Tag Archives: Deron Williams
After an Olympic break from Diming, I’ve decided to pick up where I left off by examining league-wide offseason activity. And with the happenings over the last two weeks, it made it a perfect time to get back on the horse. The Atlantic Division has spent the summer of 2012 constantly in the headlines. With multiple trades and free agent acquisitions, the Atlantic’s members have had a very busy offseason. In fact, each of the division’s five members has seen major roster overhauls and the addition of at least one player expected to take on a key role in 2012-13. Last year’s winner, the Celtics, have lost a member of its Big Three to the newest Big Three in Miami. However, they bolstered their roster with young players through the draft and the addition of sixth man extraordinaire, Jason “the Jet” Terry. The constantly scrutinized Knicks decided against bringing back Linsanity for an encore, and instead brought in veteran backcourt of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. The 76ers finally decided to part ways with the underappreciated Andre Iguodala in a shocking move by joining in the fun of getting the better of new Magic GM, Rob Hennigan, in the Dwight Howard trade. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how the Magic traded Howard for Bynum, yet somehow ended up getting Arron Afflalo and let Bynum head to Philly but that’s a story for another column (a shameless plug for the Southeast division’s recap to follow). Raptor fans (they exist, right?) no longer have to wait for last year’s highly drafted Jonas Valanciunas, as he will make his NBA debut this season. They also added veterans Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields to a team clearly hoping to try and stay afloat in this extremely competitive division. With the Barclay’s Center expected to open to start the season, the Nets are now official residents of Brooklyn. Although they really blew it with the new logo, they did manage to get a second star (although you could argue there isn’t a more over rated “star” than Joe Johnson) via trade to ensure they could lock up free agent Deron Williams long-term. All-in-all it has been a very eventful offseason in the Atlantic division. Now a let’s take a closer look at the happenings for each of the division’s members:
Tags: Amare Stoudamire, Andrew Bynum, Atlantic Division, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, joe johnson, nba free agency, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Ray Allen, toronto raptors
Last night while I was looking over the latest Dwight Howard trade rumors, getting entirely too excited about him being shipped out of the Southeast Division, something of an epiphany struck me: the Wizards are almost a shoo in for becoming the second best outfit in the division. I know that’s a gutsy statement to be made about a team that finished with the second-worst record in the NBA last year at 20-46, but it’s actually the most plausible scenario.
See, what I failed to realize (and what I should have as soon as Joe Johnson left for New Jersey) is that the consolidation of great players in the East onto one team is an amazing thing for the Wizards. Johnson was the first superstar to abandon the Division, sending the Atlanta Hawks into, at least partially, a rebuilding mode. The guy who averaged 22.7 PPG last year against the Wizards? See ya when I see ya, bud. The second best team in the division just lost a player who has scored the sixth most points of any NBA player in the past seven seasons (good for 10,606 points). Think that’s not going to hurt a team in the scoring department? Think again.
Losing Joe Johnson is going to leave Atlanta without a premier scorer who can create his own shot and help create for others. Mercurial forward Josh Smith isn’t a number one option on any team, and he’s far too inconsistent to be considered a legitimate superstar. The talent is there, but when you can’t hit a jump shot, it’s not going to come together for you.
The team’s presumable starting rotation? Jeff Teague, Anthony Morrow, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jason Collins. That’s what they’re working with right now, and to be quite honest I’ll take the Wizards against that team any day of the week. We beat them at three or four positions, and the team with the best players typically wins the game. Even if they acquire some more talent in the offseason, it’s looking like a lengthy rebuild for the Hawks, one in which the Wizards are going to capitalize on. The second best team in the division just took some serious strides in the wrong direction.
Advantage – Washington.
Then there’s the Orlando Magic, a team wasn’t even that good last year with Dwight Howard at 37-29. The Howard distraction clearly trashed the chemistry of that team (and rightfully so, as it’s hard to play good basketball with a team that hates his team and coach), and they were a shade of the squad that challenged the Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals. Nonetheless, Dwight Howard against the Wizards tended to be an absolute disaster for the good guys: last year alone he averaged 21.7 points and 16.7 rebounds per contest. He abused JaVale and was the main reason the Magic would beat Washington. Having a legendary player like that (by “like that” I mean leading his team every year in scoring, rebounds, and blocks every season he’s been in the NBA sans his rookie year) in the division meant guaranteed losses to the Magic year in-year out. But guess what? He’s probably not going to be in Orlando anymore!
And neither is Ryan Anderson, the Orlando Magic’s second leading scorer at 16.1 PPG. Anderson, a three-point specialist who had his coming out party last year headed for greener (or teal-er) pastures with the New Orleans Hornets. He’ll presumably get the added benefit of playing with another future All-Star center in Anthony Davis. Good for him! Better for us because he’s not going to be able to drain 14 total three pointers in 4 games against us. His loss is equally as important as Dwight Howard’s in the Wizards success, because one player does not a team make.
With their two leading scorers from last year gone, the Orlando Magic are going to have to hand over the reigns to Jameer Nelson, an undersized point guard who has struggled to be consistent and healthy throughout his 8 year career. Nelson is not even a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, but imagining him becoming the second best player on a team without a superstar is a scary thought. If the trade goes through with the Nets for Dwight Howard, that means they’d likely pick up a very good center in Brook Lopez, who would end up being the replacement center and best player on the team. If that’s the case, the Wizards do not have much to worry about.
Brook Lopez as a center is an American version of Andrea Bargnani, meaning he shoots less three pointers and is a tad less soft. He still doesn’t rebound well at all (he’s never grabbed 10 rebounds over the course of the season) and was injured all but five games last season. I’ll take him being the best player on the court alongside Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkgolu. That’s just not a good team. If Lopez could barely lift the Nets out of obscurity with a superstar in Deron Williams, I’m almost certain the Magic aren’t going to be a threat next year at all.
Advantage – Washington
I’m not entirely certain I need to explain why the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t going to be better than the Washington Wizards next year, but I will do it in brief. The Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year, and that fact alone means they won’t get better overnight. They won six games all year! The Bobcats could multiply their win total by 6 and not make the playoffs in the East. They finished 30th in points per game, 29th in rebounds per game, and 27th in points allowed per game. Those are awfully telling statistics that, while they can only improve, can’t get much worse.
Charlotte picked up a winner in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft, but I’m not sure he’s going to come in right away and completely change a losing culture. They need efficient scoring, and Kemba Walker won’t be providing that in the near future. Neither will their other building piece Bismack Biyombo, who may be a good defender but will most certainly struggle against Nene and former Bobcat Emeka Okafor. They’re rumored to be getting Kris Humphries via that ridiculous Dwight Howard four-team trade, so I guess there’s that.
That leaves their starting roster with Biyombo, Humphries, MKG, Ben Gordon, and Kemba Walker. That lineup is horrible, plain and simple. It’s got tons of potential, without question, but having former college stars and three offensively inept players in the starting five is a recipe for another bad season. Not that they aren’t trying, though. I actually see the Bobcats as becoming a surprisingly solid team next year, but not second place talent.
Advantage – Washington
That leaves us with the Miami Heat, and I don’t need to dwell on the fact that they just came off of winning an NBA championship and are were playing the best basketball in the NBA upon finishing up. I don’t need to dwell on the fact that they always, always, always beat the Washington Wizards. Or that they’re better than Washington at shooting guard, power forward, and small forward; the addition of another Hall of Famer (Ray Allen) is never going to help Washington. The sad fact is that for the time being, Washington is really far behind against Miami and that is unlikely to change, for now.
Here’s the thing, though: head to head match ups aren’t the deciding factor in winning your division in basketball. A perfect storm would obviously have to occur for Washington to leap from Miami, but it’s not even unreasonable to think about. Miami might have a bit of a championship hangover, much like the one the Dallas Mavericks suffered/the Spurs suffered every season following a championship. Let’s say LeBron is a little tired from playing in the Olympics this summer, and Dwyane Wade still isn’t up to form after having offseason knee surgery to fix whatever was going on with that thing during the NBA Playoffs. A team already susceptible to boredom might just slip a little bit and give an opening for an up-and-coming Wizards team a chance. The Hawks were only six games out of first place last season, and the Wizards could play with them.
Of course, this is all hypothetical nonsense; it’s the offseason, though, and that’s what you’re going to get. Washington obviously has to improve from last year, and the younger players need to continue taking steps forward. Kevin Seraphin needs to show that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan and become a dominant second unit low-post performer (I think the Olympics are going to help a lot in with his progression in that regard). Bradley Beal is going to need to show that he is not a young, talented, project. He has to come in and immediately help. Not to mention Emeka Okafor and Nene have to stay healthy for an entire season and John Wall has to shake off that sophomore slump.
A lot has to go the Wizards way, but the opening is there for glory to be captured. The glory of second place, of course, but it’s something. I’m of the firm belief that this upcoming season, year three of the rebuild, is when the Washington Wizards make the move into playoff contender and young team to look out for. All this moving and shaking within the division has done nothing but help “The Plan” progress at a faster rate.
Tags: basketball, brook lopez, chris bosh, Deron Williams, dwight howard, joe johnson, kris humphries, lebron james, magic, miami heat, nba, orlando, pay riley, sports, washington, Washington Wizards, Wizards
By: Bohlin and Willis
1) Pros and Cons of Stan Van Gundy
Bohlin: There are some legitimate reasons as to why Stan Van Gundy (or SVG as I will reference him from here on out) might have interest in taking over the reins of the Washington Wizards. First and foremost would be the opportunity to stick it to your former employer. Anyone who has ever been fired from a position knows deep down they would love to get back at the person who let them go. Fortunately for the Wizards, SVG would have a plethora of opportunities to do just that were he to take the job in D.C. Another reason for SVG to take the Wiz Kids job? He wouldn’t have to cater to an overbearing superstar who doesn’t want to be there anymore. Dwight Howard, and the circus that surrounded him this season, couldn’t have made SVG job pleasant this past year. It got so bad that he went out in the media saying his star player went to the front office asking for him to be fired. That just shouldn’t happen on any level of basketball. In D.C. our star player, John Wall, is hungry to build a winner in the District and, by all accounts, loves the city as this is where his father grew up. Couple a talented PG with a nice group of big’s in Nene and Seraphin, as well as what we hope will be a major hit in the lottery, and you have the makings of an attractive roster for someone such as SVG to consider taking over.
The only knock on SVG is the perceived notion that he’s lost two locker rooms: first in Miami and then Orlando. At least, that has been the reasoning for him leaving those jobs. The egos he had to deal with in those locations certainly had something to do with that occurrence, however. I would be more than willing to argue that Dwight Howard lost the locker room in Orlando and SVG, along with Howard’s teammates, are the ones who got thrown under the proverbial bus (Dwight being Dwight). I firmly believe he would not run into this issue in D.C. as the major egos and knuckleheads (Sans The Captain) have been shipped out of town and SVG would inherit a young, talented roster of players wanting to be successful. His record speaks for itself and he has a great knowledge of the Southeast Division…Seems like a no brainer that we would reach out to him about our head coaching position.
Willis: For once, I actually agree with my colleague on something basketball-related. SVG is skilled in three facets of life: 1.) He grows a phenomenal mustache reminiscent of the great Ron Jeremy, 2.) SVG could replace Super Mario in any future movies, and 3.) The guy can flat out coach basketball. Jokes aside, anyone who watches this guy’s teams play basketball understands that he understands, at the most fundamental level, how good basketball is played. During his eight years as a head coach in the NBA, SVG has amassed a staggering .641 winning %. To put that into perspective, that’s sixth All-Time amongst NBA coaches with at least 500 games. That number puts him ahead of guys like Rick Aldeman, Rick Carlisle, George Karl, Doc Rivers, and even Flip Saunders. The ability to coach teams at such a high level over any length of time means speaks volumes to his dedication and preparation. Can he coach a team with less talent than most? I would think so.
One knock on him, however, is that his personality tends to grind on his most talented players. SVG does not show favoritism, and so most superstars get upset with him because SVG speaks his mind. He will not hesitate to publicly chastise someone who doesn’t do what they are told. He threw his main man, Dwight Howard, under the bus for private conversations Dwight had with upper management, and as Shaq said “that was Bush League.” In a way, it is. Private conversations shouldn’t be brought public, ever. Stan Van Gundy tells it like it is, for better or worse. Given that the Wizards are sometimes a sensitive team (as well as a flawed team), that might happen a lot. I can only imagine how angry Wall might get if he was told that his shooting was unacceptably bad (when Jan Vesely can’t shoot, period).
2) Pros and Cons of Nate McMillan
Bohlin: Nate didn’t last the season in Portland. After starting the season with a 20-23 record he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Trail Blazers. In his 12-year coaching career, including a stint in Seattle (Like R.I.P) before moving down the coast to Portland, he has achieved an overall record of 478-452. His playoff record is an uninspiring 14-20 and McMillan has never made it past the second round of the playoffs as a head coach. Obviously, McMillan has a fantastic basketball acumen having had a 12-year NBA career as a player. He could probably teach John Wall a few things about distributing the basketball as McMillan still holds the single-game assist record for rookies passing out 25 dimes.
I just don’t know if I buy into the fact that McMillan is the right coach for this team as it is currently constructed. The facts speak for themselves in this case, McMillan has coached middle of the pack teams to early exit’s in the playoffs his entire coaching career. Even the year he led the Blazers to a tie for the Northwest Division title they were bounced by the Houston Rockets in 6 games in the first round. Note: Greg Oden actually played 61 games that season; they also had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nicklas Batum and Andre Miller on that team. Not a bad amount of talent for a first round exit from the playoffs. That is clearly more talent than is currently on this Wizards roster and if he couldn’t get it done with those guys I am not convinced he can get it done with our Wiz Kids.
Willis: Nate Dogg is an interesting prospect as a head coach. He is a very versatile guy, who can coach both veterans and young players into successful seasons. As I’ve written before, McMillan is a “change the culture” type of guy, who would fit incredibly well within our current rebuilding project that is seeking just that. When McMillan took over the Portland job, he had to deal with some seriously flawed players with terrible attitude issues that led to them being branded the Jailblazers. The end result? Within three years, the Blazers became a 54-win playoff team. He is clearly a player’s coach who demands results and gets them from his team. Plus, he’s only finished below .500 four times during his 12 years as a head coach.
His cons? As my colleague noted before, he has an underwhelming postseason record. I would argue that he lost a lot of those playoff games because of injuries which plagued the Trailblazers during his tenure. Greg Oden and Brandon Roy were supposed to be the future of that team; instead, they are painful reminders of how much injuries can derail a team’s bright future. Both players had franchise player status, and it’s hard to fault Nate McMillan for being a failure because his players failed to stay healthy. That’s just the nature of the game. Still, he has had healthy, talented teams and failed to out-coach anyone.
3) Pros and Cons of Jerry Sloan
Bohlin: He is a Hall of Fame coach. You cannot start assessing Jerry Sloan as a coaching candidate without mentioning that. In his 26 years of coaching experience in the NBA Sloan amassed a record of 1221-803 in the regular season. His playoff record is equally impressive at 98-104 (As a franchise the Wizards/Bullets/Zephyrs only have 77 total postseason victories). While he never got the opportunity to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy while leading the Utah Jazz, Sloan did take the franchise to the NBA Finals twice where they were eventually sent back to Salt Lake City ringless by Michael Jordan. Despite having never won the title every NBA player and coach dreams of winning, Sloan is considered one of the brightest coaching minds of this generation. He obviously wants to get back into coaching judging by the fact he is going to give Michael Jordan and his Bobcats the time of day for an interview. So it wouldn’t hurt for the Wizards to at least give his representatives a call and gauge his interest.
Even with all the accolades above pertaining to Sloan as a coach there is still one MAJOR concern I would have in targeting him to be the leader of our franchise. Sloan up and quit on a team that was 8 games over .500 and had gone to the playoffs the four previous years. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” This is a direct quote from Sloan after he resigned from the Jazz coaching position in February of 2011. While some of this has to be attributed to Deron Williams giving him, and the franchise, the Dwight Howard treatment, it is a bad omen for a team trying to take the next step to respectability. The Wizards have not been as successful a franchise as the Jazz were under Sloan; there is no way around this reality. I cannot get behind a coach taking a team that is further away from competing for a title than the franchise he previously left mid-season citing a “lack of energy”. How long until he would lose that same energy for coaching when he takes the helm of a team that has a total of 88 wins in the past four years?
Willis: Jerry Sloan was born in 1942. Some other things that happened during that year? The movie Casablanca premiered in Hollywood, the Holocaust occurred, the United States Navy fought Japan during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and Anne Frank wrote her first entries in her Diary. What am I getting at? Jerry Sloan is old. He’s not a dinosaur, but he’s two years younger than Don Nelson. Anytime a coach can claim to be the same age as Dick Stockton, I have my reservations about how well he is going to be able to relate with players on a younger team such as the Wizards. I also question why a guy like Jerry Sloan, who happens to be a Hall of Fame coach with no rings, would want to coach a young squad like Washington when there is virtually no chance to add the only thing missing from his resume. Realistically, there will be plenty of veteran teams looking for a coach who can lead them to victory. With only a few years of quality coaching left, I can’t believe he has even the slightest amount of interest in Washington and another young point guard.
On the positive side? He is a Hall of Fame coach who doesn’t have two championships because he as a product of the Michael Jordan era. Teams simply didn’t win while he was playing. His style of ball meshes very well with John Wall (pick and roll) and he might actually teach him how to shoot a bit better. Sloan brings immediate credibility to the franchise, and I’d be willing to bet that the improvements would be immediate with him and he wouldn’t hesitate to bench guys like Blatche for acting up.
4) Do we just bag the coaching search until next summer and let Wittman lead us back to the lottery one more time
Bohlin: Being honest, it is hard to envision this roster competing for a playoff spot next season. If we were to hold off on going after a big name coach for another season I am comfortable saying that Randy Wittman did enough to merit coming back for a full season as the Wizards head coach. This is all hinging on the fact that Wittman wants to do this again though. When Flip was fired, Wittman made it quite clear he was not interested in being a head coach at this point in time. He has repeatedly mentioned how difficult this season was for him. Did that change during his stint leading the Wizards to the end of this season? Maybe, Randy Wittman is the only one who can truly answer that question. The fact that his roster endorsed him returning as their coach in 2012-2013 certainly helps (Player endorsements). But unfortunately for Wittman, the inmates aren’t running the asylum on F Street so that decision is going to ultimately come from Leonsis and Grunfeld.
Willis: I’m actually a big fan of Randy Wittman. I think, as a coach, he knew how to push these young players buttons enough to squeeze out some actual effort and hustle. The players liked him, and they responded to what he was saying. There were less blowout losses and more wins with Wittman instead of Flip Saunders. I guess that was what I liked the most; he actually cared and wasn’t resigned to losing like Flip. Perhaps I was so traumatized by Flip’s nonchalant attitude and excessive amount of hair gel that when Randy Wittman started demanding changes (Major Payne style) I fell in love. I think going forward, unless we make a huge hire in the coaching realm, Wittman is the guy we should start growing with. Wall played better under him, Vesely improved under him, Seraphin emerged under him; again I ask, why wouldn’t I want that?
Not to mention that having stability at the head coaching position is never a bad thing. Look no further than the credibility of the Utah Jazz under the Jerry Sloan, the Spurs under Greg Popovich, or the Celtics with Doc Rivers. Good teams have a head coach who inserts a system and the GM works in conjunction with him to grab players tailored for it. I don’t know that Randy Wittman’s system is a winning formula, but I do know that I’d like to give him a chance to implement it. He is an internal hire who knows Grunfeld, so maybe they can develop this vision of basketball in cohesion.
The cons of Wittman? He has coached three full seasons before, and not one of those teams managed to win consistently. He has never coached a team that has been over .500, and I’m not sure that he ever will. Granted, when you have a Minnesota team whose top three players are Al Jefferson, Rashard McCants, and Marko Jaric, there might not be a lot of winning going on. His other stint in Cleveland was before LeBron came along, wherein he was forced to eke wins out of Andre Miller, Clarence Witherspoon, and Jim Jackson (Oh my God the 2001 Cavaliers were awful). That’s not a lot to go with, and the Wizards next season might be his most talented squad yet. Still, the returns haven’t been promising up to this point. I fear Wittman might be more of a motivational speaker than an actual coach.
Tags: basketball, calipari, coaching, Deron Williams, hoops, jazz, jerry sloan, John Wall, Kentucky, nate mcmillan, nba, Portland, sloan, sports, stan van gundy, SVG, trailblazers, utah jazz, van gundy, washington, Wizards
That date is the last time anyone debuting for the Wizards managed a double-double. The man? 12x All-Star and Hall of Famer Moses Malone.
Is Nene heading to the Hall? Zippy chance. But if his debut was any indicator of how he’ll fare in the District, then Wizards fans are going to be absolutely delighted. Nene finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds en route to the Wiz kid first blowout win in a long while, 108-98 against the NJN.
You’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to when the very first play resulted in a pretty finesse finish by Nene. “Big Baby’s” altheticism was peacocking immediately, as he blew by a sloth-like Shelden Williams. Truth be told, that could’ve been Dikembe Mutumbo and he would’ve been passed by. Nene has a physical build like a linebacker, but he runs the floor with ease like a guard. He’s a Camaro whereas most other centers are Dodge Neons.
On his next basket, he decided to show off his range. Nene had the ball about 15 ft. away from the hoop on the right wing, and happened to be wide open. Instead of trying to drive to the hole for a contested shot, Nene pump faked, then drained a pretty J in the face of the defender. No, he’s not a stretch 5, but he is without a doubt a better shooter than the guy previously manning the position.
From there, it was more and more for the Wizards to smile at. He finishes very nicely at the rim, he plays within himself, makes the extra pass, and doesn’t take bad shots (as evidenced by his 9-13 shooting night). Even when he doesn’t have the ball, he’s moving to open space to clear out the lane for players like Wall and Jordan Crawford to drive through. Nene certainly represented the calming, veteran presence on the court that the Wizards sorely needed.
The entire affair can be summed up by a quote from Mr. Roger Mason:
“You know Nene is capable of getting 22 and 10. The first game, not knowing what we’re doing, I have to temper expectations a little bit. He was great on both ends of the floor. He was vocal. Some of the younger big guys could learn a lot from him. I think Nene came in right away, teaching his positioning and footwork, just little tips to the young big guys, and it really helped.”
It’s even so much what Nene does, as it is what he won’t do. He won’t be going for a block that can put the team at a disadvantage on the weak side. He won’t be jacking up shots that have no chance of going in. He won’t be out of position too often, and certainly won’t run the wrong way on an offensive possession. All things JaVale and Nick Young accomplished at least once.
Worried about how much room there will be for youngster Kevin Seraphin to thrive with Nene around now? Last night the Wizards coaching staff could breathe a sigh of relief, because Seraphin thrived with Nene on the floor scoring 12 points and blocking two shots. The two looked like an imposing presence below the rim, for sure. And where Nene wasn’t dunking, Seraphin was. The combination is less David Robinson-Tim Duncan, and more like the Bash Brothers from the Mighty Ducks.
Granted, this game was against the Nets, who have now lost 4 straight and also played about half the game without Deron Williams and Avery Johnson. But when was the last time the Wizards scored 108 points in a win on the road? It’s either them or us, and I’m glad to be on the other end for once. The staunch defense frustrated the Nets all night, and I’d like to believe that the performance that the Wizards put on last night can translate against any squad.
I do have a few concerns, however. I question how he and Seraphin on the floor at the same time will affect John Wall’s play. Wall isn’t exactly a jump shooter, and there isn’t a lot of driving room with those two big bodies clogging the paint. There were times where it looked good, and times where the entire court looked too crowded. Wall didn’t have one of his best games (5-13 from the floor for 12 points), but then there is always a little transitional period involved. Perhaps the balance of scoring down low will make the defense more cautious and actually open things up for Wall.
I also have my reservations about whether this will happen every night, considering who he was going up against. Shelden and Jordan Williams, mixed with an undersized former Kardashian, aren’t exactly the Belles of the ball. He’s going to be going up against Roy Hibbert and Zaza Pachulia over the next two games, and they should represent much stiffer tests. We’ll get a nice sample size to judge what kind of production we’ll get out of him night in and night out. It might not always be 22 and 10 (his career average is 14 and 7), but it could jump up a little considering how much offensive opportunity he will get here.
The Wizards managed to beat the Nets in every single statistical category, too. Was that all Nene’s doing? Certainly not; but his presence, much like his name, represented some “Big Baby” steps.
Wednesday, March 20
@ 7:30 pm Washington Wizards (10-34) vs New Jersey Nets (15-32)
PG: John Wall vs Deron Williams
SG: Jordan Crawford vs MarShon Brooks
SF: Chris Singleton vs Gerald Wallace
PF: Trevor Booker vs Kris Humphries
C: Kevin Seraphin vs Shelden Williams
Why you should watch: Nene will finally play…we hope
The debut of Nene Hilario has finally arrived. Despite being traded to the Wizards on Thursday of last week, Nene has yet to see any action on the court with the team. Completing the league mandated physical took awhile, but now Nene is all systems go. He’s gotten a few practices with the team under his belt as well, which means he’s likely not going to look completely lost. He also gets the added benefit of playing against
a 6’9 piece of swiss cheese Shelden Williams.
Williams has been filling in recently for the injured young star Brook Lopez, whose ’11-’12 season has been derailed by injuries. Unfortunately, filling in for Shelden Williams means giving opposing centers career games. The latest example would be Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Monday, despite having not scored in double-figures all month long, Thompson obliterated Williams for 27 points and 14 rebounds (with 8 offensive boards). Before that? Chris Kaman ate him up for 20 points (a game which he had a -20 plus-minus rating) and Dwight Howard for 18 points in consecutive games. Nene, assuming he plays, should give Shelden work.
His athleticism will be way too much for Williams, who moves like frozen syrup, to contain. He’s stronger, smarter, and is going to be a pick-and-roll machine with John Wall. If I had to predict his box score, I’d go with 18 points and 8 rebounds. The only reason he won’t grab 10 boards is probably because there won’t be many misses against one of the worst defending teams in the NBA.
Underlying Storyline: John Wall matches up against All-Star Deron Williams
It’s not really an underlying storyline as much as it is a very important game for John Wall. Deron Williams is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 point guards in the NBA, and it’s great for bragging rights to compare one team’s superstar to our own. The two have played one another twice in John Wall’s two-year career, with each point guard winning one game apiece. They last met during the first game of this season, with Williams coming close to a triple-double with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. Wall wasn’t playing his best ball to open the season, and only hit three shots en route to a 13 point, 8 rebound, 5 assist performance. In that game, Mr. Kardashian Humphries stole the ball from John in the last few seconds with the Wizards trailing by three. Chances are good he hasn’t forgotten being out-dueled.
In terms of playing style, Wall and Williams aren’t even close to the same player. Deron is a huge fan of the three point shot, and hurls 6.6 per game (hitting 35% of them); Wall has only taken 23 three pointers all season. He’s got a deadly first step that has tripped up many a defender throughout his seven-year career. Even though he looks a little husky, Williams ability to change directions on a dime is unparalleled; Wall is built like a Ducati 999, with lots of straight ahead speed and quick acceleration. Williams likes to shoot more than getting to the rack; Wall is the complete opposite.
It’s important to note, however, that the Wizards are a completely different team, as is Wall. New coach, better shooting by the point guard, and a new center means that Wall is going to want to right the wrong from that Day One loss against the Nets.
Prediction: The Wizards have lost two straight games, but the Nets have lost three! Based upon that, and the fact that Washington hasn’t necessarily played the worst ball lately, the Wizards should win. Nene is going to provide the added boost to the front line offensively and guide this team to victory. Wizards 105-99.