh well in FIBA basketball anymore, as he has to face opponents who operate further and further from the basket. “It’s not my kind of game,” Gortat said about having to guard players like D’Or Fischer of Israel, who was constantly left wide-open in midrange territory, or Pau Gasol, who made six of seven(!) 3s in the game against Poland.

Polish fans definitely expected more from their Hammer. Personally, I think Gortat can be cleared of many accusations, like the ones that he doesn’t score enough.

There is a “but,” however. Under all circumstances, Gortat should be the leader of the national team. He was not, at least not on the court. The Polish Machine’s best performance, plus/minus-wise, was just plus-1! In all six games summed up, Poland with Gortat on the court was 19-points worse team than their opponents. Translation: his influence on the team during the games was negative. Even before the only double-digit loss against Spain, Gortat had a plus/minus of minus-13, while Mateusz Ponitka was plus-32, Adam Waczyński was plus-26, and A.J. Slaughter was plus-22. When Przemek Karnowski took Gortat’s place on the court, Poland was plus-11 before the game against Spain, and plus-3 in the whole tournament.

What’s even worse is that in Gortat’s statistically best games of the tournament—versus Russia and France—Poland as a team was plus-1, but minus-11 with him on the court. With Karnowski, Poland was plus-2 against Russia and plus-8 against France. The two never played alongside each other. Karnowski, a center for the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the U.S., will enter the NBA draft next year and is currently projected as a second round pick. The young Pole still has a lot to learn, but thanks to continuous progress, Karnowski has a serious chance of becoming the fourth ever player from Poland to play in the NBA.

I cannot write a piece about Poland at EuroBasket without talking more about Poland’s two most shining players: Adam Waczyński and Mateusz Ponitka. The former was one of the best non-NBA players of the EuroBasket. The 26-year-old developed nicely in Polish league, which led him to sign a contract in the best league in Europe, the Spanish Liga Endesa. Waczyński averaged almost 16 points per game, which ranked him amongst the top 15 scorers of EuroBasket. He shot 46.4 percent from deep and 51.9 percent from the field, which made him the most efficient scorer on the team. He was also the leader and, according to Gortat’s conversation with a fan on Twitter, the Wizards have extended him an invite, although Gortat did not specify what kind of an invite. Having in mind that Waczyński is still under contract with the Spanish team Obradoiro, it might be a training camp invite for next year.

Ponitka, on the other hand, was the team’s fourth-best scorer (9.3 ppg), fourth-best rebounder (4.0 rpg), and second-best creator (3.7 apg). The 22-year-old is regarded as one of the best players at his age in the world. This year he went undrafted, despite some rumors about interest from the Detroit Pistons. It was said that Stan Van Gundy called Gortat to talk about Ponitka before the draft. EuroBasket 2015 was a breakout tournament for him and the path to the NBA stays open for the athletic shooting-guard.

Summing up, it was quite a good tournament for Team Poland, but rather disappointing run for the Wizards center. In no way was Gortat totally responsible for the elimination of Poland in the Round of 16, as Spain is top of the class and not even a career game from Gortat would have made the difference. Fans in D.C. can only hope that the Polish Hammer was saving the best for the NBA season and that after some rest, he will join the Wizards full of energy for the upcoming year. Despite announcing that this year would be his last with the national team after Poland got eliminated, Gortat said he’s still undecided whether he would play again for his country, but added that it’s the time to step down and leave room for Karnowski. It might mean we could see Gortat coming off the bench at the next EuroBasket in 2017. Otherwise, Gortat retired from the National team in the exact way you would expect: he tweeted to one of the complaining fans that he “shits on [the fan’s] opinions.”

Fans in Poland can, however, be and confident about the future, as the talented core of Waczyński, Ponitka, Slaughter, Kulig, and Karnowski should provide a lot of positive memories for years to come.


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Looking Like a Wizards Podcast. How U? http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/looking-like-a-wizards-podcast-how-u.html http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/09/looking-like-a-wizards-podcast-how-u.html#comments Fri, 11 Sep 2015 01:59:16 +0000 http://www.truthaboutit.net/?p=47835
[Basketball Courts of Columbia Heights, D.C. -- via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[Basketball Courts of Columbia Heights, D.C. — via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

This past September 7th was the fourth anniversary of Roger Mason, Jr.’s tweet, “Looking like a season. How u,” during the 2011 NBA Lockout. People got excited, as in, ‘looking like a season is going to happen,’ but Mason soon after deleted the tweet and claimed he was “hacked.” Later Mason blamed it on an assistant (which still reads fishy as hell via this report), and then Mason sort-of claimed that he meant ‘looking like the lockout is going to last an entire season.’ NBA owners and players then didn’t reach an agreement to end the lockout until late-November.

[via CBSSports]

[via CBSSports]

Weren’t those fun times? And in case you were wondering, Mason’s Twitter gaffe is featured on this handy lockout timeline from NBA.com. That was also the lockout summer where Jan Vesely was robbed of his first official NBA summer league. What could have been. What. Could. Have. Been.

Otherwise… In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a bit of a dead time here at TAI. Why? We can’t quite explain. Summer. Being grown-ups. Jobs. Not having to answer to corporate overlords and churn out posts like, “How Far Could the Really Wizards Go If John Wall Like Really Actually Steps Up His Game?”

Don’t worry. We aren’t going anywhere. Everyone needs a break. Have you had a Kit Kat bar lately? They are certainly not on the same plane as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but would put up a good fight in a battle against a Butterfinger.

This is a blog. This isn’t a blog. We aren’t logging the Web here. We are opining and analyzing and fretting over and getting silly about the local NBA basketball team, in blog form. Cheers!

How does anyone keep up with updates to a website now-a-days, anyway? Having used, and still miss, Google Reader … I feel Internet old.

Where we we again? Oh yeah, this is a self-published blog post about an auditory podcast about the Washington Wizards.

Adam McGinnis, TAI-stalwart, local bro, and all-around Internet guy, and I got together this past Labor Day Sunday to fire guns at piles of dung about the Washington Wizards. We recorded not one, not two, but a three-part podcast.

In Part 1, we look back on the season that was, rap about the postseason, and try to digest Washington’s draft night in June. Click for full access to our first Pixel-&-Roll Podcast of the year (1). The sound pixels are also embedded below; you can also access via iTunes or Stitcher. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

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