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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

Tag Archives: Kevin Seraphin

The Washington Wizards, with the help of a furious rally starting in the third quarter and stretching into the fourth, were able to make the Atlanta Hawks nervous last night after falling behind by 18 before ultimately falling to their division rival 104-95. Washington cut the Hawks lead to 84-82 before Atlanta finished the game on a 20-13 run ending any hope of another Wizards comeback. Kevin Seraphin and Bradley Beal led Washington on offense with 19 and 18 points respectively. Beal was the only starter to crack double digits as the other four Wizards starters (AJ Price, Chris Singleton, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor) could only muster 20 combined points on the evening going a combined 10-23 from the floor and 1-2 from the foul line.

Washington simply did not put a full 48 minutes together on the road in Atlanta like they did at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center earlier in the week against Miami. While the comeback is admirable this team simply does not have the level of talent to constantly dig themselves out of double digit holes. It feels like a broken record when I say it but the story remains the same in a majority of these losses. Until this team can put a full 48 minutes together and compete on at an NBA level these results will continue. Quite frankly, even whenever this team finally gets back to full health it would still be rough to continue playing this way night in and night out and expect to compete for victories.

The Hawks absolutely blitzed Washington last night as all five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits led by Josh Smith and his 23 points and 15 rebounds. Al Horford made his presence felt as well as he notched another double double finishing the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds on 7-11 from the field. Washington had no answer for these two players last night and when you let them go off and allow all three of their starting guards to score at least 15 points like the Wizards did last night you really stand no chance.

It was an0ther rough road lesson for a team still searching for their first taste of victory away from home. The only saving grace is that there is no time for the Wizards to think about this loss as they find themselves right back at it this evening against the Golden State Warriors in D.C.

The Teams: Golden State Warriors (12-7) vs. Washington Wizards (2-14)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast Sportsnet DC/106.7 The Fan DC

Why You Should Watch:

Stephen Curry might put on a shooting display. The Warriors come to the Nation’s capital having won nine out of their last twelve games as Curry and David Lee have been leading the way for the Warriors for the most part. Andrew Bogut continues to struggle to get healthy making the Monta Ellis trade from last season look more and more questionable with every game Bogut misses which certainly wasnt the plan when the Warriors made that trade last year. On the season Golden State is 6-4 on the road and are coming off of back to back wins on the road over Detroit and Brooklyn respectively.

Why The Wizards Can Win:

This game is being played at home. So far, and especially of late, the Wizards have shown they are playing much better basketball at home than they are on the road. This isnt overly surprising as most teams do better playing in their own arena than when they have to travel throughout the country. Golden State is in the middle of their longest road trip of the season and could be primed to be picked off by a team they could potentially be taking lightly. Should the Wizards be able to slow down the Warriors duo of Curry and Lee then they should be in this game at the end with a chance to get their third win at home in as many tries.

Pick:

I think both teams will come out sluggish as both played in different cities last night. As the game bores on look for Bradley Beal to build off of last nights 18 point effort and for Kevin Seraphin to continue to be the Wizards best offensive big man as Washington takes the game at home over the streaking Warriors.

Washington: 94

Golden State: 89

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The Wizards have won three games in a row versus the Miami Heat stretching back to last season, let that sink in for a second.

This is the third longest winning streak against the Heatles for this franchise since Miami’s inception in 1989. For some perspective, the last time the Wizards/Bullets won at least three games in a row against Miami was the 2007/2008 season. The time before that? How about the first four meetings between the two teams all the way back in 1989/1990.

Going into last nights contest I said that for the Wizards to be successful in their quest for a second victory on the season they would have to out work Miami in every facet of the game. To be honest, that is exactly what happened at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. Washington came out with a lot of energy, as I thought they would, in response to the beating the Knicks handed them last Friday at the Mecca of basketball in New York City and took it to the South Beach trio all night long.

Washington was able to put up 60 points in the first half, a season high, on 58% shooting (21/36) from the floor. This was the first of many impressive stat lines for this team on the evening. Washington outrebounded Miami 44 to 43 on the evening led by Kevin Seraphin who pulled down 10 rebounds off of the bench. The Wizards were uncharacteristically unselfish last night as well setting a season high for assists in a single game with 31. When you can have assists on 31 of the 38 total baskets you score in a game more times than not you are setting yourself up for success.

It was going to take an inspired effort by multiple Wizards players to take down the defending champions last night, thankfully there were plenty of Wizards who stepped up to the plate…mainly Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin. Crawford was feeling his jump shot early on and, in typical JC fashion, Crawford filled it up leading the Wizards with 22 points and 6 assists. Kevin Seraphin provided another massive boost off the bench for the Wizards as well. The French big man finished the evening with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. What was so special about Seraphin’s performance last night was how lights out he was from the floor. Seraphin took 12 shots and converted on 8 of them, shooting 75% from the field against the defending champions is one solid night at the office.

It needs to be noted that the Miami Heat did not just roll over and give this game away to Washington as some would assume. There was not a comfortable Wizards fan in the arena last night until the clock showed 0.0 and the Wiz Kids had officially doubled their win total on the 2012/2013 season. LeBron had a triple double, Chris Bosh went 8/11 from the field and Dwayne Wade finished with 24 points so the big three certainly showed up. The entire Heat roster probably didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, as most NBA teams couldn’t hang with them were they clicking on all cylinders, and that was good enough for Washington to creep up and earn the upset victory. Wizards players. coaches and fans alike had to withstand a furious comeback by the Heat as Miami closed what was a 10 point cushion down to a one possession game with less than 10 seconds remaining before they were finally able to do some celebrating.

A win is a win and for Wizards fans they have been few and far between so far this season. Washington has won two out of its last three including its last two games at the friendly confinds of the Verizon Center. Washington has a chance to stretch their win total to three as they travel to Atlanta this Friday to avenge a one point loss at the buzzer to the Hawks. Check back later in the week as we will have a full preview of Friday’s contest.

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By: Willis

Welp, you knew it had to end eventually. The Olympic basketball semifinals/finals are not for everyone. In this case, they are definitely not for any former or current Washington Wizard/Maryland Terrapin players, as none remain in the tournament. Wednesday was just a day for closing out.

First, Russia edged former Terrapin  Sarunas Jasikevicius and Lithuania in a hard fought battle 83-74. Jasikevicius, in what will likely be the swan song performance for his Olympic career, looked every bit his age by going 1-of-4 from the field over 19 minutes for three points. Not to mention his turnover problem reemerging, as he finished the game with six total against only three assists. He was clearly having problems getting around future Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved, who even on a poor shooting night still outplayed him. Furthermore, it really just seemed like Jasikevicius was getting minutes because it could have potentially been his final game. Younger guard Mantas Kalnietis probably should have received more playing time, and in fact would have put them in a better position to win (as much as it pains me to say that about Sarunas).

(Strike one)

Next, Kevin Seraphin and France were dogged by Spain in the fourth quarter of their 66-59 loss that could have been closer were it not for so many French mental errors. Seraphin had, without a doubt, his worst game of the tournament, playing only 7 minutes while registering more fouls and turnovers (three each; six total) than points and rebounds (three). As is his propensity for picking up quick fouls, yesterday was no different as he quickly rendered himself worthless via sloppy play. They certainly could have used him against Marc and Pau Gasol, as former Wizard Ronny Turiaf looked like absolute garbage, culminating with his embarrassing hard foul which essentially cost France the game (though that torch will be passed to Nicolas Batum).

(Strike two)

Finally, Argentina fought off a furious late-game run by Nene and Brazil to hold on and win the “Battle of South America” 82-77. Nene, presumably playing injured, was the lone bright spot for local fans as he gritted out a poor shooting performance with all around good play. He logged the most minutes during any tournament game up to that point yesterday with 27, and the result was a nice 12 rebound, 7 point performance. His facilitating play late in the game opened up the floor for Brazil and spurred their 23 point fourth quarter in which they cut a 12 point deficit down to three.

Unfortunately, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, and Juan Pedro Gutierez gave Nene, Cavs center Anderson Varejao and Spurs forward Tiago Splitter work on the defensive end all game, combining to score 40 of the 82 Argentinian points. Nene also had two careless goaltending calls late in the game, which didn’t necessarily help his team (though you can’t blame him for trying). Overall, Nene didn’t play terribly by any means, but his offensive production wasn’t there when Brazil needed it most during their 2nd and 3rd quarter droughts.

(Strike three, you’re out)

Final Grades:

Kevin Seraphin: B-

Seraphin should have been much more effective throughout this tournament, but his positive play was marred by the fact that he constantly got into foul trouble. He finished the tournament averaging 6 points and 3.3 rebounds over 6 games, with his best performance being a 10 point, 7 rebound, and 3 block line against Argentina. At times, Seraphin seemed like one of the best players on the court, while in other instances he just looked lost against more dominating forwards. He averaged just over a block a game during the tournament, but also racked up 19 fouls in a six game stretch (something he definitely needs to work on for the NBA). Three fouls a contest in international play is a death sentence, given the five foul rule.

In the end, Seraphin could have done better, but he is still only 22 years of age which indicates room for improvement. I’m sure in 2016 Seraphin is going to play a much larger factor on France as the old guard (i.e. Ronny Turiaf) gets less and less minutes. In the meantime, he needs to work on playing more under control and can hopefully carry over this international experience into productive NBA play.

Nene: B+

Nene proved to be a bit of a disappointment as well if we’re being honest with ourselves. I expected him to be a much more dominating scoring option for Brazil, which is something they could have used. Instead, Anderson Varejao had more points than Nene throughout the tournament (albeit in one more game, but it’s still Varejao). He just never demanded the ball on offense, and was way too passive of a forward given how talented we all know he is. Part of that, I’m sure, had to do with his lingering plantar fasciitis which caused him to sit out the game against Spain. That he’s out of the tournament is of great relief for the Wizards, as it means he is going to be able to rest up for the NBA season a bit longer.

What did he do that impressed me? Rebound. Nene was the fifth-best rebounder in the entire tournament, averaging 8 per game. I loved that he got after it on the defensive end, fighting down low for boards with opponents. He played the ball off the rim nicely, and it’s a credit to his defensive positioning ability. Speaking of defensive, Nene wasn’t too shabby on the defensive end, holding his own against a lot of talented forwards (with the exception of his game against Argentina). His defense is always going to be a plus, and he showed it this tournament.

Sarunas Jasikevicius: A+

I’m giving Sarunas an A+ because I respect the hell out of that guy. Sarunas didn’t have a bad tournament by any means, averaging 6 points and 5 assists throughout; rather than dwell on what he did this tournament, we should acknowledge all he has done throughout his international career. A bronze during the 2000 Sydney Olympics for Lithuania (their third medal in three straight Olympic games), a 2003 FIBA Eurobasket Gold medal, and another bronze medal in 2007 FIBA Eurobasket. He’s played in the NBA, he’s played in Israel, he’s played for FC Barcelona, he’s dominated the Greek Leagues and he’s represented his country incredibly well–all for the love of the game.

Sarunas could have quit on his dreams a long time ago, but he never has and as a sports fan one has to acknowledge a guy who is so internationally renowned. Yes, he’s a Terrapin, and yes I’m biased to them, but Sarunas goes beyond that. At 36, this is likely his last Olympic games, and while I’ll be sad to see him go, he has kept Lithuania in contention since his arrival and will no doubt play a part in their future. And for that, Sarunas get’s an A+.

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By: Willis

I’ve predicted it before, and I won’t hesitate to predict it again: Nene and his injuries are going to become a major issue for the Washington Wizard. Not just this upcoming season, where Nene’s plantar fasciitis has already reared its ugly head during the Olympics, but for the remainder of his contract with the Wizards. Big men at 30 years of age don’t just randomly get incredibly healthy; they break down at a very rapid rate and once the wheels fall off, it is over. I’m not predicting complete apocalypse for the Wizards at all, but I cannot help but be unnerved by the foot injury. It is why I have been watching France so intently, because for the Wizards to overcome a Nene injury, Nene’s backup has to emerge as a stud. Kevin Seraphin, the ball is in your court.

My thoughts on Seraphin’s Olympic play so far basically mirror how I feel about him as a whole: he projects to be a much better starter than a reserve in the NBA, but there’s still work to do. As a starter last season over 21 games and 665 minutes, Seraphin averaged 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. As a reserve during 36 outings and 511 minutes? 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. His statistics plummet when he gets fewer minutes because that’s not really his specialty. Some players just function better as starters; just ask Allen Iverson how he dealt with being a sub. Part of it is due to being over-excited, as Seraphin is like a high energy dog who needs to be run constantly in order to calm himself down. Don’t give the dog a run, and it’ll eat your Jordans, your couch, and poop on the floor. That’s Seraphin. Too much energy to be a substitute and the end result is foul trouble and ineffective play.

The other main reason he is a better starter than reserve is that Seraphin is not the type of power forward that teams can really run a certain amount of set plays for; his offensive skill set is just too limited right now. Rather, on the offensive end at least, Seraphin functions much more effectively when he is allowed to play within the flow of the game and not force the issue. That includes put back dunks, catching defenders out of position down low, and using that baby hook he loves so much. Seraphin scores because he is such a good offensive rebounder that he always puts himself into position to get plenty of second-chance points. Seven times over his last fifteen games he grabbed 3 or more offensive rebounds, including four games with five or more OREB.  If he isn’t on the court for missed shots to occur, he isn’t going to get offensive boards and his scoring goes down. Simple logic, really.

It’s why his first game as a starter against Nigeria on Monday didn’t shock me in the least. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks (a standard Seraphin line), which is a line Seraphin has had more than once during these Olympic games. The difference is that Seraphin looked far more comfortable and fouled at a lower rate, despite playing more minutes than any game. He was a hyper-efficient 4-of-5 from the field, and that’s a good thing because it actually hides Seraphin’s other problem: he doesn’t get to the line (he went 1-of-2 on FT’s yesterday).

Seraphin almost always has to work harder than most for his points because, for one reason or another, Seraphin just doesn’t draw contact on his shots. Last season, he only took more than four free throws in a game one time (he had six), and he only attempted four free throws five times total in ’11-’12. His free throw rate is among the worst in the NBA, and over his last 15 games (in which he started all of them) he averaged 1.9 FTs per game. Couple that with the fact that Seraphin shoots about 50% from the field and you get a starter who needs 16 shots to score about 16-18 points. It’s why his ability to get to the line is what could make or break the Wizards if Nene goes down.

Seraphin’s stats look much improved in some instances (PPG shot up), but in order for him to be an effective starter, he’s going to need to cut down on his usage rate, or make more of the touches he gets. As a starter last season, Seraphin was used on 20.6% of the Washington Wizards possessions. While he wasn’t bad at all, he simply didn’t do enough to justify being used that often. As explained earlier, he doesn’t get to the line, but he also doesn’t pass particularly well, either. In fact, he pretty much doesn’t pass at all, as evidenced by his 5% AST rate (the % of baskets assisted by a player while they’re on the floor). Obviously big men aren’t notorious for dishing assists all the time, but you either make plays or create plays. When a player isn’t doing either, it’s a detriment to the team.

Luckily for Wizards fans, Kevin Seraphin’s career trajectory is taking an incredibly similar curve to that of Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz. Millsap is his most apt comparison for a lot of reasons: they’re both undersized at 6’8, they were both bench players who shined in scant minutes at the same ages, neither got to the line very effectively, and they score in incredibly similar manners.  In fact, the whole scenario of Seraphin and Nene reminds me of Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap a ton. A young forward with tons of energy who comes off the bench to spell the oft-injured All-Star with similar skill sets. Eventually, Boozer was shipped out of town and Millsap filled in just as effectively (and at a much lower price tag). If Seraphin wants to become what everyone hopes he can be, he should spend the offseason talking to Millsap about how he became a very effective starter in place of the resident star (Nene).

Millsap and Seraphin, at 22 years of age and in their second season did essentially the exact same thing as one another. 16.1 PER for Millsap, 15.8 PER for Seraphin; 7.9 PPG for Seraphin, 8.1 for Millsap; 5.6 RPG for Millsap, 4.9 for Seraphin. See what I mean? That’s just a small sample size, because they’re almost an exact carbon copy of one another. In Millsap’s third season, when he took over the reigns from Carlos Boozer halfway through the season, he started to show his true colors. His Per 36 Minutes projections were almost exactly how his actual season played out, as he doubled his free throw attempts and started passing the ball a whole lot more.

His passing ability is perhaps one of Millsap’s most underrated qualities as a big man. Millsap’s opportunities opened up even more because he increased his AST% from 7.0 as a sophomore to the 12.4 he averaged last season. It didn’t happen overnight, but Millsap is actually a very skilled passer now, probably thanks in part to working with the great Jerry Sloan so closely. Seraphin is behind Millsap’s development in that regard, but it’s not to say he can’t get better. He is going to need to if he wants to fill the role Nene plays as a ball mover and not a ball stopper.

And the biggest thing is just putting more points on the board in general through free throws. Not only does it get other big men in foul trouble, but he becomes a much more efficient player overall. Seraphin last year drew a foul on 8.4% of his shots attempted. Contrast that with Millsap’s 17.3% as a sophomore and you can see the disparity. Though their statistics are similar, it’s incredibly apparent what could end up limiting Seraphin as a starter. Instead of fouling, Seraphin just needs to get fouled. And he is definitely not soft by any stretch; Seraphin doesn’t shy away from contact in the least. I think he could deliver a bit of punishment given that his frame is so sturdy.

In short, Seraphin has some work to do in order to become an every day starter, and it’s not going to happen right away. He may be able to fill in for Nene in the short term, but Seraphin needs to take over that spot in a similar way to the Millsap/Boozer arrangement. I love where he’s at right now because it is very easy to peg exactly what he needs to work on. Assuming that he does over time, any Nene injury should be a small potato problem, because the Wizards could have an incredibly effective low post scorer on their hands. But right now, he’s a hyper backup that needs work.

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By: Willis

As we continue to follow former Maryland Terrapins and Washington Wizards players being featured in the Olympics, I do not think it will get much worse than yesterday. Lithuania with Sarunas Jasikevicius faced off against Kevin Seraphin and France, Ekene Ibekwe and Nigeria went head-to-head with Team USA for a game no one will forget anytime soon, and Nene and Brazil had a rough go of things against Russia in a nail biter.

We’ll start with Ekene Ibekwe, who finally got to register his first minutes of play during these Olympic games after recovering from a sickness. He only played about 4 minutes, but those 4 minutes means that he played a part in the most lopsided loss in Olympic history, a 156-73 drubbing to Team USA. Ibekwe managed only 1 rebound and 2 fouls, which is nothing to write home about; but it’s what he didn’t do that is going to make these Olympics most memorable for him.

For example, he didn’t stop Carmelo Anthony, who made 10-of-12 three pointers and scored 37 points in 14 minutes. To put that into perspective, he scored 10 more points than Nigeria did during the entire second half. Ibekwe also couldn’t stop the 49 point first quarter that Team USA had, though not necessarily his fault. All in all, it’s a game he will never forget and I’m not sure the world will forget for a long, long time.

Meanwhile, Kevin Seraphin and Sarunas Jasikevicius faced off against one another yesterday, though not directly. Seraphin came out the victor in an 82-74 victory, but neither player was particularly overwhelming during the game. Seraphin played yet another game where foul trouble dictated how many minutes he could play (14 total), and he never looked comfortable out there against Lithuania’s big men. He finished the game with only 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting, with as many rebounds as fouls (three). Until Seraphin can learn to play more under control, former Wizard Ronny Turiaf will continue to get minutes over him.

Jasikevicius, in the meantime, got eaten up on the defensive end by Tony Parker and Nando de Colon. Parker had one of his best games of these Olympics with 27 points and 5 rebounds, as he proved too quick for Lithuania’s guards. Jasikevicius only scored 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting over 20 minutes of play, and while he did have 5 assists, he coupled that with 4 turnovers in the process. His age showed during this game, and even though the score was close, it was mostly due to France playing lazily most of the game.

Finally, Nene and Brazil lost on a last second three pointer to Russia, 75-74 in perhaps the most exciting game of these Olympics. Nene himself didn’t play that poorly, as he logged 8 points and 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of play, but he did get beaten on the defensive end numerous times. Timofey Mozgov, a not-so-skilled NBA center, numerous times got past Nene in the paint despite not being nearly as good. Nene looked a step slow throughout the game, and he could have been a lot more effective than he was. Brazil should have won that game, but all credit goes to Russia and Alexey Shved (the Minnesota Timberwolves new guard) for playing some very exciting basketball.

 

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By: Willis

The Wizards and the Terrapins continued their trend of strong representation in the Olympics on Tuesday, as Lithuania, France, Brazil, and Nigeria played their second games of the tournament. Nene Hilario, Kevin Seraphin, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and (sort of) Ikene Ibekwe all represented their respective countries yet again. This time, the results were a bit more promising.

Nene played an integral part in Brazil’s 67-62 win over host country Great Britain yesterday, showing no signs of soreness in the foot that plagued him all of last season. He finished with only 4 points and 6 rebounds during his 28 minutes of play, but as is the case most of the time in International play, the stats don’t tell the whole story. Nene was a force defensively, blocking 3 shots over the course of the game which, in essence, stopped Britain from scoring crucial points. He hounded former George Washington player Pops Mensah-Bonsu all game, and was a major reason why their team won.

On the offensive end, his two big time jams got the crowd on their feet and highlighted his athleticism that he has been prone to show in spurts. His only other shot was a badly missed jumper from the left wing, but he didn’t need to shoot. Instead, Nene made great kick out passes all game long that led to wide open three pointers which, sadly, Barbosa and friends missed quite a bit. If Wizards fans wanted to see just how good of a passer Nene could be, this game was a showcase of it.

Meanwhile Kevin Seraphin had his international coming out party against powerhouse Argentina in a 71-64 nail biter. Seraphin continued to be plagued by the foul trouble that hurt him last game, but managing to remain assertive on the offensive and defensive end en route to 10 points and 7 rebounds over just14 minutes. Seraphin showed off his hook shot that the Wizards saw in flashes last season, and appeared much more aggressive in attempting to get his shot off.

Defensively, it appeared Seraphin got a little overexcited, as he picked up quick fouls on unforced contact. He seemed to be played the role of endforcer, however, and in the process swatted away three defenders shots. Seraphin is going to need to play a bit more under control if he wants to remain effective against quality big men. This actually includes the NBA, as his opponent Luis Scola also plays the same position for the Phoenix Suns and seemed to cause him trouble. Overall, though, nice showing by Seraphin and France.

Then we have the Terrapin players Ekene Ibekwe and Sarunas Jasikevicius facing off against one another for Nigeria and Lithuania, respectively. Except that with Ekene Ibekwe still sitting out with, as PMNewsNigeria.com reports, a sickness, he failed to register a single minute during the game. The Nigerian team ended up losing the game 72-53, as Lithuania pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Sarunas, playing in his 4th straight Olympics for Lithuania (the most ever by any person from his country), had a much better second game. Sarunas accounted for 9 of his team’s 19 assists, and displayed why he cannot be counted out as being considered one of the best point guards to ever play internationally. He got the ball to open players whenever he was on the court during his 20 minutes of play, and was the main reason why 9 of 12 Lithuanian players shot 50% or better from the floor. Their offense played with serious fluidity, and Lithuania looks poised to go deep in the tournament these Olympic games.

Sarunas and Co. helped hold Nigerian guard Tony Skinn to only two made shots the entire game, and frustrated him with help defense anytime he attempted to drive. The game was a nice one to watch, and Sarunas represented the Terrapins well. Here’s hoping that Ibekwe gets his chance to play, health be damned.

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By: Willis

Yesterday, there were news reports of Nene complaining about his lingering plantar fasciitis (the same one that plagued him all of last season), which gave Wizards fans a pause.

Considering the amount of money we owe this guy over the next few seasons, it is disheartening to learn that he may have to miss extended periods of time during the regular season. That kind of roster instability is never typically good for a team. Temporarily, good teams can overcome such injuries, as they typically have more depth on their rosters. But not for long. Look at Memphis last season, who lost Zach Randolph early in the year and had to play Marresse Speights. While they were fine for awhile, it began to wear on them and when Zach Randolph returned there was an adjustment period that they never fully figured out.

With the Wizards, there are two players on the roster who are prone to injury in Nene and Emeka Okafor. Luckily, the Wizards have a loaded front court; I don’t mean to say they have an incredibly talented front court, but that they have a lot of potential there. The Wizards can sub in Seraphin for Nene if he goes down any time, and if his play last year is any indication of how good he can be, the drop off will be only marginally felt. With Okafor, the Wizards would have to go small if there were an injury. If both of them go out, then we’re essentially playing with last years roster towards the end of the season. With that being the case, it’s worth looking in depth at what the Wizards most effective starting five were last season.

The only rules I’ve placed on this are that JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche are excluded—they’re not with the team anymore.

The Best of the Best

92.8 Minutes Played

4-0 Win-Loss Record

Wall-Crawford-C. Singleton-Booker-Nene

(I’m sure people are wondering about that Win-Loss record, and I’d be glad to explain it. Wins are defined as the number of games a unit outscored their opponent while on the court; losses are the inverse, with the number of times a unit was outscored over the course of a game while on the court.)

Back to this lineup: this was by far the Wizards most effective five man unit (without considering McGee and Young). They played the sixth most minutes of any lineup, and the results were better than anything else Washington threw out there. It’s a perfect example of the Nene effect.

With this five man unit, the Wizards outscored their opponent every time they were on the court (giving them a 4-0 record in that regard). The main reason is the Nene suddenly became the best jump shooter on the roster once he came to the Wizards. This unit displayed a 10% decrease in close range shots while they were on the floor from the most used unit (38% to 28%).

It wasn’t just Nene, however, as Booker showed off a newly found ability to hit set shots while on the floor as well. The spacing they created by knocking down fundamentally sound 15 footers changed the entire dynamic of the offense. With Wall able to drive against defenders who were on their heels wary of jump shooting big men, the paint softened a little and made his life a whole lot easier. This says nothing about Nene’s ability to pass, which makes him yet another person who can keep the ball moving to other players and force defenses to move around.

The other reason this unit excelled was because they could actually rebound (a huge fault of last years team). In fact, of the top 10 units played, their 53% rebounding mark (based on chances for rebounds) was the best the Wizards had to offer. This doesn’t surprise me much, given how often Trevor Booker was able to extend possessions on the offensive end of the court last season. He may be small, but Booker was arguably our best rebounding forward last season. He doesn’t do anything extra special; his positioning is so-so and his length is abysmal. He really just hustles and always works hard while he is on the court. Simple stuff that pays off. That is not to discredit Nene, though, who had some very solid rebounding games with the Wizards last year during his short stint. Either way, 53%, while great by our standards, still is not that impressive.

Since all of these players are hustle guys, the end result is that they held opponents to a poor 42% shooting from the field. All of these guys are individuals who try very hard on the defensive end, and that number reflects that. Nene, at the center position, provides a very strong anchor who is not going to be bullied in the paint. Combined with his help defense, this rotation made the Wizards a (dare I say it) formidable foe. Not to mention that this lineup provided enough scoring to allow Singleton to do what he does best, which is key in on wing defenders and stop the ball in man-to-man offense. He wasn’t asked to score, which he really should never be asked to do in the first place.

The Sidekicks

199 Minutes Played

10-10 W-L Record

Wall-Crawford-C. Singleton-Vesely-Seraphin

Surprisingly enough, this combination of players is the one the Wizards trotted out the second most last season. Even more surprisingly is that they weren’t half bad as a unit either.

Knowing that, their 10-10 record is slightly impressive. That’s .500 basketball, boys! Let’s overlook the fact that with that lineup, the Wizards looked like the most one dimensional offensive team on the court at all times. No jump shooters to be found, with the best one being Jordan Crawford (who percentage wise is an awful jump shooter). Every single player on the floor is virtually incapable of scoring effectively from outside of 10 ft–and that’s being generous. So why, then, were they a formidable opponent?

It’s simple, really. They may not have been able to shoot that well, but that lineup was freaky athletic. When Seraphin mans the center position, he is almost always undersized. But what he gives up in size, he makes up for in quickness and athleticism. Vesely is similar in that he didn’t have a lot of skill last season, but he hustled a lot and his length bothers anyone he plays against. He can stay in front of opponents and contest shots.

Not to mention that all of the players know what they are good at and stick to it: close to the basket, high percentage shots. Of the top 20 lineups the Wizards trotted out last season, only 5 had a better FG% than this one had at 45.6%. Vesely dunks, Seraphin bangs down low, Wall drives, Singleton doesn’t shoot (the most effective shot for him sometimes), and Crawford provides the inconsistent jumper from everywhere else/fastbreak points. That’s it, really.

If this lineup had a better shooter *cough* Bradley Beal *cough* they might actually prove to be a formidable opponent. The shooting was this lineups problem because they were prone to droughts in scoring due to teams keying in on the paint. That’s part of the reason why they were -18 in net points scored.

The Potential Unit

33.9 Minutes Played

2-1 Win Loss Record

Wall-Martin-C. Singleton-Vesely-Seraphin

I know, this five man unit only played about 34 minutes, but when you hear about how successful they were on the court it is definitely an encouraging sign. The lineup consists of the majority of the young core of players the Wizards want to build around, and they performed admirably in their limited minutes.

In terms of scoring while on the court, they finished +17 overall against their opponents. Again, this goes back to the balance between skill sets that these players have. Cartier Martin provides a much better deep threat than most players on the roster, and his ability to consistently hit three point shots created a similar spacing effect to Nene. It is a noticeable trend on this team that Wall performs his best when there is at least one Wizards player able to stretch the defense on the court. No shock, there anyway. With this sort of in and out balance of basketball, the Wizards again shot 8% less from in close than their most used unit (37% to 29%). I shudder imagining what Bradley Beal could bring to this rotation if they moved Martin to the three and played Beal at the two.

What they really did well, however, is lock down opponents defensively, which lends credence to the belief that Seraphin is actually an effective defensive player. In their small amount of minutes, they actually held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage of any unit at 36%. It’s a minuscule sample size, but since we’re going off potential I love this unit. The entire unit has solid size at every position except for center, and there really aren’t that many good centers around to dominate Seraphin. The end result is that, at the very least, the Wizards weren’t undersized. It allowed them to split ~50/50 on rebounds.

If we’re judging units on potential, I feel pretty darn confident if the Wizards are forced to play with these young guys (assuming they improve in the offseason). Add in Bradley Beal to this youth group, and the Wizards are looking pretty solid next season.

————-

The conclusion I drew from this is that Washington can overcome a Nene injury. Heck, they can probably even overcome an Okafor injury at the same time. Their young rotations show potential, and as long as there is a proper balance on the court, Washington should be okay. That being said, the Wizards need Nene in order to be a complete team, and he will become an integral part of the future as long as he is healthy.

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By: Willis

The London 2012 Olympics have been a treat to watch for DMV fans, thanks in large part to a group of stars who are either from or have played in the area being featured in prominent roles. There is of course Michael Phelps, the Baltimore native who has racked up more medals than a junk yard magnet. But there are also a lot of basketball players who are performing admirably in the Olympics, particularly from the Maryland end of things. No, they aren’t playing for Team USA, but there is no shame in representing one’s original, not adopted, home country.

While Ikene Ibekwe received the unfortunate DNP for Nigeria’s opening 60-56 win over Tunisia, at least we can claim him as a Terp! Ibekwe was out for an undisclosed reason, but the sole fact that he got to participate in Nigeria’s first ever win at the Olympics as a country is something he will never forget. It is likely to be a monumental moment in his lifetime, and moments like that is something that can be universally related to.

As an aside, his Nigerian team is actually pretty loaded up with NBA/fringe NBA level talent. Al Farouq Aminu, the one and done from Georgia Tech who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, Ike Diogu, Tony Skinn of George Mason, and Olumide Oyedeji all play significant roles on this team. It’s no wonder Ibekwe wasn’t playing, despite dominating in 2006 at the FIBA Championships. This team might end up surprising some people with their athleticism and fundamental play. No, they can’t really hit shots, but they play stingy defense and that can certainly help.

Another former Terrapin, Sarunas Jasikevicius, is playing fairly well for his home country Lithuania. Around international circles, Jasikevicius is known as one of the most accomplished players in the game. While he’s getting a little long in the tooth at 36 years of age, Jasikevicius can still handle the rock a bit. In his county’s opening round loss to powerhouse Argentina 102-79, Jasikevicius put up 6 points and 4 assists in 20 minutes of play. He turned the ball over four times, but Carlos Delfino (the man he was “checking” on defense) had one helluva game, so that isn’t the norm. Hopefully we can see some better play from him than a 2-6 shooting performance.

The Wizards are actually getting a lot of Olympic love with both Nene and Seraphin playing one games apiece for Brazil and France, respectively. Nene came off the bench in favor of Tiago Splitter/Anderson Varejao against Australia, logging 21 minutes in a gritty 75-71 victory. From the bit that I got to watch, Nene displayed some deft defensive skills, grabbing 7 rebounds and turning away 2 shots. On the offensive end, he was 3-of-5 from the field, finishing with 8 points total.

Meanwhile, Kevin Seraphin struggled against incumbent gold medal winners Team USA mightily. He got in early foul trouble, and didn’t provide much benefit thereafter in about 9 minutes of play.  Seraphin finished the game with 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting, and has to be disappointed. The athleticism and small ball style of Team USA may have flustered him and forced him to play more cautious, but I expected much more.

The Dime will be keeping you updated on all of their progress as the Olympics continue. Nigeria, Brazil and France both play (not against one another) tomorrow, so be sure to check out a loaded basketball schedule.

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By: Bohlin

It’s a bittersweet feeling. This season may have left much to be desired record-wise, but it is hard not to go into the offseason with at least some hope about the state of our franchise. Sure, we finished with the second-worst record in the NBA and will be a fixture at next month’s lottery for what feels like the better part of the last decade, but it is hard to ignore the results on the floor. While a 6-game winning streak to close out a season where you finish 26 games under .500 is far from anything to be excited about, I saw competitiveness out of this ball club the last couple weeks that was not there at the beginning of the year (or for the larger part of two years, for that matter).

There was a culture change that occurred inside this franchise this past spring. Getting rid of players who placed their own self-interests before the team and banishing The Captain for the last two months allowed for the core we are going to build around to gel and see what being successful felt like. While the games they won may have been meaningless, this feeling is not. Winning six games in a row in the NBA is not an easy thing to do, especially for a roster made up of mostly first and second year players, and as fans we have to hope the Wizards want to keep that feeling of success going next fall.

Our front office has been rather transparent with regards to the fact that this was year two of a three-year rebuild. “There’s no turning back,” as we found out from a direct quote when Ernie Grunfeld joined the Mike Wise radio program last week and the Washington Post writer, along with co-host Christopher Johnson, for lack of a better term grilled EG for an answer to this bloggers question regarding that quote and what it meant for this team going forward (Got to love how easy it is to communicate in the Twitter age). In pure GM speak Ernie went on to speak about how we have accumulated young talent through the draft and will continue to build upon those pieces already in place. It seems we have established building blocks in Wall, Nene, Seraphin and to a much lesser, more developmental, extent Jan Vesely. It is imperative that every one of those players continues to develop their games over the offseason as I can imagine this time next spring they want to be playing meaningful games at the Phone Booth.

Contrast that with the blog post by Ted Leonsis today clarifying parts of “The Plan” for the rest of us; Leonsis wrote that the plan all along was to be bad for two years and then become good. It is so simple I can’t believe I did not think of that earlier on! It looks like we will be left hoping that the ping pong balls bounce our way once again this summer, if that happens maybe year three of the rebuild on F Street will be more entertaining than the two years that preceded it.

The impending offseason is an important one for the Wizards. If we are supposed to be taking the next step going into year three of “The Plan” we must continue to rid ourselves of dead weight (Andray Blatche pun!) as well as continue the youth movement that has started in D.C. There is promise that in this summer’s draft we will be able to land an impact player that we can pair with John Wall in order to take that next step from laughable losers to “Hey, these guys really don’t suck that bad after all”. Couple that with the addition of some assets via free agency (Something we will lay our plan out for in the coming weeks) and this team could, and should, be much more competitive in 2012-2013.

As our first (half) season covering the Washington Wizards comes to an end, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out TheDCDime and hope that you stick with us over the coming months as we keep a close eye on the draft, free agency and, of course, my favorite way to waste time in July…The Vegas Summer League!!!!

*Editors note: We’re going to Vegas.

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By: Willis

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:

Shooting Guards

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.

Small Forwards

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.

Defensive Stoppers

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.

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