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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

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7:24 – Finally checking in to Wizards-Lakers after my seat was given away. No worries because now I’m sitting in Dave McMenamin’s seat (ESPNLA). Guess he decided the Lakers were small potatoes now.

7:24 – As always, there are significantly more Lakers fans here than, well, anyone. They’re still an absolutely massive draw for being one of the more mediocre teams in the NBA.

7:24 – 15-6 heading into the Chipotle Burrito Dash, Wizards are down. This place is unquestionably a Lakers home game, unless the Wizards decided to change their uniforms to purple and gold. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea; change your jerseys every time you play a really good team that travels well, so it seems like a home game! I’m onto something…

7:30 – I found myself thinking “Oh man, Bradley Beal is going to have a hard time covering Kobe Bryant tonight!” Then I realized, everyone has a hard time covering Kobe. Bradley Beal could tie his shoes the entire game and it will still have no effect on whether or not Kobe hits shots. He’s either going to or he isn’t. There are very few people who can keep the ball from Kobe. Beal’s best bet might just be letting Kobe get his while playing so-so defense, and saving his energy for the offensive end.

7:35 – Robert Sacre just jammed on everyone down low, which brings to my mind how many Robert Sacre gifs are going to be created tonight? He is, after all, the NBA’s biggest peer leader

7:40 – Start of the second quarter, Wizards down two points. Then Cartier hits a three pointer as I type this and Washington has their first lead of the game. Then he gets a steal on the ensuing possession and converts an and-one! Wizards up 3 points with a chance to make it four!

7:45 – Well, that was impressive. Cartier Martin just scored six straight points in about 55 seconds and now the Wizards have a six point lead. It happened so fast, but it’s something that could spark the Wizards. They’re turning it over like crazy. As I get the first quarter stats I can confirm that – nine first quarter turnovers. WOW

7:52 – Cartier Martin has essentially all the Wizards points in the second quarter, thanks to three 3 pointers and a three point play. The guy is a machine. He’s also a cornball brother, according to Rob Parker.

8 PM – Four minutes left in the second quarter, and the Wizards are up against the LAKERS!…..Granted, this isn’t nearly the same rendition of the Lakers that we’re accustomed to seeing, they still have more talent than the Wizards do with Kobe and Dwight alone. Fortunately for Washington, they’re a Courtney Love-style mess

8:01 PM And Jodie Mees now has 14 points on basically all three pointers, which has completely negated Cartier Martin’s effect on the game. Which brings me to my other point: WHY DIDN’T THE WIZARDS SIGN JODIE MEEKS IN THE OFFSEASON?! He’s young, he does what Cartier does only better, and he could have been a building block. He is one of those guys I feel will explode once he gets the chance to do it. Backing up Kobe doesn’t really give you that opportunity, but Meeks is a baller make no mistake about it. His Kentucky days are behind him, but I’ll never forget how dominant he was.

8:08 PM – It’s halftime for the Wizards, who are down 58-55 after grabbing a 10 point lead and diminishing it by not guarding Jodie Meeks. I’m not sure what to expect at this point. The Lakers are terrible at defense, but the Wizards are, by design, terrible at defense. Which one is going to break first? I’ll tell you what, if the Lakers keep hitting like 50% of their shots, there won’t be a whole lot of winning going on.

8:27 PM – Emeka Okafor is an absolutely horrible shooter, and TJ Simers of the L.A. Times left at halftime, citing “I’ve seen enough of this!” Great game we’ve got going on here.

8:33 PM – I completely forgot that Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor were drafted first and second overall. Whoever says that staying in college is better for your career is a fool. That one-year rule should be completely eradicated, it’s that stupid. Anthony Davis could have played in the NBA last year and done just as well as Dwight Howard would have. A year in college just crushes some senior’s dream when he has to face a future Hall of Famer. See: Carmelo Anthony

8:41 PM – Nene comes into the game with the Wizards down 71-64, let’s see how quickly Washington gets back in the game. The Nene effect is well documented: he goes into the game and the Wizard start to win again. Unfortunately he has three fouls, so that may be marginalized tonight.

8:47 PM – I just witnessed something incredibly weird. Martell Webster fouls Kobe on an alley oop, but still dunks the ball in for him. Then, when Kobe goes down and appears hurt, everyone just waits for him to get up. They literally paused and waited to make sure he was alright before continuing. Does any player presently in the game command that kind of attention and respect? Jesus. I know he’s the elder statesman of the game, but there is still basketball to be played.

8:55 PM – So far it’s been the Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin show. Each one was a free agent target for the Wizards last season, but Meeks said “Hell no!” to playing with the Wizards. Martin is battling to prove he’s just as valuable to the team, and I kinda believe him.

Meanwhile, the Wizards have gone on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 6 thanks in large part to a giant Martell Webster smash!

9:15 PM – Wizards are down 97-91 with 3:34 remaining and Dwight Howard at the line. You know this place is going crazy because if Howard misses both, the Wizards fans get a free Chik Fil A sandwich….so pathetic in a losing season; awesome in a winning season.

7:03 PM: The Wizards are about to tip off, and the Verizon Center would be wise to inject some noise into the arena, because you could hear a pin drop in here.

7:10 PM: Wizards play the Meow Mix theme song while introducing the Bobcats…they’ve gotta get creative to keep the fans attentive. I like where this is headed. Big Tigga just asked the fans to make some noise, and let me tell you there was NO noise. Every fan needs to be given a megaphone from this point on. Or they should raise the symbols on the court to give the Wizards an extra defensive advantage.

7:15 PM: Kemba Walker hits a step back jumper like he did in the Big East tournament a couple years ago. I can say I might be wrong about him becoming a competent player. He was talented in college, but I didn’t think he was tall enough or good enough of a shooter to become a starter in the league. Instead, he finds ways to get around people and plays the game smart. I still have my doubts about his longevity in the league, but for now I’m wrong.

7:20 PM: Wizards down 12-10 with 5:52 left in the first quarter. Thoughts so far? Everything the Wizards do is sloppy. Including the T-Shirt toss, which slung a shirt into a young fan’s face. #BecauseWizards

7:30 PM: Remember when Ben Gordon was on the Bulls? LOL. In other news, the Wizards

8:15 PM: The Washington Wizards lead at halftime 51-50, thanks in large part to six Wizards players being between six and nine points. It’s a back and forth game that is going to be decided in the last few seconds. I’m impressed with two things. The completely empty section in 315 providing a major morale boost, and Bradley Beal’s all around game. He has 4 rebounds and 4 assists in spite of seemingly disappearing the whole game. He impacts it in such an odd way. He has hit one shot, but he has seven points. It doesn’t feel like he’s done anything, but there he is doing the best in the box score of anyone. How? Touch passes to the right shooter at the right time. He holds onto the ball for less than a second before making a move to either A.) the rack or B) another man for an assist. Not a bad way to play.

Meanwhile, the second pick in last year’s draft has 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists but has three fouls. His impact has been negated due to those fouls, but boy is he active. You can always tell when he’s on the court, which is the exact opposite of Beal.

8:33 PM: Right after I say that MKG affects the game differently, we get a glimpse of it to start the second half. MKG glides in for a layup, steals the ball, then jams it all in about five seconds. Do Beal and Satoransky= MKG? Probably not…Sucks that we didn’t have the second pick.

Shaun Livingston Stroking J’s for the Wizards


The Teams
: Utah Jazz (4-6) vs Washington Wizards (0-7)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center. Washington, D.C.

TV, Radio: CSN (TV), 106.7 FM (Radio)

The Washington Wizards are at it again for the second straight year; that is, they are attempting to halt a seven game losing streak in hopes of not breaking the franchise record for consecutive losses to start the season. Tonight’s entree? The Utah Jazz (because that name makes a lot of sense), who are coming off a 99-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and have now lost two straight games. Fortunately for the Wizards, they make be in some luck tonight as the Jazz aren’t particularly good on the road, winning only one of seven games on the road this season (that one came against Toronto).

Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have been getting throttled at home and away, thanks in large part to slow starts and poor shooting everything play from their starters. Of course, things could very well get worse with the questionable health of starting point guard A.J. Price heading into this game. Price turned his ankle earlier in the week against the Mavericks, which forced the Wizards to go out and sign the beloved Shaun Livingston in hopes of getting some depth at the position. With John Wall out, Livingston could see quite a bit of minutes today against the Jazz.

Why you should watch: The Wizards should win tonight

Yes, if you have been following this blog for any amount of time this year, you will have realized that we have predicted this plenty of times this season…but this time we mean it! The Utah Jazz are terrible on the road, and the Wizards are going to benefit from that big time. The Jazz shoot 42% from the field and average a shade under 92 points per game on the road this year. Contrast that with the fact that, at home, they average 100.7 points per game, and you can see why the Wizards might have a chance. I’m not predicting that Jazz fans will travel well for this game, so there could very well be plenty of Wizards fans who will actually give them an advantage in their home arena.

Jordan Crawford is coming off a fantastic 21 point, 7 assist performance against the Mavericks that almost brought the Wizards back from a 15+ point deficit, and it looks like he may be the starting point guard today. Even if he is the starting shooting guard, he’ll be going against either Mo Williams or Gordon Hayward, neither of which are going to be remotely good at guarding him. Crawford has a good chance to go off tonight and will have ample opportunity to shoot, so I could easily see him getting hot and becoming a major factor in this game going the Wizards way.

Key Storylines and Questions

1.) Will the Wizards get off to a slow start again?
Washington has been pretty terrible in the first half this season against, well, anyone. Against the Mavericks, it was the 19 point first quarter that put them behind early. With the Bobcats, it was the 12 point second quarter that doomed them. Hopefully Randy Wittman didn’t forget to fill up the tank against the Jazz tonight, so the Wizards won’t have to go to the gas station (the bench) to get moving early. A solid first half will go a long way to securing a Wizards victory.

2.) Shaun Livingston 2.0
Shaun Livingston’s last game with the Washington Wizards was back in 2009 against Indiana, where he put up 10 points and 7 rebounds in a 98-97 victory. Let’s just hope he can provide that same kind of boost this go ’round, because the Wizards are barren at the point guard position right now. He won’t provide the same boost from the three point line as A.J. Price has kind of done this year, but his passing ability may be much needed. That is, if he is any bit of the player the Wizards had a crush on a few years ago. The Wizards victory hinges on whether or not he is in shape enough to play solid minutes, and if he can dish the ball out to scorers like Beal and, believe it or not, Martell Webster (who can actually hit open shots).

Prediction: Wizards win this one by hitting a lot of their shots (which aren’t tons of three pointers) and minimizing turnovers.
101-97 Washington

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Perhaps it was the 31 attempted three pointers against the Charlotte Bobcats that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Correction: it was the 31 attempted three pointers that doomed the Wizards during last night’s 92-76 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Wizards have now lost their first six games of the season for the second straight year, and things simply do not appear to be going their way. The starters could do no right tonight and were completely out played by the Bobcats, shooting 15-of-43 from the field. For those doing math at home, that comes out to 35%, a number which was only slightly higher than the team’s 30% shooting from the field.

It’s not hard to figure out why the Wizards lost this game when you look at how badly they were dominated in almost every way. Starting with the turnovers, of which the Wizards had 17. The Bobcats played fantastic defense all night, which may or may not have something to do with the added intensity that #2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table. Jordan Crawford led the charge on the turnover front, committing five of those deadly basketball sins in his 21 minutes of play off the bench. Careless ball handling and errant passes were abound in this game, but those would be excusable if the Wizards were shooting well. Unfortunately, they weren’t.

Which would lead us to yet another problem (and largely the main one) the Wizards had last night: their shot selection was absolutely atrocious. Since when did the Wizards become the Orlando Magic when they had Dwight Howard? The only person they added in the offseason who can supposedly shoot from long range is Bradley Beal, the rookie. And yet, he and newcomer A.J. Price managed to go 2-13 from long range, and in the process took a sledge hammer to numerous Wizards possessions that could have lasted longer had they not thrown up errant three pointers. The looks weren’t even good at times; these were contested shots that should have never been taken. The Wizards have a serious personnel crisis going on when Kevin Seraphin is the best shooter on the team. The return of Nene and Wall (whenever that is) is hardly going to be a massive difference if the current players can’t hit shots.

That being said, those two weren’t the only ones to blame for this disastrous effort, because the main culprit for taking very conspicuous shots was Trevor Ariza. Ariza decided yesterday was the day he was going to be aggressive and channel his Houston Rockets shot-jacking days, and threw up 18 unquestionably questionable shots, which equaled his shot total from the first three games he played as a Wizard combined. Maybe I am being hard on Ariza; after all, he was the only Wizards scorer in double-digits with 19 points. Then again, maybe I am not being hard enough on the Wizards coaching staff for allowing Ariza to even attempt that number of shots in the first place. A guy that hasn’t shot over 42% over the past three seasons is, simply put, not the guy you want taking the most shots of anyone in the game.

At the very least, that responsibility should have fallen to Bradley Beal, who cooled off considerably from his previous three days of scoring in the double digits. Beal finished the night on 1-of-11 shooting, and just looked to be forcing things out there far too often. I am not going to harp on Beal too much because he’s an incredibly young rookie who is improving game by game, but I will say that he didn’t help at all tonight. That being said, Beal has only missed one free throw on 22 attempts this year!

….so there’s that.

Back to Trevor Ariza. At this point in his career, Ariza is what he is: a so-so defender who is a role player at best. Sometimes role players carry you to victory, sure; I am not sure Ariza will ever carry this team to anything other than 0-7, 0-8, and 0-9. Or if he does continue to be more “dominant” during games, fans should expect the losses to keep piling up. He simply is not a player who the Wizards should rely on at any point in time for offensive output. But then again, they couldn’t rely on anyone tonight for offensive output.

About the only thing the Wizards got right this game? Rebounding. They equaled the rebounding efforts of Charlotte with 50 apiece, eighteen of which were offensive rebounds. I am pleased with that, but that is more a result of poor shooting from both teams, as 50 rebounds is a whole lot to have during a game. That’s what happens when neither team can break 40% shooting from the field. The Bobcats weren’t good today; the Wizards were just worse.

Either way, this team needs to tinker with some things, because the starting lineup is terrible. They get beaten by reserves consistently, which makes sense because Price, Beal, Booker, Ariza and Okafor (aka the entire starting lineup) would probably be bench players on most other teams. Maybe injecting Seraphin in over Booker would help. We started Singleton last year and appear to be on pace for zero wins, so why not add him in and resume playing like the team that won 20 games last year.

I am honestly speechless at the Washington Wizards for this stinker. They should have played better, and they didn’t. Time to move on.

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Alright, so the Washington Wizards lost a tough one against the Boston Celtics last night and now start the season 0-3 for the second straight year. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Obviously it would have been nice to begin the season on a strong note, but once again the Wizards accidentally put diesel fuel in their unleaded tank before to season, which means we can’t start the car until it goes it goes into the repair shop.

Yes, it was a painful 100-94 overtime loss, and one in which was in the Wizards reach the entire time, but it was far from a bad loss. There were definitively some positives attached to this one that the Wizards can hopefully use to build upon for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee to hopefully break this streak. The tendency after a loss is to look at all the negatives, and while I will chew out some of the Wizards here, I’m going to also take a look at a few of the good takeaways from this game.

1.) Statistically, the Washington Wizards are doing a lot of things right

Anytime you can stay on par with a team rebounding (44 for both teams), have about the same amount of assists (the Wizards had 25, the Celtics 26) and steals, and have more blocks, you really just can’t complain about effort levels. The Wizards are actually doing a decent job on the boards (save for the first game when Varejao grabbed more balls than a ballboy at Wimbeldon) and distributing the ball effectively in spite of not having their lead man, John Wall. Nene is unhealthy and Wall is out, yet the Wizards are not slipping too far.

When those guys return from injury, Washington will most assuredly improve in two categories and perhaps that will lead to a few more wins at the end of the day. Everyone is fighting for rebounds, and while Okafor has been downright awful so far for Washington (his worst game coming against Boston yesterday), I think he can improve in the long run with another power forward on the court like Nene who helps with rebounding.

2.) Bradley Beal showed signs of “getting it”

Yesterday, after hearing some grumblings of Beal crying after his second loss of the season, a lot of Wizards fans were ready to start ragging on the kid (on Twitter someone actually said, “He probably listens to a lot of Cher”) for being mentally soft. I didn’t exactly do that, as it is common knowledge that NBA players are, in fact, made of the same flesh and bone as the average Joe and I hate to break it to you, but everyone gets overly emotional sometimes. That being said, yesterday may have been an eye opener for Beal in terms of learning how to play shooting guard for the Wizards.

Beal scored a career high 16 points last night on 6-of-15 shooting from the field (3-of-8 from long range) and looked far, far more assertive than in his last two games. He was openly looking to shoot the ball, which is great because it is what he was brought in here to do. No, he’s not shooting 50% from the floor and his deep ball still needs some work, but last night was the first sign that Beal may actually be coming into his own as a player.

The good thing about Beal is that in other aspects of the game he is already getting it. His four rebounds and three assists are the second time this season Beal has had at least three rebounds and three assists in the same game. So he’s still figuring things out offensively as a young player, that’s fine. If he is actually contributing in other ways outside of just shooting the ball, I can live with that from a young guy.

3.) A.J. Price can’t always shoot, but he is filling in alright in other areas

The good thing about A.J. Price? He isn’t a shoot-first ask questions later type of point guard. Price isn’t a pure passer like Rondo, but he does try to get his teammates involved enough so that the offense isn’t stagnant. Price now has two games with 6 or more assists under his belt, and even though those numbers aren’t astronomical, I’m pleased with the results on that end. That number could be higher if Washington was capable of hitting shots on a more consistent basis, so it might actually get better the more he and the Wizards play. Not to mention the fact that Price has grabbed 4 and 5 rebounds in the last two games, which isn’t too shabby for a point guard.
The bad thing about A.J. Price? He shoots even though he can’t. Last night he shot 6-of-13 from the floor, which is his best on the season, but by and large Price has been a pretty poor shooter. On the season he has made 11-of-37 shots for 30% in total (ugh). The biggest problem with him is that he takes way too many three pointers for a guy who isn’t very good at shooting them. Price has attempted 22 three’s on the season, making only 30% of them. It might get better, but then it might get worse, too. His averages for his career would imply that he will not be effective at three pointers for the whole season. If he is launching early in the shot clock three pointers, the Wizards are going to have a hard time winning.

4.) The Wizards need to get to the line more often

This one is pretty simple. Last night, Washington only shot 7 free throws the entire game. It’s hard to win when your team isn’t taking advantage of free points. They benefit everyone by pacing the game, and can get opponents in foul trouble that can take them out of their comfort zone. The reason for the poor performance at getting to the line falls on a few players, but mainly Kevin Seraphin and Bradley Beal.

Beal should be getting to the line a whole lot more, honestly. It would improve his shooting numbers and make his life a whole lot easier by giving him more space. Creating contact is a learned skill, but it’s one in which Beal should learn quickly. He is athletic enough (I think) to get to the rack at will and his body is NBA ready to absorb that contact while staying healthy. It is just a matter of execution.

As for Seraphin, while I love his new found jump shot, I would also love if he used that soft touch down low to bang a little bit and force people to foul him. He could convert a lot of and-1′s that way, and get opposing big men off the floor quickly. His soft touch is dangerous from down low, and he should really keep improving as the season goes along at using it.

5.) Stop playing Ariza…

Sometimes you just want to sit Ariza down and say, “So what is it, exactly, that you do here?” I’m still trying to figure out what he does other than miss shots and supposedly play stingy defense. Last night’s 1-of-6 performance now brings his shooting percentage to 22% on the year, having not shot better than 40% (basically the Mendoza line of basketball) thus far. Either cut his minutes down and start Singleton or relegate him to the bench as a situational defensive starter. He doesn’t do anything on the court, and I’m not sure why he is in the starting lineup unless Wittman is some guru who knows something we don’t.

Other than Ariza, the starting lineup is fine as-is.

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By: Colenda

As we delve into the Eastern Conference the Central division has had a tough offseason. Starting from the top, defending champ Chicago will have a HUGE hole to fill next year as star Derrick Rose recovers from his disappointing playoff knee injury. We all saw what they looked like without Rose in the playoffs as they were knocked out by the 8th seeded Sixers, and it wasn’t pretty. The Pistons drafted this year’s biggest enigma, Andre Drummond, and another bust with a first round pick is the last thing Joe Dumars and the Pistons faithful can afford. The Cavs, which looked to be in a terrific position with multiple picks in this year’s draft, somehow came away with a very underwhelming haul. They even had to see nemesis LeBron win his first title. Young-star Kyrie Irving’s broken hand only adds injury to the insult. As Bill Simmons would say “the lesson as always, God hates Cleveland.” The winners for the offseason in the Central have to be the Pacers and Bucks. The Pacers have added to their youthful core and secured big-man Roy Hibbert after their impressive playoff performance and I fully expect them to be the team to beat in the Central in 2012-2013. The Bucks added the volume-scoring Monta Ellis at last year’s trade deadline, but the early returns from the trade last year were not great. However, I am a Monta-fan and with their few interesting offseason moves, I see the Bucks competing for a playoff spot this year.

Chicago Bulls (1st Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Marquis Teague, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic

Players Lost: Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III, C.J. Watson, Mike James, Ronnie Brewer

The Dime: Basketball is a team game, and an injury to one player shouldn’t completely change the fortunes of a franchise. But in the Bull’s case, when that player is MVP Derrick Rose, this rule gets thrown out the window. Rose does everything for Chicago, he scores most of the points, sets up his teammates, and draws 100% of the opponent’s defensive attention. No one else on their roster (outside of Luol Deng) is capable of creating their own offense or offense for others. Without Rose, they look lost offensively. Yes, the Bulls are a defensive team and a damn good one at that. But in basketball, if you can’t score you can’t win, no matter how well you defend. I expect the Bulls to have a dramatic drop off next year until Rose’s return. If they can keep their head afloat until February/March when Rose is expected to return (IF he returns healthy, but most knee injuries of this magnitude take at least two years to really recover from) they could potentially make a late push for the playoffs. However, I don’t expect this will be the case. It’ll be interesting to see if Tom Thibodeau and Co. proves me wrong.

Indiana Pacers (2nd Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee,

Players Lost: Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson, Darren Collison, Jeff Foster, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, Larry Legend (GM)

The Dime: When the Pacers went up 2-1 on Miami in the playoffs, talking heads around the league fully expected the young upstarts to pull off the upset. Although they ultimately fell short, they can keep their heads held high and get really excited about the things to come. The Pacers will be the Central’s team to beat next year, and one of the East’s top teams. This offseason they took care of the largest priority, re-signing center Roy Hibbert (who had signed a qualifying offer from Portland). Although GM Larry Bird stepped away this summer, the Pacers still could not resist adding a token white-guy in the draft, selecting Duke big Miles Plumlee. Although the selection was pretty poor (no way Plumlee was a first round pick), it was a fitting way to end the Bird-era in Indiana. The Pacers also added a backup PG to fill in for the departed Darren Collison in D.J. Augustin, and another athletic swingman, Gerald Green, to go alongside Paul George, Danny Granger and Co. If the Pacers youth can continue to improve in 2012-13, expect to see Indiana competing for a top spot in the East. The player I will be watching closely is Paul George. George had a terrific year, but had an underwhelming playoff performance. If George can take a step forward in his overall development as a player, particularly on the offensive end, the Pacers are really in a good position moving forward.

Milwaukee Bucks (3rd Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, Doron Lamb

Players Lost: Shaun Livingston, Jon Brockman, Carlos Delfino, Jon Leuer

The Dime: The Bucks are the team most in a position to benefit from the tough-luck of Derrick Rose. Last year they were a borderline playoff contender, and I believe they are poised to find themselves in the playoffs in 2013. With Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks have a backcourt of scorers more than capable of getting them points in bunches, and they added this offseason two inside players, Samuel Dalembert and John Henson, that should bolster their paint defense and make up for the loss of oft-injured Aussie, Andrew Bogut. They also added Kentucky shooter Doron Lamb in the second round, an under-rated late selection. Additionally, they re-signed one of last season’s breakout performers, Ersan Ilyasova, meaning they should boast a more than decent front court. If the at-times selfish duo of Jennings and Ellis can gel together, and the team continues to defend at the level coach Scott Skiles expects, I believe the 2012-2013 Bucks should be a playoff team.

Detroit Pistons (4th Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Andre Drummond, Kim English, Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler, Corey Maggette

Players Lost: Ben Gordon, Vernon Macklin, Jason Maxiell, Walker Russell, Ben Wallace, Damien Wilkins

The Dime: Joe Dumars took another gamble in the first round this year, selecting UCONN’s highly talented, but under-productive Andre Drummond. If he pans out in the way his talent suggests, this can be one of the biggest draft steals in a long while. But if he ends up as a bust, which his middling performances as a freshman at UCONN suggest is a very real possibility, this will continue to set the franchise back. Remember, Dumars is the same guy who took Darko before Melo, DWade, and Chris Bosh in 2006. I’m not suggesting the players selected around Drummond will be the league’s biggest stars in 3-4 years like that group, but there was plenty of talent in this year’s draft. The Pistons faithful are in desperate need of some good news, but unfortunately for them, this offseason did not produce much of it. The emergence of Greg Monroe last year was the lone bright-spot in another miserable season, but I do not expect the 2012-2013 version of the team to produce many more highlights. It seems like it’s been forever in Detroit since the Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, and Rip Hamilton led teams were NBA champs and perennial contenders, and this offseason did not move the proud franchise any closer to returning to that kind of glory.

Cleveland Cavaliers (5th Place 2011-2012)

Players Added: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Jeremy Pargo, Jon Leuer

Players Lost: Christian Eyenga, Semeh Erden, Alonzo Gee, Antawn Jamison, DJ Kennedy

The Dime: The Cavs actively looked to put a package together that would entice His Airness to part with the number 2 pick in this year’s draft so they could select the top-rated SG, Bradley Beal. With the number 4, 24, 33, and 34 pick in the draft, the Cavs had a variety of picks and a talented player (Anderson Varejao) they thought would be enough for a deal. However, the trade did not pan out, MJ took MKG at 2 and Beal landed with the Wizards at 3. So with the number 4 selection, the Cavs took Syracuse 6th man Dion Waiters ahead of Harrison Barnes and Thomas Robinson among others. This selection certainly raised some eye brows. They then traded their remaining picks to Dallas for the rights to 17th selection, UNC big Tyler Zeller. So if you’re scoring at home, the Cavs turned 4 top 35 picks in one of the deepest drafts in memory into at best a decent 6th man (Waiters) and a backup center (Zeller). Not exactly the haul the Cleveland faithful were hoping for. On top of it all, enemy of the state numero-uno celebrated his first title in South Beach (what happened with the guarantee the Cavs would win one first, Mr. Gilbert?) and young star Kyrie Irving let out some frustration during the US Olympic team camp and broke his shooting hand. Although he is expected to make a smooth recovery after his surgery, he will miss the entire offseason preparation for next year, and will not be able to star in those awesome Uncle Drew commercials (the real travesty of it all). Overall, in my estimation, it’s been a pretty shitty offseason for Cleveland. I fully expect the Cavs to be in their familiar position in the cellar of the Central Division this season.

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By: Bohlin

According to the Twitter account of the Washington Post’s Wizards Insider, Michael Lee, the Washington Wizards have acquired the back-up point guard that fans have been clamoring for all summer. Price, who last played for the Indiana Pacers, had his qualifying offer rescinded after the Pacers acquired D.J. Augustin.

Price, over the course of his 150 game NBA career, has averages of 6.0 PPG and 2.0 APG in 14.9 minutes played per contest. It will be interesting to see what this means for Shelvin Mack’s future in the district. Terms of the contract have yet to be released but once they are we will address the contract, allegedly, signed by Price today.

Last week I made my case for why the Wizards should look towards signing A.J. Price to come in and fill the role of back-up point guard on this team, you can read those thoughts here. Look for a Pick and Pop concerning this free agent signing later tonight.

UPDATE: The Wizards have officially announced the signing of PG A.J. Price. Per team policy the terms of the contract were not disclosed.

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By: Willis

This is the second and final installment of breaking down Nene and Emeka Okafor, but be sure to check out part one here.

The Washington Wizards, in dire need of a big man to come in and become a force in the middle, traded for Emeka Okafor during the offseason in hopes that he would become that player. While offensively Okafor is going to make only a marginal difference, on defense is where his reputation in the NBA has been carved out. Nene, on the other hand, will for certain make a difference on offense, it’s still unclear what his defensive impact really is. Since we already covered their offensive abilities in part one, we’ll take a look at their defensive skills in part two.

In terms of rebounding ability:

Even though these two big men are similar in physical stature, not all bulky bodies are able to rebound equally. Okafor and Nene are miles apart in their capabilities on the offensive and defensive glass. We’ll start by discussing Okafor, because his accomplishments are worth noting. In Emeka Okafor, the Washington Wizards finally have a big man who likes to get on the boards. Gone is JaVale McGee, and in is a guy who, among active players, ranks behind only Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett in rebounds per game at 10.1. In that order. Rebounds per game obviously aren’t a catch-all stat, but if the saying “Birds of a feather, flock together” holds any weight in basketball, we can see exactly what Washington is about to get.

What makes Emeka such a good rebounder is his knack for being very active on the offensive end. Six of his eight seasons in the NBA thus far, Okafor has been in the top 10 in offensive rebounds. The two other seasons where he missed the mark, Okafor was injured the majority of them (including last year). In 2008-2009 with the New Orleans Hornets, Okafor pulled down 275 offensive rebounds, good for second in the NBA. Because he isn’t a blow-you-away athlete, Okafor is a permanent fixture in the low post and tends not to venture too far from his wheelhouse. The end result is that Okafor extends possessions using his big body to force other defenders into less than ideal rebounding areas. Wizards fans are going to be amazed at how cerebral Okafor is when it comes to rebounding. He isn’t quite Kevin Love, but he is leaps and bounds ahead of JaVale McGee in terms of playing the angles.

When it comes to defensive rebounding, Okafor is no slouch, either. His career average of 6.7 is solid (it’s about on rebound shy of Tyson Chandler’s mark) but it doesn’t mean anything without some more context. For example, Okafor also is great in a very telling statistic: Total Rebound Percentage (this calculates the total percentage of available rebounds grabbed while said player is on the court). In TRP, Okafor is right up there with All-Star centers at 18.30. He is eight for his career among active players, behind only guys like Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, and Ben Wallace. In other words? The dude is Windex on the glass.

That rebounding ability is a damn good thing, because his counterpart, Nene, can’t really rebound well at all for a guy his size. Nene’s career TRP is a paltry 13.5, which doesn’t crack the top 75 and puts him in a grouping with a bunch of small forwards and poor rebounding power forwards. Not to bring up a sore subject, but he is actually very similar in TRP to another former Wizard in Andray Blatche (13.8). I bring him into this conversation because Wizards fans can understand better what I’m trying to say when I relate it to something familiar. Andray had the ability to rebound very well, but far too often he did not have that mean streak and true drive for pulling down double digit boards every night. In other words, when he put in effort on the defensive end it was easy; the other times, he was a non-factor. That’s basically Nene’s issue, as he isn’t a big proponent of unforced contact. He is much more finesse, for better or worse, and in this case you take the good with the bad. Nene simply isn’t a good rebounder.

The good news is that his 7 rebounds per game (his career average) may improve with the Wizards a little bit. For large parts of Nene’s career he has played alongside guys who are, in a sense, rebound hogs. Camby, Chris Andersen, and recently Kenneth Fareid all grab boards at an alarmingly high rate, with the last one on that list being compared favorably to Dennis Rodman. There really were not a lot of opportunities to get rebounds with those guys around, but I can promise you that will change with the Wizards! Washington, even with Okafor and great college rebounding guard Bradley Beal at the helm, is not going to top any charts in rebounding. Nene should have more opportunities to get boards, so that number may increase slightly to the point of becoming passable. I say potentially, because in the 11 game sample from last season, Nene really did not do anything different from his typical numbers (he never really does).

In terms of blocking shots:

Nene and Okafor are again different in their abilities to block shots with, you guessed it, Okafor leading the charge on that front. While Nene is not bad, Okafor is significantly better at swatting shots. While neither has the innate ability of JaVale McGee, they both play with far more control and do not actively seek to volley ball spike every shot out of the arena. The end result is that the two should actually be better than just McGee alone will be, which I think will be a good thing for Washington’s defense.

Okafor is one of the better blockers in the game, as he usually finishes in the top 15 every season. For his career, he averages almost two per contest, and that is not likely to change. He is very good at moving away from the post and blocking forwards and centers attempting jump shots from a bit further out. In 2010-2011, of his 128 blocks, 63 of them were on jump shots alone, with another 59 coming from in close. He blocked 3.5% of shots attempted on the court that year, which may not seem that high at first, but when you consider how many possessions there are in the game and how few result in blocks, his number is actually very good.

The bad part about him being so willing to swat is that he racks up fouls a lot. During that same ’10-’11 season, Okafor collected 109 shooting fouls as well, attributable to his big body. I don’t really look at this as being a bad thing, because disruption in the lane and on shooters means he is actually trying hard, but it is something to look into because a center in foul trouble is a worthless center. He is smart enough to not foul out very often, but foul trouble marginalizes his effectiveness on the court (and Okafor doesn’t play oodles of minutes as it is).

Nene, on the other hand, is an average blocker who, for his career, sends back just under one per game. This is not, however, because he isn’t trying. Nene also racks up a lot of fouls attempting to contest shots; in ’10-’11 with the Nuggets, he picked up 110 shooting fouls against 74 blocks. He gets to his man on time, but he doesn’t always succeed in sending the shot back. But Nene is definitely talented at help defense, which entails coming into a play a tad late, and that in turn means he may have to use his body to alter a shot. Hence the fouls.

Overall, Nene is not going to wow you with his numbers, but when you consider all the other things he does on the court defensively, the difference between one block and two is not a major difference. If you want an example of this (and this is slightly off topic but has to do with defensive ability so I’m going to throw it in), look no further than Nene’s domination in thievery. For his career, Nene averages 1.2 steals per game, but in ’10-’11, you can see just how effective he can be. That year, when stretched over 48 minutes, Nene averaged almost 1 1/2 steals a game. That doesn’t happen for a big man, really, ever. But Nene has quick, soft, hands which he uses to pickpocket big men who try to back him down or drive on him. So while he cannot block as well as others, he does excel in his own right.

Other Notes:

I’m not a huge fan of plus-minus or opponent statistics, because the stats are inherently flawed. It is so dependent on the rest of the team, the caliber of opponent, and whether your team is winning or losing. Plus-minus has less to do with individual performance, and more with pegging guys as “winners.” It’s a bit like a pitcher who has a 1.97 ERA through 4 games, but because of a lack of run support, has gone 0-4 and is considered a loser. Likewise with opponent statistics. Playing against Dwight Howard is not the same as playing against DeAndre Jordan, and so the stats are completely skewed. They give no real indication of how Emeka fared (which is actually very solid). So therefore, I’m not going to get into those statistics.

—–

The conclusions we can draw from all of this? Nene and Okafor have all the trends of great big men tandems. Where Okafor lacks offensive production, Nene is able to pick up the slack. Where Nene is incapable of rebounding, he has Okafor around to do the dirty work. The two work relatively well together, even though they are a bit one dimensional in their abilities. On paper, I think defensively Washington is going to be tough to drive against. Two legitimate, solidly-built big men are an imposing presence to attempt to score on. JaVale’s physique wasn’t scaring anyone, but Nene and Okafor just might. All good news for Washington.

 

All stats courtesy of 82games.com,Basketball-reference.com, and hoopdata.com

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By: Bohlin

Last night, Washington Post columnist Mike Wise released the full transcript of a 45-minute interview he had earlier this week with Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. There were many interesting tid bits of information in this piece and Ted was extremely candid in his responses to Wise’s questioning addressing coaching hires, the growth of John Wall, new types of technology the Wizards are using and, of course, the amnesty of Andray Blatche. After taking the time to read the interview I have prepared a few thoughts on some of the comments, as well as others pertaining to the Wizards, made by Leonsis.

Additions to the coaching staff:

The addition of Don Newman to the bench as an assistant coach is a major move towards the Wizards going from bottom-feeder to competitive NBA franchise in the eyes of Leonsis. As he put it “Part of the rolling the stone up the hill is changing the culture and going from losing to winning. We have to make the investments in scouting and all the little things – coaching, player development.” Leonsis followed this up by hinting that the Wizards weren’t done adding to the coaching staff noting that there should be more news coming out concerning the hiring of assistant’s to Randy Wittman as well as shooting coaches to help nurture some of our younger players games. One thing that stuck out to me while reading this transcript was how much emphasis Leonsis has placed on giving the investments he has made in our roster everything they need in order to be successful.

Importance of Nene to the team:

Leonsis was very up-front with Wise as to how pleased he has been with the acquisition of Nene. “Nene, he’s a really good player, he’s a really good person and he’s a really good leader. And he is happy to be here. We bonded. That was important.” He goes on to note how great of a job Nene has done in helping mentor the Wizards breakout performer from 2011-2012, Kevin Seraphin, up until this point. As we have all seen by now Seraphin took a major step forward in his development last season once Wittman took the helm, with the type of knowledge of the NBA game that Nene could provide to Seraphin this could be a major benefit to the French National Team member as his professional career continues to evolve.

On the Rashard Lewis trade:

Much like he was with the Gilbert Arenas trade, Leonsis was extremely impressed in Ernie Grunfeld’s ability to deal Rashard Lewis and the $23,ooo per minute played for the Wizards last year for two rotation players in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. “We took the second-highest-paid player in the league…and replaced him with two players that will play big minutes who each averaged 10-15 points a game. We were getting 0 from Rashard.” I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. Even though there are still some people who are not happy with the trade Grunfeld was able to secure the Wizards something for essentially the paper that Rashard Lewis’ max contract was written on. We may not all love Grunfeld’s draft record but if there is something that we can all agree on it is his ability to be a shrewd negotiator when it comes to trades with other franchises.

On the development of John Wall:

Naturally, Ted had a plethora of thoughts on the development of the Wizards franchise player, John Wall, as he heads into year three of his NBA career. Leonsis is of the opinion, which is shared by most fans, that the best has yet to come for Wall and his third season with the Wizards should be the next step in his path to becoming an All-NBA level PG. “John has a lot of upside still in his game. Compare his stats the first two years in the league against the stars guards and point guards in the league — Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Rondo — he compares favorably with them. So this is an important year for John.”

This is clearly what every Wizards fan hopes is the case. Wall needs to continue to improve upon his game in a major way going into this season in order to solidify himself as one of the leagues premier floor generals. The strong veteran presence he now has surrounding him along with a very impressive draft pick  Beal should lend Wall the chance to fully realize the vast potential that is evident in his game. This is the year where all those other guards that Leonsis compared John Wall’s first two seasons to broke up and became the stars that they are today, it’s time for Wall to step up to the plate and be the leader and cornerstone of this franchise that we all believe he can be.

On whether next season is Playoffs or bust:

Leonsis has been quoted on multiple occasions as saying that he does not plan on being back in the NBA Draft Lottery next season. I would venture to say that all Wizards fans want this to be the case come the end of April in 2013. Wise used this quotation to pose the question of whether or not jobs would be on the line were the Wizards to fall short of that goal. “I won’t be happy with our plan if we’re back in the lottery . . . If we just miss making a playoff spot, no, the world is not going to end. If we’re picking third because we have the second-worst record, no, I will not be happy.”

Leonsis clearly wants to see marked improvement from his franchise as they move into the third, and according to Leonsis and Grunfeld, final year of the “rebuild”. Should the Wizards lay an egg next season and once again finish towards the bottom of the NBA I would have to imagine there will be some wholesale changes going on throughout different levels of the franchise. I am not going to be the ignorant fan whose expectations are so lofty that the team will potentially fall short of said goals. The Wizards will without a doubt be a better, more competitive team than they were last season. Will that translate into being one of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference? I am not sure, but with the addition made at the trade deadline last year and the moves Grunfeld has completed in the off-season thus far there is reason for hope that the Wizards will once again return to playing competitive, winning basketball.

On new technologies utilized in scouting and developing talent:

This was news to me, apparently the Wizards have made some large investments in the technological side of the franchise. One proponent of this is a man by the name of Joe Sill and according to Leonsis, Sill has quite the impressive resume. “Joe presents on occasion at that stats thing at MIT. Double-math PHd. He’s almost like a technical trader on Wall St. I can pick a company you should invest in. He’ll never meet the CEO, but he knows from the numbers which ones to pick.” Must be nice right? This isn’t to say that the Wizards are attempting to become the “Moneyball” Oakland A’s but as Leonsis later mentions, “there is a big, big role in informing some decisions.”

Just to throw out a couple of particulars that Leonsis used to help prove this point; The Wizards defensive rebounding totals went up “dramatically” when Nene was acquired for Javale McGee, specifically the amount of rebounds that Wizards guards were reeling in. ” If your forwards are pushing their men out, that’s not a stat. That’s something you follow. That means the guards have the opportunity to get the rebounds and initiate their own break.” Hard to argue with that point at all.

Also worth noting, the Wizards are one of the few teams in the NBA that have installed HD super heat-seeking missile cameras. Yes, that’s right, we are using heat-seeking missile cameras to track our players while on the court. According to Leonsis, “This thing creates real-time heat maps. Literally you can get down to the pixels on the floor. Where are the shots being taken, where are the shots being made, where are the picks being made. It does interesting things like, how many dribbles on a fast break does your guard hold the ball before he dishes off, and was their a good shot made versus other guards in the league.” This kind of asset will go an extremely long way when it comes to player development, especially when utilized it practice sessions.

The ability to tell a guard that by dribbling two less times before making a pass that he would be 70% more likely to convert said opportunity is a fantastic teaching tool. It shouldn’t be overly surprising that a man who made the majority of his riches with AOL would be well ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of different technologies and how they can be used as teaching mechanisms in sports. I couldn’t agree with Leonsis more when he says, “Bringing in these analytics, bringing in high IQ, good people it’s all a part of trying to change a losing culture to a winning culture,” and a winning culture is what we need to re-establish here in the district.

On retaining Randy Wittman as head coach:

Wise plugged away at Leonsis’ decision to retain GM Ernie Grunfeld as well as head coach Randy Wittman with the Wizards organization. In response, Leonsis mentioned how he handled the exit interviews with all of the Wizards players and one of the questions he asked each and every Wizards player was their thoughts on how Wittman had done as their head coach. Leonsis noted that before he could even pose the question to Nene he was met with an extremely positive endorsement of Wittman. “Before I could ask the question, Nene was, ‘I played for a lot of coaches in the league. This is a really good coach. I really like how he treated me. I really like he taught the team. I think he works really good. I like him. I trust him. He’s authentic.’”

John Wall shared similar sentiments with Leonsis when it was time for his exit interview. “Then John Wall came in and said, ‘I know you want to bring a big-name coach in. I think you have a coach who can help me. I think the coach is doing a great job. So please keep Randy.’” Yet another endorsement from one of the teams marquee players.

Finally, Leonsis noted how Kevin Seraphin reacted to the question about Wittman during his exit interview. “Hey, he believed in me. He let me play. He developed my game. He yells at me. I like when he yells at me. Because he’s right when he yells at me.”

Needless to say, Randy Wittman had left a mark on this roster during his time as the Wizards interim head coach. These types of endorsements from the teams core players surely made the decision to retain Wittman as the Wizards permanent head coach an easy one for Leonsis and Grunfeld.

On the amnesty of Andray Blatche:

The obvious elephant in the room would center around none other than the decision to use the amnesty clause on Andray Blatche. Despite Leonsis’ belief that people deserve second and third chances in life this was a business decision that quite frankly had to be made. There were worries over where Blatche fit in with the lineup as it was currently constructed as well as the fact that he was the final holdover from the Gilbert Arenas era Wizards.

Wise pressed forward by asking Leonsis how he felt now about the extension that was given to Blatche in 2010 when compared to his quotes from two years ago where he repeatedly said how he felt signing Blatche to an extension was a great idea. Leonsis, resigned to the fact that the deal was a mistake had the following reply; “Yes — we made a mistake — although the NBA has had close to $250 million of amnestied players to date — sometimes you get a chance to take a mulligan under the new rules and that is what we did.”

Leonsis, however, was quick to not place the blame squarely on Blatche’s shoulders,”We are all in it together — so we are all to blame. Buck has to stop with me though as owner.” He went on to state how appreciative he was of Blatche’s apology to the fans and wished him nothing but the best as his career goes on. He did state that the decision to cut Blatche loose with a check for $23 million wasn’t particularly hard as “It was in best interest of franchise.”

All in all this was an extremely impressive interview by Mike Wise and major props need to be given to him for securing the time with Leonsis to ask all of these questions. After reading through this transcript, and sleeping on all the information taken in, I am even more excited for this upcoming season of Wizards basketball than I was before and that in and of itself is nothing short of a miracle as I am quite the WizKids fanatic.

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By: Willis

Imagine a scenario where you managed to sneak in at an entry level position for your dream job directly out of high school. On  first day on the job, your boss asks you to pick up coffee for everyone at the office (imagine there are 10 coworkers). You pick up the coffee just fine, but you flub the orders and burn yourself severely, which causes you to miss work for an entire month. Your boss is a bit taken aback that you failed to complete a menial task like being the office punk, but he sees serious potential in you, and decides to keep you around. Mostly because the potential upside outweighs the  potential downside.

A year goes by, and you’re doing just fine; you’ve gotten all your coffee orders correct and you’ve gotten a little confident in your abilities around the office. Your boss decides to give you a little more slack, maybe a few more responsibilities. He stops checking in on you so much and instead allows you to thrive in your environment. Things look like they’re going okay; I mean, you’re not doing amazing but you aren’t spilling coffee and screwing up orders, right? You get promoted for not really doing anything bad, but then with that extra money you decide to celebrate instead of work harder. Unfortunately, you decided to celebrate in the company of a fine female woman. Also unfortunate to your circumstances, that female turns out to be an undercover police officer, who pops you for trying to solicit some of that nookie.

Even in spite of two minor mix ups, your boss saw something in you in the first place, and figures that the two slips do not have any correlation. So, he decides yet again to keep you around; after all, potential like yours doesn’t come around very often. You prescribe to the motto that if you put forth your most marginal work most of the time, your boss will be more than happy to give you a raise. You’re the star prodigy! And guess what? You turn out to be right, because your boss decides to reward your sloppy effort with another pay bump. Directly after the incident.

With a renewed hope, most promising youth decides to buckle down and prove your boss right through hard work and vigorous effort. Not you, though. You’ve still got more than enough talent that even when you half ass it, half of your ass is good enough to be passable. And it even shows, because you briefly put forth just a little more effort, and the result is that you’re starting to look like a good guy.

Your office is short staffed in the first place, but you’re gladly picking up the additional tasks needed to keep the office functioning. Albeit, the more tasks you pick up, the worse the office gets, because you don’t complete them all the way and basically do the bare minimum. The office is suffering, but it can’t be blamed on you because your workload increased so much, right? At least, your boss feels that way; he isn’t blaming his prodigy in the making for gritting his teeth and bearing a cumbersome workload. Good job, you! You’re finally doing more work, you’re just half assing the added workload, but it looks like more!

In fact, during your peer review, your boss looks at your performance record and sees some awesome numbers. He’s fully prepped to give you the raise you clearly deserve, given that your abilities should be reflected in your pay. The thing is, half the work given to your name is because the numbers have been fudged by you yourself. You didn’t do a bunch of important tasks earlier in the year, so you manipulated a few documents to make it look like you had done a lot more. No harm, no foul, it’s not going to hurt anyone because the work is already done.

Your boss raises you again, this time to a senior position wherein you’ve accrued enough power that it can be claimed that you’ve “made it” as a prodigy and are now a star. Except you haven’t really done anything, but you don’t really notice it because your boss has always told you that you’ve been doing great. Your ego is large enough where it’s completely okay to slack a little bit. Okay a lot of bit. Heck, just Cadillac it for the rest of the year it’s not like anyone will question you. But that’s when disaster strikes.

Little did you know that with added pay and positioning at work comes added responsibility as well. But your mentality is that you work hard enough (which is barely at all) as it is, and giving you more work is just going to mess up the feng shui you’ve carved out at the office. The company starts to take note that some of your clients have started to complain. There are rumblings that you’re drinking at work. There was even a rumbling that you hosted strippers using the company’s name on certain Thursday’s.  In fact, some of your coworkers are getting a little agitated that when they’ve come to rely on you, you’ve flat out let them down with your poor performance. Instead of leading, you’re tanking a sector of the company. And it’s costing them money; you’re bleeding the company of its value with your behavior.

You’ve got some friends at the office, and they were there before you, so it could be argued that they’re to blame for your behavior. They’re like the old boys club, and they’re used to being rowdy and goofy around the office. Pooping in shoes, eating cinnamon; you name it and they’ve done it. The fun and games are always a blast, and even though everyone else around the office is sick of you and the gang’s antics, nobody cares because it’s all in good fun and the performance isn’t completely killing the company’s revenue. A few meetings with the boss can sort this sort of thing out.

Then a couple of your friends at work accidentally spam a “Brett Favre” pic to the entire company and a few of their most important clientele. Whoops.

Boss is furious; clientele are furious; lawsuits are filed and you’re just amazed at how it all came to this. One day no one is accountable; the next day the house is clean. Every last one of the gang is gone and in their place hard, young workers with positive attitudes and a renewed work ethic. But you’re the boss’ prodigy, and luckily, just barely, you escaped the guillotine. He wants to be right about you so badly. He knows that at one point you had some serious ability, and you’re still young enough to tap that and help the company out. Maybe with all those bad influences out of the way, you’ll finally start to shine. But as well all know, old habits are very, very hard to break.

You try to work hard, but the issue isn’t that you’re not trying, it’s that you have not worked incredibly hard for anything in years. You’ve been given everything! One day, boss gives you a super important assignment: lead a meeting with two huge sponsors that could decide the future of the company. You’re excited about the opportunity, and you’ve prepped your PowerPoint presentation so well that you think it resembles a Steve Jobs keynote address. You’ve got talent, this is obviously going to be bomb!

It doesn’t. It flops, in fact, and the sponsors are appalled. They’re not just appalled, they consider the company a laughingstock for even considering you as a leader. The boss is thoroughly embarrassed and has simply had enough of your antics. He decides to give you a month’s paid vacation to clear your head and decide what to do with you. He’s invested enough time and effort in you that it’s not a decision that can be made in a day: Does he keep you in your employed position? Or does he give you a severance package and tell you to go chug sand?

The company is up in arms that he is even considering keeping you around. The pizza incident, the strippers, the hookers, the Favre incident. It’s all too much, and some investors are starting to complain. There’s too much drama, the fun and games are over and your potential, at least at your dream job, will never be reached. You made the company a laughingstock before, but it will never, ever happen again.

You’re told to chug sand.

Andray Blatche, enjoy the sand.

(Last week’s more mild mannered, reasonable look at Andray)

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