Tag Archives: review
Alright, so the Washington Wizards lost a tough one against the Boston Celtics last night and now start the season 0-3 for the second straight year. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. Obviously it would have been nice to begin the season on a strong note, but once again the Wizards accidentally put diesel fuel in their unleaded tank before to season, which means we can’t start the car until it goes it goes into the repair shop.
Yes, it was a painful 100-94 overtime loss, and one in which was in the Wizards reach the entire time, but it was far from a bad loss. There were definitively some positives attached to this one that the Wizards can hopefully use to build upon for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee to hopefully break this streak. The tendency after a loss is to look at all the negatives, and while I will chew out some of the Wizards here, I’m going to also take a look at a few of the good takeaways from this game.
1.) Statistically, the Washington Wizards are doing a lot of things right
Anytime you can stay on par with a team rebounding (44 for both teams), have about the same amount of assists (the Wizards had 25, the Celtics 26) and steals, and have more blocks, you really just can’t complain about effort levels. The Wizards are actually doing a decent job on the boards (save for the first game when Varejao grabbed more balls than a ballboy at Wimbeldon) and distributing the ball effectively in spite of not having their lead man, John Wall. Nene is unhealthy and Wall is out, yet the Wizards are not slipping too far.
When those guys return from injury, Washington will most assuredly improve in two categories and perhaps that will lead to a few more wins at the end of the day. Everyone is fighting for rebounds, and while Okafor has been downright awful so far for Washington (his worst game coming against Boston yesterday), I think he can improve in the long run with another power forward on the court like Nene who helps with rebounding.
2.) Bradley Beal showed signs of “getting it”
Yesterday, after hearing some grumblings of Beal crying after his second loss of the season, a lot of Wizards fans were ready to start ragging on the kid (on Twitter someone actually said, “He probably listens to a lot of Cher”) for being mentally soft. I didn’t exactly do that, as it is common knowledge that NBA players are, in fact, made of the same flesh and bone as the average Joe and I hate to break it to you, but everyone gets overly emotional sometimes. That being said, yesterday may have been an eye opener for Beal in terms of learning how to play shooting guard for the Wizards.
Beal scored a career high 16 points last night on 6-of-15 shooting from the field (3-of-8 from long range) and looked far, far more assertive than in his last two games. He was openly looking to shoot the ball, which is great because it is what he was brought in here to do. No, he’s not shooting 50% from the floor and his deep ball still needs some work, but last night was the first sign that Beal may actually be coming into his own as a player.
The good thing about Beal is that in other aspects of the game he is already getting it. His four rebounds and three assists are the second time this season Beal has had at least three rebounds and three assists in the same game. So he’s still figuring things out offensively as a young player, that’s fine. If he is actually contributing in other ways outside of just shooting the ball, I can live with that from a young guy.
3.) A.J. Price can’t always shoot, but he is filling in alright in other areas
The good thing about A.J. Price? He isn’t a shoot-first ask questions later type of point guard. Price isn’t a pure passer like Rondo, but he does try to get his teammates involved enough so that the offense isn’t stagnant. Price now has two games with 6 or more assists under his belt, and even though those numbers aren’t astronomical, I’m pleased with the results on that end. That number could be higher if Washington was capable of hitting shots on a more consistent basis, so it might actually get better the more he and the Wizards play. Not to mention the fact that Price has grabbed 4 and 5 rebounds in the last two games, which isn’t too shabby for a point guard.
The bad thing about A.J. Price? He shoots even though he can’t. Last night he shot 6-of-13 from the floor, which is his best on the season, but by and large Price has been a pretty poor shooter. On the season he has made 11-of-37 shots for 30% in total (ugh). The biggest problem with him is that he takes way too many three pointers for a guy who isn’t very good at shooting them. Price has attempted 22 three’s on the season, making only 30% of them. It might get better, but then it might get worse, too. His averages for his career would imply that he will not be effective at three pointers for the whole season. If he is launching early in the shot clock three pointers, the Wizards are going to have a hard time winning.
4.) The Wizards need to get to the line more often
This one is pretty simple. Last night, Washington only shot 7 free throws the entire game. It’s hard to win when your team isn’t taking advantage of free points. They benefit everyone by pacing the game, and can get opponents in foul trouble that can take them out of their comfort zone. The reason for the poor performance at getting to the line falls on a few players, but mainly Kevin Seraphin and Bradley Beal.
Beal should be getting to the line a whole lot more, honestly. It would improve his shooting numbers and make his life a whole lot easier by giving him more space. Creating contact is a learned skill, but it’s one in which Beal should learn quickly. He is athletic enough (I think) to get to the rack at will and his body is NBA ready to absorb that contact while staying healthy. It is just a matter of execution.
As for Seraphin, while I love his new found jump shot, I would also love if he used that soft touch down low to bang a little bit and force people to foul him. He could convert a lot of and-1′s that way, and get opposing big men off the floor quickly. His soft touch is dangerous from down low, and he should really keep improving as the season goes along at using it.
5.) Stop playing Ariza…
Sometimes you just want to sit Ariza down and say, “So what is it, exactly, that you do here?” I’m still trying to figure out what he does other than miss shots and supposedly play stingy defense. Last night’s 1-of-6 performance now brings his shooting percentage to 22% on the year, having not shot better than 40% (basically the Mendoza line of basketball) thus far. Either cut his minutes down and start Singleton or relegate him to the bench as a situational defensive starter. He doesn’t do anything on the court, and I’m not sure why he is in the starting lineup unless Wittman is some guru who knows something we don’t.
Other than Ariza, the starting lineup is fine as-is.
2011-2012 Season Statistics
64 Games Played
Before I write this review, I have to profess something: I actually like Shelvin Mack. When we drafted him last year with the fourth pick of the second round, I thought we’d found a legitimate diamond in the rough. There are only so many point guards that have played basketball period who can claim to have gone to two straight national titles with a team full of players you’ve never heard of. And to think that he was going to be spelling John Wall for periods of time was a nice caveat since Wall was injured the previous year (likely due to stress on his body). The guy would bring a winning pedigree to the Wizards, and might even be able to teach Wall something about the point guard position. I’d watched the guy manage an offense in college with a rare ability to dictate the pace of the offense. Well, he couldn’t do that in the NBA.
Let me rephrase that: Shelvin Mack was better at tweeting for the Wizards than actually performing for them on the court. There is always something good to find in the performance of a Washington player, so let’s just start with that and see what we can churn out here. One thing Shelvin excelled at was holding on to the ball; something that the man Mack spelled could not say about his own game. Mack only turned the ball over 48 times all year long, and only turned it over more than twice in a game two times. He was very good at guarding the rock, and actually didn’t perform too badly with the second unit (even if it meant walking the ball up court then passing it off). Problem is, Mack’s game is not built for the offense that the Wizards run. He sets up in the half court (which the Wizards stink at) and seems to be trying to run a play (which the Wizards stink at). But at least he kept the second unit humming, because the Wizards surprisingly had one of the better benches in the NBA.
Mack is also a capable rebounder and defender, believe it or not. Though it’s not going to show up on paper, Mack is of a champion caliber pedigree and he is well aware that that starts on the defensive end. Oftentimes his on the ball defense made you wish that he got more minutes even though there’s not a lot of room in the rotation for him. He is a better defender than Wall is at this point in his career, and that might be his saving grace to play in the NBA. His lateral quickness and decent size make for a guy who could lock down a lot of point guards assuming he takes the time to do it.
The problem with Mack, however, isn’t what he is good at; rather, it is a jarring image to view on paper exactly how incapable Mack is of accomplishing anything offensive on the court. In spite of shooting 216 three pointers, that skill really did not translate over to the NBA. Shelvin only attempted 42 on the season and as a result made only 12. Three’s are hard enough to hit, and when you don’t take too many, your sample size is slightly skewed. 28% may not actually be indicative of how well Mack shoots the long ball, just like the 7% John Wall shoots from there is probably slightly higher.
Mack’s issues on offense begin to surface anytime he is outside of the paint. He simply isn’t a good shooter in any shape or form, but I’m not exactly sure why. His mechanics are fine, and yet he still simply cannot make them. Part of that might be a natural occurence from coming off the bench, but the truth is that Mack is a poor shooter who is unlikely to improve by much. His true shooting percentage is 47% (a decent shooter is above 50) because that number takes into account two-pointers, three-pointers, and free throws when determining how effective a player is. Simply put, he wasn’t even average in that regard. He is going to need to develop some type of go-to move. Typically backup point guards are spark plugs on offense, and if Mack cannot do that then he might find himself out of the league.
What also works against him? Those assist/turnover ratios. Point guards (at least the very talented ones) typically turn the ball over a whole lot in their first year, then in their second end up being very good passers who take care of the rock a bit better. Guards with lower turnover totals usually signifies that they have maxed out in their ability to do magical things with the ball. Mack is one of those guys. His passing ability is not going to wow anyone, and it isn’t likely to make him into anything except a third stringer in the NBA. Nothing really sets him apart from other guys; I’d rather have someone like Kendall Marshall running my point magnificently and not scoring than a guy who can’t pass in Mack (yet also doesn’t score). That’s the issue moving forward: What do you do out there, exactly, Shelvin?
All in all, his season was an utter letdown for someone like myself who happened to be a Mack fan. And I’m not sure there will be a return of the Mack next season.
Season Grade: C-
I say C- because Shelvin was an early second round pick and while he wasn’t what I thought he would be, at least he made the roster and played in almost every game. That in and of itself is something to be commended.
(Trevor Booker’s go-to jam? Right here)
2011-2012 Season Statistics
50 Games Played
Omri Cassipi, Tayshaun Prince, Travis Outlaw, Wilson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Trevor Booker. What do all these NBA players have in common? They’re all descendants of the 23rd pick in the NBA draft. For one reason or another, the 23rd pick always seems to give teams players who, while they may never become All-Star caliber players, will always provide necessary services in the NBA. They’re the workmen of the NBA; the guys who will grit their teeth and take the charge, go for the loose ball, demand no touches yet selflessly defend and rebound all over the court. These are the players who don’t get the max contracts, yet still manage to win you games in playoffs. And it appears the Washington Wizards have found an exceptional talent in Trevor Booker at the #23 position during the 2010 draft.
At Booker’s core, he has always been a team player. I watched all four years of his as a Clemson Tiger, and not once could you fault him for his lack of effort. Booker shows up every night, hard hat in hand, and gives your team everything he’s got for however many minutes he’s given. It is that type of attitude that the Wizards should and do welcome with open arms. Booker finished this season on IR, plagued by the same plantar fasciitis that Nene suffered from during the season as well. That was a disappointing fact when you consider how much improvement ‘ol Trevor was showing on the court. He only played in 50 games, but those 50 games showed why he belongs in the NBA in at least some form.
Let’s start with the positives. Trevor Booker is Mighty Mouse on the court; in spite of the fact that he stands 6’8 at a position largely dominated by players several inches taller than he, Booker is absolutely capable of getting the job done. His 8 PPG and 6 RPG aren’t going to jump off the page at you, and really, they’re not intended to. It’s also not supposed to impress you that, as a starter (32 games), Booker averaged almost 10 points and 8 rebound a contest in 29 minutes of play. When his statistics are adjusted on a per 36 minute basis? Those stats translate to a double-double guy who gives you 12 and 10 every night. That’s where you realize the value the Wizards received when they took a senior hard worker two years ago. And it’s not just your average, wide-open rebound when everyone else is running up the court, boards. Booker does his work making extra possessions for everyone else by cleaning up the offensive glass.
Over 50 games this season, Trevor Booker grabbed 10.8% of all total available offensive rebounds. That number may not mean anything right now, but let’s compare it to guys who are notorious for hitting the offensive glass very well:
Kevin Love: 11.6%
Tyson Chandler: 11.8%
Blake Griffin: 10.7%
Get the picture? Booker is just a notch below those players in his ability to grab offensive boards. His smaller stature actually works to his advantage against lumbering big men who aren’t nearly as athletic as he is. Trevor isn’t getting his own boards, either. That fact is because he never really misses, hitting over 50% of his shots in over 330 attempts. No, Trevor Booker takes no prisoners when it comes to collecting other people’s misses. He extends the shot clock for a team with this play, and while that may or may not earn someone a starting job, it’s irreplaceable on a basketball court.
Another thing, as previously mentioned, that Booker excels at is his shooting. Admittedly, plenty of his shots come from second chance opportunities off people’s misses and those few that he can’t make as well, but Booker is a highly efficient scorer. His 53.1% was tied with LeBron James, and only a few percentage points behind Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer, and DeJuan Blair. Not too shabby of company (though it’s interesting to note that Blair and Boozer are both somewhat undersized as well). Booker only attempted 6.8 shots per game (up there with Jan in terms of not looking for your shot), so it’s a smaller sample size than most players. But after having watched him go at it for 2 years now, you get the feeling that regardless of minutes and attempts that number will remain stagnant. There were numerous times last season where Booker even started taking shots from mid range with some actual success (a facet of his game previously unseen). He doesn’t have the dribbling ability to get to the rack and beat bigger men to the basket, but he can stretch the defense and keep them “honest” if he continues to develop that jumper.
Now for the bad. This is the second time in two tries that Booker has been incapable of playing a complete season. Yes, it’s nitpicking to suggest that any NBA player go the entire 82 game stretch. Especially on a losing team where there is no added benefit to getting injured again rushing back and trying to play meaningless games. Still, being injured stigmatizes players and, rightful or not, certainly lends some credence to the suggestion that certain players are injury prone. None of these are really bad injuries, mind you. A sore foot doesn’t mean anything, but still. His game won’t even really be affected by a loss of athleticism, but it doesn’t change the fact that Booker might not be able to be relied on as a permanent fixture in the future.
Another issue I had with Booker’s season was his inability to create ball movement. What’s the point of all those extra possessions if one player hoards the rock. Trevor doesn’t have court vision, and his assist rate actually finished on par with Nick Young’s (ouch). He is going to need to learn how to move that ball a bit better; small/power forwards aren’t really notorious for their ability to dish, but two dimes a game wouldn’t hurt. There is hope that he can improve this ability, and that is because guys like Zach Randolph were the same type of player (except way better on offense) yet managed to become a much better passer late in his career.
All in all, a very encouraging season for Booker. He knows what he needs to work on, and hopefully he won’t do it strictly at charity games. Get healthy, Book, and come back even more improved.
Final Grade: B+
Tags: basketball, crawford, greg oden, hilario, jay z, jordan, Jordan Crawford, Kevin Love, lebron, nba, nene, nene hilario, nets, review, season review, sports, trevor booker, Washington Wizards, Wizards
(Jordan Crawford Anthem? Here)
2011-2012 Season Statistics
64 Games Played
I suppose we all should have seen this type of season coming from Jordan Crawford. I mean, this is the same guy who gave Michael Lee of the Washington Post, before the start of this season, this gem of a quote:
“I don’t tell nobody, but I feel like I can be better than Michael Jordan,” Crawford said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm. “When I’m done playing, I don’t want people to say, Michael Jordan is the best player. I want that to be me. That’s how I am. That’s how I was built.”
Well Mr. Crawford, you may have been genetically built that way mentally, but you’d have to be mental to disagree with what you are as a ball player physically and realistically. What is Jordan Crawford? He is, simply put, an urban Bruce Willis in Die Hard (no relation). Crawford went into almost every game this season as if it were a last second shootout between the Wizards and the Yakuza in Chinatown. He is an unabashed gunner who will take any and every shot that happens to fall into his lap. It doesn’t matter if he is shooting blanks, and it makes no difference if there are no opponents on the court; Crawford is going to sling that rock like David against Goliath. That’s his basketball mentality; that’s what he is and will likely always be. That same mental makeup is the downfall of many a potentially solid professional player, as well. Guys can’t give up that macho attitude and sacrifice their scoring prowess for the betterment of the team. It’s why guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are so valued as teammates; their willingness to be unselfish is what makes teams better. That transition from college stud into NBA role player is a tough one, and lots of players just aren’t able to accomplish it (See: Miner, Harold/Dixon, Juan). Crawford might be in that boat.
Coming into the season, I had mildly higher hopes for Jordan. Despite being an awful NBA shooter, Crawford managed to finish out his 2010 campaign averaging 17 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds over his last 8 games to close out the season. It seemed like he genuinely had the drive to get better at shooting, and his all-around game made him a candidate for near triple-doubles and big assist totals night in and night out. Paired with John Wall in the backcourt? It’d be one of the fastest and most dynamic units in the league. Count me in!
Boy, was I wrong.
This season Mr. Crawford took less shots on the year than his previous campaign with the Wizards, but that number is deceiving for two reasons. The first is that he played a “full” season this year, so the statistics are skewed given that he only played 26 games in 2011. The second is that he only started half of the games (32) he played this year for the Wizards. But when he started, boy did that shot attempt total shoot up. From 11.8 to 15.4 to be exact. Crawford could not exercise any restraint when he got handed the keys to the starter’s position, and it was certainly his major flaw. Shooting one of the worst percentages in basketball as a starting two guard at 40%, Crawford was a one-dimensional black hole. He couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn, but that didn’t stop him from hurling and not getting his teammates involved. He finished with six assists or more 5 times throughout the entire season, and never really developed into the play-making guard that people believed he could be. His skill set turned out to be much less of the entire Home Depot tools department and more of an all-in-one screwdriver. Yeah, it might get the job done, but it won’t be easy.
The other thing that obliterated Crawford on the offensive end was his three point shot. What is the definition of insanity? Repeatedly doing the same thing and hoping for a different result? Something like that. Well, Crawford loves to play out of his mind, so I guess shooting 5 three pointers a game despite making 1 is sensible. 26.9% from long range means that you should not become a three point specialist. It always makes you wonder why someone who just wasn’t making a shot would purposefully put his teammates through the torture of watching him take that same shot again. And again. And then again. Only 16 of the 64 games on the season did Crawford make more than 35% (nothing to write home about) of his deep balls. His shooting percentage isn’t even that bad if he cuts all the pull up three’s that he took last season. I wish there were an official stat for pull up jumpers, because Crawford would lead the league in that category. Hopefully they keep those statistics in the Chinese Basketball Association, Jordan.
On the defensive end, he got eaten up on a nightly basis because he showed no interest on the defensive end. Despite having the length and athleticism to cover three positions, Crawford barely covered one. There aren’t even that many good shooting guards in the NBA, and yet against most of them Crawford struggled to contain them. Monta Ellis, Ray Allen, DeMar DeRozan, whoever. Crawford’s strong suit just wasn’t guarding this year. The competition wasn’t even that good good, but he still showed no interested in getting better on defense. What Crawford does have going for him is the thing they call in hockey “back checking.” He gets back into proper defensive positioning once the ball gets turned over (which he and the Wizards did a lot) because his speed permits him to do so. After that, however, he loses interest and assumes that’s enough because Crawford is constantly looking for the fast break look up the court.
It just wasn’t a good year for Mr. Crawford, and there really wasn’t much to like about his overall play. He didn’t do well this season, and I do not think he is going to get another chance to prove himself again. His contract dictates that the Wizards have a team option on him this off season, and my recommendation would be to change course. Drafting another guard might be a good idea. If the Wizards can’t do that, then perhaps they should keep him on in a sixth man role, where the damage he causes to the offensive cohesiveness of a unit is marginalized.
Season Grade: D+
(Just play this in the background while reading this player review)
2011-2012 Season Statistics
39 Games Played
PPG: 13.4 with Nuggets (28 games), 14.5 with Wizards (11 games)
Well, since I was the main person on this site who had been hyper-critical of the Nene transaction around mid-season, I figured I might as well wrap up the Brazilian baller’s 2012 season in a dutiful manner. Obviously, you’d expect me to be a little bias about a specific player (e.g. hate on him like Cleveland hates on LBJ). Well you’re wrong! I can be surprisingly fluid in my opinions on people, players, and women (for better or worse). When I looked at Nene before the trade, I had always seen a player who was incredibly consistent, yet never managed to get over the hump to become the incredibly dominant player his body would suggest he should be. Now, after the deal and his 11 game stint with the Wizards, I see a player who is incredibly consistent, yet will never manage to get over the hump to become an incredibly dominant player that his body would suggest he become.
14 points, 8 rebounds. This is reality with Nene. For every 22 point, 10 board performance like the one he had during his debut with the Wizards against the Nets, there is going to be a 6 point, 4 rebound dud to follow (his second game as a Wizard vs. Indiana). He is always going to regress back to the mean, no matter what type of performance he puts on for you. 14 points, 8 rebounds. That’s his modus operandi; Nene is incredibly consistent in that he will typically never dominate more than two games in a row. Everything I saw out of Nene simply validated all the truths I already knew about him from the get-go.
Is this a bad thing? No, not really. For 5 straight seasons now, Nene has performed in the exact same, ridiculously efficient yet slightly frustrating manner that he always has. I think as long as Wizards fans accept what he is, and ignore what he should be but is not, then they will be largely pleased with the results. That is basically what I forced myself to do with regards to him. Because here’s what he does bring to the table: a veteran presence with a consistently great effort level. If we wanted to change the culture, there are few better people to do it with than Nene.
The guy is a cancer survivor, a 10-year vet, a gym rat, and by all accounts a very positive and likeable human being. His smile is infectious, and he certainly sets a good example for the rest of the team. There is no denying that (whether attributable to him or not) the Wizards were 7-4 when Nene was on the court and 10-12 in the games after the acquisition. His presence in the locker room appears to have had a positive effect on the youth of this team, namely Kevin Seraphin. He brings a maturity level to the Wizards that they have longed for since Antawn Jamison picked up his tin lunch box and headed to work every single day, regardless of record. The entire organization seemed a bit more upbeat once two megadonks were given the boot out of Washington and replaced by the big Brazilian. That indefinable quality, much like a picture, is worth 1,000 words (or wins in this case).
There is some bad with Nene, however, and it’s necessary to dwell on such a subject. First and foremost, the biggest concern at the end of last season, for me, was the injuries. I had not necessarily labeled Nene in previous years as an injury-prone player because all of his ailments seemed like nicks, bruises, and fluke injuries (an unlucky knee injury and cancer). Those types of things simply aren’t Greg Oden serious, and don’t give a player the dreadful and damning label of “injury prone.” Now, however, I’m not as certain. He only played 11 games for us, so as a fan it’s easy to be disappointed in wondering what he could do. Was that a symptom of the lockout? Those foot injuries for big men, especially ones that will turn 30 at the start of next season, are scary indeed. Plantar fasciitis is the Achilles Heel of NBA players, and can oftentimes be a recurring injury. Shaq missed an inordinate number of games because of this. It is one of those things that just sidelines players consistently, regardless of how good of shape they are in. Nene is no different, and with an entire off-season to rest up, we can only hope that he gets better and doesn’t succumb to this injury in the future.
The other area of concern, as pointed out earlier, is rebounding. If Nene is going to be our starting center from this point forward, then he or someone is going to have to pick up the rebounding. Of his 33 games last season, Nene only grabbed 10 rebounds or more 8 times. It is beyond me how a 6’11 guy is incapable of grabbing more rebounds than Rajon Rondo. I literally just don’t understand it. Except that I do. Nene does not like to fight for position very often, and it’s something I recall seeing when he played for the Nuggets in the playoffs. If an opposing center has already established a spot on the court, Nene will, more often than not, cede that and attempt to rebound from another area. It’s something that just doesn’t work in the NBA, as other players may have more natural rebounding acumen and will simply nab the board Nene decided not to. I have my reservations about how formidable on the boards a front court with Nene and the notoriously poor rebounder Kevin Seraphin is going to be moving forward.
Nene’s ability to score was, however, quite impressive. He displayed a bit of range on his shot numerous times during his short outings with the Wizards. He can hit from the top of the key, and while he does not look for it that often, has no reservations about scoring from the elbow, either. That’s the best part about Nene: he does not take shots that he thinks will not go in. I love it, because after being forced to watch Jordan Crawford and Nick Young play over the past two seasons, patience is beautiful to watch. It’s why he shoots such a high percentage, and why I legitimately think you could pair him with anyone in the front court and he wouldn’t be an issue. Nene adjusts to what the defense gives him (again, for better or worse), and doesn’t force the issue. He only took 16 shots once this season, and never attempted more than that. That type of play leads to dud nights occasionally, but it also means he will be versatile for the Wizards in the future. Seraphin stays down low, Nene flows within the offense.
The bottom line is that you have to like what you saw out of the guy from Ipanema, but there is certainly no problem with having reservations about him in the future. I, for one, appreciate him more than before even though he’s been injured. His 2012 season was a forgetful one, but it doesn’t mean that his tenure here has to be. As long as he doesn’t take minutes from Seraphin, I am completely okay with Nene on this squad.
Season Grade: C+