Tag Archives: Kentucky
If last night is any indicator, the Harrison twins are going to ball out wherever they decide to make their college homes. Hopefully that’s at Maryland, the home of Under Armor (I hope they’re reading that last part).
In a game that was televised on ESPNU Andrew and Aaron Harrison, the twin 5-star recruits for the class of 2013, along with the Houston defenders blew out local Boo Williams AAU team 73-54. For the vast majority of the game, the Defenders led by about 20 points, due in large part to the phenomenal play of the twins they have on their team attacking at will.
Whenever you can make another top 25 recruit look pedestrian, you know it’s a very good sign of things to come. That’s exactly what Andrew Harrison did last night against Hampton, Va. native Anthony Barber. While Barber played commendably, Andrew just seemed too strong and too quick for him to stay in front of. Often times, Andrew’s quick crossover caused Barber fits, and he drove to the rack and finished strong. Other times, same outcome except the play ended in a drained three pointer by his brother Aaron or an alley oop dunk.
Whereas Andrew showed everyone the reason why he is the point guard, Aaron displayed just how effective a tandem those two can be with his scoring. Aaron put the ball in the basket just about every way possible. On a contested three, he showed off his smooth stroke from the top of the three point line. And don’t leave him open in the corner, where he is prone to hang around, because Aaron is absolutely deadly from there, too. It is what makes these two so coveted; you have to keep them both in check at all times, and that’s not easy.
It’s not easy because the twins stand particularly stout in comparison to their counterparts on the opposing team. At 6’5 1/2, 210 pounds each they both look like shooting guards, except that their handles allow them to alternate between the one and two. Using their big bodies to overpower defenders is a staple of their game, and presuming they get any stronger before college it is going to be incredibly tough to stop at the next level.
Even though Andrew is considered the primary ball handler, Aaron is more than capable of picking up the slack. The two play basically the same game, and can alternate at any time. Their coaching is the only reason the two have set roles, and any college coach could utilize them at either position. Andrew has the same range, but he does not look for his shot as often. Aaron can bring the ball up court just fine too, but he does not have to often.
Either way, on the big time stage both players impressed and gave Terrapins fans a reason to salivate at the thought of them leading the charge in 2013. With both Mark Turgeon and Kentucky coach front and center, I would assume the two got some serious recruiting pitches last night simply by the two’s presence. It’s a package deal, too, so you can’t have one without the other. Essentially, when the two announce (via Instagram) in September, it’s going to be all or nothing for Maryland or Kentucky. That decision may be par for the course for Kentucky, but it would truly change the tides of Maryland basketball, priming them to become a powerhouse for at least two seasons.
Here’s hoping that Turgeon gave them some free shoes!
We all know by now that the Wizards have the third pick in the draft, and as a wise spider-based superhero once said, “With great draft position comes great responsibility.” Or something along those lines. In this segment of A Case for Drafting, we finally check out Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the other player who the Wizards will hypothetically select on June 28th. Kidd-Gilchrist, the youngest but arguably most important piece on the National Championship winning Kentucky Wildcats, is the type of guy who can develop into a multifaceted NBA player. His intangibles are what make him great, though his on the court prowess is in no way scoff-worthy.
Where do you begin with a young man like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? He is such a well rounded player and individual that it’s difficult to pinpoint one exact thing that he does incredibly well. But while watching film of this guy, the one skill that’s often overlooked yet remains a crucial element to MKG’s game is his defense. Almost unarguably, Anthony Davis was the defensive catalyst behind that championship Kentucky squad, but great defensive teams consist of more than one part. If Davis is 1a, then Kidd-Gilchrist is 1b on that roster when it comes to defense. On the defensive end, MKG has not only the physical attributes (6’7 1/2 with a 6’10 wingspan), but the passion and mental will to become a prolific defender.
Often tasked with guarding the toughest perimeter players, MKG held his own nearly every contest. He possesses incredible footwork which allows him to move laterally better than almost any player I’ve seen coming out of college. MKG stays in front of the player he is guarding (be it one through four, mind you) almost always, a credit to his side to side speed. It’s a skill that takes years of refinement at the professional level in order to become as good as MKG already is at it. He’s going to be able to defend just about anyone at the next level, and that’s could potentially be his bread and butter.
MKG also has a very good instinctual blocking and stealing ability, which typically goes hand in hand with players who possess high basketball IQ’s. Kidd-Gilchrist knows when to jump in order to contest a shot, and doesn’t really bite on the pump fake moves. He was also great at swatting the shots of players who managed to penetrate into the lane. MKG is actually quick enough that he can provide help defense and switch off his man at will strictly because of his strength and quickness; he can recover whenever he needs to.
What else does MKG do well? Fills the passing lanes and rebounds. Were deflecting passes and balls a skill, MKG would have led the NCAA in that statistic. He is constantly disrupting the lane and punishing other team’s for their sloppy or late passes. His 7.4 rebounds per contest also put him in the upper echelon of perimeter rebounders. There are very few players who can grab that many boards with Anthony Davis mopping the glass, bu MKG is in a select group. He simply has a nose for the ball.
Again, all of this goes back to his team-first mentality in that MKG will do whatever it takes to win a basketball game. His work ethic is what scouts gush on and on and on about, and that same work ethic is what turns good players into great ones. Shaquille O’Neal once said (in one of his smarter moments), “Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.” This applies to MKG in that his work ethic may very well take him to heights his natural athleticism and competitiveness can’t.
In the NBA, most top 5 picks don’t have incredibly major red flags when it comes to scoring; Kidd-Gilchrist is the exception to that rule. There basically isn’t a whole lot to like about him on the offensive end, and scouts have serious concerns about his ability to develop into a second or third (or even fourth) option at the next level.
His jump shot is weird looking, let’s just get that out of the way now. It has a hitch in it where, despite being right handed, Kidd-Gilchrist shoots the ball from the left side of his body. No, it’s not Desmond Mason shooting free throws, but it isn’t aesthetically pleasing. He also tends to kick his legs out on his jumper and fade a bit, which may further exacerbate the issue. Kidd-Gilchrist might actually already realize that his shot is bad, and it could be why he took the least amount of shots on his team at 18.6%. He can make the midrange jump shot, but not nearly consistent enough to justify using it on the offensive end anytime soon. And while he can occasionally hit the three point shot, he is not going to be good at it off the bat in the NBA. MKG needs to put hours upon hours into the gym (which he does already) in order to develop a consistent jumper.
The bulk of his offense came on back downs, put backs, and transition points (again, this speaks to his great basketball instincts) when Kentucky rushed the ball up the court. At the professional level, he is going to have a very hard time backing down more athletic, similarly sized wing players and the put backs might be limited against taller defenders. That leaves him with transition buckets and drawing contact, which doesn’t scream out “lottery pick” to me.
Another thing that you notice when watching MKG is that he isn’t a very good ball handler, and as such struggles with pull up shots and beating men off the dribble. He has yet to develop the ability to blow by a defender on his way to the rack, despite being quick and agile enough to do so. It simply isn’t pretty when he’s forced into an isolation situation, and more often than not MKG will pass the ball off after failing to get past his man. Shouldering past your opponent and rising up in the lane is something that lots of small forwards in the NBA have a natural instinct for strictly based on athleticism, and yet it’s a skill MKG is going to have to learn.
MKG and Andre Iguodala are eerily similar on the basketball court. They’re both athletes (though Andre is overwhelming in that category) who do a whole lot of the intangible things correctly on the court. Coming out of college, Iggy Pop averaged 12.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists (MKG averaged 11.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 2 APG). Both players were on teams chock full of NBA talent(Andre’s Arizona squad had Channing Frye, Luke Walton, Salim Stoudamire, Mustafa Shakur, and Hassan Adams), and as a result were asked to do things other than score in order to win games. In the NBA, it took Iguodala about two to three years in order to develop into what could be considered a third option on the floor. Despite being the second and third look throughout his career, Iguodala excels more at being a complimentary piece rather than an offensive scorer, and that’s exactly how I can see MKG panning out.
MKG’s downside isn’t really that bad. A lot of websites have Gerald Wallace as his downside, meaning he’s a guy who, through sheer will and determination, will score points and hit the boards hard. I think that’s certainly reasonable, as Wallace is a very strong defender and, while not being a major scoring threat, could still play a major part on a championship team. He’s a guy that plays basketball the right way and physically can hang in the NBA, so MKG’s downside is limited.
Why He’s a Good Fit in the District
From an offensive basketball standpoint, not necessarily all that well. Were Washington to select Kidd-Gilchrist, they’d be adding an offensively inept player to an offensively starved team. MKG won’t be a scoring threat anytime soon, so a John Wall kick out isn’t going to help out at all. That’s not to say that down the road MKG won’t turn out to be a fantastic player and fit for the Wizards, it’s just conceding that his skill set currently doesn’t work with this roster. There are enough paint scoring presences in Seraphin, Nene, Booker and Wall (he’s not scoring from outside of 8 feet too often), that adding MKG would make the team very one dimensional. I’m not sure if that’s the best idea.
He would, however, be a major addition in terms of transition scoring with his steals and speed. He and John Wall would work very well together in that regard, as they both excel at that aspect of the game. Last year, Washington was third in the league in fastbreak points at 17.9 per game, so I’m not certain that they can get a whole lot better at doing that if we’re being honest. Sacramento was the second best, so it’s not as if more transition points means more wins. It’s a crapshoot. Washington already gets out in front against people, and what they really need is scoring.
Still, MKG is a guy who would bring a winning pedigree to a losing team, and that intangible has to be taken into consideration. Kidd-Gilchrist works out and works out the right way, and if any of that rubs off on Andray Blatche or John Wall, the Wizards are going to get a whole lot better at basketball.
Everyone seems to be hung up on who the Wizards should be drafting with the third pick in this year’s draft, but what they’re forgetting is that Washington also holds two other second round picks. While there may only be one franchise-potential player in Anthony Davis, this draft is in no way bereft of very talented role players that could slip to Washington at 32. Instead of focusing on who we should take in the first round, let’s look at some of the talent that might be had later on. Obviously, our two biggest needs are at the SG and SF position, so it would be safe to assume the Wizards will be looking at guys who play those positions.
SG: Tony Wroten, William Buford
If Tony Wroten manages to fall out of the first round, the Wizards would be very wise to scoop this kid up. Wroten, a 6-5 combo guard, played his college ball at the University of Washington where he averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Some draft websites compare him to Tyreke Evans, and when you watch film on him you can see the comparison is pretty accurate. Wroten is an incredible athlete who uses his quick first step and body strength to attack the basket with ease. He also draws contact on a consistent basis when he jets into the lane, averaging 7.5 free throw attempts per contest. One of Wroten’s greatest strengths, however, lies in his court vision. His assists don’t just come off of kick outs to open shooters, but he actually delivers creative, pinpoint, Rajon Rondo-esque dimes all over the court. Wroten makes players around him better through his ability to read the defense and find players for wide open layups once the defensive help slides off their man in an attempt to guard him.
“But wait! There’s more!”
There is definitely more and it ain’t pretty. Wroten is an absolutely miserable shooter. Despite getting to the line a lot, Wroten shot Ben Wallace numbers from the charity stripe at 58.3%. What’s the point in getting to the line if you can only convert just over half of those shots? His jump shot looks funky, and it’s not even close to being NBA-ready. John Wall shoots better than him, and I’m not sure having a backcourt where Wall is your best shooter is a winning ticket. Sure, he can pass the ball very well and has decent size for his position, but his inability to hit midrange shots, three’s (16.1%), or anything but layups simply won’t work with Wall on the court.
Oh, and he can’t go right.
Were I the GM during the second round of this year’s draft, I’d take a good, long look at William Buford. Buford, the 6’5, 215 lb senior out of Ohio State, looks like what you’d want a two guard to be in the NBA. Despite not really being an elite athlete, Buford managed to become one of the most prolific scorers in Ohio State basketball history with 1,990 career points scored (the leader is Dennis Hopson with 2,096). His natural scoring instincts and overall feel for the game allowed him to mask his physical shortcomings in order to be in the right places to make buckets. He moves well without the ball, and during his college career evolved into a very formidable catch and shoot player. Buford is also very capable of knocking down the midrange jump shot coming off screens. He’s a competent rebounder, and plays well off a ball-dominant point guard while still moving the ball within an offense. Buford also brings a winning pedigree and intangibles like solid character to any team he plays for. His experience and age would fit right in with this young bunch of Wizards.
What ‘ol Will Buford lacks, however, is shot creation due to his lack of athleticism. He isn’t fast enough to create a lot of separation between himself and the defender, and if he can’t do it at the college level, that flaw will certainly limit his potential at the next level. Buford will struggle with more athletic wings without a point guard feeding him exactly where he needs to be, and although he does have a sturdy build, it’s not going to matter if he can’t break free from his defender. His efficiency plummeted when he was asked to do more during his senior year, and his three point shooting dipped from 44% as a junior to 36%. It’s understandable, as more reps typically leads to diminished stat lines, but it doesn’t suggest he’s going to be an elite scorer at the next level. I do think he could become a knock down shooter and defensive specialist, though. John Wall could certainly be a guy who can extend his career quite a bit by opening up the floor for him, which is why I think the Wizards would be wise to take a gander at him.
SF: Will Barton
I’ve been pretty high on Will Barton since he came out of high school, and not just because he stuck around despite Calipari jumping ship from Memphis for greener pastures in Kentucky. Last season, Barton averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game while leading the Memphis Tigers to an NCAA Tournament birth. On the court, he looks like a 6’6 noodle, as his wiry frame is the main reason Barton isn’t going to be drafted early on. Weighing only 174 lbs is never, ever, a good sign for a wing player, as he is going to be prone to backdowns in the post and being bullied by guys like Andre Iguodala and some LeBron James guy. Honestly, when Lebron outweighs you by 100 lbs, it’s almost hazardous to your healthy to take a charge from him. Barton might break in half even attempting to finish a shot around the bucket against big men (which is a shame since he’s actually a good finisher). And that’s the point, really. Barton obviously needs to add weight if he intends to be as effective scoring in the NBA as he was in college.
So why do I want the Wizards to draft him? Because even though he’s rail thin, he’s still a really good ball player who can score in more ways than one. Barton shot 56% from two-point range last year, and his consistency has improved by leaps and bounds during his sophomore season at Memphis. Will Barton doesn’t have a go-to scoring move because he doesn’t really need one; he’s one of the more versatile scorers you’ll find. Midrange? Check. Long range? Check. Transition points? Check. He’s pretty good at all of those things, and the result is that it keeps the defenses guessing. Leave him alone, and he’s more than capable at drilling a three in your face. Give him too much space, and watch out because he’s got a very quick release with a dangerous step back jumper from midrange. His 6’9 wingspan gives him a higher release point than most guys his size as well, which figures to help him out at the next level.
Barton also has a 34 inch vertical to boot, and his long arms make him a prime candidate for steals. Whenever I watch this guy play he immediately brings to mind a more talented, slightly smaller Tayshaun Prince. I think Barton has the basketball smarts and scoring instinct to develop into a starter at the NBA level, and if he adds a bit more bulk his ceiling raises significantly. He’s also shown improvement over his college career and scouts consider him a pretty hard worker, so there’s no reason to suggest he won’t continue that progression during his NBA career. A starter right away? He probably could, but a year splitting time with Chris Singleton can’t hurt. I think his athleticism and shooting skills would mesh with the breakneck pace John Wall sets for the Wizards, and his ability to knock down the mid range can’t be understated.
By: The DC Dime Staff
With the lottery behind us and the NBA draft only a few short weeks away, I’m sure every Wizards fan is wondering the same question: Who are the Wizards going to draft with the #3 pick? While my colleagues and I may have some pretty comprehensive knowledge on the subjects of NBA draft and the draft, we’re not experts. But while we aren’t, there are some websites that excel at providing some of the most in-depth, impressive, and knowledgeable information on the draft process and the players within.
NBADraft.net is arguably the best out there in terms of draft knowledge, and The DC Dime has been reading it since it’s inception. We managed to get Johnathan Wasserman, one of the writers and analysts for NBADraft.net, to take some time out of his day to answer for Wizards fans a few questions regarding the draft:
DC: Thomas Robinson projects to be, at worst, a great rebounder in the NBA. Where do you see his potential falling? All-Star or borderline All-Star/Role Player.
JW: I think 18 and 8 are realistic numbers by year 3 for T-Rob. He’s much more than just a ridiculous athlete with NBA strength. But I’d be weary of pairing him with Nene to start. Both occupy similar floorspace, which could hinder his progression.
DC: Is Andre Drummond Kwame Brown 2.0? Or is this comparison insulting to Kwame?
JW: Outside of Davis, nobody’s ceiling is higher than Drummond’s. If he figures it out, someone will have landed themselves a starting big for years to come. Problem is big men are vulnerable to underachieving, and his raw offensive game is worrisome. But his basement is not the same as Kwame Brown’s. If Drummond never figures it out offensively, he’s still likely be the most athletic, explosive big man on the court.
DC: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a great player, but not necessarily a great shooter. Should Washington look elsewhere in the draft to address this need? Or do you select MKG based on future potential.
JW: I’d don”t think MKG has a high ceiling. I’m think he can start for many teams in the near future, but don’t expect much half court offense. In my opinion Washington needs another half-court scoring weapon, and that’s not what MKG is. He’s a quintessential glue guy who can play off better players. But unfortunately on Washington he doesn’t have great players to compliment.
DC: If you had to decide today, what do the Wizards do with this pick?
JW: My draft board for Washington, assuming Davis goes 1, would read :1. Beal 2. Drummond 3. Robinson
Thanks again, Jonathan, for alleviating some of the fan concerns about this draft!
For all your NBA Draft information, check out http://www.NBADraft.net for the best coverage!
Tags: andre drummond, Anthony Davis, basketball, beal, blatche, bradley beal, calipari, draft, drummond, florida, Hoyas, Kentucky, nba, NBA Draft, nbadraft.net, sports, Terps, Thomas Robinson, Wizards
The alarm went off at 7:15 am, I dragged myself out of bed and began my usual morning routine to get ready for my job that I actually make money from. Then it hit me, the day I’d been waiting for since February had finally arrived. Today we found out if the Wizards were going to be adding the Unibrow to end all Unibrow’s to its roster.
Needless to say, this put a little pep in my step that normally would be nonexistent on a Wednesday where I had to go into the office. I dawned my John Wall t-shirt under my shirt and tie for perceived good luck and embarked on what I need would be my least productive day at work to date. There was a hint of something in the D.C. air that morning, I’m not talking about whatever smell is emanating from the Potomac River nowadays either. It took a moment for me to realize that it was hope.
For Wizards fans, however, hope takes on a different kind of meaning. Sure, we all hoped that, potential hair club for men spokesman, Adam Silver would pull the Wizards logo out of an envelope and the #1 pick would be ours. Just as many of us, the realists who know our draft history at least, were hopeful that we would not get screwed and fall as far as we possibly could and be left picking 5th. Leaving diehards like myself reeling all day long at the notion of Ernie Grunfeld having to wait until four of the more sure fire prospects were off the board to make our selection. Or what I like to call it, the Andre Drummond/ Perry Jones III nightmare.
The tension mounted as the day bore on. Finding myself more unfocused than ever at my desk I took to playing the mock lottery machine on ESPN.com thinking this would be an effective way to pass time. Four out of my first five attempts at the machine resulted in the Wizards landing the top pick. It got to the point where I was unsure if I wanted to continue playing as I thought everything from I don’t want to jinx it to maybe ESPN caters this to your IP address so your local team wins more.
Not wanting to be “That guy” I stopped playing the game and took to Twitter for my NBA related entertainment. The last two hours of unproductive activity flew by and only a 50 minute commute home on the Metro stood between me, some beers with the guys and what I hoped would be another turning point in Wizards franchise history. We convened at Clyde’s in Alexandria, because here at The DC Dime we like to keep it classy, and settled in for what would either be unparalleled elation or utter disappointment.
As a Wizards fan I’ve come to expect either the best or the worst and nothing in between. Shockingly enough, the in between is exactly what happened Wednesday night. The slots started coming in and everything was going as expected as we closed in on the dreaded 5th pick. The envelope is opened and its not the Wizards! Next slot comes off and we’re not the 4th pick either!
Going into the commercial break they show the remaining teams and place arrows next to Washington and New Orleans indicating we’d secured a spot in the top three. At this point we’ve all had a few adult beverages and one of my colleagues looks over at me and says “What the hell do those arrows mean!?!?” After calming his irrational fears the break was over and we were back to the lottery. I was on the edge of my bar stool as they opened the next envelope…
The Washington Wizards were selecting third. While it wasn’t the rights to the Unibrow, the slot where the Wiz landed was more than fine with me. Especially after Charlotte slid to the 2nd pick and it set in that the Unibrow wouldn’t be playing against us in the Southeast division I felt even better. New Orleans won the lottery for what I would assume were #BasketballReasons, as technically the team hasn’t been handed over to Tom Benson yet and are still owned by the league.
I began to think about who our options would be at #3 and felt good about who would be there. Then I realized that Michael Jordan is picking ahead of us and there is no set in stone second pick in this draft. Meaning the same man who took Kwame Brown over Pau Gasol would have to make a tough decision, immediately I felt better about our positioning. As quickly as it started it was over and with it was a day’s worth of worrying over falling to the fifth pick AGAIN.
We finished our beverages and left the bar, and at least I felt great about the way the evening turned out. This wasn’t just due to the silly oysters I had either. This was legitimate feelings of joy that we weren’t in a position where it was expected for our front office to screw this up.
Since then its come out that the Bobcats will look at “At least six players for the 2nd pick.” This seems like far to many to me when there are really only three options (MKG, Beal and Robinson). Having possibly one of the worst owners/executives in NBA history picking directly ahead of us is a great thing for Wizards fans. For all we know he’ll take another Tar Heel just to sell tickets.
We are officially within four weeks of the NBA Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ (Which shouldn’t be awkward considering it may be the last NBA sponsored event in the state for quite some time). Over the coming weeks we will see a plethora of prospects come through the Nation’s capital for a chance to audition in front of our coaches at the Phone Booth.
This is a draft where we cannot afford to miss on our pick and not land an impact player going forward. Ernie and the rest of the Wizards brain trust will have their work cut out for them over the next month in setting up their draft board and targeting prospects. Personally, I am hoping for either Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal. But I am equally thankful there are no Euro’s at the top of this years draft for Ernie to become infatuated with.
What were we left with after Wednesday nights events? The same thing I woke up with that morning, hope. It’s going to be a fun next four weeks and The DC Dime will be with you the entire way up until draft night on June 28th.
Tags: Anthony Davis, basketball, beal, brad beal, bradley beal, Ernie Grunfeld, John Wall, Kentucky, michael kidd-gilchrist, mkg, NCAA, sports, Thomas Robinson, 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
Washington Wizards vs Milwaukee Bucks
7:00 PM Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
PG: John Wall vs. Brandon Jennings
SG: Jordan Crawford vs. Monta Ellis
SF: Chris Singleton vs. Carlos Delfino
PF: Jan Vesely vs. Ersan Illyasova
C: Kevin Seraphin vs. Drew Gooden
Why to watch: Two of the best young point guards in the NBA facing off at the Phone Booth.
As we enter the final stretch of a Wizards season, that has felt much longer than the 61 games actually played, we are treated to another match up of quality, young point guards. The deadline move by Milwaukee to acquire noted gunner Monta Ellis has proven to work out for their incumbent PG Brandon Jennings. The Bucks backcourt is averaging over 40 PPG and 12.9 APG in their last seven contests. This should prove to be a great test for the Wizards young backcourt of John Wall and Jordan Crawford. They will both need to put forth a great effort on the defensive end to slow down Jennings and Ellis.
While the effort will absolutely need to be there for the Wiz Kids on defense I believe they will get plenty of looks on offense. While Jennings and Ellis are both potent scorers, defense isn’t the “Joe Forte” of either player. The fact is they are an undersized backcourt and that should allow for John Wall and Jordan Crawford to get a plethora of clean looks at the bucket tonight.
Underlying storyline: The continuing emergence of Kevin Seraphin
Another installment of SA (Seraphan’s Anonymous) will be in session tonight. It will commence at 7:00 pm at the Verizon Center, refreshments will be provided.
Coming off a 21 point, 13 rebound and 5 block performance in Chicago, Seraphin is continuing to develop into a force in the paint. Fellow Frenchman, Joakim Noah, was quoted after Monday’s game as saying “(Seraphin) could be dominant,”. That is some high praise coming from one of the better post defenders in the NBA. Seraphin needs to have a big game tonight for the Wizards to grab that 16th win.
Prediction: Wizards: 103 Bucks: 97
With the second worst record in the league all but locked up, and in turn the second best shot at the Unibrow, fans don’t have to sweat out Wizards wins anymore. I personally like this match up for our hometown team as long as Wittman can get them to keep up the intensity on defense. Tonight’s game will tell us a lot about our backcourt. Anytime you get a chance to go up against a duo who are perceived to be better than you the motivation to prove your worth as a player is there. Wall and Crawford need to go out tonight and prove their worth against a playoff caliber backcourt. In the end I believe that they will do just that and when you combine that with the type of production Seraphin has had as of late you’re staring at a great opportunity for the WizKids to grab a W tonight.
The Wizards haven’t really made too many big summertime splashes into free agency lately, and for good reason; after Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards have become a bit gun-shy (pun definitely intended). Hibachi schadenfreude aside, after going over the list of 2012 free agents, there are a few moves that could be made which might be sneaky pickups for the Wizards.
The three biggest faults that Washington has are at shooting guard, small forward, and on defense. Because we can address one of these needs through the draft, the logical move would be to pick up a free agent target to shore up another spot. Since we can’t know who the Wizards will draft just yet, we can only compile a list of potentially palatable players. So without further ado, here is that list:
1.) Eric Gordon – Restricted FA – New Orleans – I know, I know. Didn’t I just get done ranting about giving lofty contracts to injury-plagued players? Yes, Eric Gordon has missed the majority of his year with the New Orleans Hornets (courtesy of David Stern) due to a knee injury, but he remains the best shooting guard in the class. He’s on this list because he appears healthy (he just scored 31 points against San Antonio), and his game is not predicated on phenomenal athleticism. Gordon is an effective (albeit slightly overrated) shooter at the 2-position, and he’s as solid as they come. He’s got enough of a 3 point shot to keep defenses honest, and he’s not the worst defender ever. Sure he’s a little undersized, but when he’s healthy (never played a full season), he’s an incredibly gifted scorer. He is restricted, so he is likely to command a large price tag for his talents to come to Southeast.
2.) O.J. Mayo – Restricted FA – Memphis – People probably don’t remember this, but it was only 3 short years ago that Mr. Mayo was averaging 18.5 PPG for Memphis as a rookie and playing some damn good all around basketball to the point where he was considered a ROY candidate. Since then, his play has gone completely downhill and he’s been overshadowed by fellow draftees Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love. That’s not even half the list, actually, but that doesn’t mean you can blame O.J. this time! He’s been relegated to the bench in Memphis to bolster a second unit in need of a creating presence. But that’s not his game, and he’s got the talent to be a starter. In fact, he may even be a safer pickup than Gordon. His game would be fairly well tailored for the Wizards offense, and he’d benefit greatly from a point guard like John Wall (he’s a 37% career shooter from deep). Downside: Memphis may want to keep him. But his production has dropped off so much that they might be better off cutting their ties.
Sleeper 3.) Jodie Meeks – Restricted FA – Philadelphia – Didn’t this guy play at Kentucky before Calipari came? You’re darn right he did, and they were just not that good. Jodie Meeks was, however! At least when it came to scoring. That has nothing to do with the NBA, and yet it does. He was talented scorer who scouts saw as one-dimensional coming out of college. And while he still is a bit of a tweener at a generous 6’4, he can be had for cheap and he can still score (See: His 31 point performance vs. Washington this year). Meeks has seen his minutes go up significantly this year, and that’s because he has found the one thing he was notorious for in college: the long ball, baby (he once made 10 three’s in a game). He’d be a nice piece for the Wizards, assuming the 76ers aren’t going to throw money at him.
Yes, Gerald Wallace is in this class, so is Grant Hill, but neither of these players at their age are good for Washington. We’ve learned our lesson. There are only two options here..
1.) Nicolas Batum – Restricted FA – Portland – Were the Wizards to get Nic Batum, they’d be grabbing another young Frenchman to play alongside fellow countryman Kevin Seraphin. I’m not sure the Blazers are going to be willing to give up on Batum, who has had his best year so far as a pro (14 PPG, 4.6 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal). He does it all, but he does it all inconsistently night in and night out. He’s got the most upside of any small forward in this free agency class, and he’s a 40% shooter from deep. There are going to be a lot of suitors bidding for his services, and he may just be a tad too pricey for the Wizards. That being said, if Batum were to leave, he’d be a huge boon at the 3, as he plays great defense and has exceptional length for a 6’8 guy.
2.) Michael Beasley/Anthony Randolph – These two guys don’t even really play small forward, and they both come with the same baggage: inconsistency. Beasley is a local, lovable, stoner who has all the basketball talent in the world, but has absolutely no interest in defense. He wants the ball, and he wants to score. Anthony Randolph could presumably play any position on the floor, but he isn’t the smartest basketball player in the world. Randolph did manage to fill in very admirably for Kevin Love when he went down last year, but he has fallen out of coaches favor everywhere he goes. A freak athlete and a stoner, both can ball, both have huge upsides; both need to put it all together elsewhere.
Sleeper 3.) Antawn Jamison – Unrestricted FA – Cleveland – …..Just kidding.
This list doesn’t really merit a scouting report, because I can sum it all up for you in a few short sentences: “Plays stingy defense against opposing shooting guards/small forwards,” “Exceptional hustle, has intangibles on and off the court,” “A real locker room presence,” and “Can be had for dirt cheap”
1.) Sam Young – Restricted FA – Memphis – Former Pitt Panther and D.C area native (Friendly High)
2.) Wilson Chandler – Restricted FA – Denver – Small forward hybrid
3.) Ronnie Price – Unrestricted FA – Phoenix – He plays basketball.
@ 7:30 pm Washington Wizards (12-42) vs Los Angeles Lakers (20-33)
PG: John Wall vs Rodney Stuckey
SG: Jordan Crawford vs Ben Gordon
SF: Chris Singleton vs Tayshaun Prince
PF: Jan Vesely vs Jason Maxiell
C: Kevin Seraphin vs Greg Monroe
Why you should watch: Two young centers pit it out
Greg Monroe is looking more and more like the steal of the ’10 draft, where he went #7 overall to the Pistons. In just two short years, he’s already one of the top bigs in not just the Eastern Conference, but the NBA. You read that correctly. For a team that’s been in shambles since the boneheaded decision by Joe Dumars to sign Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon to big contracts, Monroe is the lone bright spot. On the year he’s averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per contest, but the stats don’t tell the story on what makes Monroe special. He’s a student of the game, and the way he plays is founded more around an understanding of basketball than athleticism. He can accurately hit cutters, and he’s very good at finding the open man when he’s doubled. He’s not going to wow you, but at the end of the game you’re left impressed.
Then there’s Kevin Seraphin; another 2010 draftee (17th pick) who seems to have figured out how to help the Wizards with his play. He’s gone from bench warmer to the future in a very short period of time, but Seraphin plays the game the right way. He hustles, and looks legitimately angry when something doesn’t go his way (a missed shot, an uncalled foul, etc). His fiery play is gaining league-wide recognition, and it appears that Seraphin-Monroe might be a solid matchup for years to come. Seraphin is going to have to really stay ahead of Monroe, because there’s a definite length disparity. The last time the two teams played on the 26th, Seraphin was at the PF spot, while Nene held Monroe to 10 and 10. I look for Seraphin to utilize his speed and athleticism to minimize Monroe similarly.
Underlying Storyline: Revenge.
There have been a lot of losses this season, but the one that truly sticks out to me is the latest loss to the Pistons. If you need a refresher, that was the game where Rodney Stuckey ate up Washington for 12 fourth quarter points, two of which transpired in the last second of the game for a Piston win. The Wizards choked away that game, and let waste away what was a very solid defensive effort (they only let up 79 points). All game long John Wall and Jordan Crawford held Stuckey and former Kentucky Wildcat Brandon Knight in check—until that last play. If there’s any amount of competitiveness on this team, it’s going to show up tonight.
Prediction: The band rushes the court as the Zards take home a much needed W heading into the weekend (while also helping DC fans ignore the fact that the Caps face elimination). Nice win 97-95 Wiz
The South Region boasts some extremely intriguing matchups, fueled by a few interesting decisions from the selection committee. Kentucky, the region’s top seed and the top ranked team nationally for much of the season, was rewarded for their play this year with the toughest route to the Final Four of all the top seeds from this Dimers estimation. After a rout of a sacrificial 16th seed, the Wildcats would potentially have to go through the defending national champions, UCONN, one of the two teams that beat them this season, Indiana, and the winner of a Duke/Baylor matchup to take their dance to Bourbon Street. Although most expect Calipari to take Kentucky to a 14th Final Four, there is sure to be a ton of drama from the South Region.
1) Kentucky Wildcats: John Calipari’s bunch has spent this season taking everybody’s best shot each and every night out. Wildcat faithful got to hope this was enough experience to prepare this young bunch for their first (and only) NCAA Tournament. Youth aside, this team is stockpiled with future NBA lottery picks, including POY favorite Anthony Davis. They are primed for a run through the tournament, and anything short of cutting down the nets in New Orleans will be a big disappointment.
2) Duke Blue Devils: Whenever discussing favorites, it’s been hard to keep Coach K’s Devils out of the conversation for decades. The Program consistently puts out extremely competitive teams, and this year’s team is no different. The Plumlee’s anchor the middle, while Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Ryan Kelly chuck it from deep. If Duke gets hot from deep, they could make their way through the region and threaten Kentucky for a spot in New Orleans.
1) VCU (12)-Wichita State (5): Last year’s unlikely national runner-up, VCU, drew a Wichita State team that wouldn’t shock most (no pun intended) if they made a run to the Sweet 16. The Shockers are one of the nation’s leading scoring teams (15th in points per game), and VCU’s fast-paced, pressing defense will need to slow down that bunch to make up for their woeful offense (169th in points per game). We will see if Shaka Smart’s bunch brought their glass slippers again to this year Big Dance.
2) Iowa State (8)- Connecticut (9): This matchup is intriguing to me because it could be Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun’s last game as head coach of the Huskies. Over the last few years health issues, and some controversy surrounding the program have caused speculation that this could be Calhoun’s last season. Throw in the fact Iowa State’s Royce White, their leader in all statistical categories, will be looking to put on a great show against the more-heralded Andre Drummond, and this is a juicy first round matchup.
Potential Match ups
1) Kentucky (1)- UCONN (8): Who wouldn’t want to watch the projected number 1 and 2 pick in this year’s NBA draft duel it out in the NCAA tournament?
2) Kentucky (1)- Duke (2): I say it is no coincidence that these two college basketball blue-bloods have a chance to meet again for the opportunity to go to the Final Four in the 20th year since Christian Laettner’s turn-around. The talent on the floor make the game juicy, but it’s the coaching match up that has me hoping to see this scenario play out. No two coaches do things more differently than K and Calipari. Calipari hops from school to school, leaving vacated Final Four’s in his wake. Coach K has been manning the sidelines at Duke for 35 years, graduating seniors and winning championships.
Players to Watch
NBA Lottery Picks: The South Region boasts the deepest pool of NBA Lottery talent of all four regions. Projected top picks Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Perry Jones III, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller, and Quincy Miller highlight the crop of talent in the South.
CJ McCullum - Lehigh: Two-Time Patriot Year POY, McCullum is the lead guard for the Mountain Hawks and a top mid-major performer. If Lehigh is to pull off the upset against Duke, McCullum will be the reason why. He has averaged 22 points and 6.5 rebounds a game this year, and will be out to show he is in the same class as the guards from Duke.
Mike Moser – UNLV: the UCLA transfer, Moser was a welcome addition to the Runnin’ Rebels this year. Leading the team in both points and rebounds, the big man is the anchor of UNLV’s defense. Expect Moser to eat up the backboard and challenge Baylor’s interior in their potential third round match up.
Tu Hollaway – Xavier: Few players have had a season as trying as Hollaway. After an extremely hot start to the year, the central figure in the now infamous brawl with Cincinnati, has since had a very inconsistent year. Hollaway’s insistence to keep it real after the brawl hurt his image with both Xavier’s fans and potential NBA suitors. Nothing could wash away the bitter season quite as fast as some magic in March.
UNLV: This team has had some up’s and down’s this season, but has the potential to make a run in this South Region. UNLV boasts an athletic squad that likes to play at a high-tempo. If they can get hot from the outside, like they did in their win this season against UNC, the Rebels will be a tough out. Potential matchup Baylor boasts a similar team to that UNC squad, and Duke has historically struggled with teams that are more athletic than they are. If the chips fall in their favor, do not be surprised to see UNLV in the Elite Eight.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are the country’s most talented team. They are fresh off an extremely disappointing loss in the SEC Championship, and this was the wake-up call needed to fuel a deep run in March. I expect to see this team play inspired basketball, take the South Region crown, and challenge for the national championship.