The Wizards got handled by the D-League Select team on Sunday night, losing 85-78 and falling to 1-2 in summer-league play. TAI’s Markus Allen (over broadband from afar) and Kyle Weidie (on location in Las Vegas) take you through The Reaction.
Posts tagged ‘D-League’
“I’m a better player than the last time I was here, that’s for sure,” proclaimed Roger Mason Jr. on Monday night, after the fourth day of Washington Wizards training camp. Furthermore, he said, “I’m a better player than I was in San Antonio.”
At least this is what the Wizards are hoping for, but to what degree remains to be seen. Regardless of his chances to show himself as a player, Mason knows the role he signed up for in his return stint with Washington.
“My role is just to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned,” said Mason. ”Learning from guys like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, you know, pros… being with Amar’e Stoudemire. Those are things that I can bring to Andray Blatche, to let him know how Tim Duncan prepares for games. To let John Wall know how Tony Parker prepares for games. They won championships. So my role now is to come here and teach these guys what champions do.”
A D.C. pic, bullets of Wizards links, and words with those links…
A man with a plan, and a pizza.
[Meridian Hill Park, 16th St. NW - Washington, D.C. - photo: K. Weidie]
> John Wall, at his young age, understands how important it is to be an ambassador for the game of basketball and for professional athletes. He also seems to know that it’s part of his job, but in a sense where when he does good deeds, they don’t have to involve a big production or show. He just does them. He takes extra time to sign autographs, all the time… excessively. I’ve seen this. And now, I’m imagining that over time you’ll hear more and more great stories like this one relayed by Dan Steinberg.
[DC Sports Bog]
> Washington Post music writer David Malitz makes a good observation … should the ’04-’08 “Glory Years” Wizards be celebrated as the first team to reap benefit from the Internet age (partially thanks to the rise of blogs, prominently via Dan Steinberg and Gilbert Arenas)? I think so.
[John Wall before the tip-off.]
People will say that the Atlanta Hawks lost to the Washington Wizards on Saturday night because they were without Josh Smith. Because they were unmotivated against a free-flying Wizards team with their playoff seeding already set. A date as the five seed going to Orlando to play the Magic awaits the Hawks in the first round, but did they have to get blown out by the Wiz Kids 115-83?
Regardless of Atlanta’s effortless situation, the Wizards countered with one of their best team defensive displays of the season, turning 23 Hawks turnovers into 27 points, partially thanks to 11 steals. And as the Washington Post’s Michael Lee has written, much credit is due to D-Leaguers Larry Owens and Othyus Jeffers — Owens putting in 10 points off the bench and Jeffers scoring 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. The energy of on-the-cusp players has made some of the more contractually secure Wizards not take their situation for granted.
Jeffers’ contagious explosion of hustle shouldn’t be taken for granted for the next training camp the Wizards hold either. He, along with Andray Blatche, were big reasons why the Wizards got off to a 29-18 jump on Atlanta after one quarter. Blatche worked Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia to the tune of nine points, five rebounds and 3-4 from the free throw line in the period. And Jeffers picked up two boards, one offensive, and 3-4 at the charity stripe in six and a half minutes off the bench. The disinterest of Atlanta was especially evident when they allowed Yi Jianlian to counter Jamal Crawford’s 11 points in the second quarter with 10 of his own. Washington led 61-46 at half.
There were times last night when it seemed like the torso and arms of recent Wizards D-League call up Othyus Jeffers formed into a mouth to gobble up missed shots in mid-flight. I imagined the ball clenched by massive teeth, unable to be relinquished, but somehow spit out cleanly to continue play, Wizards possession. I wasn’t hallucinating.
My mind was curious about the perception. How exactly was the unassuming stature of Jeffers — listed at a very generous 6’5” and weighing in at a 200 lbs. that unfairly masks his strength — able to gulp down rebounds so commandingly against the juggernaut Miami Heat?
DVR has made me selfish against real-life action. I wished I was at home watching the Wizards play the Heat on television and not sitting baseline taking photographs. No, I wouldn’t really give up one of the best seats in the house, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to quench instant gratification with a film study in the art of rebounding.
Jeffers finished with 15 points on 6-7 shooting and eight rebounds, both career highs, in 29 minutes off the bench against Miami. The bad guys, or bandwagon drivers, beat the Wizards 123-107, but the game was much more competitive than the score indicates.
I wouldn’t exactly go entrusting Gilbert Arenas to head a franchise rebuilding project any time soon. Although, the whole gun thing certainly did have a part in expediting the Wizards’ current rebuilding efforts, so kudos to that.
On the other hand, Arenas is no dummy. Someone who is as quotable and clever-witted as he is, one who has played games with the media in the past, is certainly smart enough to have that brain power translate when it comes to basketball insight as a 10-year NBA veteran (just not always when it comes to where to draw the line with pranks).
Amongst saying this and that after his return to D.C. on Friday night, Arenas had some interesting thoughts on rebuilding and how the Wizards should treat John Wall:
“Just from being a fan of the NBA, I don’t believe in rebuilding teams through drafts. It doesn’t work. Because eventually those guys got to get old at some point. And if they all become successful, eventually you have to pay them … when you can’t afford them. That’s what happened with the Blazers. I mean, you can name every team. They’ll have one, two years of success and then eventually those players … can’t afford them anymore. Oklahoma, you got [Jeff] Green coming up … what are you going to do with him? Then after him you got [Russell] Westbrook, and then the rest of the young guys.
Hours before taking on the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics on Saturday, it was a given that Mustafa Shakur would likely suit up for the Washington Wizards and get his first NBA minutes. Tell Shakur the same thing that Saturday morning and he wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, he didn’t even believe his agent when he told him that he was being called up to the big time that day from the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
This wasn’t Ernie Grunfeld going after the same old stale veterans in a pinch. This was a legitimate prospect yearning for a chance and getting one from a rebuilding team … and the move was certainly not performed as a cursory, ‘We need to meet a roster minimum.’ Rather, it was a ‘Get ready to play kid … Kirk Hinrich is out and there’s no way we can exhaust John Wall with a ton of minutes.’
Shakur was inserted into the lineup at the 4:26 mark of the first quarter, after Wall picked up his second foul and with the Wizards down 24-11. By the time Wall was inserted back into the game at the 9:50 mark of the second quarter, the Wizards had held off Boston domination, keeping their deficit to a manageable 11 points. The Wizards were down 68-62 when Shakur checked in with 2:40 left in the third quarter and by the end of the period, Washington was only down 72-70. Shakur finished the game with five assists, zero turnovers, five points on 2-4 shooting, two rebounds and two blocked shots. His plus/minus of plus-6 was second highest on the team next to Cartier Martin’s plus-8.
Mustafa Shakur left the University of Arizona after four seasons less of a prospect than what he once was as a 2003 McDonald’s All-American, and thus, was passed over by the 2007 NBA Draft. He was signed by the Sacramento Kings that summer, but was released before ever playing. He spent some time in Europe and was again seriously looked at by the Oklahoma City Thunder last March, but never played. The New Orleans Hornets picked up Shakur last August, that didn’t pan out either.
Now he finds himself as the latest D-League call up of the Washington Wizards. The Philadelphia native arrived in D.C. from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers nearly four hours before the Wizards are set to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. With backup point guard Kirk Hinrich out due to issues with his elbow, and with John Wall unlikely to play a ton of minutes, being on the tail end of a back to back having battled Steve Nash on Friday night, along with emergency backup point guard Josh Howard being out for a couple more weeks, Shakur has a legit shot to play in his first ever NBA game.
The media briefly caught up with Shakur before tonight’s match-up against Boston to get his thoughts on the day, one where when his agent let him know about the call-up, he was sure that he was kidding.
When Ted Leonsis said there would be an increased emphasis on player development in his list of 101 Things (action item No. 29), specifically involving the D-League, Wizards followers gave a collective ‘We’ll believe it when we see it.’ Not so much in doubt of Leonsis’ words, but more so because they’ve been conditioned under the tenure of team president Ernie Grunfeld that development and building for the future was paid more of a whimsical, cursory attention, as the franchise’s number one team builder always seemed instructed to focus on winning in the now.
Not that Grunfeld and his team did not pay attention to the scouting and the draft, but rather, for a myriad excuses one could presumably always find (see: the Wizards’ D-League affiliate, the Wizards, being in Bismarck, North Dakota and/or supplying said team with players to develop wouldn’t best jibe with the intricate offensive system that past coach Eddie Jordan was trying to instruct). Essentially, the D-League has never been worth Grunfeld’s time, warranted or not, aside from sending down the likes of Peter John Ramos or Andray Blatche for a spell in the earlier days (2005-06), and when the affiliate franchise was much closer in Roanoke, Virginia (the Dazzle), or during last season when a franchise in flux was interested in taking a gander at cheap labor while likely appeasing the desires of league higher-ups to use the development league for it’s true intent.
In any case, upon surely leaving out detail on the past unknown team development protocol that will only be known to organization insiders, ideals toward positive future development efforts changed when 2010 draft pick (No. 56 overall) Hamady N’Diaye was assigned to the Dakota Wizards on January 5. But such a path to the basketball enlightenment for the one called “H” almost didn’t happen. Unsigned in the days leading up to training camp, sentiment from the team indicated that they’d rather N’Diaye take his talents overseas for a year or two, something those on the player’s side didn’t seem amicable toward. Rather than lose his rights completely, the Wizards ended up extending a contract tender to N’Diaye and ultimately signed him to the team for training camp and into the season. Now, after a taste of life in the big leagues, just a taste, Hamady works on his very raw skills in the landscape of bus rides and meager per diems.
In steps Joey Whelan.
- First reported yesterday, today the Wizards officially announced the signing of guard Cedric Jackson from the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League to a 10-day contract.
- Jackson is listed at 6’3″, 190 pounds.
- He attended Northern Burlington High in Columbus, New Jersey, which is just off the Jersey Turnpike, not far from Philadelphia.
- He started at St. John’s, but after two seasons he transferred to Cleveland State in 2006.
- He might have signed to play for Gary Waters and Rutgers out of high school, but Waters gave his last scholarship to Quincy Douby. Evidently, Jackson took his SATs late and Waters, who had been recruiting him since he was a high school sophomore, had to turn his attention elsewhere.
- When Waters was showed the door at Rutgers, Jackson, his high school coach, and his father approached Waters and told him that he would go where he went. Cleveland State became their destination.
- In his senior year, Jackson was the Horizon League defensive player of the year.
- Last March, Jackson and Cleveland State upset Butler in the Horizon League Tournament final to lock up an automatic bid in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
- In the first round, 13-seed Cleveland State smacked 4-seed Wake Forest 84-69. Jackson had 19 points, seven assists and eight rebounds. After the game, he was so dehydrated that he needed an IV.
- In the second round, Cleveland State lost to 12-seed Arizona 71-57.
- Undrafted out of college, Jackson signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this year (late Jan./early Feb.) and appeared in five total games. Cavs coach Mike Brown didn’t always know who Jackson was, even after putting him in his first NBA game ever. Of course, Brown is the same NBA head coach who sometimes stands on the outside of his team’s huddle while someone else draws up plays.
- Jackson also signed one 10-day contract with the Spurs at the beginning of March and appeared in five games.
- The basic scouting report on Jackson is that he’s lightening quick, a good defender, but doesn’t have much of a jump shot … for more, check out Ridiculous Upside.
- Matt Hubert of Blog Talk Bayhawk (which covers Jackson’s D-League team) once told Michael A. De Leon of the blog Project Spurs that Jackson’s game is, “very similar to Tony Parker’s in that he uses his speed to drive to the basket and finish over bigger defenders.”
- His NBA game-highs are: 14:41 minutes (3/13 with Spurs), six points (3/12 with Spurs), and four assists (3/13 with Spurs) — I imagine he will soon be setting new career highs.
- Jackson will be in uniform against the Hornets in New Orleans tonight and will wear #9, which is also the number he wore with the Cavaliers. He wore #11 with the Spurs.
- The last Wizard to wear #9 was Paul Davis earlier this season and before that, Darius Songaila in his three years with the team.
- “Officially,” Jackson is the 26th Wizard this season, but neither Drew Gooden nor Zydrunas Ilgauskas suited up for the team. It’s safe to assume that Jackson with be the 24th player to suit up in a Wizards uniform. Cartier Martin set the franchise record by being #23.
- Update: Jackson actually has ties to Maryland, via Michael Lee, Wizards Insider.
- In December 2008 with Cleveland State, Jackson famously hit a 60-foot shot to beat previously undefeated Syracuse, ranked 11th at the time. Here are some videos of Jackson’s shot: