Washington Wizards Team Preview

Washington Wizards Team Preview

Washington Wizards Team Preview
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Despite the logo above, this is actually a post about the Washington Wizards. That logo was the logo for only one season: 1973-1974. Why did I use it? Because I wish they were still called the Bullets and that logo was significantly obscure. So there.

Before we get this thing going, I should point out what is going on. This specific preview is for the 5th Annual NBA Blog Previews run by Jeff Clark over at Celtics Blog. The reason that it is not in my typical format is because part of agreeing to be part of this thing is following a specific format. I one of three NBA bloggers representing the Wizards. The others are my good pals Kyle Weidie from Truth About It and Mike Prada from SB Nation and Bullets Forever. I will link to their previews when they post them. (Here is SB Nation.) As for what we are going to be doing here at SnF, here’s the story. I’ll be previewing each of the six NBA divisions between next Monday and the Monday after that. When those are done, I’ll do a post based on all the SnF authors’ predictions on the Tuesday that the season starts. Ok? Now on to the preview…

Team Name: Washington Wizards
Last Year’s Record: 26-56 (5th in Southeast, 14th in the East, 25th in the NBA

All gone.

Key Losses: This is slightly subjective. If we are talking about losses since the beginning of last season, the answers are Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Both players were cornerstones of the team and are now gone to places so they can play for contenders. What’s that? Oh. LeBron left Cleveland and Jamison got screwed over for the 27th time in his career. Well, at least he can leave when he’s a free agent. Oh. He has two whole years left in Cleveland with no possibility of being competitive. Well, at least he’s getting paid. Let’s stick with that. And they could trade him to a contender. Hopefully. For his sake.

The Wiz also lost Mike Miller who signed with the Heat because he wanted to win championship games and never have to take a shot with a hand in his face ever again.

 

washtinton wizards team preview

Not a terrible career move. Brendan Haywood was traded to the Mavs and subsequently signed a crazy contract (6 years, 55 million) that he was essentially given because it’s unlikely he will stop being seven feet tall any time soon. The only other real loss in Randy Foye (signed with Clippers), though that hardly matters because of some other guy we will get to later.
So the Wizards have lost a lot of players. Fans were obviously fond of both Jamison and Tuff Juice. Mike Miller was only in town for a year and nobody really got all that attached. I am happy that he has moved up to the Heat if only for the promise of making the Heat more fun to watch. Very few will miss Haywood as many fans referred to him as

All the rookies. Ignore Kevin Palmer. He was cut.

Key Additions: You may have heard of the John Wall fellow. He is the Wizards new point guard due to the victory of some number of numbers over some other numbers of numbers in a battle of ping pong balls that was revealed in a ceremony of comically large envelopes and semi-unaware team representatives. Confused? It doesn’t matter because nobody cares if you are. The Wiz got the #1 pick and he’s not going to be Kwame Brown-like this time… Please. No more Kwame Brown-like players. Seriously. That last time wasn’t funny. Not even a little.

The other two offseason moves that matter are the additions of Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian. Hinrich came from the Bulls (along with 3 million bucks) so that the Bulls could clear salary in order to sign James, Bosh, Wade, or some combination of those three. Turns out, that was a crash and burn. But… thanks Chicago! The Wiz got Yi (another 3 million bucks) from the Nets for… Quinton Ross? People must have really wanted that LeBron guy. I wonder why.
 
What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
I’m not sure John Wall counts as a move since he was drafted, quite obviously I might add, out of Kentucky. The Wiz also drafted Trevor Booker out of Clemson (whose NBA prospects I doubt due to his size although he was great in college), Kevin Seraphin out of France (a 6″9 PF with a decent chance at producing something down the road but currently very raw) and Hamady N’Diaye from Senegal out of Rutgers (56th pick so no real expectations though he is a big shot blocker). So… Jimmy Wall.

The addition of Kirk Hinrich is interesting because the Wiz are toying with using a three guard line up consisting of Wall at point, and Arenas and Hinrich both playing shooting guard. This sounds like a way to utilize all of your best players. And it is. But Kirk Hinrich can’t guard small forwards. He may be a great defender (clearly his best skill), but he is only 6″3 in high heels. There are tons of wing players in the league that are 6″9. The simple solution is to rotate the three of them and have Josh Howard play small forward. We’ll have to wait and see when Howard returns from injury.

The rotation of the three makes sense because Wall has to get used to a much longer season, Arenas doesn’t want to risk injury, and Hinrich is the worst of the three. They all have reasons to have reduced playing time.

Yi Jianlian has been a very pleasant surprise in training camp and in preseason games. He looks like he could have been drafted #6 overall. The Chairman could be a huge help for this team off the bench, backing up the rising star Andray Blatche. (Yes, “rising star” was slightly facetious.) His diverse set of skills is impressive

 and could make him more valuable because of the number of positions he can play. If only Chairman Yi could actually defend somebody, he’d be a really great player.

Both Yi and Hinrich were acquired for essentially nothing so whatever help it is that they can add to the team will be greatly appreciated to help with the loss of Jamison and Butler. The biggest offseason addition however, might be Ted Leonsis. Never heard of him? Well, he doesn’t play basketball. I mean, he might… but I doubt he’s very good. Anyway, he’s the new owner following the long expected death of long time owner Abe Pollin. While Pollin will be extremely missed, Leonsis has proven that he can raise the popularity of a team from what he has shown during his tenure as owner of the Washington 

Capitals (NHL… you know, hockey…. sticks and ice…. no?). Capitals fans are now visible in DC and the marketing of the team, friendliness with the blogosphere, and many other aspects are incredible compared to other franchises. Since he took over, Leonsis added a “Alumni Association” for old players of the team that will hopefully help connect the former stars with the players of today. He also instituted a “Midnight Madness” practice for the team that was open free of charge to fans. I look forward to his great ideas helping the team.

Andray Blatche

What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The obvious answer here is the speed of the backcourt. Wall and Arenas are probably the fastest set of starting guards in the NBA. If they use that speed to run the ball in transition, the offense could really put up some points. Andray Blatche is also great on the break and could help with that kind of style from the starting power forward position. Josh Howard’s contribution is yet to be determined, but could be useful in this style as well. JaVale McGee is also very mobile, especially for a center, and is well suited for a running offense.
The Wizards second biggest strength is… I’m not entirely sure there is one. Thanks to Gilbert Arenas I can’t even make up some stupid intangible answer. This sucks.

What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

You want weaknesses? No problem. How about this… defense

 

 I know it’s half of the game and it seems a little broad. But the defense is not going to be good. Sure, there are as few bright spots. Hinrich is a really good on ball defender against guards that don’t have more than three inches on him. JaVale McGee led the league in blocks per minute last season at a rate of more than 5 per 48 minutes. But his on ball defense in the post isn’t really that great. Wall is going to create some steals because of his athleticism and vision, but he’s going to be facing guys that have played in the league and know what it takes.

Hilton Armstrong should not be on an NBA rosterThe next weakness is probably the depth. Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian are good bench players. After that, the second unit is Nick Young (an NBA player, but shouldn’t be in a real rotation), Al Thornton (see: Young, Nick), and Hilton Armstrong (can’t figure out why he’s even allowed to play in the NBA, he’s terrible). If somebody actually gets injured, there is going to be a very serious problem. Even without an injury, there’s a pretty serious problem.

Last but not least is the unity. Agent Zero / The Black President / The Hibatchi / Whatever is no more. It’s just Gilbert. He’s wearing #9. His interviews suck. He brought a gun to the locker room last season.

season. He pooped in shoes. But it’s not just Gil. Last season, Andray Blatche was benched by Flip Saunders for refusing to go back into a game. Blatche disputed it but Flip said it was the worst thing he’d ever seen a player do. Naturally, Blatche was back playing very soon thereby completely undermining Flip’s authority. Good times. Could this group jell? Sure. Will they? I think we know the answer to that.
What are the goals for this team?
The goal is a playoff spot. It is a possibility, but I think it depends more on other teams than it does on the Wiz. They’ll probably finish somewhere around 35 wins or so. If the conference gets very top heavy with the Heat, Celts, and ‘Gic, then they might make it. Just in time to face LeBron in the playoffs? Not again. You know what, I hope they suck and end up with some decent picks in next season’s draft and continue to build a young core of players.
So I’m changing the goal. The goal is to not get hurt, not go nuclear, not have another Gilbert incident, and to get good picks in next year’s draft. Goal: changed.

Can John Wall and Gilbert Arenas coexist?

I feel like the answer to this question is a definite maybe. Sure Gilbert seems like he really trying to cooperate with this being Wall’s team. But in the end he is still The Black President. I find it hard to believe that Gil could contain himself for an entire season. Combine that with a coach whose authority has already been undermined, some other players with personality issues, and a team that won’t be winning all that much? I don’t think the result is going to be all that great.
Speaking of results… The Wiz might have the widest range of predicted records I’ve seen. NBA GM’s think they will be vastly improved and Basketball Prospectus has them at the worst team in the league. I’m not sure which will be true but I’ll take something decently close to the middle. Since I’m at about 2,000 words, I’m thinking I should probably wrap this thing up and make a damn prediction already.

Prediction: 33-49 (4th in Southeast, 10th in East, 21st in NBA)

Finally, here is the full list of previews so far.

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2009-2010 Sacramento Kings NBA Season Preview

2009-2010 Sacramento Kings NBA Season Preview

2009-2010 Sacramento Kings NBA Season Preview
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Here at Sparty and Friends, we have reached NBA preview (again). There will be one team per work day leading up to the season opener (Celts vs. Cavs, October 27th at 7:30pm on TNT). The teams are ordered by record starting with last place and going up through the non-playoff teams, followed by the playoff teams in order of elimination (or lack there of in the Lakers’ case). Now let’s have a late Sac(To) lunch…

The Kings are making progress. No, really. They have a young core of players and got better in the draft. They have some bad contracts, but in a few years they will be out of those. They’ll probably be out of Sacramento as well. Sad, but true. Wait… sad? Maybe not. You know what? Not sad. The only thing that I associate with the Kings in Sac’to right now are these; The Webber Era (disappointing by all accounts), Arco Arena (often loud, always bad), Shaq calling them “The Queens” (funny, but not a positive for the franchise), and their insanely ugly alternate jerseys (one of the ugliest things ever worn by anybody in the history of the universe, seriously). I guess they should leave town. Either way, I’m leaving. Where am I going? They call in “the jump” or something…

John Calipari

So let’s get the stats out of the way first…

Last Year’s Record: 17-65 (last in the Pacific Division, last in the Western Conference, last in the NBA)

Last Year’s Prediction (GITC): 20-25 wins, 11-15 in the Western Conference

Coach: Paul Westphal

Expected Starting Lineup: Beno Udrih, Kevin Martin, Fransisco Garcia, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes

Expected Bench Contributors: Sergio Rodriguez, Tyreke Evans, Andres Nocioni, Donte Greene

sacramento kings jersey
sacramento kings roster

Well, I was right that they could have come in last! I’m not sure anybody thought they’d win only 17 games. That’s awful. On the plus side, Garcia and Hawes have moved from the bench to starting, K-Mart 2.0 is as good as ever, and Thompson has developed really well out of almost nowhere (unless you really know your NBA and deep mid-majors). On the other hand, there’s Beno Udrih. It’s not that he’s bad, it’s that he’s a crippling cap figure. Making upwards of 32 million bucks over 5 years isn’t exactly what you want to be paying a point guard who averages 11 points and less than 5 assists per game.

Tyreke Evans was a terrible draft pick at #4. That of course is because RICKY FREAKING RUBIO was still on the board, but whatever. Will Evans be good? Sure. At least he got drafted to a team with a point guard so that he doesn’t have to try to play that position. He would fail miserably at it in the NBA. There’s just no way that he can dribble and pass at that level. I’ve been watching him since he was in high school and he’s a great attacker of the basket. Other than that? I’m not sure he brings a bunch more to the table. I doubt he’ll be a multiple time all star or anything, but very few are.

Video of the Day time! Speaking of Jason Thompson, one of the great things about being an NBA rookie is you get a new car. The bad thing that comes with being an NBA rookie is that sometimes your teammates fill your car with popcorn. Wait, what?!?

Now starting a new feature! This is called… Best Comment From Last Season’s Preview of This Team! Alright so it doesn’t have a great name. BCFLSPTT isn’t that catchy. You come up with a better name. Seriously. E-mail me. Anyway, the award goes to… Sparty! Here it is:

“dude, when the coach from Hang Time is the man in charge, everything should be a-ok.

This was in reference to the fact that last season the Kings were coached by Reggie Theus.

All this being said, the Kings are not going to be good. Better? Well, they have few other options. Namely being worse or the same. Neither of those seem plausible because 17 wins is really low. I’m going to repeat my prediction from last season.

Prediction: 20-25 wins, 11-15 in the Western Conference

Guyinthecorner is an author here at spartyandfriends.com. He writes the NBA section, X-Games section, and contributes to College Basketball and MLB. He doesn’t watch hockey except when the circumstances are dire. He’s not sure how to rate Michael Phelps on the scale of athletes not only because he doesn’t directly compete against people, but because he is a fish. He doesn’t understand the hate for the 2002 National Champion Maryland Terrapins and wishes everybody would just shut up by now. He is known for having statistical formulas and might be Bill James or Joe Lunardi depending on who you ask. His identity is as hidden as many times over as the number of internet memes he employs in his comments. Some have called him “The Riddler.” “GITC” is an acronym for guyinthecorner in case you aren’t that perceptive.

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Beware Kentucky, You’re Next

Beware Kentucky, You’re Next

Beware Kentucky, You’re Next
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Get him a banana.Miz pointed out in TMA this morning that Memphis may be forced to forfeit the greatest season in school history, which included a Conference-USA Championship, 38 wins, a Final Four appearance, and a National Title Game appearance. There are a few allegations that have been under investigations in recent months, the most heinous being that someone else took Derrick Rose’s SAT. Kinda a big deal when the best player on your team is not supposed to be playing. There are other infractions that are included as to why such a stiff penalty would be issued. It remains to be seen if any other infractions would be imposed, such as a postseason ban. If the NCAA would really like to send a message that they aren’t a joke, they would do that as well. Vacating a season where a team didn’t win a title is not that big of a deal, and the program doesn’t truly suffer from it. Yes, they do lose the revenue they received from the Final Four, but that is the extent of it.

 

John Calipari
Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose

Who really gets away with what happened? Well, Derrick Rose and John Calipari.

How many of you look down on Marcus Camby as an individual? He took money from agents while at UMass (AHEM! *COUGH*COUGH*AHEM! Also coached by Calipari), therefore negating the Minutemen’s one and only Final Four appearance. Now Camby actually paid the university back the money they lost due to what happened, and the university has also refused to take down their banner, since the school claims it was not involved in the infraction. Will Rose pay money back? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, nobody will care. He won’t really hurt an NBA franchise, so whatever legacy he sets for himself on the court in Chicago is how he will be remembered.

The other person, former coach John Calipari once again avoids suffering any kind of penalty. Like we subtlety hinted above, he was the coach at UMass when Camby was caught taking money from the agents, but got out of town before that came to light. Just months before the NCAA openly announced their investigation on Memphis, he accepted a job a the University of Kentucky. Hmmmmm. Bloggers, readers, fans, people with a heart and a lick of morals don’t trust Calipari. They see a snake when he is interviewed. They see a man who cannot be trusted. So even though Kentucky is excited about the hire of Calipari – because his teams do win – and because he brought big time recruits with him, they also know that dirtiness usually comes with it. Kentucky can only hope that nobody gets caught with their pants down while Calipari is there. Of course, if he suddenly jumps ship in 2-3 years, don’t be surprised to see Kentucky facing the death penalty that they skirted just before they hired the second biggest snake in the state of Kentucky.

 

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Eric Paschall signed on a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves

Eric Paschall signed on a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves

Eric Paschall signed on a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves
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Eric Paschall signed on a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, after playing for the Utah Jazz last season and having the least amount of minutes played in his career. In his short three-season career and also only averaging six points per game his minutes and points per game have gone down in each of his three seasons as his rookie. I think you may remember, I believe he was on the rookie first team with the golden state warriors and he averaged like 13 points a game and they were talking at the beginning of the year that maybe this guy wins rookie of the year, and then his second season, his minutes dropped by 10 minutes per game and he only averaged nine points and it fell to six.

Now he is going to the timberwolves on a two-way contact. I don’t know how this guy is on a two-way contact. First of all, the rule used to be that you could only be on a two-way contract for three years for your first three years in the league but this is his first fourth year in the league so I don’t know if the changed the four because this also happened with I believe Brandon goodwin. I think that’s how it happened and I believe it happened with one other player too but I am not quite sure and I am not remembering off the top of my head. There are a couple of instances like this where I don’t know how they get a two-way contract when they were not in their first three seasons. So let me know if you guys know of this NBA way to change that rule or what buy his minutes are probably going to go down even more because this team has a lot of big guys. They have Jaden Mcdaniels who might not even start because he plays power forward and Carl Anthony is getting bumped up to power forward next season.

 

Eric Paschall two way contract
eric paschall Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves eric paschall

McDaniels can’t just slide to the center because Rudy Gobert is going to be a center and they also have Nas Reid like they got a pretty big roster. They got a lot of guys that are going to play those positions. So, I don’t know if I see Eric Paschall getting too many minutes. He did not even get a lot of minutes with Jazz last season, really did not play much at all when I went and watched the jazz play the Leakers in person he just did not play that much and I don’t know if the signing is good for the timberwolves. He is a good player to sign on a two-way contract or a great player to get to get on a two-way contract but unless someone gets injured when you are gonna ever play this guy and why is it gonna ever be worth it, I just don’t see it being worth it unless someone does get injured which you don’t want to but like I don’t know why eric Paschall would sign this deal because I feel like someone else would have offered him a two-way contract and he could have gotten more run because I don’t see him getting a ton of playing time at all with the timberwolves especially with the timberwolves trying to be competitive and I think Anthony Edwards is going to probably have MVP lever year but let know what you guys think in the comments section below.

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The Next Piece of the LeBron 011809 Puzzle Revealed

There have been numerous stories all over these here interwebs about what this all might be about. Well, we still don’t know. But we do have the next piece of the puzzle…

While watching a video on the NBC/Fox owned site “Hulu” last night, an ad popped up during the limited commercial break that started much the same way that the above clip started. This one however went longer and revealed a little bit more of the bigger picture of these ads. It showed LeBron saying that he would sign with the Cleveland Browns. That was followed by a few highlights of LeBron playing football. He first leads the team out onto the field, then catches a ball, then blocks a field goal like it’s a weak lay-up, then does a sort of switching hand trick move on a defender that causes the defender to turn around as LeBron runs past him, then soars through the air to dunk the ball through the uprights. It then shows LeBron wearing a Cleveland Browns championship T-shirt (I wonder how the workers stopped laughing for long enough to take the necessary steps to make the shirt) as confetti falls from the sky. He is then approached by a cheerleader who speaks in a man’s voice telling him that the he’s going to miss the bus. LeBron then realizes he’s dreaming, wakes up, sees the guy yelling at him and stands up to leave as you see a TV with a Browns game on in the background. He then says a quick State Farm pitch as he’s leaving, but not before striking a quick quasi-Heisman pose.

Below are screenshots of the ad and their descriptions. Check them out…