Jordan Crawford heads back to Atlanta to play against the team that drafted him, while Chris Singleton returns home. He is from Canton, Georgia and played his senior season of high school at Dunwoody, right outside of Atlanta. As the Wizards prepare for game two on the season against the Hawks tonight, their first road game, we have three questions and three answers surrounding the two teams. TAI’s Rashad Mobley, Kyle Weidie, and Bret LaGree from the ESPN TrueHoop Hawks blog, Hoopinion… 3-on-3 is now…
1) Rashad Mobley: The Hawks lack a significant scoring threat off the bench, and Wizards are lacking a veteran presence in the back court to mentor/guide/spell John Wall. Jordan Crawford could be that bench threat for the Hawks, and Kirk Hinrich (when healthy) could play that role again for the Wizards. The draft pick part of the trade that brought Chris Singleton to D.C. notwithstanding, would Crawford and Hinrich be more effective on their old teams?
MOBLEY: Crawford is still trying to figure out how his skill-set fits in the NBA, so I don’t know if that clarity would have come in Atlanta. But I do know that on opening night, Wall struggled to lead the Wizards on offense, and Hinrich could have steadied the team a bit.
LaGREE, Hoopinion: I think Hinrich’s perimeter defense will give the Hawks more value this year than Crawford’s ability to create a huge number of low-efficiency shots. Any of Atlanta’s five starters should be able to lead/carry the second unit for short stretches, though it remains to be seen how creative Larry Drew will get with the rotation to hide the lack of bench scoring.
NOTE: The ESPN TrueHoop Network 2011 NBA Mock Draft starts today. Truth About It will be posting our consensus mocked pick of the sixth position around 1 pm, so check back for an update. Until then, a D.C. pic, commentary, and links…
[HD Cooke Elementary - NW Washington DC - Euclid St. & Mozart Pl. - photo: K. Weidie]
>With the caveat that cats seemingly wear random hats — for the style — and are not always interested in the teams on them, I bring you the video below of noteworthy fun images and interaction. Oh, and John Wall is wearing a Philadelphia Flyers cap, old style (Wall also has been seen wearing a retro Oakland Raiders hat, very hipsterish-lite of him/trendy)… good thing this wasn’t around when the Caps were losing to the Flyers in the first round of the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. The video below is from a local South Carolina television station and is regarding the tournament that Josh Howard and Trevor Booker hosted over the June 11 weekend in Mauldin, which Wall attended. Things to look out for: a Wall interview in Ray-Bans (again, trendy, he is); John Wall judging a “Dougie” dance contest amongst kids and then handing out $20 bills to the winners; and finally, taking the cake, goober newscasters discussing the “Dougie” — one anchorman chap saying that as a University of Kentucky grad, he thought it was called the “John Wall Dance.” Then, sports guy Todd Summers chirps in with “We don’t even know where the ‘Dougie’ came from, but certainly kids know what it is.” Finally, the initial guy, named Gordon Dill, finishes the stereotypical ideal of a non-white comedian doing an impression of a “white guy” by saying, “Named after ‘Doug’, probably.”
He breezes past defenders with more than quickness, aided by long strides and big steps. Still, he often waits.
In attacking the rim with an offensive mind, Wall plays the waiting game. Waiting for the defending arms to clear out of the way. Waiting, and bracing, for a potential hit… a foul call if he’s lucky. Waiting for the last possible second to release his shot, a layup attempt at his final destination. Waiting until the coast is clear. Waiting to finish with points.
Some haven’t considered the exciting, scary thought — those two emotions coming from two different angles. You didn’t see an NBA-ready John Wall this season. His rookie eating habits were horrible, but expected for a teenager. His mentality fought to adjust to League-caliber athletes, and in many instances made them adjust to him. His body was not always fully healthy, and he admittedly rushed back before fully healed (yet one day he’ll have to play hurt like Kobe Bryant). His semi-suspect Reebok shoes went through some “adjustments” to make them “firmer” after Wizards officials and training staff met with the shoe company, according to the Washington Post’s Michael Lee. If these things were holding Wall back to even the slightest degree, Wizards fans should be the excited ones, and the rest of the League should be scared.
Countless people, possibly from Iowa, likely a family member or a friend, probably told Kirk Hinrich, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” in reference to his tenure with the Wizards. It amounted to an eight-month rental, a Nietzschian level of suffering in exchange for a better future, while the depreciation of basketball assets actually made Kirk weaker, ironically. In reality, aside from a potential second round playoff match-up, Atlanta may be no closer to the mindset of sweet home Chicago than Washington was. But in the eye of the beholder, Hinrich carriers on as if left with no other choice. This is an ode to Kirk Hinrich, mostly because he now possesses the forced knowledge of what it’s like to be a Washington Wizard…
An unwilling District arrival after a Bullish flirtation with a puppet King,
The Wizard Kirk Hinrich role-played the reluctant leader with hints of relent,
But with a bounty fit for royalty that would make anyone sing,
The counter-Beltway mentality of balancing patience through lost time and money spent.
A transfer’s exchange of stale talent for a fresh rebuild, A temporary professor breaking basketball barriers for Walls, A shoulder shrug compliance to it is what it is.
The unappreciated professional who comes with great skill, Not necessarily the leader, but a Captain to all, Don’t worry much for fair Kirk, because it’s all just part of the biz.
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.
Couple things to consider regarding the Wizards trade of Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong going to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first round draft pick…
Vladimir Veremeenko, the Wizards’ 48th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, a Belarusian who was probably never going to play for the Wizards anyway, has been essentially flipped for Kevin Seraphin (17th pick in the 2010 draft), $3 million cash (from Chicago in Hinrich trade), Jordan Crawford (27th pick in the 2010 draft), Mike Bibby and a 2011 draft pick (currently projected to be the 22nd pick). The presence of Hilton Armstrong and Maurice Evans are negligible in this instance. Not bad though, right?
It’s fallible analysis when you total the contracts of Bibby ($6,417,616) and Crawford ($1,120,440) next season versus that of Hinrich ($8 million) and say that the Wizards are only saving around $461,944. Crawford is in the second season of a rookie contract. Money slotted to be spent on him next year should be considered an investment and not considered when tallying “savings” … Might the Wizards have instead been able to purchase a late first rounder in the ’11 for $3 million? Perhaps, if you want to make that assumption. But then you’ll have to sign that player to a contract. Getting Crawford now offsets having to spend that cash, along with him being someone the Wizards were purportedly interested in, and a player who is already acclimating himself to a professional environment. Plus, as is being reported, Bibby might seek a buyout, which could end up “saving” the Wizards even more money.
Breaking down Jordan Crawford’s very small sample size stats this season and contemplating how he’ll fit in on a team whose parts will continue to move is useless. Remove that from the analysis … for now. Crawford comes in with a clean slate, simple as that.
A future first round draft pick … enough said. Looking at historical data and saying, “Well, such-and-such team or GM doesn’t have a good history of drafting late first rounders…” is, again, useless. What does that have to do with future implementation other than as an enhancement to a static argument? Exactly. Also, why should we assume that the Wizards will keep Atlanta’s late first rounder? What if it’s flipped for a higher pick, or something (someone) else? It’s easy to judge moves alone, but just as outlined in point No. 1, this move could assist the end result of subsequent moves. Pay $3 million for a pick in the low-to-mid-20s? Okay… maybe. Pay $3 million to package a pick in the low-to-mid-20s for a pick in the low teens? It could happen.
Why trade now? Why didn’t the Wizards wait? Maybe Hinrich’s value would have improved? Maybe another team was going to offer more? Again, assumptions are great for argument, not always so much for real world analysis. As far as we know, there were two teams that showed any real interest in Hinrich: Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers (and in the Lakers’ case, the interest was probably minimal) … There’s not really a better time to take advantage of a fevered trade deadline environment, especially one occurring before the CBA is set to expire in the summer. Essentially Hinrich had one suitor (because LA made no moves), and Ernie Grunfeld still drove a hard bargain of a pick and a prospect when it was previously reported that Atlanta was unwilling to give up both. Pat yourself on the back, Grunfeld … just a little bit.
But wasn’t Hinrich good for Wall? Sure he was. He set good examples, answered any question Wall had of him. Great. Now Wall can ask questions of Bibby (if he stays around) … or he can continue to seek advice from Sam Cassell … or I’m sure he can just call Hinrich if he really, really wants to. Sure, there is a difference between Hinrich dropping verbal knowledge versus leading by example and being that calming veteran presence on the court during play. But does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? To Wall’s personal development, maybe … some … but otherwise, the veteran intelligence factor in this specific case should not hinder a rebuilding move. Especially when other bad players seem to be dragging down the team, I’m not sure that Hinrich’s presence made that much of a difference. It’s not like he was going to slap Andray Blatche into submission like a Kevin Garnett would.
In the end, it was wholly essential to take advantage of this opportunity. It was a good trade for the Wizards (but doesn’t necessarily change the underlying opinion of the job Ernie Grunfeld has done in totality).
Agent David Falk, decorated history with the Washington Wizards, representative for Mike Bibby. Bibby is the guy who was just traded to D.C. along with Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford and a 2011 first round pick in exchange for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong, who are flying high to Atlanta as I type.
So, it makes one wonder, would Falk have said, “Ernie [Grunfeld] and I will sit down” back then, during the Cold War, as he did over the phone in an interview with Comcast’s Ron Thompson on Wednesday night?
By the time the referee threw the ball up to signify the start of the game against the Orlando Magic, the Washington Wizards knew they would be without Rashard Lewis and Nick Young. Lewis continues to battle knee tendinitis and Young was a late scratch with swelling his knee. Their absences meant the Wizards had to somehow account for the 30 points they usually bring to the starting lineup.
From scoring the first points of the game on a layup 42 seconds in, John Wall demonstrated that he was in an offensive state of mind and capable of picking up the slack by scoring 13 points in the opening period. Seemingly all of his baskets on the evening would follow this sequence: Wall would take the outlet or inbound pass, he would run by the Orlando big men, and then he would outmaneuver the Orlando guards en route to a layup. He peppered in a couple short jumpers, some free throws, and one three-pointer later in the game, but the majority of his damage was done in the paint. He finished with 27 points, five rebounds, two steals and just one assist.
It can be argued that Wall, who averages nearly 10 assists a game, wasn’t doing his job as a point guard if he only dished out one dime. False. Dwight Howard kept pressure on Washington’s big men by often catching the ball deep in the paint (thanks to repeated poor post position from JaVale McGee, lack of strength from Hilton Armstrong or lack of experience from Kevin Seraphin), and forcing them to foul. Howard went 8-11 from the free-throw line and 12-15 from the field to tally 32 points.
Wall kept pressure on the Orlando defense by repeatedly getting into the lane and ending up with a layup or a trip to the foul line. So what happened when the Magic actually stopped him and other teammates were forced to step up?
Before San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich led his team against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, and as his players were coming off an uncharacteristic loss to the Philadelphia 76ers the night before, I asked him if it was a situation where he’d rather play the very next night.
“Exactly. That’s always one of the great things we all talk about in the NBA, because another game’s coming pretty quickly. Even if it’s back-to-back, you’d rather get to the next game and play and forget the one you just were so horrible in,” the coach said.
After getting poked and prodded like worn leather by the Spurs, the Wizards found them in the same situation, on a flight to Cleveland not only with the motivation of ending a 0-25 road record on the season, but also with the bad taste of poor effort spread on their breakfast toast. The Australians call it vegemite.
Well, they did it. February 13 was long ago marked as a facetious scenario for the Wizards to get their first road win — against Antawn Jamison, in front of a Cleveland crowd previously ingrained to boo the Wiz a little more than other teams, and with a nice number like 25 straight road losses, 26 dating back to last season. With life’s little symmetry in tow, of course Washington won 115-100 on Sunday evening. Ted Leonsis should be dancing, but we’ll get him doing the “Dougie” for another reason.