So in lieu of a bunch of tired references to The Wire, I asked Kylie Wedle of the TrueHoop Wizards Blog, Truthaboutit.net, a few questions about the cats from D.C. I also babbled about the Knicks a bit here.
1. According to most prognosticators, Washington is among a group that will be battling for the 6/7/8 slots in the East. Can they exceed those expectations? Are they too lofty? What do the Wizards need to do to net their first 50-win season since 1979?
Definitely not too lofty… to make the playoffs at least. 50 wins? Let’s get to 40 first.
This Wizards team has the talent that ‘can’ exceed 5-6-7 seed expectations, but probably not for another 18-24 months and/or unless something catastrophic happens to one or two of the teams higher in the pecking order (which certainly includes the Knicks).
Otherwise, the talk is “playoffs or bust” around these parts — John Wall will be going through the meaningless (and perhaps menial) exercise of writing “playoffs” on all of his shoes to let people know that he cares, and team-fueled media can’t stop gabbing about how “those around the league” say that the Wizards “look” like a playoff team.
I have a fair amount of confidence that both Wall and Bradley Beal will excel at bearing their share of the weight this season (given they stay healthy — both uber-athletic guards still need to learn how to control the reckless abandon a little bit). Which brings us to our keys:
1) Health — if Wall is writing “playoffs” on his shoes, then team owner Ted Leonsis and president of basketball ops Ernie Grunfeld should be sewing “health” into their pleated pants and cardigans; 2) Post Play — Nene, who perhaps falls under the ‘necessary to be healthy’ category more so than Wall and Beal, must be an offensive post threat for this team to rise out of the doldrums of horrendous offense; and 3) Other Dudes — somebody, anybody who the Wizards have drafted over the past three seasons not named Wall or Beal will have to make themselves a palpable role player.
2. Regarding, John Wall’s extension, some roundly criticized Grun
waldfeld (EDITOR’S NOTE: That was my typo. Whether I’m subconsciously pining for Glen or my MS Word knows I write about the Knicks too much, I’ll let y’all decide.) et al. for the move. What do you think? What does Wall need to do justify his contract? Do you think he will?
The price was a little too high for my liking, but I’m also not in the business of balancing star ego, agent leverage, common sense, and contract status symbolism.
Yes, the Wizards are burning some flexibility down the road, but what team giving out max contracts isn’t? Plus, it’s somewhat understandable that Washington opted to get the extension done this summer, as opposed to waiting until the summer of 2014 when Wall would have been a restricted free agent, perhaps allowing the market to set the price.
When you’re a hapless franchise like the Wizards, you want to avoid having the uncertain contract status of a former No. 1 pick and potential superstar hanging over the franchise’s head. You want to avoid making Wall pout (he previously said that he would have been disappointed had he and the Wizards not agreed on an extension this summer). And perhaps most importantly, you want to stay on the good side of super agent Dan Fegan, who wields enough power to increase the attractiveness of Washington as a free agent destination (Al Harrington, perhaps a sleeper free agent sign for the Wizards this past summer, is a Fegan client.)
Wall needs to do a lot to justify his contract, and 80 percent of me feels that he will eventually get there. But first, he needs to win. Then he needs to make the playoffs. Then he needs that he’s not a one-and-done playoff performer by year three of this extension (which, as it kicks in next season, would be getting past the first round by 2016-17).
3. Are there any D.C.’ers we should pay attention to in this game that Knick fans might not have heard of? What young’ns have impressed/disappointed?
Essentially all young’ns not named Wall or Beal have disappointed to various degrees.
Keep an eye on Kevin Seraphin. The team asked him not to play for the French national team at EuroBasket so they could train him in D.C. all summer. He’s a big body with very nice touch, the problem is that he’s terrible at combating double teams, is a poor rebounder, can’t get to the free throw line, and is still relatively unaware on defense. Thems a lot of problems.
Otherwise, 2011 sixth overall pick Jan Vesely has been nothing but a bust so far; 2010 mid-first rounder Trevor Booker is tough but undersized and can’t seem to stay healthy; and 2011 mid-first rounder Chris Singleton (thought to be a Knicks target, they took Shumpert instead — aren’t you happy?) is currently out with a fractured foot and was on the outside looking-in anyway. The third overall pick in 2013, Otto Porter, has battled nagging injuries since summer league and hasn’t even practiced during training camp and preseason, ominously bringing potential disappointment — big time — to his rookie campaign.
Keep another eye on Glen Rice, Jr., a 2013 second round pick — Knicks fans have certainly heard of his dad. Junior, having spent a year in the D-League after being booted from Georgia Tech for disciplinary problems, has impressed with his offensive game and rebounding thus far, and could be ready for immediate, somewhat significant contribution.
No Metta World Peace tonight, so we should get to see more of Timmy Jr. tonight. Should be a pip. After all…
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Go Knicks!