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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.
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.
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.
Tags: china, ekene ibekwe, ibekwe, jasikevicius, Kevin Seraphin, lithuania, Maryland, nene, nigeria, nigeria basketball, olympics, sarunas, Team USA, Terps, Terrapins, washington, Wizards, yi jianlian
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.
This is the second and final installment of breaking down Nene and Emeka Okafor, but be sure to check out part one here.
The Washington Wizards, in dire need of a big man to come in and become a force in the middle, traded for Emeka Okafor during the offseason in hopes that he would become that player. While offensively Okafor is going to make only a marginal difference, on defense is where his reputation in the NBA has been carved out. Nene, on the other hand, will for certain make a difference on offense, it’s still unclear what his defensive impact really is. Since we already covered their offensive abilities in part one, we’ll take a look at their defensive skills in part two.
In terms of rebounding ability:
Even though these two big men are similar in physical stature, not all bulky bodies are able to rebound equally. Okafor and Nene are miles apart in their capabilities on the offensive and defensive glass. We’ll start by discussing Okafor, because his accomplishments are worth noting. In Emeka Okafor, the Washington Wizards finally have a big man who likes to get on the boards. Gone is JaVale McGee, and in is a guy who, among active players, ranks behind only Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett in rebounds per game at 10.1. In that order. Rebounds per game obviously aren’t a catch-all stat, but if the saying “Birds of a feather, flock together” holds any weight in basketball, we can see exactly what Washington is about to get.
What makes Emeka such a good rebounder is his knack for being very active on the offensive end. Six of his eight seasons in the NBA thus far, Okafor has been in the top 10 in offensive rebounds. The two other seasons where he missed the mark, Okafor was injured the majority of them (including last year). In 2008-2009 with the New Orleans Hornets, Okafor pulled down 275 offensive rebounds, good for second in the NBA. Because he isn’t a blow-you-away athlete, Okafor is a permanent fixture in the low post and tends not to venture too far from his wheelhouse. The end result is that Okafor extends possessions using his big body to force other defenders into less than ideal rebounding areas. Wizards fans are going to be amazed at how cerebral Okafor is when it comes to rebounding. He isn’t quite Kevin Love, but he is leaps and bounds ahead of JaVale McGee in terms of playing the angles.
When it comes to defensive rebounding, Okafor is no slouch, either. His career average of 6.7 is solid (it’s about on rebound shy of Tyson Chandler’s mark) but it doesn’t mean anything without some more context. For example, Okafor also is great in a very telling statistic: Total Rebound Percentage (this calculates the total percentage of available rebounds grabbed while said player is on the court). In TRP, Okafor is right up there with All-Star centers at 18.30. He is eight for his career among active players, behind only guys like Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby, Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, and Ben Wallace. In other words? The dude is Windex on the glass.
That rebounding ability is a damn good thing, because his counterpart, Nene, can’t really rebound well at all for a guy his size. Nene’s career TRP is a paltry 13.5, which doesn’t crack the top 75 and puts him in a grouping with a bunch of small forwards and poor rebounding power forwards. Not to bring up a sore subject, but he is actually very similar in TRP to another former Wizard in Andray Blatche (13.8). I bring him into this conversation because Wizards fans can understand better what I’m trying to say when I relate it to something familiar. Andray had the ability to rebound very well, but far too often he did not have that mean streak and true drive for pulling down double digit boards every night. In other words, when he put in effort on the defensive end it was easy; the other times, he was a non-factor. That’s basically Nene’s issue, as he isn’t a big proponent of unforced contact. He is much more finesse, for better or worse, and in this case you take the good with the bad. Nene simply isn’t a good rebounder.
The good news is that his 7 rebounds per game (his career average) may improve with the Wizards a little bit. For large parts of Nene’s career he has played alongside guys who are, in a sense, rebound hogs. Camby, Chris Andersen, and recently Kenneth Fareid all grab boards at an alarmingly high rate, with the last one on that list being compared favorably to Dennis Rodman. There really were not a lot of opportunities to get rebounds with those guys around, but I can promise you that will change with the Wizards! Washington, even with Okafor and great college rebounding guard Bradley Beal at the helm, is not going to top any charts in rebounding. Nene should have more opportunities to get boards, so that number may increase slightly to the point of becoming passable. I say potentially, because in the 11 game sample from last season, Nene really did not do anything different from his typical numbers (he never really does).
In terms of blocking shots:
Nene and Okafor are again different in their abilities to block shots with, you guessed it, Okafor leading the charge on that front. While Nene is not bad, Okafor is significantly better at swatting shots. While neither has the innate ability of JaVale McGee, they both play with far more control and do not actively seek to volley ball spike every shot out of the arena. The end result is that the two should actually be better than just McGee alone will be, which I think will be a good thing for Washington’s defense.
Okafor is one of the better blockers in the game, as he usually finishes in the top 15 every season. For his career, he averages almost two per contest, and that is not likely to change. He is very good at moving away from the post and blocking forwards and centers attempting jump shots from a bit further out. In 2010-2011, of his 128 blocks, 63 of them were on jump shots alone, with another 59 coming from in close. He blocked 3.5% of shots attempted on the court that year, which may not seem that high at first, but when you consider how many possessions there are in the game and how few result in blocks, his number is actually very good.
The bad part about him being so willing to swat is that he racks up fouls a lot. During that same ’10-’11 season, Okafor collected 109 shooting fouls as well, attributable to his big body. I don’t really look at this as being a bad thing, because disruption in the lane and on shooters means he is actually trying hard, but it is something to look into because a center in foul trouble is a worthless center. He is smart enough to not foul out very often, but foul trouble marginalizes his effectiveness on the court (and Okafor doesn’t play oodles of minutes as it is).
Nene, on the other hand, is an average blocker who, for his career, sends back just under one per game. This is not, however, because he isn’t trying. Nene also racks up a lot of fouls attempting to contest shots; in ’10-’11 with the Nuggets, he picked up 110 shooting fouls against 74 blocks. He gets to his man on time, but he doesn’t always succeed in sending the shot back. But Nene is definitely talented at help defense, which entails coming into a play a tad late, and that in turn means he may have to use his body to alter a shot. Hence the fouls.
Overall, Nene is not going to wow you with his numbers, but when you consider all the other things he does on the court defensively, the difference between one block and two is not a major difference. If you want an example of this (and this is slightly off topic but has to do with defensive ability so I’m going to throw it in), look no further than Nene’s domination in thievery. For his career, Nene averages 1.2 steals per game, but in ’10-’11, you can see just how effective he can be. That year, when stretched over 48 minutes, Nene averaged almost 1 1/2 steals a game. That doesn’t happen for a big man, really, ever. But Nene has quick, soft, hands which he uses to pickpocket big men who try to back him down or drive on him. So while he cannot block as well as others, he does excel in his own right.
I’m not a huge fan of plus-minus or opponent statistics, because the stats are inherently flawed. It is so dependent on the rest of the team, the caliber of opponent, and whether your team is winning or losing. Plus-minus has less to do with individual performance, and more with pegging guys as “winners.” It’s a bit like a pitcher who has a 1.97 ERA through 4 games, but because of a lack of run support, has gone 0-4 and is considered a loser. Likewise with opponent statistics. Playing against Dwight Howard is not the same as playing against DeAndre Jordan, and so the stats are completely skewed. They give no real indication of how Emeka fared (which is actually very solid). So therefore, I’m not going to get into those statistics.
The conclusions we can draw from all of this? Nene and Okafor have all the trends of great big men tandems. Where Okafor lacks offensive production, Nene is able to pick up the slack. Where Nene is incapable of rebounding, he has Okafor around to do the dirty work. The two work relatively well together, even though they are a bit one dimensional in their abilities. On paper, I think defensively Washington is going to be tough to drive against. Two legitimate, solidly-built big men are an imposing presence to attempt to score on. JaVale’s physique wasn’t scaring anyone, but Nene and Okafor just might. All good news for Washington.
All stats courtesy of 82games.com,Basketball-reference.com, and hoopdata.com
Bradley Beal: C
I suppose Bradley Beal eventually had to have a relatively poor game during this Summer League. After shooting 41% over his first three games as a Washington Wizard, Beal came back to earth Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies with a relatively poor 14 point performance on 5-of-15 shooting (33%). Beal didn’t look for his shot early on, and the result was that he appeared to be going through the motions. I was particularly disappointed with his drifting around the perimeter on offense, where he didn’t seem very engaged in the offense. Beal didn’t really get to the line in the same manner as the last three games, where he shot 28 total free throws (tonight he had 4 but missed two). What made him so impressive the last few games was his ability to draw contact, because believe it or not his shooting, while it looks pretty, wasn’t lights out. If he isn’t doing that, he’s got to figure out other ways to impact the game, or at the very least draw contact.
On a brighter note, Beal continued to impress with his rebound ability that he showed off in college. He grabbed six rebounds on Tuesday, which brings his total in the last three games to 16 (not a shabby number for a guard). If Beal’s shot is not going down, he either has to demand it more and shoot out of the temporary slump, or get to the line. If not, then get others even more involved by creating open shots. But by and large, tonight was not one Beal’s best, hence the low grade.
Shelvin Mack: D
A good barometer in deciding how effective a point guard is playing during any game is whether or not they have more assists than turnovers. It’s not an exact science, but it’s an indicator of how well a point guard is creating plays and protecting the ball. If we hold Shelvin Mack to this standard, he has been absolutely horrible during this Summer League; Tuesday was no different. Mack coughed the ball up 5 times yesterday, bringing his four game total up to a disastrous 16. He also had 4 assists, but that wasn’t enough to offset his poor play with the ball. When the competition is not as good, players should thrive; instead, Mack has played worse. And his shot isn’t going in either, as his 3-of-9 shooting performance brought his summer league average to 38% from the field.
Perhaps the worst part about Mack’s game is the fact that he got flayed by Josh Selby all night long. He looked like a traffic cone the majority of the night, and Selby (not the greatest player ever) blew by him like an Enzo Ferrari. Mack was just too slow to guard anyone, and while we had our suspicions during previous games, tonight made his weaknesses glaringly apparent. It’s been a tough summer for Mack, and he has really put his future with the Wizards into question.
Chris Singleton: B-
Singleton has been a very confident player throughout this Summer League, taking a lot of shots and affecting the game in a lot of facts with his aggressiveness. Against Memphis, Singleton’s shot just wasn’t going in, as he was held to a 3-of-12 performance from the field. He was kind of overextending himself out there, and forced up a lot of unnecessary, low percentage jumpers all over the court. Those skills just aren’t in his repertoire yet, and he would be better suited playing a more conservative style. Singleton may just be feeling out what he can and cannot do with this newly found confidence, and the Summer League is the perfect place to do such a thing.
What helped Singleton offset his poor shooting performance is his tenacity. He got to the line 7 times and made 6 of his attempts; he grabbed double-digit rebounds for the first time this summer with 10 boards; he had three steals. Singleton is just so good at being a glue guy that even when his shot is not going in, he has a Shane Battier type effect on the game because of his need to go 100% all the time. As ugly as his game looks sometimes, he is always going to give you a consistent effort. Sometimes it just doesn’t show in the box score.
Jan Vesely: C+
Jan is a young project with tons of potential, but because of that fact most of the games he plays are going to be all over the place. When he is blocking shots, he isn’t passing. When he’s grabbing steals, he’s turning the ball over. When he’s shooting well, he’s missing dunks. It goes on and on because Jan can’t put an entire, complete, game together just yet. Tonight was no different, as Jan had one of his best rebounding performances as a Wizard on Tuesday with 12 rebounds, including 5 of those on the offensive glass. He was active on the boards down low, and it was clear that something clicked for him, making him realize that with his length it should be hard for anyone to outrebound him. While his jumper wasn’t going down today, he still looked to take it and that alone is a progression from last year. That’s the good part.
The bad part is that Jan failed to hold onto the ball, turning it over an alarmingly high 5 times. For a big man playing against a Memphis team bereft of quality big men, that number is simply unacceptable. Again, this goes back to Jan not being able to play a complete game just yet, but it still isn’t good. If Jan wants to play any minutes at small forward, his ball protection has to continue to develop. Oh, and he still had 6 fouls. #makingthemostofit
Steven Gray: B+
Gray finally showed off his shooting ability that made him so effective during college at Gonzaga. Gray scored 8 points in 18 minutes of play, bolstered by his 2-of-4 shooting from long range. He moved well without the ball and spaced the floor, getting wide open looks around the perimeter. If he keeps this sharp shooting up in his final game, he could very well get an invite from the Wizards in his final game. I still have questions about his athleticism and whether or not he can fight through picks or defend anything, but for now we’ll focus on the positives.
LaRon Dendy: B+
#UnleashTheDendy finally happened Tuesday, as LaRon got the most minutes he has all Summer League long. It wasn’t much, but in the 9 minutes that Dendy played, you could clearly see why I was harping about this kid so much. He extended possession after possession on the offensive glass with his knack for being in the right place down low. He never leaves that spot, and his 3 offensive rebounds are only a fraction of the plays he actually affected. That’s what I like the most about him; he is very tough down low and longer than his 6’9 measurement suggests.
Dendy also showed off his scoring ability and soft touch, connecting on 4-of-6 shots of 8 total points. All of them came from down low, but that’s what he is built to do. I fully expect him to get more minutes next game given his impressive “debut” with the Wizards. Defensively, he looked a tad slow on his help defense and I think it’s an area that Dendy really needs to work on. It looked like he was not fully prepared for the speed of the NBA game, but that is likely to change.
Note: Shavlik Randolph had himself an A game with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but I really, highly, doubt that he fits in with the future of the Wizards. Therefore, he gets two sentences.
Imagine a scenario where you managed to sneak in at an entry level position for your dream job directly out of high school. On first day on the job, your boss asks you to pick up coffee for everyone at the office (imagine there are 10 coworkers). You pick up the coffee just fine, but you flub the orders and burn yourself severely, which causes you to miss work for an entire month. Your boss is a bit taken aback that you failed to complete a menial task like being the office punk, but he sees serious potential in you, and decides to keep you around. Mostly because the potential upside outweighs the potential downside.
A year goes by, and you’re doing just fine; you’ve gotten all your coffee orders correct and you’ve gotten a little confident in your abilities around the office. Your boss decides to give you a little more slack, maybe a few more responsibilities. He stops checking in on you so much and instead allows you to thrive in your environment. Things look like they’re going okay; I mean, you’re not doing amazing but you aren’t spilling coffee and screwing up orders, right? You get promoted for not really doing anything bad, but then with that extra money you decide to celebrate instead of work harder. Unfortunately, you decided to celebrate in the company of a fine female woman. Also unfortunate to your circumstances, that female turns out to be an undercover police officer, who pops you for trying to solicit some of that nookie.
Even in spite of two minor mix ups, your boss saw something in you in the first place, and figures that the two slips do not have any correlation. So, he decides yet again to keep you around; after all, potential like yours doesn’t come around very often. You prescribe to the motto that if you put forth your most marginal work most of the time, your boss will be more than happy to give you a raise. You’re the star prodigy! And guess what? You turn out to be right, because your boss decides to reward your sloppy effort with another pay bump. Directly after the incident.
With a renewed hope, most promising youth decides to buckle down and prove your boss right through hard work and vigorous effort. Not you, though. You’ve still got more than enough talent that even when you half ass it, half of your ass is good enough to be passable. And it even shows, because you briefly put forth just a little more effort, and the result is that you’re starting to look like a good guy.
Your office is short staffed in the first place, but you’re gladly picking up the additional tasks needed to keep the office functioning. Albeit, the more tasks you pick up, the worse the office gets, because you don’t complete them all the way and basically do the bare minimum. The office is suffering, but it can’t be blamed on you because your workload increased so much, right? At least, your boss feels that way; he isn’t blaming his prodigy in the making for gritting his teeth and bearing a cumbersome workload. Good job, you! You’re finally doing more work, you’re just half assing the added workload, but it looks like more!
In fact, during your peer review, your boss looks at your performance record and sees some awesome numbers. He’s fully prepped to give you the raise you clearly deserve, given that your abilities should be reflected in your pay. The thing is, half the work given to your name is because the numbers have been fudged by you yourself. You didn’t do a bunch of important tasks earlier in the year, so you manipulated a few documents to make it look like you had done a lot more. No harm, no foul, it’s not going to hurt anyone because the work is already done.
Your boss raises you again, this time to a senior position wherein you’ve accrued enough power that it can be claimed that you’ve “made it” as a prodigy and are now a star. Except you haven’t really done anything, but you don’t really notice it because your boss has always told you that you’ve been doing great. Your ego is large enough where it’s completely okay to slack a little bit. Okay a lot of bit. Heck, just Cadillac it for the rest of the year it’s not like anyone will question you. But that’s when disaster strikes.
Little did you know that with added pay and positioning at work comes added responsibility as well. But your mentality is that you work hard enough (which is barely at all) as it is, and giving you more work is just going to mess up the feng shui you’ve carved out at the office. The company starts to take note that some of your clients have started to complain. There are rumblings that you’re drinking at work. There was even a rumbling that you hosted strippers using the company’s name on certain Thursday’s. In fact, some of your coworkers are getting a little agitated that when they’ve come to rely on you, you’ve flat out let them down with your poor performance. Instead of leading, you’re tanking a sector of the company. And it’s costing them money; you’re bleeding the company of its value with your behavior.
You’ve got some friends at the office, and they were there before you, so it could be argued that they’re to blame for your behavior. They’re like the old boys club, and they’re used to being rowdy and goofy around the office. Pooping in shoes, eating cinnamon; you name it and they’ve done it. The fun and games are always a blast, and even though everyone else around the office is sick of you and the gang’s antics, nobody cares because it’s all in good fun and the performance isn’t completely killing the company’s revenue. A few meetings with the boss can sort this sort of thing out.
Then a couple of your friends at work accidentally spam a “Brett Favre” pic to the entire company and a few of their most important clientele. Whoops.
Boss is furious; clientele are furious; lawsuits are filed and you’re just amazed at how it all came to this. One day no one is accountable; the next day the house is clean. Every last one of the gang is gone and in their place hard, young workers with positive attitudes and a renewed work ethic. But you’re the boss’ prodigy, and luckily, just barely, you escaped the guillotine. He wants to be right about you so badly. He knows that at one point you had some serious ability, and you’re still young enough to tap that and help the company out. Maybe with all those bad influences out of the way, you’ll finally start to shine. But as well all know, old habits are very, very hard to break.
You try to work hard, but the issue isn’t that you’re not trying, it’s that you have not worked incredibly hard for anything in years. You’ve been given everything! One day, boss gives you a super important assignment: lead a meeting with two huge sponsors that could decide the future of the company. You’re excited about the opportunity, and you’ve prepped your PowerPoint presentation so well that you think it resembles a Steve Jobs keynote address. You’ve got talent, this is obviously going to be bomb!
It doesn’t. It flops, in fact, and the sponsors are appalled. They’re not just appalled, they consider the company a laughingstock for even considering you as a leader. The boss is thoroughly embarrassed and has simply had enough of your antics. He decides to give you a month’s paid vacation to clear your head and decide what to do with you. He’s invested enough time and effort in you that it’s not a decision that can be made in a day: Does he keep you in your employed position? Or does he give you a severance package and tell you to go chug sand?
The company is up in arms that he is even considering keeping you around. The pizza incident, the strippers, the hookers, the Favre incident. It’s all too much, and some investors are starting to complain. There’s too much drama, the fun and games are over and your potential, at least at your dream job, will never be reached. You made the company a laughingstock before, but it will never, ever happen again.
You’re told to chug sand.
Andray Blatche, enjoy the sand.
One of the more obscure players on the Washington Wizards Summer League roster is a guy by the name of Earl Calloway. Calloway’s career is a testament to the fact that an NBA roster spot is a remarkably elusive goal to attain. That being said, his career to this point also shows off the fact that there are other ways to make a living playing basketball that don’t involve the NBA. Even though most basketball fans in America barely give a glance over at the Euro League standings, there happens to be loads of talent over there playing some incredibly good ball. One of those players is the guy we’re covering today.
Calloway was born in 1983 in Atlanta, Georgia, which believe it or not makes him a little under two years younger than 11-year veteran guard Tony Parker. He played his high school basketball at Atlanta Westlake, where he is a bit of a local legend. During his senior year, way back in 2002, Calloway was named a member of Street & Smith’s All-American team (S & S was merged into TSN’s publication back in 2007, so that’s why the accolade may not ring a bell). He was also first team All-State in Georgia after dishing out a record 632 assists (at around 9 assists per game). Calloway led his team to a 31-1 record and the 4A State Championship, finishing his career with 1,300 points. Despite these great achievements in high school, Calloway would face an uphill battle in becoming a college superstar.
Instead of signing with a top ranked program, as his abilities would suggest he should, Calloway decided to enroll at Georgia Perimeter College. GPC is actually an enormous junior college, with over 26,000 people enrolled per year as of 2011 (for reference, it’s about 6,000 shy of the University of Georgia). It is by no means a small school, and is actually a very accomplished JUCO program. While there, Calloway managed to become an NJCAA All-American and GJCAA All-Conference after averaging 18 points, 5 steals, and 4.8 assists per game. After being successful there, he caught a break with a major college program in New Mexico State.
Unfortunately, Calloway didn’t have such a great time with the Aggies as he thought he would, because nothing went as planned. After traveling across the country from Atlanta, Calloway played scant minutes backing up Jason Fontenent (the former Oregon State transfer). Earl finished the season averaging 1.9 points per game, and appearing in 28 games. He was more than likely a bit more talented than Fontenet, but like most freshman, had to wait his turn. That turn never came to fruition, though, because Calloway was suspended indefinitely during his sophomore season after violating team rules. It’s hard to say exactly what he did, but one can be sure that it was a serious offense because he was suspended for the entire season.
After having enough of the Aggies, Calloway became the first junior college player since 1999 to transfer into Indiana University. It was as a Hoosier that Calloway’s career finally started to take off. During his first year there in ’05-’06, Earl averaged 5.7 points per game while shooting 37% from long range while playing around 19 minutes per game. Calloway finished the season incredibly strong, including an 18 point on 8-of-9 shooting, 6 steal performance against San Diego State University and a near triple-double (13 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds) against Gonzaga. This allowed him to secure the starting guard spot for Indiana during his final season at Indiana. He followed up that strong performance next season (his senior season), where he averaged career highs in points (9.6), assists(4.3), and rebounds (3.2) while playing in 29 games.
Upon finishing his career at Indiana, Calloway’s performance, while improved, did not merit being drafted into the NBA. Instead, Calloway played in the NBDL for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in hopes of gaining some attention there from NBA scouts. He followed that up by being named the MVP of the team after averaging 19 points per game and shooting 40% from three point range. During 50 games as the point guard there, he racked up 289 assists and averaged 2 steals per game. His all around game may not have given him an NBA spot, but it did get him job offers over in Europe playing against top-level competition.
During the ’08-’09 season, Calloway found himself playing for KK Cibona, a Croatian team that competes in the A-1 Liga and Adriatic League (two top regional leagues in Europe). While there, his Cibona squad continued to absolutely pummel the competition over there as they had historically done (they’ve won 17 of the last 21 A-1 Liga Cups). While there, he proved himself to be an adept scorer in the Euroleague, averaging 12.6 points per game on 59% shooting (from two-point range) in 16 total games. That showing continued to move his career forward, as he was invited shortly after to play for the best leauge in Europe (Liga ACB) with Cajasol Sevilla in Spain.
Calloway has played with Cajasol Sevilla since 2009, and his results there have been variable. European statistics are pretty hard to decipher and translate into NBA statistics, but Calloway hasn’t been bad overall. He’s averaged around 9 points per game there, but one interesting thing to note is that Calloway also plays with Wizards second round draft pick Tomas Satoransky. That may actually have been Ernie’s reasoning for including Calloway on the Wizards Summer League roster in the first place, as he may serve as a mentor to Tomas in some ways.Perhaps one of Grunfeld’s moves makes sense now!
This entire journey brings us to Las Vegas, where Calloway has been a bright spot for the struggling Washington Wizards (1-2). Through three games, Calloway has been a sharp shooter from long range, connecting on 5-of-8 three pointers. He also collected seven rebounds over the two games he has played in, which is important because he has been dreadful at getting assists for whatever reason (he has 0 total). If Earl Calloway continues to impress, he may end up wresting the Washington Wizards’ backup point guard position away from incumbent Shelvin Mack. Here’s to hoping that Mr. Calloway can officially crack an NBA roster, regardless of if it’s the Wizards or not!
Earl Calloway Highlights!
Jan Vesely: B
You know when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter and you’re really not supposed to talk about it? This is basically the situation with Jan Vesely right now, because he appears to have developed a
jump shot new weapon but I’m not about to speak out loud of it and jinx the entire thing. But that jump shot new weapon turns him into a completely different player than the one we saw last year. When a 6’11, long, player like Vesely has a jump shot new weapon like the one he’s been showing, it’s exceedingly difficult to try and guard. Dirk made a career out of being unguardable because of his length. If Vesely can keep this up and continue with his development in other areas of the game, look out!
That being said, his game wasn’t great overall despite his
jump shot new weapon being unleashed again. I think Vesely may have become a little gun shy after picking up 10 fouls in Game 1, because at times he looked to be disengaged down low. He didn’t play bad defense against Houston’s bigs of Terrence Jones and Royce White, but he could have had more rebounds than he did. Vesely was moving the ball relatively well on offense, but I’d like for him to be more aggressive like he was yesterday. And this time, convert the alley oops which he’s very good at getting.
Chris Singleton: C
Singleton played with a lot of tenacity, as per usual with him, but he didn’t match his fantastic summer league debut yesterday. His follow up performance was a bit of a dud, as he finished with 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks. He failed to be as active on the boards when faced with the plethora of talented wing players thrown at him by the Rockets. When he was matched up with Terrence Jones, he got beaten down low. The occasional time he was covering Jeremy Lamb, he got shots drained in his face. Singleton did make a lot of attempts to get to the basket but because his dribbling isn’t where it needs to be, he often puts up a forced ugly, ugly, jumper. He’s still developing, but I was hoping for something better from Singleton.
Tomas Satoransky: C+
After yesterday’s performance, the old adage of not judging a book by its cover rings true right now, because Satoransky erased the memory of his previous stinker. No, his game wasn’t so good that it’s going to change my mind about him being ready for the NBA, but Sato did show that he might be able to play one day. He showed a little bit of range in hitting a long two pointer, and displayed his athleticism with a big dunk (and a Vesely-esque alley oop). I guess those Czech’s like to dunk, because it’s what they’re prone to doing this summer league. Because Satoransky doesn’t have a great first step, he does a good job shielding the ball with his body, then waiting for a screen to move around.
He’s a smart player, and I wasn’t upset with his 11 point performance. He does have to work on holding onto the ball a little better, as his 8 turnovers in two games isn’t going to fly forever. But overall, you can’t be upset with him when he shows clear improvement from one day to the next.
Shelvin Mack: C+
Shelvin on the shelf Mack didn’t get as much burn today as he did yesterday (he only played 17 minutes), likely because of him being incredibly unimpressive yesterday. In the minutes he did get, however, he played much better. Sam Cassell decided to let other, more athletic guards take the ball up the court and initiate the offense. Mack thrived when he wasn’t forced to create his own shot (which he’s unqualified for), and knocked down open jumpers when his number was called. He finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists but he still couldn’t keep control of the ball as he coughed it up 3 times.
His game two was better than the first one, but I’m not sure he did a whole lot to help his case for the backup PG spot. He can’t create offense, and he’s not an amazing shooter in spite of hitting a few this game. If he can’t create , he can’t shoot as well as others, and he turns the ball over a lot, then what’s the case for keeping him with the team?
Bradley Beal: B+
Real Deal Beal couldn’t repeat his performance in game one, where he scored 22 points in his debut as a Washington Wizards, but he did show off yet another skill of his. Beal finished with 14 points, but he could have scored a whole lot more than that if he is capable of hitting over 50% of his free throws. Beal left points on the board after going 5-for-10 from the line, but the good sign is that he actually initiates contact. He was not nearly as good at drawing fouls in college, so it appears that he’s either learned the skill or taken the necessary adjustments to get the calls. That’s going to help him a whole lot more later on in the year on those nights where his shot isn’t going in (much like tonight).
Overall, he played a more well rounded game than yesterday, as he grabbed 5 rebounds in total to go along with 4 assists. Beal grabbed three offensive boards, and it’s a credit to his deceptive length. At one point, he scored on a putback with two big men to the left and the right of him; he did that because his arms are long and his positioning was right. Beal can clearly rebound, and it showed tonight. He also displayed an ability to pass the ball, throwing cross court looks with ease while creating shots for others. That may end up being a welcome surprise for John Wall, to be sure.
Steven Gray: D
Gray didn’t look like a whole lot of anything special during game two, mostly because he’s really not physically capable of playing in the NBA. He looked slow at times, failing to create his shot or stay in front of his man. Even when he did get open, he failed to knock down shots from the wings all night. He proved himself to be a pretty decent passer, though, finding Vesely for a nice bounce pass en route to a jumper. Gray finished the game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, but I wasn’t impressed with his game.
Garret Siler: F (for Fat)
I really hope Siler was wearing a Tyler Perry fat suit, because if his frame is actually that 305 lb. mess that we saw on Saturday night, he doesn’t belong on an NBA floor. It was downright gross to watch him plod up and down the court, and he looked like if he played more than the 13 minutes he got then he would end up having a heart attack. I’m not going to completely bash him, but I’m not sure he’s ever hit a weight room before. Jamarcus Russell looked better than him on that court, and while he did show off some low post skill and tenacity rebounding, there is no way he can keep that up for an entire game. Andray Blatche is already out of shape, the Wizards don’t need two big men occupying the same space.
Jeff Brooks: B
Brooks was the one reserve I was relatively impressed with during tonight’s game. His 6 point, 9 rebound performance wasn’t blow you away great, but his effort level was. He seems like a very competent rebounder and someone who might be able to help Washington out in the future. Brooks turned the ball over a lot, but he also got to the line and played quite aggressively. I’m hoping he gets a little more playing time, because he might be worthwhile to have on a bad rebounding team like Washington.
Jan Vesely: B
The knock on Jan heading into the offseason was that he was completely bereft of a jump shot. Though he had plenty of athleticism, his shot would be the thing holding him back from becoming a valuable player. Well, if today’s game was more statistical norm than abberation, Vesely is going to be a major contributor moving forward for this franchise. In the first half, Vesely knocked down all three of his jumpers from 15 ft. and out. He looked to have a newfound confidence in his shot, and it certainly showed. If he can continue doing things like that, as well as contributing with his defensive length, his career is going to be more like Andrei Kirilenko’s rather than (insert Euro bust here). On the night, he finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
He did miss three dunk attempts, which was a very disheartening thing to see, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to define his career. What Vesely needed to work on was being a more controlled player. He picked up 10 fouls in a Summer League game! That’s a joke, and shows me that he really has some work to do mentally in not getting overexcited out there. Part of the reason he was picking up fouls as such a high rate was because Shavlik Randolph and Kim Tillie were doing their best traffic cone impression out there. But a sixth pick shouldn’t be out there to collect fouls, he should be able to contribute in a lot of ways.
Chris Singleton: B+
Singleton deserves an A, but I’m not inclined to give out any of those. Despite struggling in the first half with turnovers (he had 4 total), Singleton picked it up to finish strong with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. It’s not his offense that is going to be his ticket into the NBA, but his versatility is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Sure, he has a very hard time getting to the basket because he can’t dribble, but his defense more than makes up for it. Singleton showed off his nose for grabbing steals, oftentimes just taking the ball from defenders using quick hands. He always seems to be in position on defense and rarely gets beaten in a one-on-one scenario. He just looks like a player who is going to stick in the NBA as a great defender, and his rebounding ability has greatly improved. His positioning helped, and as a result he was the best rebounder on the court.
But then, we already knew that. And don’t let his 18 points fool you, those were very hard earned buckets. He didn’t score those with ease, and they weren’t always pretty. Singleton gets his shots in crafty ways, like on the fastbreak off of steals or wide open threes after beating his defender in a crowd. It’s not necessarily going to translate amazingly at the pro level, as we evidenced similar play last year, but he did look a lot more assertive today. Unfortunately, that assertiveness comes at a cost; Singleton turned it over five times. His ball handling isn’t where it needs to be just yet, and he has to continue to show that he has enough quickness to beat anyone off the dribble. All in all, I’m not upset with his performance, but I expected this from him.
Tomas Satoransky: D
Satoransky wasn’t expected to do much, and turning it over three times in 5 minutes was pretty much par for the course. Tomas was flat out bad, and it shows why he is going to be considered a project. Another year in Spain playing top level competition will do him some good, because in his short stint with the Wizards he looked overmatched.
One thing he did well, though, was move the ball. When he’s not turning it over, he does know how to cut into the lane and make nice, spot on passes to bigs down low in the paint. Other than that, the cupboard is barren.
For the most part he was just hard to watch, guys.
Shelvin Mack: D
Shelvin Mack really wasn’t able to manage the offense with the poise of a backup point guard. He’s a step slow in everything he does, and the offense doesn’t flow when he has the ball. Mack dribbled into defenders too many times to not mention it, and failed to create too many shots for anyone. In fact, when he didn’t have the ball everything else started clicking. He defends just as well as he did last season, but he’s not going to completely shut down anyone. Mack’s jumper wasn’t really impressive either, and it showed little improvement from last season, where it was pretty horrible.
If Mack can’t get better and impress during this summer league, he may have to look elsewhere for a job because the Wizards could desperately use a veteran backup to spell Wall.
Bradley Beal: A
Real Deal Beal was everything the Washington Wizards expected when they drafted him, scoring 22 points in 33 minutes of play. Beal looked a little slow at first, but that’s because we didn’t realize that his game is just always completely under control. He never forces anything (almost to a fault), and gets shots within the flow of the game. He hit jumpers from everywhere on the floor, three pointers, long two’s, pull up jumpers at the top of the key. You name it, Beal shot it. He also showed, at least at first, an agressive side in that he got to the line a whole lot. Beal finished strong after contact and drove to the line looking for it. His sturdy frame really shows when he’s going at the rim, because he’s able to absorb hits and maintain body control.
One thing Beal might want to work on is his defense, because even though he got two blocks, he tended to sag off of defenders. I’m not suggesting he’s bad at defense at all, because he’s not. He gets in front of his man all the time, but I think he might be trying to compensate for his slower first step by backing off people around the perimeter. He also didn’t grab a single rebound despite being billed as one of the best rebounders at his position in college. That’s largely due to the size difference in the pro’s and not being aggressive enough in grabbing boards.
Either way, it’s incredibly hard to be upset with his first game in a Wizards jersey. Bradley Beal flat out killed it tonight, and I’m looking forward to seeing him throughout this summer.
Everyone else: D
Where to begin with the players the Wizards brought in? Kim Tillie and Shavlik Randolph were horrible at the center position. They were completely abused down low, and looked like they hadn’t played basketball outside of a rec gym in a long time. The Wizards couldn’t find better talent than these two? Offensively, neither player hit a single shot from the field, though Tillie contributed with 6 points off of free throws. He drew contact down low, but didn’t show any amount of offensive game. Their five rebounds combined were pretty bad. Going forward, I’m not expecting them to get as many minutes on the floor.
In the backcourt, it didn’t really get much better. Ravern Johnson looked as he always has: like a chicken wing. He did come in immediately and hit a three pointer, showing off the range that made him dangerous in college. Other than that, he didn’t do anything of note and looks like the only way he’ll make a roster is as a three point specialist.
Earl Calloway was the only impressive player, to me. At 28 years old and having played numerous seasons of professional basketball overseas, it showed in his short amount of playing time. Calloway played with a bit of court savvy that’s hard to describe, but signifies that he knows how to manage an offense. That’s not a great thing, but he did have 7 points in 9 minutes, and I’d like to see him working with the first team offense to see how he sets people up.