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Friday, December 19, 2014

Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Wizards in Bal’mer

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 Grunwaldfeld (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!

19 comments on “Preseason Game Thread: Knicks v. Wizards in Bal’mer

  1. KnickfaninNJ

    The wizards are clearly disappointed in their drafting, but I think their result, two mid first rounders and a sixth pick overall not contributing, isn’t that atypical of the draft. Of course it’s nice to have draft choices, but after the first few, I’m not sure it matters which ones they are. I am posting this because of all the discussion about the Bargnani trade. If we had traded Vesely, Booker and Singleton instead of the drafts choices we did trade I think most people would have considered it a typical pupu platter. But trading draft choices instead made people more upset, because the hope of a draft choice trumps the typical reality.

  2. stratomatic

    Washington played good ball last year when they got healthy. Plus they have several players with upside. They could easily be a surprise team this year and do even better than expected.

  3. Z-man

    I’ve been watching. Bargs looks very good on O, but weak on D and the boards. Just looks sluggish on help D, and not agressive enough on the boards. Can box but has very poor rebounding technique. Hopefully he can be coached up there. But his O looks great, he had what I thought was a turnover on a pass to a diving Chandler, but I thought it was Chandler’s fault.

  4. llcoolbp

    ruruland: Bargnani 3/4 11 pts, 0 turnovers and….. crickets

    I can’t have crickets right now. I’m stuck at work and I need the bloggers to give me a real game thread. Come on guys, you all need to start getting into season form!

  5. Kahnzy

    Man, if this was a real game I’d be pretty pissed with Melo’s just plain silly ball-hogging (even more than usual). But given that it’s not and he’s playing in front of his crowd, I’ll look the other way…this time.

    But seriously…Shump AND Prigs sprain their elbows in the same meaningless game? We’re already in mid-season form.

  6. er

    Kahnzy:
    Man, if this was a real game I’d be pretty pissed with Melo’s just plain silly ball-hogging (even more than usual). But given that it’s not and he’s playing in front of his crowd, I’ll look the other way…this time.

    But seriously…Shump AND Prigs sprain their elbows in the same meaningless game? We’re already in mid-season form.

    ball hogging? uh ok……

  7. 83sham

    Here’s what I texted a friend who missed the game tonight:

    – Tourre Murray could be a rotation player. I could see him having more impact than Beno if given the opportunity. Reminds me of George Hill. In control. Good ball control.

    – Bargnani played well but something stands out watching him. He just looks lazy sometimes. I know most professional ball players are not lazy, and I know Bargnani isn’t, but he just appears that way.

    – I don’t think Bargnani has ever sprinted in his NBA career, or at least I don’t think Bargnani is capable of appearing as he’s sprinting/hustling even if he is. Just something about his disposition. He did block a few a shots.

    – Bargnani also needs to look for his shot more, be more aware of where the defender is, and peak at the rim on wing to wing swings if that makes sense.

    – Melo was in jock mode. Maybe because he’s in Bmore, maybe because it’s preseason. Two games in a row now. He does ignore Bargnani, either off the PnR with Bargnani or when Bargnani is at the corner, and Melo is running the PnR with someone else on the strong side. I think there was one play where Bargs was subtly flapping his arms sort of giving off the impression that he was thinking “Melo, I’m open, what’s up?”

    – Shump and Prigioni both sprained elbows.

    – Oh yeah, THJ played well.

  8. Kahnzy

    You gotta admit some of his shots were a little on the silly side, even for him. Not knocking it since it was for fun in front of some friends in a game where winning or losing doesn’t mean anything. Just saying is all

  9. Brian Cronin

    Bargnani 3/4 11 pts, 0 turnovers and….. crickets

    It’s preseason. There were crickets at the Boston game, too, when everyone played like shit.

    Mostly because preseason doesn’t matter at all. You can’t judge any of these guys, good or bad, until the real games start.

  10. er

    Brian Cronin: It’s preseason. There were crickets at the Boston game, too, when everyone played like shit.

    Mostly because preseason doesn’t matter at all. You can’t judge any of these guys, good or bad, until the real games start.

    Torre looks decent though

  11. mokers

    - Bargnani will fit in with the way he slips those screens.
    – Does anybody know why Tyson played so few minutes?
    – Is anybody scared Josh Powell is going to make this team
    – Pretty happy with Lil’ Jowles (THJ if you missed the other thread)
    – Team looking like they will do OK shooting threes this year.

  12. Brian Cronin

    Torre looks decent though

    Actually, you’re right, that’s the one area where preseason actually matters. Players trying to make the team. I’m rooting for Toure!

  13. Kahnzy

    mokers:
    – Does anybody know why Tyson played so few minutes?

    Per ESPN, Woodson wanted to rest them and experiment a bit; such as Melo at the 4 and Bargs at the 5. He said he expects to play him 30+ minutes on Monday.

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