So Bradley Beal’s rookie season over. After originally injuring his left ankle in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 3 and then missing six straight games through March 15—being declared “day-to-day” the whole time—Beal came back for three games. He then injured that same left ankle, again. Beal was declared “day-to-day” from March 21 through March 29, missing five straight games. He returned to the court last Sunday against the Toronto Raptors and played again on Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls. His jump shot, and game, seemed present (he did make a career-high six 3s against Toronto), but Beal was clearly not himself during those two contests. He looked stiff. So on Wednesday, the Wizards shut him down for the season, as they discovered a “stress injury” to his right fibula, a clear indication that, in playing, Beal was compensating for his left ankle injury.
What does it all mean? Bad, #SoWizards luck, that’s what. Should Beal have paid more attention to the signals his body was likely sending him? Should the Wizards medical staff have better monitored the rookie for such issues? Probably a little of both. The injury doesn’t diminish a very good rookie season for Beal, and it doesn’t have an affect on a meaningless chase for the ninth spot in the East. The Wizards caught the stress injury, albeit seemingly a tad late, Beal will get rest, and, according to team release, he will return to basketball activity in six weeks.
After the Toronto game, I asked Beal (video below) if this particular ankle injury was the type where it helps to get back on the court and work some of the stiffness out.
“Throughout my life, I’ve always sprained my ankles. That’s probably any basketball player,” said Beal. “But I always just kept playing. Now, it’s something totally different. These are ankle injuries I’ve never had before. It’s affecting different areas of my ankle and my leg. It’s just something that I just have to deal with and take time to be able to rest it.”
Below are my reactions to Sunday evening’s Wizards-Raptors game, as also pub’d on ESPN’s Daily Dime with a variety of other NBA-related recaps. I’ve also added the two additional sections and lineup stats for good measure.
But First, To Note…
Wizards top 5-man lineup (plus/minus of plus-5): John Wall, Roger Mason, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely – 6 minutes, 16 points, 5-for-8 FGs, 2-for-4 3PM, 4-for-4 FTs, 4 rebounds, 5 assists.
A close second (plus-3): John Wall, Roger Mason, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin – 4 minutes, 9 points, 4-for-6 FGs, 1-for-1 3PM, 0 FTs, 2 rebounds, 2 assists.
The 12-39 Washington Wizards and the 17-35 Toronto Raptors face off for the fourth time this season, the Wizards winning two on their home court, one being their first win of the season and another going to overtime in early February, and the Raptors taking a Feb. 3 matchup in Canada (three days before the Wizards’ OT win). Per Michael Lee, both Trevor Booker and Nene will be out tonight, so the Wizards will have a true test — Toronto has started Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Andrea Bargnani and Aaron Gray in the past two games and beat the Denver Nuggets, lost to the Miami Heat by 12. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we have Sam Holako (@RapsFan) of the ESPN TrueHoop blog Raptors Republic, along with TAI’s Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) and Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20). The Raptors are favored by seven points; Goodbye Sunday…
#1) I’m a big-time free agent in 2012 and it’s come down to D.C. or Toronto, both franchises are offering equal money. Which team do I choose and what most influences that?
DIAMOND: Neither team is exactly poised for near-term success. A few weeks ago, ESPN’s John Hollinger and Chad Ford issued their annual “future power rankings.” According to the forecast (via ESPN Insider), the Wiz are No. 22 in the league and the Raptors are No. 26. So if I’m looking at Toronto vs. Washington, it’s not because I care about winning now — I’m drawn by peripherals. And which city offers more TV exposure? Which one has a bigger (potential) fan base? Which one has less confusing tax rules? Gotta be DC.
HOLAKO: I’d have to say Toronto. Even though both teams are on a similar trajectory in terms of talent and cap space, the Raptors have a better core of young players to build a team around. John Wall is probably the best individual player on either team, but the Raptors seem more complete as currently constructed. Also, paying Nene $13.5 million-plus for 14 points and eight rebounds isn’t a good idea; that’s just me, though.
Here we go again… Tonight’s Wizards-Raptors game is the third of four meetings between the two clubs. Washington and Toronto have split the 2011-12 series thus far, each team celebrating a decisive victory over the other — the average winning margin is 16 points. Although the Torontonians have been more successful on the road (5 wins) than the D.C. locals have been at home (3 wins) this season, the Raptors haven’t won a game at the Verizon Center since 2009. Consider heading to the game if you have a couple of hours to kill tonight: tickets can be scored for a buck! Raptorholic Sam Holako (@RapsFan) of ESPN TrueHoop/Raptors Republic joins TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) for tonight’s 3-on-3 roundball roundtable. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Fact or Fiction: Rashard Lewis will score four or more points tonight, joining Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce as the only players in NBA history to have scored at least 15,000 points, grabbed 5,000 rebounds and hit 1,500 three-pointers in their careers. [UPDATE: Lewis is out versus the Raptors due to what is being called a sore right knee; Chris Singleton replaced him in the Wizards starting lineup.]
[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 9 contributors: covered on-hand at the Verizon Center by Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend, with Rashad Mobley from the television feed. Oh, and you can now find our stuff on Google+. Go ahead and circle Truth About It.]
The Toronto Raptors (4-5) fly south to D.C. to take on the Washington Wizards (0-8). Toronto, competing in its only back-to-back-to-back this season, will be looking for a second win in as many nights before heading west to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Washington split a four-game series versus Toronto last season, securing two victories at home by an average of nine points. TAI’s Beckley Mason, Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend go 3-on-3 to get you ready for tonight’s action.
#1) In four games vs. Washington last season, Andrea Bargnani averaged 25.5 points on 57.1-percent shooting in wins and 18.5 points on 35.3-percent shooting in losses. Which Bargs will show up?
John Wall’s vision and speed are the main reasons Flip Saunders knew he would be drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards this past summer. Everybody else obviously knew it too, or there wouldn’t have been a Sports Science study done on him. Still, amidst all the Wizards’ struggles, it’s been easy to forget the positives of just how good Wall really is.
Wall has hit bumps in the road while learning the NBA game, but that’s certainly to be expected. His brief “rookie wall” can mostly be attributed to nagging foot, knee and left hand injuries. But after missing 12 games in a 19-game stretch from November 16 to December 22, Wall has appeared in 41 straight games since. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week, an incredible play from Wall as he blew past Serge Ibaka caught my eye and reminded me that hey, the Wizards may not be very good but at least we’ve got John Wall to watch.
Ibaka should be familiar with Wall. They were both at All-Star weekend, playing against one another in the Rookie Challenge. Wall ran the floor all night, recorded a Rookie Challenge-record 22 assists and helped JaVale McGee outdo Ibaka in the Slam Dunk Contest, despite Serge’s toy-snatching, role model-acting, free-throw jumping first round. And yes, Ibaka is quite an athletic player. He’s become a perfect fit for Oklahoma City’s youthful and energetic style of play.
For a quick sequence on March 14, as Wall sprinted with the ball past Ibaka, the Thunder big man probably wished he hadn’t been so eager to play defense. Maybe he should have let the rook roam free or wait for his teammate Russell Westbrook, who was having his way with Wall all game long. Instead, Serge took himself out of the play by getting spun around by Wall, and awakening fans inside the Verizon Center in the process. Good thing for Ibaka that Mr. Durant was there to hush the crowd soon thereafter.
[Consecutive wins for the Wizards? Al Thornton approves.]
Two wins in a row from the Wizards for the first time all season, albeit both at home where they are a much better team, is a sign of progress, especially when one of them is against a very strong Utah Jazz squad. But that first win came against the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday, a grind-it-out affair against another bad team. Ryan Gracia, a current junior at George Mason University studying journalism and sports communication, has followed the Wizards for years, and his family has also long held season tickets. Ryan attended Saturday’s game versus Toronto and below writes about a play that created a winning spark. And below Ryan’s write-up, some suggested links to read.
[Editor's Note: When someone has tried to hype up the match-up between John Wall and this player or that, Wall himself before has played down the issue across the board, saying him against anyone could be considered a so-called 'match-up' ... Well, why not John Wall vs. Jose Calderon then? In the way that everything is connected, Calderon is the former whipping boy of Gilbertology -- the sentiment coming from Arenas' blog in February 2008 that Calderon did not deserve to be an NBA all-star. Now Rashad is here to tell it from the other side, not regarding the days of old, but of Calderon against the Wizards of Wall. -Kyle W.]
I was not able to speak with Raptors guard Jose Calderon or Wizards guard John Wall before the game. Calderon was in the training room getting treatment on a foot that was so injured, even Raptors coach Jay Triano wasn’ t 100-percent sure if he’d play. And a pre-game interview with Wall is as elusive as as a Wizards road win these days–I’m sure it’ll happen one day, but it hasn’t as of yet.
However, if I were able to interview Calderon and Wall, I can imagine interview answers going something like this: Read more »
[Editor's Note: Beckley Mason provided Verizon Center coverage of Saturday night's 98-95 Wizards win over the Toronto Raptors for TAI. You can usually find Beckley at the TrueHoop Network general NBA blog, HoopSpeak.com. You can also find him on Twitter: @BeckleyMason. -Kyle W.]
“Yi has a great set of skills. When he dunked it tonight I was like ‘OK China.’” -Andray Blatche