Monthly Archives: July 2012
Yesterday, there were news reports of Nene complaining about his lingering plantar fasciitis (the same one that plagued him all of last season), which gave Wizards fans a pause.
Considering the amount of money we owe this guy over the next few seasons, it is disheartening to learn that he may have to miss extended periods of time during the regular season. That kind of roster instability is never typically good for a team. Temporarily, good teams can overcome such injuries, as they typically have more depth on their rosters. But not for long. Look at Memphis last season, who lost Zach Randolph early in the year and had to play Marresse Speights. While they were fine for awhile, it began to wear on them and when Zach Randolph returned there was an adjustment period that they never fully figured out.
With the Wizards, there are two players on the roster who are prone to injury in Nene and Emeka Okafor. Luckily, the Wizards have a loaded front court; I don’t mean to say they have an incredibly talented front court, but that they have a lot of potential there. The Wizards can sub in Seraphin for Nene if he goes down any time, and if his play last year is any indication of how good he can be, the drop off will be only marginally felt. With Okafor, the Wizards would have to go small if there were an injury. If both of them go out, then we’re essentially playing with last years roster towards the end of the season. With that being the case, it’s worth looking in depth at what the Wizards most effective starting five were last season.
The only rules I’ve placed on this are that JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche are excluded—they’re not with the team anymore.
The Best of the Best
92.8 Minutes Played
4-0 Win-Loss Record
(I’m sure people are wondering about that Win-Loss record, and I’d be glad to explain it. Wins are defined as the number of games a unit outscored their opponent while on the court; losses are the inverse, with the number of times a unit was outscored over the course of a game while on the court.)
Back to this lineup: this was by far the Wizards most effective five man unit (without considering McGee and Young). They played the sixth most minutes of any lineup, and the results were better than anything else Washington threw out there. It’s a perfect example of the Nene effect.
With this five man unit, the Wizards outscored their opponent every time they were on the court (giving them a 4-0 record in that regard). The main reason is the Nene suddenly became the best jump shooter on the roster once he came to the Wizards. This unit displayed a 10% decrease in close range shots while they were on the floor from the most used unit (38% to 28%).
It wasn’t just Nene, however, as Booker showed off a newly found ability to hit set shots while on the floor as well. The spacing they created by knocking down fundamentally sound 15 footers changed the entire dynamic of the offense. With Wall able to drive against defenders who were on their heels wary of jump shooting big men, the paint softened a little and made his life a whole lot easier. This says nothing about Nene’s ability to pass, which makes him yet another person who can keep the ball moving to other players and force defenses to move around.
The other reason this unit excelled was because they could actually rebound (a huge fault of last years team). In fact, of the top 10 units played, their 53% rebounding mark (based on chances for rebounds) was the best the Wizards had to offer. This doesn’t surprise me much, given how often Trevor Booker was able to extend possessions on the offensive end of the court last season. He may be small, but Booker was arguably our best rebounding forward last season. He doesn’t do anything extra special; his positioning is so-so and his length is abysmal. He really just hustles and always works hard while he is on the court. Simple stuff that pays off. That is not to discredit Nene, though, who had some very solid rebounding games with the Wizards last year during his short stint. Either way, 53%, while great by our standards, still is not that impressive.
Since all of these players are hustle guys, the end result is that they held opponents to a poor 42% shooting from the field. All of these guys are individuals who try very hard on the defensive end, and that number reflects that. Nene, at the center position, provides a very strong anchor who is not going to be bullied in the paint. Combined with his help defense, this rotation made the Wizards a (dare I say it) formidable foe. Not to mention that this lineup provided enough scoring to allow Singleton to do what he does best, which is key in on wing defenders and stop the ball in man-to-man offense. He wasn’t asked to score, which he really should never be asked to do in the first place.
199 Minutes Played
10-10 W-L Record
Surprisingly enough, this combination of players is the one the Wizards trotted out the second most last season. Even more surprisingly is that they weren’t half bad as a unit either.
Knowing that, their 10-10 record is slightly impressive. That’s .500 basketball, boys! Let’s overlook the fact that with that lineup, the Wizards looked like the most one dimensional offensive team on the court at all times. No jump shooters to be found, with the best one being Jordan Crawford (who percentage wise is an awful jump shooter). Every single player on the floor is virtually incapable of scoring effectively from outside of 10 ft–and that’s being generous. So why, then, were they a formidable opponent?
It’s simple, really. They may not have been able to shoot that well, but that lineup was freaky athletic. When Seraphin mans the center position, he is almost always undersized. But what he gives up in size, he makes up for in quickness and athleticism. Vesely is similar in that he didn’t have a lot of skill last season, but he hustled a lot and his length bothers anyone he plays against. He can stay in front of opponents and contest shots.
Not to mention that all of the players know what they are good at and stick to it: close to the basket, high percentage shots. Of the top 20 lineups the Wizards trotted out last season, only 5 had a better FG% than this one had at 45.6%. Vesely dunks, Seraphin bangs down low, Wall drives, Singleton doesn’t shoot (the most effective shot for him sometimes), and Crawford provides the inconsistent jumper from everywhere else/fastbreak points. That’s it, really.
If this lineup had a better shooter *cough* Bradley Beal *cough* they might actually prove to be a formidable opponent. The shooting was this lineups problem because they were prone to droughts in scoring due to teams keying in on the paint. That’s part of the reason why they were -18 in net points scored.
The Potential Unit
33.9 Minutes Played
2-1 Win Loss Record
I know, this five man unit only played about 34 minutes, but when you hear about how successful they were on the court it is definitely an encouraging sign. The lineup consists of the majority of the young core of players the Wizards want to build around, and they performed admirably in their limited minutes.
In terms of scoring while on the court, they finished +17 overall against their opponents. Again, this goes back to the balance between skill sets that these players have. Cartier Martin provides a much better deep threat than most players on the roster, and his ability to consistently hit three point shots created a similar spacing effect to Nene. It is a noticeable trend on this team that Wall performs his best when there is at least one Wizards player able to stretch the defense on the court. No shock, there anyway. With this sort of in and out balance of basketball, the Wizards again shot 8% less from in close than their most used unit (37% to 29%). I shudder imagining what Bradley Beal could bring to this rotation if they moved Martin to the three and played Beal at the two.
What they really did well, however, is lock down opponents defensively, which lends credence to the belief that Seraphin is actually an effective defensive player. In their small amount of minutes, they actually held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage of any unit at 36%. It’s a minuscule sample size, but since we’re going off potential I love this unit. The entire unit has solid size at every position except for center, and there really aren’t that many good centers around to dominate Seraphin. The end result is that, at the very least, the Wizards weren’t undersized. It allowed them to split ~50/50 on rebounds.
If we’re judging units on potential, I feel pretty darn confident if the Wizards are forced to play with these young guys (assuming they improve in the offseason). Add in Bradley Beal to this youth group, and the Wizards are looking pretty solid next season.
The conclusion I drew from this is that Washington can overcome a Nene injury. Heck, they can probably even overcome an Okafor injury at the same time. Their young rotations show potential, and as long as there is a proper balance on the court, Washington should be okay. That being said, the Wizards need Nene in order to be a complete team, and he will become an integral part of the future as long as he is healthy.
Former Georgetown Hoyas guard Jason Clark has signed his first professional basketball contract. Clark will begin his career with Generali Okapi Aalstar of the Belgium-Ethias league.
After averaging 14 points and 4 assists during his senior season with the Hoyas the All-Big East selection went undrafted. Clark received an invitation to join the Miami Heat summer league roster in Las Vegas where he averaged 3.5 PPG and 1.8 RPG in four games played.
Clark joins fellow former American college players Noah Hartsock (BYU), Derek Raivio (Gonzaga) and Alex Ruoff (West Virginia) on Okapi Aalstar’s roster. Couldn’t be happier that Jason will have the opportunity to continue his basketball career as a professional. I know I speak for everyone at The DC Dime in wishing him nothing but the best going forward.
The Northwest division has seen a lot of activity this offseason, with the division’s bottom feeders making a multitude of moves in hopes of catching up with the cream-of-the-crop. Last year’s champs and NBA runner-up, Oklahoma City, returns their entire core and added a few interesting pieces through free agency and the draft. The deep but star-less Nuggets will also be trotting out a very similar roster as last year. But the Blazers, Wolves, and Jazz all saw some drastic changes to their rosters. In fact, the Blazers and Wolves engaged in one of the offseason’s more interesting story-lines as they bid for young, versatile Frenchman Nicolas Batum. There were rumors circling this particular negation that it may be personal between Wolves GM David Kahn and Blazers owner Paul Allen, as Allen had previously dealt the Wolves damaged goods in the form of Martell Webster a few years back. Allen ultimately decided to match the offer-sheet and keep Batum in Portland, but only after agreeing to pay a steep salary increase. There are plenty of intriguing story-lines in the division, and I expect it to play out as one of the more competitive in the league next season. Without further ado, a deeper look into the activity in the Northwest division.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1st Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Hollis Thompson
Players Lost: Royal Ivey
The Dime: Fresh off a terrific season and a trip to the NBA finals, OKC was able to make a big splash in the draft. As uber-talented, but enigmatic Perry Jones III slid down the draft board, my fellow Dimer Mr. Bohlin and I were fervently sending messages back and forth hoping the Wiz would find a way to trade up into the bottom half of the draft for him. However, Sam Presti burst our bubble by selecting the Baylor forward. I think is a terrific fit for the Thunder as he is able to defend multiple positions and can get up and down the floor (the trend in the NBA is moving toward very versatile, very athletic wings) and he will be able to play a role but will not be expected to be a star, which we all expected from him at Baylor and why his short career was so disappointing. The GM also added UCONN bust Hasheem Thabeet (his track record is terrific, makes it tougher to doubt him on this pick-up) and former-Georgetown sharp-shooter Hollis Thompson. The rest of the crew is expected to be back next year, when Presti will be faced with much tougher situations when extensions for rising starts James Harden and Serge Ibaka will be due. If they are able to secure one, or both, of these players to remain alongside KD and Russell Westbrook than the Thunder will be poised to continue making deep runs in the playoffs for years to come. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder are tempted at the trade deadline this year to move either of these rising starts to ensure they can get assets in return, but I have my doubts they’d be willing to do this as they are primed for a title run next year.
Denver Nuggets (2nd Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller, Anthony Randolph
Players Lost: Chris “Birdman” Anderson
The Dime: The Nuggets are one of the NBA’s most cohesive and well coached teams. Their performance on the floor always seems to exceed the expectations that their level of talent suggest is possible. Their team lacks an identifiable star or even a clear cut best player, but their free-wheeling, up-and-down style of play gives teams fits in the Denver altitude. It has been an interesting off-season in the Mile-High City. Fan-favorite Birdman has been told thanks, but no thanks, and received the amnesty ax. They signed former Wizard headache Javale McGee to a ridiculous 4 year $44 million contract. They drafted one of the few international players in this year’s draft, 3-point shooting Frenchman Evan Fournier (I’m never a huge supporter of drafting internationals). George Karl will again have his hands full figuring out how to balance the minutes of this talented and deep Nuggets roster. I will be interested to continue to watch the emergence of DC-native Ty Lawson (did you see how he fried the Lakers??!!) this year and see if he is able to make the next step in his development. A trendy pick for playoff success last year, I think that this is the year the balanced Nuggets will break through and make some noise come playoff time.
Utah Jazz (3rd Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Shan Foster, Randy Foye, Mo Williams, Marvin Williams
Players Lost: Devin Harris
The Dime: The Utah Jazz have an incredibly talented front-court. With Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Paul Millsap the Jazz can score in the paint, bang on the boards, and defend the rim with the best in the West. However, it’s their back-court that’s needed upgrading since Deron Williams forced himself out of town. This offseason the Jazz tried to address those needs, by adding two former Clippers, Mo Williams and Randy Foye, as well as selecting Shan Foster in the draft. Although these players are talented, I do not think the Jazz have the guard play necessary to really make a move up the standings. Although they can be a tough match-up for anyone because of their size, the Jazz are moving against the NBA-trend of getting smaller and more athletic, a culture move I believe will keep their tires spinning but not moving forward.
Portland Trailblazers (4th Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Sasha Pavlovic, Will Barton, Dan Gadzuric, Ronnie Price, Jared Jefferies
Players Lost: Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jonny Flynn, Joel Pryzbilla, Hasheem Thabeet, Jamal Crawford, Elliot Williams
The Dime: The Blazers have had one of the league’s most dramatic facelifts since season end, adding 7 new players to their roster of 15 this offseason. The “star” of the bunch is first-round pick Damian Lillard out of Weber St. This kid is going to be a player without question, and if the summer league is any indication, we can expect him and LaMarcus Aldridge to be a dangerous pick-and-roll/pop tandem. The Blazers also added former- Illinois 7-footer Meyers Leonard, hoping they can buck the trend of their drafted big-men having health issues. Although highly skilled, I personally don’t see Leonard being an impact pro. I really liked their selection of Will Barton, a slashing scorer from Memphis who will be able to provide some energy and athleticism off their bench. Their biggest offseason headline has to be their bidding war with David Kahn and the Wolves for the young and talented Nicolas Batum. Signed to a $46 million offer-sheet in Minnesota, the Blazers decided to match the offer for the versatile French swingman. Don’t get me wrong, Batum is a terrific player and can be an important piece for a winning team, but he can never be THE piece for a winner. He will be expected to really up his production from last year and provide a complement to their All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. I will be watching closely to see if Batum is up to the challenge.
Minnesota Timberwolves (5th Place 2011-2012)
Players Added: Dante Cunningham, Andrei Kirilenko (Pictured above), Robbie Hummel, Chase Buddinger
Players Lost: Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, Anthony Randolph, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver
The Dime: The Wolves were one of the NBA’s most exiting teams last year with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, quickly becoming a must-see game. Exciting or not, they still finished in dead last in their division. Kevin Love has already come out and said he does not want to play for a bottom-feeder, which means the time is now for the Wolves to return to the winning ways they haven’t seen since KG was the “Big Ticket” in Minneapolis. This offseason was intriguing for the Wolves, and I really liked the moves the notorious David Kahn made (first time that sentence has EVER been muttered about Kahn’s decisions as GM). His pursuit of Batum, although they did not land him, made basketball sense (SF is their biggest need and Batum is an athletic small forward, who can defend, rebound, and shoot the three). They added Chase Buddigner to help provide some offensive fire-power and further stretch the floor, and brought back Andrei Kirilenko to the NBA after a year’s hiatus in Europe. Their recent trade for my former teammate Dante Cunningham provides some additional inside depth. With Rubio returning from last season’s knee injury, the Wolves believe they are poised to improve on their performance from last season and make a push for the playoffs in the next two seasons.
According to an Olympic blog report by Rick Maese of the Washington Post it appears as if the injury that sidelined Wizards PF/C Nene during the end of the 2011-2012 regular season has reared its ugly head again.
“Nene walked with a slight
limp after the game. The
plantar fasciitis that bothered
him at times last season has
flared up, he said.
“When the ball goes up, I
forget about that, though,”
After Brazil’s opening round win against Australia Nene made those comments. This would explain more why Nene was coming off the bench for the Brazilian national team thus far. While it is admirable that Nene is not letting the nagging injury effect his efforts to represent his country it is the last thing Wizards fans want to hear.
With the acquisitions of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza the Wizards had finally assembled a front court they were confident could compete. This particular re-occurrence shouldn’t be anything that effects Nene long term but it would be nice for him to be as close to 100% as possible come training camp.
The London 2012 Olympics have been a treat to watch for DMV fans, thanks in large part to a group of stars who are either from or have played in the area being featured in prominent roles. There is of course Michael Phelps, the Baltimore native who has racked up more medals than a junk yard magnet. But there are also a lot of basketball players who are performing admirably in the Olympics, particularly from the Maryland end of things. No, they aren’t playing for Team USA, but there is no shame in representing one’s original, not adopted, home country.
While Ikene Ibekwe received the unfortunate DNP for Nigeria’s opening 60-56 win over Tunisia, at least we can claim him as a Terp! Ibekwe was out for an undisclosed reason, but the sole fact that he got to participate in Nigeria’s first ever win at the Olympics as a country is something he will never forget. It is likely to be a monumental moment in his lifetime, and moments like that is something that can be universally related to.
As an aside, his Nigerian team is actually pretty loaded up with NBA/fringe NBA level talent. Al Farouq Aminu, the one and done from Georgia Tech who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, Ike Diogu, Tony Skinn of George Mason, and Olumide Oyedeji all play significant roles on this team. It’s no wonder Ibekwe wasn’t playing, despite dominating in 2006 at the FIBA Championships. This team might end up surprising some people with their athleticism and fundamental play. No, they can’t really hit shots, but they play stingy defense and that can certainly help.
Another former Terrapin, Sarunas Jasikevicius, is playing fairly well for his home country Lithuania. Around international circles, Jasikevicius is known as one of the most accomplished players in the game. While he’s getting a little long in the tooth at 36 years of age, Jasikevicius can still handle the rock a bit. In his county’s opening round loss to powerhouse Argentina 102-79, Jasikevicius put up 6 points and 4 assists in 20 minutes of play. He turned the ball over four times, but Carlos Delfino (the man he was “checking” on defense) had one helluva game, so that isn’t the norm. Hopefully we can see some better play from him than a 2-6 shooting performance.
The Wizards are actually getting a lot of Olympic love with both Nene and Seraphin playing one games apiece for Brazil and France, respectively. Nene came off the bench in favor of Tiago Splitter/Anderson Varejao against Australia, logging 21 minutes in a gritty 75-71 victory. From the bit that I got to watch, Nene displayed some deft defensive skills, grabbing 7 rebounds and turning away 2 shots. On the offensive end, he was 3-of-5 from the field, finishing with 8 points total.
Meanwhile, Kevin Seraphin struggled against incumbent gold medal winners Team USA mightily. He got in early foul trouble, and didn’t provide much benefit thereafter in about 9 minutes of play. Seraphin finished the game with 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting, and has to be disappointed. The athleticism and small ball style of Team USA may have flustered him and forced him to play more cautious, but I expected much more.
The Dime will be keeping you updated on all of their progress as the Olympics continue. Nigeria, Brazil and France both play (not against one another) tomorrow, so be sure to check out a loaded basketball schedule.
It was announced yesterday that the Georgetown Hoyas will face off against the UCLA Bruins in this years Legends Classic. The winner of this match up will go on to face the Georgia versus Indiana winner (Indiana) in the championship game. These games will take place and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on November 19th and November 20th.
Indiana, led by Cody Zeller, and UCLA, with incoming star freshman Shabazz Muhammad, have risen back to their prominent places in the college basketball world after a slight fall from glory. It will be interesting to see how the Hoyas match up against the Bruins on the 19th. If Stephen Domingo and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera are as good as advertised the crowd at Barclays and the viewing public on ESPN2 will be in for a real treat.
If last night is any indicator, the Harrison twins are going to ball out wherever they decide to make their college homes. Hopefully that’s at Maryland, the home of Under Armor (I hope they’re reading that last part).
In a game that was televised on ESPNU Andrew and Aaron Harrison, the twin 5-star recruits for the class of 2013, along with the Houston defenders blew out local Boo Williams AAU team 73-54. For the vast majority of the game, the Defenders led by about 20 points, due in large part to the phenomenal play of the twins they have on their team attacking at will.
Whenever you can make another top 25 recruit look pedestrian, you know it’s a very good sign of things to come. That’s exactly what Andrew Harrison did last night against Hampton, Va. native Anthony Barber. While Barber played commendably, Andrew just seemed too strong and too quick for him to stay in front of. Often times, Andrew’s quick crossover caused Barber fits, and he drove to the rack and finished strong. Other times, same outcome except the play ended in a drained three pointer by his brother Aaron or an alley oop dunk.
Whereas Andrew showed everyone the reason why he is the point guard, Aaron displayed just how effective a tandem those two can be with his scoring. Aaron put the ball in the basket just about every way possible. On a contested three, he showed off his smooth stroke from the top of the three point line. And don’t leave him open in the corner, where he is prone to hang around, because Aaron is absolutely deadly from there, too. It is what makes these two so coveted; you have to keep them both in check at all times, and that’s not easy.
It’s not easy because the twins stand particularly stout in comparison to their counterparts on the opposing team. At 6’5 1/2, 210 pounds each they both look like shooting guards, except that their handles allow them to alternate between the one and two. Using their big bodies to overpower defenders is a staple of their game, and presuming they get any stronger before college it is going to be incredibly tough to stop at the next level.
Even though Andrew is considered the primary ball handler, Aaron is more than capable of picking up the slack. The two play basically the same game, and can alternate at any time. Their coaching is the only reason the two have set roles, and any college coach could utilize them at either position. Andrew has the same range, but he does not look for his shot as often. Aaron can bring the ball up court just fine too, but he does not have to often.
Either way, on the big time stage both players impressed and gave Terrapins fans a reason to salivate at the thought of them leading the charge in 2013. With both Mark Turgeon and Kentucky coach front and center, I would assume the two got some serious recruiting pitches last night simply by the two’s presence. It’s a package deal, too, so you can’t have one without the other. Essentially, when the two announce (via Instagram) in September, it’s going to be all or nothing for Maryland or Kentucky. That decision may be par for the course for Kentucky, but it would truly change the tides of Maryland basketball, priming them to become a powerhouse for at least two seasons.
Here’s hoping that Turgeon gave them some free shoes!
Nothing like some early morning Wizards news! As reported by Hoopshype.com the agent for Steven Gray has confirmed that his client has received an invitation to the Washington Wizards’ training camp. In three games played with the Wizards in Vegas Gray averaged 7.3 PPG on 50% shooting.
Gray is the first member of this years summer league roster to earn an invite to training camp. The Wizards currently have 13 players signed for next season with two more slots open before reaching the 15 player roster limit.
Updating our previous post on the Georgetown Hoyas match up against the Florida Gators on November 9th, we now know which naval ship will be playing host to these teams.
It was announced today that these two teams will square off on the USS Bataan. Fun fact, this particular naval ship played a vital role in humanitarian relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as well as in Haiti after the earthquake that hit there in 2010.
For those of you who will be lucky enough to attend this game. The Florida Times-Union reports that information regarding tickets, pregame activities and seating will be announced by the Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Department in the near future.
By: Bohlin and Willis
The Washington Wizards made a move for a backup point guard today in signing free agent A.J. Price to a contract. This is a move that surely will appease the fan base as they have been voicing their opinion for an upgrade at that position. As always, The DC Dime is here to offer our opinions in a section we call the Pick and Pop.
1) Feelings on A.J. Price signing?
Bohlin: As I noted here I have been sold on signing A.J. Price to fill this backup point guard role well before the news broke this morning.
Price has an unbelievable story which helps me feel as strongly about this signing as I do. There has been an immense amount of adversity in his life and the fact he overcame said odds and has thrived says a lot about him as a person. A life-threatening bout with AVM (Arteriovenous malformation) that caused bleeding in his brain forced Price to miss his entire freshman season at UConn. Price underwent radio-surgery treatment in 2005 and spent a total of 14 months recovering before finally being cleared by his doctors.
Despite beating the disease, things got ugly for Price. In August of 2005 Price, and former UConn Huskie Marcus Williams, were arrested for attempting to sell stolen laptops. As a result of this arrest, Price was barred from attending classes during the Fall 2005 semester. Instead of falling off into oblivion Price worked to get back into school and ended up being a three-year starter for Jim Calhoun.
During 2008-2009, Price’s senior season at UConn, he was the Huskies leading scorer averaging a shade under 15 PPG. He also was an intricate part of UConn’s Final Four run, being named Most Outstanding Player in the West Regional.
A second round pick (#52) by the Indiana Pacers in 2009, Price has had trouble finding solid minutes during his professional career. In Indiana there seemed to be a revolving door of point guards that would be brought in over him (Earl Watson, Darren Collison, George Hill, Leandro Barbosa and most recently D.J. Augustin).
Despite being constantly passed over for his opportunity Price continued to work and proved to be a reliable option as a backup PG for the Pacers. The Indiana Pacers blog on the SB Nation network referred to Price as “their security blanket point guard and a locker room favorite.” For a team in desperate need of a reliable option at backup PG, this description is more than fine for me to be happy with this acquisition.
Willis: While I do love me some back story, especially when it involves one of my favorite college players of all time in Marcus Williams, I am pretty ho-hum about this signing. While Price obviously has the intangibles that would suggest he is wise beyond his years, I’m not sure he was the man for the job of backup point guard. I would have liked the Wizards to pick up someone who has been in the league longer than three years (or one year longer than John Wall). He is a veteran with playoff experience, sure, but he played scant minutes and didn’t perform admirably during the times he was on the court.
Worse still, I’m not sure he solves any of those Wizards issues on the court. His stats suggest that he is inept at stretching the floor with a long range shot, which is really something that Washington still needs. The Wizards basically just put a body in place by not being active earlier in the offseason. I’m not convinced that Price is going to provide a tangible benefit with his playing ability. I don’t even know if he can play alongside John Wall considering neither of them can shoot very well, which means that he is not going to be able to play solid minutes and add versatility to Washington.
2) Is Price an upgrade…Or lateral move?
Bohlin: Absolutely an upgrade. Despite being a great college PG at Butler University I just haven’t seen what I’d hoped out of Shelvin Mack to feel comfortable with him being the one to spell John Wall going forward. To make matters worse for Mack he was far from inspiring while a part of the Wizards Vegas Summer League team. His performance in Sin City certainly helped in the decision to bring Price to the district.
Price, to this point in his career, has more than proven he is a reliable backup PG who can come in and run the offense effectively with the second unit. When given the opportunity to get rotation
minutes, Price is a more than capable point guard for a competitive NBA team. He averaged 6 PPG and a shade under 3 APG during a 16 game stretch last season where he earned 18 minutes per game for the Pacers.
Willis: He’s an upgrade, but barely. Even of that I’m not entirely sure, but it’s hard to believe that any player can be a whole lot worse than Shelvin Mack. In Price, the Wizards get a guy who knows how to distribute the ball well despite being inept at shooting. I think his ability to get around defenders is going to be a major upgrade over the cement footed Mack, and he should be able to set up Beal or Crawford for a potentially explosive second unit. That is going to be much needed, because I think Beal, at least, needs to play alongside a guy who can create some space for him to get that slow release shot off. If we throw in a few lobs or open jumpers by a now improved Vesely, the Wizards may in fact be upgraded.
Interesting to note about Price: He has over a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio even in diluted playing time. That’s a good thing for the Wizards, because it means even though he wasn’t playing a lot, he still wasn’t trying to “get his” while he was on the court. I think, at the very least, Washington made an upgrade in the fluidity of their second unit. Hopefully this means that if Mack does get minutes, he can play at a position better suited for him as a severely undersized two. Of course, if Washington blows it on this signing, then it means there are literally no jump shooters outside of Beal on the entire team. The end result could be just as disastrous as last year, and that is not what the Wizards want.
So can this potentially work? Yes. Can this potentially be a disaster? You bet. I would have rather Washington added a much better shooter than Price (even if he isn’t a point guard) because I think Crawford or Beal could be the primary ball handler on those teams. But, whatever. You take what you can get, and this is who we got.
3) Biggest remaining need for the Wizards?
Bohlin: This may sound like a cop out answer to this question but in my opinion the biggest remaining need for the Wizards would simply be cohesion.
In one and three quarters of a season this roster has been completely flipped. Our longest tenured players are John Wall, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker…also known as the 2010 draft class. Ernie Grunfeld brought in some veterans to help John Wall continue to grow into the star many believe he can ultimately be. However, the fact remains he will have played a total of 11 games with the rest of the Wizards projected starting lineup of Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and, of course, Nene. The more comfortable Wall can become playing alongside this group the better the Wizards will be next season.
Bringing in a veteran, albeit still young at only 25, backup PG will do nothing but help the second unit that presumably will be led by Kevin Seraphin as well. Price has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to receive steady minutes and that is what he will receive in D.C. If Price can come in and be the floor general for the second unit, mostly made up of last seasons starting lineup, like I think he is capable of the Wizards will be a vastly improved team going into the 2012-2013 campaign.
Willis: Ernie, come on man, the Wizards still cannot shoot! Just because you drafted one guy who can hit shots in Beal (and I’m still not sure he can do it at an incredibly high rate) does not mean Washington is that much improved from last year. Sure, everything is revamped now and players are going to get better, but who in the world stretches the floor for us? Chris Singleton? Yeah, have fun with that. Nene is not a stretch four and neither is Seraphin. That means the Wizards now have the following players who have to score from inside the paint: Nene, Seraphin, Wall, Crawford, Okafor, Booker, Ariza (if he can score at all), Vesely, Mack, and Singleton. From the perimeter? Cartier Martin and Beal (we hope). Yeah, safe to say this team is one dimensional.
I’m not sure where we have room for it, but a stretch three or four would be the next biggest need now. Or a stretch two, or a stretch one, or a stretch five. Any able bodied individual who can hit a jump shot consistently. Anything! I’d be okay with signing the most one dimensional player ever who can only hit shots. Unfortunately I think in order to get someone like this on our team to play solid minutes, someone else has to be shipped out. I don’t think Ernie is going to want to do that, though.
So yeah, we need more shooters but we don’t have room for them. A year to grow is going to help, too. I think with this much roster turnover the Wizards also need one thing: time. Who knows how effective this unit can be and who could become a breakout player (or shooter); It’s mostly a wait and see deal. Until then, I think Washington has to stay put.