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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

Monthly Archives: May 2012

By: Willis

It took about 30 seconds for my Twitter news feed to start erupting with NBA fans crying foul and spewing off conspiracy theories about how the league is rigged. The theory that the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged is a fun one to play around with (thinking of David Stern as a mastermind of a huge plot is scandalous; Americans love scandals), but the reality is that it simply has no basis nowadays. For starters, think about how many people were watching the entire sequence of events go down.

What we watch on television is not a real time drawing of the balls. We’re seeing the made for television version, where team owners, friends/family/Dan Gilbert’s son, sit around waiting unknowingly for the entire lottery to play out. That’s great for television and suspense, but it doesn’t allay some of the concerns that the average viewer has when he sees New Orleans pop up as the first pick. What they should know, however, is that the lottery actually already finished up over an hour beforehand.

Journalists (who one would presume have at least an ounce of integrity) and representatives from each team are literally locked into a room while the process happens. Everyone in the room gives up their cell phones, pagers, communication devices, and electronics upon entering in order to maintain secrecy. They all watch as the hopper is loaded up with 14 ping pong balls and winning combinations are drawn out, and there’s essentially no way it can be rigged. Each person in the room would have to be in on the fact that the league somehow jury rigged the balls or the machine in such a way that New Orleans got the winning combination right off the bat. It’s not only impossible, but it is highly improbable. The actual reason as to why New Orleans won the coveted prize of Anthony “The Brow” Davis in getting the first pick, is actually pretty standard.

Charlotte may have had a 25% chance of winning, but they also had a 75% chance of failure. Their odds of landing it were less than 50%, which in school is below failing. Sure, other teams had an even lower chance (New Orleans had a 14.4% chance of winning), but at that point everyone has pretty bad odds. The Wizards had an even higher chance to win, but they didn’t because it’s a lottery system in which luck plays the biggest factor and statistical odds were still working against them. For the winners, it’s great. But for the losers, it’s considered a bogus win. I can’t even say I blame people for being upset.

The NBA owns the New Orleans Hornets, for Pete’s Sake! I’m not even sure if their GM can actually make trades yet. It’s a serious conflict of interest and it leaves open the door for plenty of naysayers to question motives, tie loose ends, etc. I, for one, became a tad bit disenfranchised with the NBA after the whole Chris Paul debacle last offseason. It was disappointing to hear that the league could veto a trade because of hurt feelings and unfairness. Should, then, the league be allowed to say “No way they should get the number one pick; do over”? No, they can’t do that, and it’s why to a rational eye the NBA lottery system is clearly not rigged. NBA owners may have been upset with the outcome (because Dan Gilbert may be a moron), but the smart ones weren’t saying it was a con job.

That doesn’t mean I can’t be upset. New Orleans seems to be catching some serious breaks with regards to talent lately (though they still had a brutal record that was only marginally better than the Wizards last year…), and I can’t help but be a little off put. They got a bunch of talent and picks with the departure of Chris Paul directly at the hands of David Stern. And now they get a franchise power forward and transcendental talent like Davis? What gives! Sure, the Wizards have had two first overall draft picks in the past 12 years, but whatever, because we didn’t win this time.

Speaking of the Wizards: once we can get over the fact that we lost out on the Davis sweepstakes, the reality sets in that this is an extremely talented draft class and the third overall pick is still a coveted piece. The Wizards may not get Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but there are a whole lot of ballers that might fit better than both of them would, anyway. For example, a shooter like Bradley Beal will likely still be on the board. Instead of grabbing someone like MKG, who is not likely to develop into an offensive threat right away, Beal could be the guy who provides an immediate upgrade over Jordan “Trey Day” Crawford at the shooting guard position.

Or, conversely, since Booker, Seraphin, Nene, and Jan aren’t lighting the world on fire with their performance, the Wizards could nab someone like Thomas Robinson to further bolster the front court. Not to mention that he’s a D.C. native and might play even harder for his only remaining family member in his little sister. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing talent, and Robinson is about as gifted as they come in this draft (and in all of basketball). He’s another guy I would be just fine with taking.

The Wizards could even trade the pick and package some bad contracts and players in exchange for some legitimate talent! Would it be outlandish to suggest that they swap picks with Portland and acquire Nicolas Batum and another talent at the two guard later in the draft? Portland might be more receptive to taking on the contract of Andray Blatche or Rashard Lewis as well.  The acquisition of two players for the price of one pick makes a lot of sense, and it’s something that Grunfeld might want to look into.

What I’m basically saying in this reactionary piece is that Wizards fans should relax.We should realize the NBA lottery is not rigged, acknowledge the disappointment we had in not winning the Unibrow sweepstakes, and accept that our number three pick is actually a very versatile thing that, no matter what, should bode well for the future of this team.

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By: Willis

Rashard Lewis Highlights, in case you forgot how good he used to be.

When a player scores fewer total points than the total number of shots they attempted during a season, it’s typically considered a bad thing. Unless of course, your name is Rashard Lewis. If you’re him, then your 2011-2012 season (the same one in which you barely surpassed your rookie year totals when you were 19) has to be considered a success. “Why,” you ask? Allow me to digress.

Rashard Lewis made $21,136,631 last season while playing only 28 games. To put that on a per minute basis, our friends at Wiz of Awes calculated that Lewis made almost $29,000 per minute played. Those are Michael Jackson Thriller numbers. Let’s break them down, since we like statistics so much.

  • In two minutes, Lewis surpassed the minimum wage mark more than twice!
  • Over the course of the year, Rashard made more than 30,195 Niger residents do in a year.
  • The price of one 20 megaton nuclear warhead is ~$20 million; so Rashard could buy one and have over $1 million to spare on militarily fortifying his house from invasion!
  • Invisible Children, the charity hell-bent on capturing KONY, has made $10.3 million to date. Rashard could’ve caught KONY twice in one year.
  • Rashard Lewis could purchase Little Hawkins Island in Georgia for $20 million and, again, use $1 million leftover to decorate it with presumably knee braces and shoes
  • Rashard could have not only bought Air Bud (R.I.P.) to play in his place for Washington (and perhaps be slightly more productive on a per minute basis), he could have financed 7 sequels at $3 million per movie that featured the Wizards!

So as not to seem redundant, I’ll stop there because I’m sure you get the point. Either way, Rashard definitely came out a successful man last season off the basketball court. On it, however, is another story.

Mr. Lewis averaged 7.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, which as stated before was his second lowest total since his rookie season. That year, he was a 19 year old kid coming fresh out of high school with a chip on his shoulder after being passed up during the first round. Flash forward to 2012, and the 6’11 stretch power forward/small forward/walking ATM got shut down less than halfway through the season because cash can’t buy you new knees. Just ask Vince Carter, Penny Hardaway, or Greg Oden. His descent into obscurity was rapid, and I am of the opinion that Rashard may never be an effective NBA player again.

Rashard’s career Player Efficiency Rating is 17.1; that’s two points ahead of the league average of 15. Even before this season, he hadn’t reached average since 2008-2009, where he was at an impressive salvageable 16.8 PER. Since then, his decline due to lingering, balky, knees has been succinct. Lewis now is the proud owner of a 9.3 PER, which is good enough for being .3 points ahead of Darko Milicic (who was also shut down and injured). Think Andray Blatche was absolutely horrendous last season? Well The Captain beat Rashard out by 1.3 points (10.3) this season. Even at All Day Dray’s worst physical condition, he’s still better than Rashard. All these numbers simply confirm what we were seeing on the court (if you didn’t miss the elusive ‘Shard during his few appearances).

The thing is, Rashard could still salvage his career for a playoff contender because GMs still love people who can hit the long ball and happen to be have lots of lenghty. Matt Bonner, who at his most athletic might be slightly slower than a balky Lewis, is currently getting good minutes for the Spurs. 6’11 guys who shoot 39% on their career from 3-point range have a place in the Association. It’s that simple. Raef Lafrentz was a top-notch center for awhile; Wang ZhiZhi managed a 5 year career despite injury and ineffectiveness. And even though Rashard makes a ton of money (virtually immovable) and shot a career low 24% from deep last season, he may still have a chance to play for a contender. He may not offer defense, but ‘Shard can still bring a bit of versatility to an offense (providing he can still motor up and down the court). Someone in desperate need of stretching out defenses could take a chance…right?

The problem for Rashard is managing to get out of Washington. He may have something left in the tank but unless he is willing to perform a drastically limited role, the opportunities with the Wizards will be slim to none. Seeing as Nene, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, and Jan Vesely all crowd the front court, Lewis does not have very many chances to log minutes. In D.C., Rashard is going to be doing spot duty and filling in for potentially injured players. That is, unless, he can successfully manage a buyout (if he even wants one). If I were Rashard, I would simply keep collecting contracts and relaxing waiting for the Wizards to make a move. There is no rush to get “healthy” or rest your knees when you’re 33 and only have a few years left on those knees.

So that’s where Rashard sits. Hedging his bets that his knees can withstand a few more painful runs up and down the court to bolster his already impressive resume with the one thing that eludes him: a ring. Rashard isn’t going to play for anything else, and only championship squads will have any interest in him. His options are limited, and his going rate, as shown above, is extremely high. At the moment I have no real suggestions for what to do with him other than to let Ernie work his magic. He’s notorious for being a swindler, so I’m sure he could convince someone to take him. In the meantime, Rashard will eat up cap space and remain an albatross on a financially secure team with no real incentive just yet to dump him in order to mortgage the future. Get healthy in the offseason, Lewis, because you may not have much more opportunity to play the sport you love.

Final Grade: A+ He made a lot of money and got to spend more time with his family. Sure, he suffered on the basketball court, but off of it Rashard took his life game to new heights!

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By: Willis

0 In case anyone missed this, the Washington Post has an updated preview of next year’s Terrapin basketball schedule. Unfortunately, only one game against Duke. Fortunately, however, only one game against Duke for a young Terrapins squad…

0 ESPN clearly believes that since the Terps are running low on guards, Albany transfer Logan Aronhalt is going to play a very large role for them next year. I have my doubts about how talented this guy is going to become, but I hope he can provide at least some scoring.

0 Casual Hoya has written a nice eulogy on Jason Clark and his career at Georgetown. I’ve watched that kid play since high school, and it’s great to see how much he has matured over the years and became a well-rounded individual.

0 SB Nation decides to expound upon why the NBA Draft Lottery coming up Wednesday is going to drastically affect the actual NBA Draft. They have some not-so-surprising concerns about the Wizards and how well certain prospects fit within our system.

0 The Examiner has decided to torture Wizards fans with a little glimpse into what Kentucky Wildcats prospect Anthony Davis could mean for the Washington Wizards, comparing him to a current playoff player on a contender….and now I’m freaking out…

0 MLive via the Washington Post explains to us what the Washington Wizards could learn in following the sound advice of the Celtics and the Spurs in terms of team formation…whatever.

0 And finally, WUSA9 believes that the Wizards should try and recruit one of the best coaches to ever grace the hardwood in Jerry Sloan. Convincing him that we’re the future might require him to be a bit on the senile side…

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By: Bohlin

It has certainly been a long, passport stamped trip for James Singleton the last couple of years. Let’s start this story on September 6, 2010. On that day it was reported by the Washington Post that Singleton, who had been acquired by the Washington Wizards in the trade that sent Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Dallas, spurned a contract offer from the Washington Wizards in favor of a deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Singleton had similar offers from other NBA teams as well, even though he never released what the offers were it is widely assumed they were for the league minimum. It is believed that Singleton received a more lucrative offer from the Flying Tigers and that was enough for Singleton to jettison the NBA and head to the other CBA. His reasoning, taken from a Washington Post article from September of 2010, is more so related to his love for the game. “I’m going back overseas to play basketball because of my passion, not the pay or the fame. Overseas, they allow players to play, grow and mature.”

Fast forward two years and Singleton found himself fresh off of a CBA title run with the Guangdong Southern Tigers needing to find a place to play. The Washington Wizards found themselves with a depleted roster from injuries in need of fresh bodies to make the stretch run. It was a match made in Heaven. Singleton signed a 10-day contract with the Wizards and made his return to the NBA on April 5th against the Detroit Pistons with a 0 point 2 rebound performance in 14 minutes of game action.

This was the last time Singleton was held scoreless for the remainder of the Wizards season. Singleton scored in double digits in more than half of the remaining games he played, including a season high 18 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on April 9th. In fact, in the 12 games he played with the Wizards Singleton averages 8.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in just over 21 minutes of action a night. His performance even merited praise from The Captain. “He went all the way to China and came back with a jumper.”

It’s true; Singleton did vastly improve his jump shot while playing in the CBA. Coming into this abbreviated stint with the Wizards Singleton was a career 42% shooter. In the 12 games he played for the Wiz Kids this spring he shot a blistering 55% from the field and an equally impressive 93% from the foul line; both career highs. His play prompted head coach Randy Wittman to suggest that the entire team should be signed to 10-day contracts so they would play the same way Singleton was (Randy’s got jokes!).

Singleton established himself as a fan favorite even in a small sample size of appearances. His effort level, tenacious rebounding and new found shooting touch served as an immense spark for the Wizards second unit as they closed their season on a six game winning streak. Singleton’s performance has surely opened up plenty of eyes around the league as I would expect him to garner much more attention, as well as lucrative offers, from teams in free agency.

Singleton appears to have found a spot in the district that he is quite comfortable in however. “I would love to stay in D.C. I love the guys. I gelled with them as soon as I got here. They welcomed me in. I feel comfortable. I feel like at home.” Here’s to hoping that the front office welcomes you back in the same way this summer James. You have certainly earned it.

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By: Bohlin

One of the top talents in the class of 2013 will be playing their college basketball at the Phone Booth. St. Ignatius High School (San Francisco, CA) forward Stephen Domingo committed to the Hoyas this past Monday. The consensus four-star recruit, who had over 30 committable offers, chose Georgetown over programs such as Big East foe Louisville, Arizona, Cal, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and Washington. A three-year varsity starter, Domingo is currently ranked as the #44 prospect in the country by ESPN.com

Domingo has had many the accolades during his first three years at St. Ignatius. The 6’7 200 pound forward has earned all-leaguefirst-team, all-city, all-metro and all-state honors. In addition, he is partof the Adidas National Development Team, the USA Basketball 17U Development Team and the Dream Vision Traveling Team.

Domingo remained humble throughout the entire recruiting process, which is a tough thing to do when you are that young have an inordinate amount of attention placed on you. “I was very honored to have been recruited by many outstanding coaches and programs,” he added. “In the end, I felt Georgetown was by far the best fit for me and what I hope to accomplish in college.”

Domingo seems to be happy with his decision and did not give any indication that he would continue to look around at other school after pledging his commitment to the Hoyas. “I’m proud to be a part of Hoya Nation,”Domingo said. “Georgetown will help me develop into an outstanding basketball player and an outstanding young man.”

It seems fitting that once Hollis Thompson left school that JTIII and staff would close the deal on yet another prep star from the state of California. Hopefully Domingo can have the same sort of positive impact on the Hoyas program that Thompson brought from the left coast a few years ago.

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By: Bohlin and Willis

1) Pros and Cons of Stan Van Gundy

Bohlin: There are some legitimate reasons as to why Stan Van Gundy (or SVG as I will reference him from here on out) might have interest in taking over the reins of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost would be the opportunity to stick it to your former employer. Anyone who has ever been fired from a position knows deep down they would love to get back at the person who let them go. Fortunately for the Wizards, SVG would have a plethora of opportunities to do just that were he to take the job in D.C. Another reason for SVG to take the Wiz Kids job? He wouldn’t have to cater to an overbearing superstar who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Dwight Howard, and the circus that surrounded him this season, couldn’t have made SVG job pleasant this past year. It got so bad that he went out in the media saying his star player went to the front office asking for him to be fired. That just shouldn’t happen on any level of basketball. In D.C. our star player, John Wall, is hungry to build a winner in the District and, by all accounts, loves the city as this is where his father grew up. Couple a talented PG with a nice group of big’s in Nene and Seraphin, as well as what we hope will be a major hit in the lottery, and you have the makings of an attractive roster for someone such as SVG to consider taking over.

The only knock on SVG is the perceived notion that he’s lost two locker rooms: first in Miami and then Orlando. At least, that has been the reasoning for him leaving those jobs. The egos he had to deal with in those locations certainly had something to do with that occurrence, however. I would be more than willing to argue that Dwight Howard lost the locker room in Orlando and SVG, along with Howard’s teammates, are the ones who got thrown under the proverbial bus (Dwight being Dwight). I firmly believe he would not run into this issue in D.C. as the major egos and knuckleheads (Sans The Captain) have been shipped out of town and SVG would inherit a young, talented roster of players wanting to be successful. His record speaks for itself and he has a great knowledge of the Southeast Division…Seems like a no brainer that we would reach out to him about our head coaching position.

Willis: For once, I actually agree with my colleague on something basketball-related. SVG is skilled in three facets of life: 1.) He grows a phenomenal mustache reminiscent of the great Ron Jeremy, 2.) SVG could replace Super Mario in any future movies, and 3.) The guy can flat out coach basketball. Jokes aside, anyone who watches this guy’s teams play basketball understands that he understands, at the most fundamental level, how good basketball is played. During his eight years as a head coach in the NBA, SVG has amassed a staggering .641 winning %. To put that into perspective, that’s sixth All-Time amongst NBA coaches with at least 500 games. That number puts him ahead of guys like Rick Aldeman, Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Doc Rivers, and even Flip Saunders. The ability to coach teams at such a high level over any length of time means speaks volumes to his dedication and preparation. Can he coach a team with less talent than most? I would think so.

One knock on him, however, is that his personality tends to grind on his most talented players. SVG does not show favoritism, and so most superstars get upset with him because SVG speaks his mind. He will not hesitate to publicly chastise someone who doesn’t do what they are told. He threw his main man, Dwight Howard, under the bus for private conversations Dwight had with upper management, and as Shaq said “that was Bush League.” In a way, it is. Private conversations shouldn’t be brought public, ever. Stan Van Gundy tells it like it is, for better or worse. Given that the Wizards are sometimes a sensitive team (as well as a flawed team), that might happen a lot. I can only imagine how angry Wall might get if he was told that his shooting was unacceptably bad (when Jan Vesely can’t shoot, period).

2) Pros and Cons of Nate McMillan

Bohlin: Nate didn’t last the season in Portland. After starting the season with a 20-23 record he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. In his 12-year coaching career, including a stint in Seattle (Like R.I.P) before moving down the coast to Portland, he has achieved an overall record of 478-452. His playoff record is an uninspiring 14-20 and McMillan has never made it past the second round of the playoffs as a head coach. Obviously, McMillan has a fantastic basketball acumen having had a 12-year NBA career as a player. He could probably teach John Wall a few things about distributing the basketball as McMillan still holds the single-game assist record for rookies passing out 25 dimes.

I just don’t know if I buy into the fact that McMillan is the right coach for this team as it is currently constructed. The facts speak for themselves in this case, McMillan has coached middle of the pack teams to early exit’s in the playoffs his entire coaching career. Even the year he led the Blazers to a tie for the Northwest Division title they were bounced by the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the first round. Note: Greg Oden actually played 61 games that season; they also had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nicklas Batum and Andre Miller on that team. Not a bad amount of talent for a first round exit from the playoffs. That is clearly more talent than is currently on this Wizards roster and if he couldn’t get it done with those guys I am not convinced he can get it done with our Wiz Kids.

Willis: Nate Dogg is an interesting prospect as a head coach. He is a very versatile guy, who can coach both veterans and young players into successful seasons. As I’ve written before, McMillan is a “change the culture” type of guy, who would fit incredibly well within our current rebuilding project that is seeking just that. When McMillan took over the Portland job, he had to deal with some seriously flawed players with terrible attitude issues that led to them being branded the Jailblazers. The end result? Within three years, the Blazers became a 54-win playoff team. He is clearly a player’s coach who demands results and gets them from his team. Plus, he’s only finished below .500 four times during his 12 years as a head coach.

His cons? As my colleague noted before, he has an underwhelming postseason record. I would argue that he lost a lot of those playoff games because of injuries which plagued the Trailblazers during his tenure. Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were supposed to be the future of that team; instead, they are painful reminders of how much injuries can derail a team’s bright future. Both players had franchise player status, and it’s hard to fault Nate McMillan for being a failure because his players failed to stay healthy. That’s just the nature of the game. Still, he has had healthy, talented teams and failed to out-coach anyone.

3) Pros and Cons of Jerry Sloan

Bohlin: He is a Hall of Fame coach. You cannot start assessing Jerry Sloan as a coaching candidate without mentioning that. In his 26 years of coaching experience in the NBA Sloan amassed a record of 1221-803 in the regular season. His playoff record is equally impressive at 98-104 (As a franchise the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs only have 77 total postseason victories). While he never got the opportunity to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy while leading the Utah Jazz, Sloan did take the franchise to the NBA Finals twice where they were eventually sent back to Salt Lake City ringless by Michael Jordan. Despite having never won the title every NBA player and coach dreams of winning, Sloan is considered one of the brightest coaching minds of this generation. He obviously wants to get back into coaching judging by the fact he is going to give Michael Jordan and his Bobcats the time of day for an interview. So it wouldn’t hurt for the Wizards to at least give his representatives a call and gauge his interest.

Even with all the accolades above pertaining to Sloan as a coach there is still one MAJOR concern I would have in targeting him to be the leader of our franchise. Sloan up and quit on a team that was 8 games over .500 and had gone to the playoffs the four previous years. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” This is a direct quote from Sloan after he resigned from the Jazz coaching position in February of 2011. While some of this has to be attributed to Deron Williams giving him, and the franchise, the Dwight Howard treatment, it is a bad omen for a team trying to take the next step to respectability. The Wizards have not been as successful a franchise as the Jazz were under Sloan; there is no way around this reality. I cannot get behind a coach taking a team that is further away from competing for a title than the franchise he previously left mid-season citing a “lack of energy”. How long until he would lose that same energy for coaching when he takes the helm of a team that has a total of 88 wins in the past four years?

Willis: Jerry Sloan was born in 1942. Some other things that happened during that year? The movie Casablanca premiered in Hollywood, the Holocaust occurred, the United States Navy fought Japan during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and Anne Frank wrote her first entries in her Diary. What am I getting at? Jerry Sloan is old. He’s not a dinosaur, but he’s two years younger than Don Nelson. Anytime a coach can claim to be the same age as Dick Stockton, I have my reservations about how well he is going to be able to relate with players on a younger team such as the Wizards. I also question why a guy like Jerry Sloan, who happens to be a Hall of Fame coach with no rings, would want to coach a young squad like Washington when there is virtually no chance to add the only thing missing from his resume. Realistically, there will be plenty of veteran teams looking for a coach who can lead them to victory. With only a few years of quality coaching left, I can’t believe he has even the slightest amount of interest in Washington and another young point guard.

On the positive side? He is a Hall of Fame coach who doesn’t have two championships because he as a product of the Michael Jordan era. Teams simply didn’t win while he was playing. His style of ball meshes very well with John Wall (pick and roll) and he might actually teach him how to shoot a bit better. Sloan brings immediate credibility to the franchise, and I’d be willing to bet that the improvements would be immediate with him and he wouldn’t hesitate to bench guys like Blatche for acting up.

4) Do we just bag the coaching search until next summer and let Wittman lead us back to the lottery one more time

Bohlin: Being honest, it is hard to envision this roster competing for a playoff spot next season. If we were to hold off on going after a big name coach for another season I am comfortable saying that Randy Wittman did enough to merit coming back for a full season as the Wizards head coach. This is all hinging on the fact that Wittman wants to do this again though. When Flip was fired, Wittman made it quite clear he was not interested in being a head coach at this point in time. He has repeatedly mentioned how difficult this season was for him. Did that change during his stint leading the Wizards to the end of this season? Maybe, Randy Wittman is the only one who can truly answer that question. The fact that his roster endorsed him returning as their coach in 2012-2013 certainly helps (Player endorsements). But unfortunately for Wittman, the inmates aren’t running the asylum on F Street so that decision is going to ultimately come from Leonsis and Grunfeld.

Willis: I’m actually a big fan of Randy Wittman. I think, as a coach, he knew how to push these young players buttons enough to squeeze out some actual effort and hustle. The players liked him, and they responded to what he was saying. There were less blowout losses and more wins with Wittman instead of Flip Saunders. I guess that was what I liked the most; he actually cared and wasn’t resigned to losing like Flip. Perhaps I was so traumatized by Flip’s nonchalant attitude and excessive amount of hair gel that when Randy Wittman started demanding changes (Major Payne style) I fell in love. I think going forward, unless we make a huge hire in the coaching realm, Wittman is the guy we should start growing with. Wall played better under him, Vesely improved under him, Seraphin emerged under him; again I ask, why wouldn’t I want that?

Not to mention that having stability at the head coaching position is never a bad thing. Look no further than the credibility of the Utah Jazz under the Jerry Sloan, the Spurs under Greg Popovich, or the Celtics with Doc Rivers. Good teams have a head coach who inserts a system and the GM works in conjunction with him to grab players tailored for it. I don’t know that Randy Wittman’s system is a winning formula, but I do know that I’d like to give him a chance to implement it. He is an internal hire who knows Grunfeld, so maybe they can develop this vision of basketball in cohesion.

The cons of Wittman? He has coached three full seasons before, and not one of those teams managed to win consistently. He has never coached a team that has been over .500, and I’m not sure that he ever will. Granted, when you have a Minnesota team whose top three players are Al Jefferson, Rashard McCants, and Marko Jaric, there might not be a lot of winning going on. His other stint in Cleveland was before LeBron came along, wherein he was forced to eke wins out of Andre Miller, Clarence Witherspoon, and Jim Jackson (Oh my God the 2001 Cavaliers were awful). That’s not a lot to go with, and the Wizards next season might be his most talented squad yet. Still, the returns haven’t been promising up to this point. I fear Wittman might be more of a motivational speaker than an actual coach.

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By: Colenda

7.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 0.6 APG while shooting 53.1% from the field and 67.1% from the line on the surface aren’t numbers of a potential building block. In fact, you may think that these numbers belong to a marginal bench player. But if you fall in either school of thought, than I’m happy to let you know in this case, you’re dead wrong. The Wizards have not had a lot of luck in recent memory, hell probably ever, but the end of the 2012 showed we may have lucked out in a big way.

Why the optimism? The Wizards young center, Kevin Seraphin, truly came out of nowhere (I for one did not expect much of the Frenchman) and demonstrated his ability to physically impact games while co-existing with veteran Nene. Looking back on that 2010 draft day haul helping the Bull’s in their pursuit of two max-contract players (Wiz received Kirk Hinrich and 17th pick Seraphin for a future second-rounder), and what the Bull’s ended up with in return (how’s Boozer treatin’ ya, Bulls fans?), it’s easy to see why the tables have turned.

The numbers are very deceiving with Seraphin, as his minutes saw a serious spike after we shipped incumbent starter Pierre McGee out of town. Once his major opposition for minutes was gone, and he was paired alongside a veteran winner in Nene, Kevin truly blossomed. What he showed us after the trade deadline was enough to get this Dimer extremely excited for his future. Seraphin is a bit undersized for a center at 6’9”, but uses his frame (275 lbs) and length (7’3” wingspan) to his advantage.

Kevin is a throwback-type player, where he is a true back-to-the-basket center that can anchor you on both ends of the floor. Refreshingly, Seraphin seems to have a knack for knowing where to be on the floor on both offense and defense, and he rarely finds himself out of position. Although not the athlete McGee is, Seraphin is a much more effective defensive player because of he stays on his feet and rarely jumps whimsically at shot fakes.  And most importantly, he’s not afraid to get physical. This more than anything comes as the biggest shock, as it’s a pretty fair assumption to think all Frenchman are soft. Seraphin is willing to mix it up in the post, he attacks the glass, and protects the rim hard; intangibles that are essential for elite Bigs, but nearly impossible to teach. His skill set offensively is still developing, but he proved himself more than capable of scoring on the NBA level. He runs the floor well to get easy baskets, and this is obviously very important playing alongside John Wall.

Seraphin is certainly not a complete basketball player, and there are some areas of his game that we as fans can only hope he’s focusing on during the offseason. The former 17th pick needs to develop consistent go-to and counter moves in the post. All great Bigs have a go-to move in the post that can get them a basket whenever they need. But just as importantly, they have a move that is a counter to their go-to which comes second-nature once the go-to is taken away. Example of a go-to and counter move are the traditional jump hook as the go-to, and an up-and-under as the counter.  Kevin has shown the ability to score with either hand around the basket, and has exhibited a soft touch with his jump hook. With some hard work over the summer, he has the chance to develop some additional polish on his post moves.

To make the types of gains offensively I’m hoping he will make, Seraphin needs to be spending hours and hours in the gym doing skill work. Off-season priority number 2 for Mr. Seraphin : don’t represent your country in the London games. Kevin has had some success on the international stage, including being named to the all-tournament team at the 2009 FIBA U-20 tournament, but he does not need to be putting himself in injuries way while taking himself out of the gym for his individual development. It may be a great honor, but I’m much more interested in seeing a more polished and in-shape Kevin next year, not Kevin in a France jersey this summer.

Now you may be thinking, “Really all this hype from 21 starts this year?” My response: why not? Center is a dying position in the NBA. In fact, it very well may be dead. Now that Dwight Howard may be on his way out of Orlando (and hopefully the Eastern Conference), there aren’t very many Centers in the East worth a damn. There’s obviously still Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, and the emerging Roy Hibbert, but outside those two everyone else is either unproven, washed-up (or washing-up), or shitty. Kevin is already better than over half of the conferences centers [by my count only Chicago (Noah, although I hate him), Indiana (Hibbert), Boston (KG), Orlando (Howard), and New York (Chandler) have above-average players at the position].

With Nene and Seraphin, the Wizards will legitimately have an advantage in the paint against most Eastern Conference opponents next year. If Kevin can continue to develop his skills and become the type of player his gifts and basketball IQ would allow, he has the chance to become a top flight player at his position. He already has Bull’s brass salty that they let him go (whether they admit it publically or not, they have to be) while he established himself as one of the most intriguing young talents at his position. After his breakout campaign, with an offseason of hard work and learning alongside Nene, Kevin is primed for a huge year in 2012-13. We can only hope Seraphin is up to the challenge and is ready to help turn our ailing franchise around.

By: Bohlin

Chris Singleton could not have thought he would be starting over 50 games for the Washington Wizards during his rookie campaign after falling to the 18th pick on draft night.

If anything, he probably thought he would have a nice adjustment period to get acclimated to the professional game by playing behind veteran SF Rashard Lewis. Unfortunately, as we all know by now, we did not see much of Rashard Lewis this season and in turn Chris Singleton was forced to take on a much larger role on the team than he probably expected.

Chris Singleton stepped into rarified air this season becoming only the third Wizards/Bullets rookie to start over 75% of their games during their rookie campaign. Singleton joined current Wizards PG John Wall and, possibly my favorite former Bullet ever, Tom Gugliotta as the only players in the last 20 years to boast such an achievement for this franchise.

Singleton, however, was not one to pat himself on the back for simply being a starter. “That’s what I signed up for so I just got to take it and go with it. Was I ready? I don’t know. I was just going out there to play,” Singleton said. “It feels good I guess, but if I was going to come off the bench and we were winning games, I don’t care.”

While his stats throughout the season were very up and down, which has to be expected for many rookies, what I am seeing in the quote above speaks more highly of Singleton than any statistic could. Unlike some players who come into the league looking to build their own personal brand and attempt to sky rocket to success as quickly as possible Singleton appears to have an approach that is solely concerned with the betterment of the team. The rookie from Florida State showed in that quote how mature a player he is as well as presented himself as someone willing to put the team first. Players like this are invaluable to teams trying to climb out of the gutter as our Wizards currently are.

While the intangibles displayed by Singleton were consistent across the board, his numbers on the floor unfortunately were not. Despite having standout games through the season Singleton had a very up and down year for the Wizards compiling averages of 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest. While these numbers might leave a little to be desired on the offensive end of the floor you have to note that in the majority of the games Singleton played this season he was tasked with covering the opposing team’s top scorer on the wing. That, in and of itself, is a daunting task night in and night out in the NBA so Singleton’s offensive output was met with tempered expectations by this writer.

Singleton, however, proved to be a much tougher judge when it came to rating his rookie season. “I give myself a D,” Singleton said. “I feel like I underachieved in a lot of areas, the team underachieved, but we’ve got a bright future.”

While a “D” grade is harsher than I would have handed out (At the very worst I would have rated his rookie season as a C just because he was our top perimeter defender) it is refreshing to see the amount of desire Singleton has to improve, not only individually but also as a team. It took only one game for Singleton, who stuck to Deron Williams like a cheap suit in the season opener, to voice his displeasure in the “Losing mentality” that was associated with the Wizards at the time. Singleton was quite clear in saying this was something he wanted nothing to do with, and as a player who had a successful college career at Florida State I have no reason to disagree with his thoughts on the subject.

As we all know there have been players with this franchise recently, who will remain unnamed, that did not share that same sentiment of wanting team success before individual success. This was without a doubt a major contributing factor to the lack of success the franchise has had since the days of the “Big Three”. Hopefully statements like the one above from Chris Singleton are a sign of a new era of Washington Wizards basketball on the horizon.

This franchise is in the midst of a culture change, this goes far beyond just the rebranding of the Wizards with their red, white and blue color scheme as well. Finally, it appears as if the players who did not want to buy into the idea of putting the team first and having your own individual merits come as a result of team success have been shipped out of town. We need to infuse this roster with players who come from success and deem that as the most important thing, Chris Singleton has proven to me he is cut from that exact cloth. I can only hope the team-first attitude Singleton has displayed both on and off the court in his rookie campaign is infectious throughout that locker room and I have no reason to believe it won’t be.

Singleton has stated that he will be a part of the Wizards Summer League team that will travel to Las Vegas, NV later this summer. He also will be returning to Florida State University this summer to complete his degree in hospitality and is only a few credits away from gaining a degree in social sciences as well.

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By: Willis

0 With the NBA draft coming up, it’s not a bad idea to get some insight into what the Wizards could potentially do. DraftExpress and NBADraft.net happen to have some of the most comprehensive and accurate draft coverage. One of these two has a player I do NOT want the Wizards taking.

0 Let’s give a hat’s off to Mr. John Wall for nabbing a spot on the USA Men’s Select Team roster. If past is prologue, then John Wall is going to bring some magic to the Wizards next year; Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, and Kevin Love all benefited a ton from that experience. (WUSA9)

0 Georgetown landed yet another money recruit for the 2013 season in Stephen Domingo (which happens to be a very swaggerific nombre). The 6’7 wing should see playing time very quickly.

0 Speaking of Hoyas recruiting: If Devonta Pollard, one of the only unsigned top recruits of 2012, reads BleacherReport, then Georgetown can lock him up for a season or two!

0 This is an overlooked little tidbit, but Mark Turgeon and the Terps scooped up a transfer player from Albany. This move is going to help out a ton in bolstering that depleted backcourt.

0 It isn’t basketball, but it does involve a ball and is awesome news for Maryland, so let’s give it up for the Maryland Men’s Lacrosse team! They have, for the second straight year, advanced to the Final Four after upsetting top ranked Hopkins. Turtle Power!

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