“They’re different. J-Wall is the most outgoing. D-Rose has an inner swagger. He’s not a rah-rah, big-time emotional dude, but you’ll see him clenching his teeth. Tyreke’s, you can see it, as well. It’s not as blatant as J-Wall’s, but you can see it in his run, when his swagger is really getting there.”
“[Wall] was a lot more vocal than the other two from the beginning — he came in and there was no question who the leader was,” Strickland said. “We had to tone him down.”
On Monday afternoon Flip Saunders left practice early, storming out and cutting it short because he said his team did not have a sense of urgency and that his players were not working hard. Saunders also said, “That’s the one thing as coaches, you can’t coach effort.” He told his team to come back for a second practice that afternoon at 4 pm.
Barring your opinion of whether coaches can really coach effort or not, or if they should at least be taking measures to encourage maximized effort, or if you believe it should not be an NBA coach’s responsibility to hold the hands of basketball millionaires, there are a lot of issues with this Wizards team and they have been pointed out.
But Saunders walking out on practice … how big of a deal is this? Sure, as TAI’s Adam McGinnis was opining to me over Google-chat, this would be getting killed in Chicago or New York. Then again, via web media with boundless reach, it’s out there for a larger audience to scrutinize nonetheless.
Is it a good sign? No, it’s not a good sign that the lines between coaching instruction and player implementation are not in tune. But we’re talking about practice.
After a thrilling overtime victory over the 76ers on Election night in the nation’s capital, the Wizards players and coaches appeared in an upbeat mood at practice on Wednesday morning. Then again, this year’s team always seems to be in good spirits. The Four Bigs ‘(Dray Blatche, Yi Jianlian, JaVale McGee and Hilton Armstrong) were playing a rotating game of one-on-one with coach Gene Banks at one end, while other Wizards took part in a game of 3-on-3 on the side baskets at the other end. Gilbert was in this game and he looked pretty healthy. John Wall, against a wall, was chatting with Coach Saunders and observing both workout contests. The big topics post-practice were Cartier Martin’s off-balance three that sent Tuesday’s game into an extra period and the spectacular play of Wall.
After Tuesday’s practice adjourned, and before the Wiz Kids headed to Orlando, Hilton Armstrong, Kevin Seraphin and Andray Blatche got in some extra work, battling each other with pseudo post-moves under the supervision of assistant coach Gene Banks.
It’s hard to notice (via the video quality of a Flip Cam), but Blatche was hamming it up a bit from the get-go, looking at the camera, etc. So Armstrong and Serphin followed suit a couple times. It was all in good fun … and they are all kids (Armstrong will turn 26 at the end of November, Blatche turned 24 at the end of August and Seraphin will turn 21 in early December).
Still, one sometimes can’t help but feel that, speaking specifically about Blatche, he has a very long way to go until he’s looked upon as a team leader with any amount of seriousness. And I’m not really drawing from this instance of post-practice post-work, but rather from my complete observations regarding the serious nature in which he operates, or lack thereof.
Again, the guy is just 24, albeit, a 24 year-old who still protests about running as a result of end-of-practice particulars, etc. (again, not completely conveyed in the video). In the end, a rebuilding team has time … you just wonder how much patience. Fortunately, there is also plenty of time for that patience to be tested … mainly by Messrs. Arenas and Blatche. Gentlemen, do your best.
Al Thornton, Nick Young and Yi Jianlian are likely to enter the Summer of ’11 with the Wizards holding the option on their qualifying offers, aka as restricted free-agents. No big deal here. Each is vastly unproven so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to lock into any of them for the unknown future.
Ted Leonsis has opening-night jitters. “Throw the kids into the deep end of the pool; let them swim!,” he says. Gosh, I hope there is a lifeguard around to combat what appears to be a poolside bully throwing all these damn kids in the pool. But really, I think the kids can swim, it’s just time to see how well. I’m looking forward to it.
Leonsis continues to stand by Arenas … probably until he doesn’t … whatever that means. Maybe a trade or something.
[DC Sports Bog]
Speaking of Arenas, David Aldridge on NBA.com has all sorts of opinions about him. First Aldridge says hope that Arenas has emerged a changed man via last season has “evaporated” via sore knee lies. Then D.A. says, “I hope I’m proven wrong,” but then says, “Not holding my breath.” Then Aldridge compares Arenas to a deadbeat dad four years behind on child-support who is also making moonshine in his basement. Finally, he says the Wizards should give Arenas the Jamaal Tinsley treatment and just tell him to stay at home. Seems like an odd amount of twists and turns from D.A., with an ultimate overboard reaction — that is, until Arenas does something else stupid, I guess.
Sure, I pretty much said the Wizards would lose to the Magic on Thursday in my last post. But there’s always an ‘if’ … and Gilbert Arenas is just that. Coming into this season, I’ve been confident that Arenas would be healthy enough to be a very effective scorer. Some are concerned about his knee, but if the mystique of Tim Grover proves true, time off due to suspension only made the surgical repairs stronger, with more rest.
We’re talking about a guy who scored 45 points in a game last season — and 25 or more points in 10 out of 32 games, seven of those games coming in December when Arenas started to heat up. The Wizards went 4-6 in the win/loss column when Gil scored 25 or more … which I guess isn’t bad, considering.
No, instead of his offense, what I’ve wanted to see from Gilbert is if his defensive legs can prove something other than the norm, for him, especially after Flip Saunders has backed Arenas’ defensive capability so much. People are already afraid that the twists and turns will continue with Gilbertology. Hopefully, lingering groin and ankle injuries won’t contribute more of that feeling you get when the plane or roller coaster takes a sudden drop.
But if Gilbert is merely a bench ornament in Orlando, the name of the Wizards’ game will still be to out-trick the Magic with strong and dominant guard play — pressure bursts pipes and speed makes it worse. Hello John Wall.
The Washington Wizards held their last preseason practice at the Verizon Center on Tuesday afternoon before heading down to Orlando for Thursday’s regular season opener, a national television showcase against the Magic on TNT.
If you’re a Wizards fan, you might be losing sleep over the match-up nightmares Orlando specifically poses against Washington. Okay, never mind, you’re probably dreaming about John Wall — it’s good be distracted, for now. Plus, I imagine the coach of a rebuilding team is still slightly more concerned with how his own players follow his instructions than countering what a great team like Orlando does.
Of course, match-up-wise, we don’t know who Flip Saunders is going to start just yet, or if Gilbert Arenas will be available because of soreness in his ankle that caused him to sit out of practice on both Monday and Tuesday, which piggy-backed on a groin injury he experienced in the fifth preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks that caused him to miss the last two games on the slate.
“From what happened before, you’ll know our starters 10 minutes before the game. That’s our new policy,” the coach quipped on Tuesday. ‘Before’ being when Arenas lied about soreness in his knee.
The atmosphere around the Verizon Center practice court was light and playful for once, and the Wizards players and coaching staff looked completely at ease. John Wall and Gilbert Arenas shared jokes while shooting free throws. Kevin Seraphin worked on his post moves with Gene Banks, trading jokes at the same time. Even the normally stoic Yi Jianlian could be seen cracking a smile while shooting free throws with JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.
There was no talk about Arenas, his beard, his smile or his behavior, no visible residual sadness regarding the departures of Sean Marks and Adam Morrison, and no lingering effects from the loss in Detroit two nights earlier.
Earlier in the day, John Wall, Andray Blatche, Josh Howard, Nick Young, Hamady Ndiaye, Trevor Booker, members of the Wizards coaching staff as well as front office personnel, hosted a “Salute to the Stars” in honor of NBA Cares Week of Service. The Wizards staff served 200 combat veterans as well as wounded men and woman from various branches of the military. Josh Howard commented on how the event went:
“Soldiers give back to us all the time, so its nice to see the Wizards along with Morton’s [Steakhouse] come together and NBA Cares as well. It’s a great organization…”
The position of team captain was an unstable one last year, especially after the trade winds when Earl Boykins and Mike Miller were pegged as the team leaders/representatives with the referees.
Slightly different story for 2010-11 …
On Monday afternoon, when I asked Flip Saunders who had arisen to fill the team captain position(s) this year, he sounded pretty confident that 20-year old John Wall and soon-to-be 30-year old Kirk Hinrich would be his men.
“Right now we’ve gone with Hinich and Wall. Those are the two guys, at this point, that have shown leadership through camp. So that’s where we’re at right now,” said the coach.
And about Arenas? …
“We just haven’t really talked,” said Saunders. “Those two guys have been our two most vocal guys and our two guys that have shown leadership.” Read more »
After Friday night’s loss to Chicago, Coach Flip Saunders decided to give the Wizards a day and a half off to rest. They had played three preseason games in four days, including back to back games on Thursday and Friday. After Sunday’s practice, I’m sure the Wizards wished they had just went ahead and practiced Saturday.
Coach Saunders channeled his inner Pat Riley by practicing his team for three hours in the middle of Sunday, and judging by the fatigued looks on the players’ faces as they left the practice court in the Verizon Center, it was definitely a hard three hours.
Al Thornton wasn’t surprised:
“You knew it was going to be like that though, you gotta take a day off to get your legs back and get treatment and then get back to it. The Chicago game seemed a little sluggish, so we came back today and he pounded us.”