June 29, 2015

Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Results, Grades, and Meaning

The Washington Wizards were probably busier than some might have expected at the Barclary’s center; nonetheless however, measures were taken to improve this team now and in the future. For a full recap and evaluation of the Wizards activities see my in-depth post from last night.

Washington acquired Kelly Oubre Jr., an athletic wing player out of Kansas from the Atlanta Hawks, drafted with the 15th overall pick, by trading away their 19th overall pick that was used to ship Jerian Grant to New York and two second round picks in 2016 and 2019 going to Atlanta.

In the second round the Wizards stay put and drafted stretch four Aaron White out of Iowa, one pick after missing out on Kentucky big man Dakari Johnson. After the draft, the Wizards are reported to have former Terp Dez Wells and former first round pick Roddy Beaubois on the team’s summer league team.

It is a certainty that Oubre will make the team and will see solid minutes coming off the bench. According to J. Michael, Aaron White will begin his pro career overseas even though GM Ernie Grunfeld said it would be up to White; quite possible that the Iowa big has already made his decision to travel. Dez Wells will likely have a spot on the 15 man roster because he can be a go to scorer off the bench when needed to provide a spark. Clearly many in the Wizards organization agree as J. Michael is reporting that the former Terp is expected to reunite with childhood friend John Wall. Beaubois is already 27 years old and will be starting his 10th year of his pro career; the French native is a long shot to make the team although he would probably play a role to last year’s pick up of Will Bynum.

With this news, a more accurate idea of the Wizards 15-man roster is possible:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Will Bynum/Roddy Beaubois
SG: Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple, Rasual ButlerDez Wells
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Martell Webster, Paul Pierce
PF: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, Aaron WhiteDrew Gooden
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

The above depth chart is assuming that Paul Pierce does  not re-sign with the Wizards when free agency begins July 1. Pierce has officially opted out of his contract, which was reported earlier by others. However, it is still possible The Truth will be back and provide the clutch shooting and mentoring he showed off last year. When asked about the return of Pierce, Wittman optimistically said “yeah, absolutely” I expect him back.

Drew Gooden has resurrected his career in Washington the past two years and the Wizards should and likely will work to bring the veteran back. His spot is secure as long as the Wizards figure out a deal that might include a second year player option that suits him. Rasual Butler is a free agent but could be back if the Wizards want him. They currently do not have the roster spot for him if Aaron White does stay in DC and they could opt to bring in another younger sharp shooter instead (i.e. Michael Frazier or Aaron Harrison). Will Bynum will be the odd man out if Paul Pierce returns or even if he doesn’t and the front office likes what they see out of Beaubois more (quite possible if the former Maverick can over come his injury plagued past).

I would expect the Wizards to try and move either Martell Webster and/or DeJuan Blair in coming weeks because of their lack of production and opportunity last year. It is unlikely Washington targets any flashy free agents starting next week as they will continue to save cap space in hope of a run to bring Kevin Durant home.

Although none of these evaluations will mean anything until the end of these players careers, possibly over a decade from now, Oubre and company can still be evaluated on their projected contribution to the team.

  • Kelly Oubre: B with the potential of A. Since the Wizards did have to part with two second round draft picks in 2016 and 2019 when they could have stayed pat at #19 and selected Bobby Portis or Jerian Grant, Oubre is already in the hole. However, there is a reason why the one-and-done Kansas sensation was projected to be a lottery pick: he is ridiculously athletic. His 7′ 2” wingspan will allow him to be a strong defender and he if he continues to develop his multi-faceted offensive game, he will well be worth the investment. It is more likely he will be signing a max deal in four years than him looking overseas to continue his pro career. Oubre is also close friends with Kevin Durant, it might not help come next summer, but it will certainly not hurt either.
  • Aaron White: B+. The Wizards were one pick away from having the opportunity to select Dakari Johnson, an elite defender with a 9′ 4” reach. After that opportunity was taken away by the Thunder with the 48th pick, Washington opted to draft a big who can continue to help them with their high priority of rebounding. White, like Oubre, can grab nine or more rebounds in forty minutes of action. With White’s growing ability to knock down the three point shot, he could be a younger version of Drew Gooden the Wizards are looking for in a stretch four.
  • Dez Wells: A. It costs the Wizards nothing to put a stud with a prolific college career at a local school in Maryland on the summer league team. Clearly the Wizards have no obligation to give Wells a roster spot, but he has clearly made an impression on the front office with his unique slashing skill set. If he has a strong performance in Vegas, Otto won’t be the only local college star Verizon Center will be chanting.
  • Roddy Beaubois: A. Similarly to Wells, it costs the Wizards nothing to take a second look at the French professional. Once believed to be a budding star who dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors in 2009 as a rookie, injuries might have completely derailed the career of Beaubois. Once the dust settles with Paul Pierce and the Wizards make up their minds about Will Bynum and other bench free agents will be when the future of Beaubois in DC will be decided.

For continued coverage of the Wizards in the offseason leading up to the start of the 2015-2016 season, visit DistrictSportsPage frequently.

 

Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Recap: Kelly Oubre to DC in Surprise Trade

The Washington Wizards went into the 2015 NBA Draft holding the 19th and 49th overall picks looking to draft the best players available according to General Manager Ernie Grunfeld. In a sudden change of events, the Wizards acquired Kelly Oubre Jr. out of Kansas, originally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks at the 15th overall pick. Washington will lose the 19th overall pick as well as two future second round picks in 2016 and 2019.

The night started with the fireworks of the highly anticipated lottery picks, in which Karl Anthony Towns went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, DeAngelo Russell to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jahlil Okafor to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Although the Wizards selected Jerian Grant out of Notre Dame, and formerly of DeMatha here in the DMV, at their original 19th overall pick, he will be sent to the New York Knicks on behalf of the Atlanta Hawks who will receive former Michigan standout Tim Hardaway. These trades were officially announced by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver prior to the announcement of the 24th overall pick.

Kelly Oubre did NOT come into a pre-draft workout with the Wizards because the front office did not expect the exciting freshmen to fall out of the lottery picks (1-14). The 6-foot-7 200 pound 19 year old can play shooting guard and small forward. With a whopping 7-2 wingspan, Oubre could be developed into a power forward after bulking up in the upcoming years.

This length to go along with superb athleticism will let him be an impressive two way player that can excel in transition with John Wall, like we have already seen out of Otto Porter. According to J. Michael of CSN Washington, a Wizard decision maker said athleticism was too much to pass up when he was available at #15. Oubre turned into a lock down defender as his season progressed. If you extend the former Jayhawks game to 40 minutes, he snags nearly 10 rebounds and force north of two steals.

The offense is not settled, but a work in progress. However, Oubre is improving on all facets of his offensive game already and will continue to do so as a Wizard. Oubre was a 35.8 percent shooter from behind the arc on a bit of a limited sample size (34 of 95). Advance stats tell us that he is a 41 percent shooter on jump shots inside the arc. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Grunfeld loves Oubre’s upside and ability to run the floor all stemming from his athleticism.

In his post-draft interview with ESPN, Oubre had the confident statement that “whoever gets me is getting a jewel”. The one and done player went on to make a promise that will certainly make him a fan favorite, “I’m ready to win a championship. And whatever team gets me, we’re winning a championship”. The former Jayhawk could take over for a Hall of Famer, also a former Jayhawk, in Paul Pierce who was loved in DC. Oubre is confident that the city will definitely love him as he spoke to CSN Washington’s Chris Miller.

I would not start jumping ship on the bleak possibility that Paul Pierce does not return to DC. He has been reported to decline his player option with the Wizards and is being lured to return to his hometown in LA and a reunion with his former head coach Doc Rivers. Pierce’s former team in the Boston Celtics were also rumored to trying to make a play in retrieving The Truth back to the team he was the 2008 NBA championship with. In the post-first round selection meeting with reporters, Randy Wittman said he expects Pierce to opt-in contrary to reports.

Oubre will likely not start over Otto Porter but can provide a lift to a Wizards bench that at times lacked impact last year. Do not expect too much next year, but if he can hit the occasional three, produce in transition, and become a shutdown defender, he will be worth the two second round draft picks the Wizards gave up.  Oubre will most likely take part in Wizards mini-camp as well as take part in the Las Vegas summer league in July, former Wizards Glenn Rice Jr. was last years summer league MVP. Additionally, the wing will be working out with Bradley Beal and Andrew Wiggins this summer.

For what its worth, Bobby Portis who was linked by many to the Wizards at #19 was selected by the Chicago Bulls at the 22nd overall pick. With the slipping of both sharp shooter RJ Hunter out of Georgia State and Kevon Looney from UCLA, both who came in for pre-draft workouts the Wizards might have been looking to move up. However, Hunter and Looney went 28th and 30th overall to the Celtics and Warriors, respectively.

In the second round with the 49th overall pick, the Wizards selected Aaron White a 6-9 228 pound stretch four out of Iowa. White did come in for a pre-draft workout with the Wizards and is said to be one of the four best players Washington saw out of their 36 invitees according to J. Michael. White was a poor three point shooter for much of his first three years in school but upped his average to 35.6 percent on 21 of 59 shooting from beyond the arc. Like Oubre, White has a prowess on the glass as he could average more than nine rebounds during a fourty minute span. Throughout the playoffs, Wittman preached about the important of winning the rebounding battle, which can explain why they had both Oubre and White ranked so highly. According to GM Grunfeld, it will be up to White to decide whether he wants to play oversees, possibly after taking part in summer league action; however, J. Michael is reporting that the big man will “definitely” be oversees. That strategy did not work out for recent Wizards second round pick Tomas Satoransky who signed a two year deal with FC Barcelona in Spain last summer.

Although the Wizards only made these two selection, they will be bringing in local favorite and former Terp Dez Wells and Roddy Beaubois, a well traveled former first round pick of the Thunder in 2009 to play on their summer league team. Wells went undrafted as most might have expected but as I have already discussed in my draft preview, he has a unique skill set that can turn him into a productive asset. Wells is clearly ready to take advantage of his opportunity. If the Maryland slasher impresses during mini-camp, summer league, and/or training camp, it is likely you can secure a spot on the 15 man roster, which J. Michael is reporting already secured.

For Beaubois, he has already had one go around in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks after playing three years of ball in the French League with Cholet Basket. While the French native showed signs of being a serviceable backup point guard in the NBA, a broken hand in 2013 ended his first stint in the NBA. Beaubois went on to play in the Belgian League and is currently back in the French League as a part of Le Mans Sarthe Basket.

To read about an evaluation of the Wizards draft night selections and acquisitions check back to DistrictSportsPage to see the front office’s report card.

Washington Wizards 2015 NBA Draft Preview with Predictions

The Washington Wizards hold the 19th and 49th overall pick in next Thursday’s NBA draft, positions determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards have had some success in drafting recently with selections of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and most recently Otto Porter, but are also known for missing out on the NBA Champion Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. After trading away last year’s first round draft pick to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat, the Wizards will once again have a first round selection in a fairly talented class.

Although there is nothing that the Wizards desperately need, there is no position where they should feel overly confident in either, whether it is in a starting or backup role. Earlier I discussed some of the potential Wizards that may be leaving the club, which could influence how the team will stand going into next year. It is likely that Kevin Seraphin is gone this summer, but that could be the extent of departures as the Wizards would probably not have to spend too much to retain some of the other role players. Assuming current free agents (italicized) and those with player options (underlined) return, a potential depth chart without free agents or draft picks could look like:

PG: John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Will Bynum
SG: Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler, Garrett Temple*
SF: Otto Porter, Paul Pierce, Martell Webster
PF: Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair
C: Marcin Gortat, Nene

*As reported by CSN Washington’s J. Michael, Garrett Temple has opted into his player option, deciding against free agency, for the 2015-2016 season with the Wizards, as expected.

If the Wizards draft any guard that they think deserves a shot on the team, Bynum is likely to lose his roster spot. However, if Paul Pierce does end up retiring or going to the Clippers — less likely with Los Angeles’s recent  acquisition of Lance Stephenson — Bynum’s spot may be secure unless an undrafted free agent is brought in. Gooden’s spot is likely secure because of the need for an immediate known as a stretch-4. Temple will likely return due to mutual desire from both his side and Wizards management. Butler could be let go if room was necessary after having a dismal second half of the season.

Potential First Round Targets (UPDATED):

  • G Jerian Grant (6-5/202): As a local product from DeMatha High School, Grant would be the ideal fit for the Wizards as a combo guard. Grant has the scoring capabilities, 16.5 points a game, to play alongside John Wall or Ramon Sessions as well as the passing skills, 6.7 assists a game, to run with Bradley Beal. It might be a question of if the Notre Dame product is still available when the Wizards are on the clock.
  • G Tyus Jones (6-1/190): At times overshadowed at Duke by likely lottery picks Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow, Jones has the potential to be a great backup point guard. With great vision allowing him over five assists a game; however, it is unlikely Jones would be able to play with Wall at the same time because of his size.
  • G Rashad Vaughn (6-6/210): As a freshman, Vaughn took the Mountain West Conference by storm by averaging close to 18 points and 5 rebounds. His volume shooting in a non-major conference could be a scare and possible reach for the Wizards.
  • G Justin Anderson (6-6/231): The former Montrose Christian star suffered an injury towards the end of last season, which turned out to be the end of his college career as he will forego his senior year at Virginia, but he showed some NBA potential early on. One of the best shooters in the draft class, Anderson shots 45.2 percent (47/104) and also has the capability to be a strong defender.
  • F Bobby Portis (6-11/242): It comes as a shock to many that the SEC Player of the Year did not hail from Kentucky, to Portis it is nothing. The Arkansas product averaged solid numbers with 17.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. With the possibility of developing into a stretch-4 and having unseen post moves because he was doubled throughout college, he could be a nice fit for the Wizards.
  • F Kevon Looney (6-9/220): The freshman will be a first round target for his potential over his production at UCLA. The 11.6 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and 63 percent shooting from the charity stripe will not blow anyone away; however, it is his physical attributes, including a 7-4 wingspan, which attracts many franchises.
  • F Montrezl Harrell (6-8/240): When he is determined, the polarizing Louisville product can man handle anybody he wants to on the court. Harrell is long and is a defensive enforcer and is known to be a diligent worker. The lack of size means it would be difficult to play at center, but without a consistent jump shot it could be a reach for the Wizards system.
  • F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7/210): Not know for his offensive ability (11.2 PPG), the former Arizona Wildcat’s immediate impact will come on the defensive end and possibly as a wing player on fast break as he is known for his athleticism. Hollis-Jefferson was voted first team All-Pac 12 and to the league’s all-defensive team.

In the second round there are a lot more options. The hope is that the Wizards management will simply draft the best talent available and hope to score a diamond in the rough in the same way that Marc Gasol (48th) and Marcin Gortat (57th) were selected.

Most recently, the Wizards traded away the rights to their second round pick, Jordan Clarkson, to the Lakers for cash considerations. In the past seven years, only Shelvin Mack has played a game for the Wizards as a second round pick. This can be blamed on poor logic from the Wizards thinking they could stash foreign players overseas as well as failing to attempt the development of young players. Although this is a possibility to happen again, 26 of the 30 players that the Wizards invited to pre-draft workouts are non-first round picks meaning the coaching staff might be committed to bringing in young talent to develop into a contributor.

Potential Second Round/Undrafted Targets:

  • G Tyler Harvey (6-4/185): Out of Eastern Washington, Harvey was an elite pure scorer at the college level averaging 23.1 points a game and shooting 43.1 percent (128 of 297) from three. His young age of 21 is an advantage as the Wizards would be able to mold him into their scheme.
  • G Corey Hawkins (6-3/195): Like Harvey, Hawkins is a pure sharpshooter out of UC Davis. After improving his percentage from beyond the arc drastically, Davis shot a whopping 48.8 percent (81 of 166) but his height will be a concern at the next level.
  • G Dez Wells (6-6/215): Besides being the long time childhood friend of John Wall, Wells fits the style of what the Wizards like in their guards; a slasher who gets to the rim. Although he might not be known for a great shooting career at Maryland, the strong and athletic Terp has worked on his mechanics which he put on display at his pre-draft workout.
  • F Brandon Ashley (6-9/230): On a loaded Arizona roster, Ashley carved out a solid 12 points and 5 rebound average while shooting at over a 50% clip from the field. The lengthy Wildcat is a career 38.2 percent (26 of 68) three point shooter and has a chance of being developed into a stretch-4.
  • F David Laury (6-9/245): Laury performed at a lesser stage at Iona but put up solid numbers with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and steal a game. Like Ashley, Laury is a potential stretch-4 candidate after shooting 38 percent (27 of 71) from beyond the college arc.
  • F Maurice Walker (6-10/250): With the potential of Nene being on the trading block next season and the likely loss of Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards could use a skilled offensive big man. Walker is big enough to play the center position, while still mobile enough to defend the three.

There is talent to be drafted next Thursday and if the Wizards want to be able to compete with the Cleveland’s and Chicago’s of the East, they will have to take advantage of it. Washington is a club with possibly too many old faces as Wall, Porter, and Beal are the only players under the age of 25. Whether the Wizards draft guards or big men, they can improve their team in whichever way they go. My prediction is Bobby Portis, IF Jerian Grant is not available, in the first round and Dez Wells in the second.

Washington Wizards Roster Situation Heading into 2015 Offseason and NBA Draft

After getting bounced out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the second year in a row, the Washington Wizards have to start looking towards next year. The first step in that process is evaluating the roster with a keen eye on those who are not guaranteed to be on the roster next season. The Wizards have four unrestricted free agents this summer: Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, Drew Gooden, and Kevin Seraphin. Additionally, Garrett Temple and — more importantly, Paul Pierce — have player options for next season.

Butler will likely be satisfied with a veteran’s minimum contract and he single-handedly won early regular season games as a result of his hot shooting. The 36-year-old vet lacked playing time late in the season which correlated to his mediocre 3-point shooting, possibly an effect of tired legs. However, if the Wizards would rather have an older somewhat proven shooter, though far past his peak, rather than trying to develop undrafted free agents, Butler will have a job in DC.

Will Bynum secured the 15th man on the roster late last season after the Wizards played around with multiple free agents after waiving Summer League MVP Glen Rice Jr. Bynum has enough experience to find work elsewhere in the NBA, if the Wizards decide to pass on the undersized guard. Similarly to Butler, if the Wizards do not draft at their positions and have open roster spots, they might lean towards bringing back the veteran instead of taking a chance on an undrafted free agent.

Out of all the unrestricted free agents, Drew Gooden played the most minutes late in the regular season and post-season, not including Pierce who has a player option. Gooden is a 13-year veteran but is a true stretch four, unlike Nene and Kris Humphries, who is reported to be developing a 3-point stroke. Gooden shot 39 percent from beyond the arc this past season including an effective 46.2 percent (12 of 26) during the post-season. Moreover, the former fourth overall pick was the most effective PF for the Wizards in guarding other big men with jump shot threats. Gooden will likely demand more than just the veteran’s minimum and as a result could ask for a two year deal that could include a player option to allow for flexibility for an aging player.

Kevin Seraphin certainly improved from a disappointing 2013-2014 season as he doubled his points, rebounding, and minutes played production. Moreover, there are few big men with his set of skills, low post moves, jump hooks, and elbow jumpers, in such a powerful body. As a result, the 25-year-old center will demand more than the nearly $4 million he made this year because he is about to enter his prime. The France native wants a chance to compete for the starting job, which will not be in DC after Gortat finished the first year of his five-year max deal. Washington has likely seen the last of Seraphin, but it should not be too much of a hit next year with the league transitioning to a small ball approach.

Garrett Temple is a well-traveled veteran as the Wizards are his sixth NBA team and has also played a year in Italy’s pro league; however, the LSU product has always been known for his effective defense. After missing more than the final month of the regular season with a hamstring tear, Temple looked rusty and ineffective in the playoffs when being forced into action with John Wall’s wrist injury. Temple was 1 of 6 from the field, 5 of 8 from the free throw line, and had one assist to this three turnovers in 26 minutes of work during the Hawks series. That being said, Temple is a solid role player that is in the good graces of the Wizards brace and has told CSN Washington that he is likely to exercise his player option. Temple’s contribution to the organization comes less during the game and more from his ability to push John Wall and Bradley Beal on the practice court at just over $1 million.

It is safe to say the Wizards would desperately love to have Paul Pierce back because of his ability to take clutch shots in big situations as he demonstrated in Game 3 against the Hawks. There are a lot of different options for Pierce to say the least. Immediately after having his potential game tying shot waived off during Game 6 in the same series versus the Hawks, Pierce hinted at the possibility of retirement as he stated he had to “see how my body feels, how it responds. It’s tough when you get older going through these 82 [game] grinds”. After deciding not to take part in exit interviews, rumors surfaced that Pierce might opt out of his contract with the Wizards to return home to California and reunite with his former-Celtics coach Doc Rivers as a Los Angeles Clipper.

Soon thereafter, however, when Pierce went on Mad Dog Sports Radio’s “The Players Tribune” show he gave the DC faithful something to feel happy about. When discussing the Hawks series, he included himself as part of the Wizards using pronouns like “we” and “us”. For instance, The Truth detailed “we really have a really good young team, and a couple budding superstars” and “we felt like we were the better team if we had stayed healthy”. With Pierce having until the end of the month to opt into a $5.5 million contract, it might not be until after the draft that the Wizards know whether they have their future Hall of Famer back. That being said, Pierce did say that he will be making his decision in the next couple of weeks on June 4. Most recently, the Clippers were rumored to acquire Lance Stephenson in a trade according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Such a move could indicate that The Truth turned Doc Rivers down and will either look to retire or return to DC.

Even though the Wizards have nine guaranteed players back for the 2015-2016 season, the Wizards will have to make moves now that take into account them moving forward during the next offseason. Next year the Wizards will have to worry about the expiring contracts of Bradley Beal, Nene, and Ramon Sessions.

Current players aside, if the Wizards truly want to make a run at arguably the second best player in the game and DC native Kevin Durant, they will have to be looking at a max contract that has an annual salary north of $20 million a year.

Bradley Beal is clearly a franchise player for the Wizards and will likely get a max deal next summer even though he will be a restricted free agent. Beal might not draw the same average $17 million as John Wall did when he signed his extension last year, but it should be north of Marcin Gortat’s $12 million a year. Much of the final number will be determined by Beal’s ability or inability to stay healthy which will in turn correlate to his production, which we could see to be in the ball park of 20 points a game if he plays to his potential.

Nene might be the most intriguing player on the Wizards roster as a whole. At times the big Brazilian is unstoppable in the paint both as a scorer and a rebounder and we have seen spurts of that throughout the season, but never consistently. Then in the playoffs he saw limited playing time behind Drew Gooden because of Randy Wittman’s smaller lineups to combat the stretch four options of both the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks. When Nene was acquired for JaVale McGee four years ago, it seemed like a great move but now with the talk of the Wizards starting to play small ball, it is possible that Nene could be moved to the backup center position. If that were to happen, Nene has always expressed his displeasure in having to play the 5 spot on the floor, which could result in him being on the trading block come February 2016 if not sooner.

Ramon Sessions was a trade target for the Wizards during the buildup of the 2014 playoff run, but Ernie Grunfeld finally struck a deal to acquire the veteran in exchange for the ultimate veteran point guard Andre Miller. Sessions’s skill set to play both guard positions as well as the ability to add more tempo to the second unit drew Washington to his liking after he saw limited playing time with the Sacramento Kings. With still another year on his contract, Ramon Sessions told me he likes the fit and is excited to get a better grasp of the system heading into next year. The one knock on the eight-year veteran is his lack of a three point shot as he is a career 31.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc.

With potentially nine free agents over the next two years there could be a lot of new faces on the Wizards; however, I would say only Kevin Seraphin and Nene are locks to leave. If the Wizards change their track record and decide to start developing younger talent, Rasual Butler, Will Bynum, and Ramon Sessions might not re-sign with the club. Going into next week’s draft, the Wizards should look to draft the best player available to surround the core players of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, and the playoff version of Otto Porter.

Washington Wizards Work Out Former Maryland Terrapin Two Weeks before 2015 NBA Draft

When the Washington Wizards bowed out of the NBA Playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, they stayed at the 19th overall spot in the draft determined by their 46-36 regular season record. The Wizards will also pick 19th in the second round, 49th overall, a selection where Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman will try to find a diamond in the rough. Today the Wizards held their fourth pre-draft workout sessions, which was headlined by former Maryland Terrapin star G Dez Wells.

After having two sessions early last week and now two more this week, the Wizards have seen 24 players up close and personal. The three players who Washington has worked out that could be first round targets are G Jerian Grant from Notre Dame, PG Delon Wright out of Utah, and SG Rashad Vaughn, the freshman Phenom from UNLV. All others are possible second round picks and/or undrafted free agent possibilities.

The Wizards have focused on bringing in guards and tall big men to assess, but surprisingly no small forwards with the questionable depth behind Otto Porter after the potential departure/retirement of Paul Pierce. With the small possibility of getting a lock impact player, such as a Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor, Washington has diversified their pre-draft selection pool by going after the star players from non-power schools. The Wizards have brought in 12 players from lesser tiered schools to evaluate the possibility of their skills translating to a big jump in competition.

Although seen to be too small to play the small forward position at a generous 6’ 6’’ (came in at 6’ 3’’ without shoes at the combine) Dez Wells is an intriguing fit for the Wizards. He has minimal ball handling skills and is still developing his jump shot, but Wells has a unique style of play. Like John Wall, who Wells grew up and played high school basketball with in Raleigh, NC, the former Terp is a beast in transition and can finish through contact with a strong upper body. In a half court set Wells is also a great slasher to the rim where he finishes with great success. Wells has also developed post moves against smaller defenders, which has the possibility of translating to the pros.

With Bradley Beal and Ramon Sessions being the only true players to get playing time at the shooting guard position during the playoffs, the Wizards might be interested in signing an aggressive driver to better complement their bench scoring. Wells is also a shutdown defender who can guard multiple positions as he has effectively faced off against the likes of DeAngelo Russell, Sam Dekker, and Denzel Valentine. Many thought the Wizards partially pulled the trigger on Porter two years ago at the No. 3 overall pick because of his local connection via the Georgetown Hoyas, if the same holds true for the Maryland superstar, the Wizards could reap the benefits once Wells is fully developed.

When Wells spoke to reporters after his intense work out, he believed his athleticism, strength, ability to get to the basket, and playmaking talents would translate to the next level. He honestly chipped in that he will still work on his ball handling. Wells also added that he has developed a sounder mechanical shooting form through repetition in training to the heights where he feels he is at the top of his game. As expected, the local Terp said he is happy to play anywhere in the NBA but would “LOVE” to play with John Wall, “my big-brother” again. Wells has already worked out with eight teams including today with the Wizards and still has three more showcases to attend (76ers, Nets, and Pistons). As a Maryland Terrapin faithful who has seen Dez Wells soar through the rafters of the Comcast/Xfinity Centers on thunderous dunks, I can attest to the unique ability to be a force in the NBA and hopefully as a Washington Wizard.

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 6 Review: Pierce’s shot late, Wizards eliminated

PAUL PIERCE’S 3 AT THE BUZZER WAIVED OFF, WIZARDS KNOCKED OUT IN SECOND ROUND AGAIN

The Washington Wizards reverted back to their gloomy regular season days when they blew a double-digit lead in Game 5 in the fourth quarter. Instead of being one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wizards were one loss away from the offseason. John Wall returned during Game 5 and after taking multiple slaps to his injured wrist during the game, he promised to try to improve his game by knocking off rust in Game 6.

Wall looked fine, and the Wizards were poised to go to overtime when Paul Pierce’s last-second 3-pointer from the corner swished through to tie the game. But upon review, the ball did not get out of Pierce’s hand until after the clock showed 0:00, and the Wizards fell to the Atlanta Hawks 94-91, eliminated them from the playoffs in the second round for the second year in a row. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 5 Review: Wizards, with Wall, pushed to brink of elimination

AL HORFORD’S PUT-BACK INSIDE OF TWO SECONDS GIVES HAWKS ONE-POINT WIN

The Washington Wizards finally had their All-Star point guard John Wall returning to their starting lineup 10 days after suffering five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist. In games that Wall has been unable to play in, Washington is a miserable 11-41 since his debut. However, the return of Wall was not the solution to all the answers for the Wizards. After blowing a seven-point fourth quarter lead, Paul Pierce gave the Wizards a one point lead with 8.9 seconds remaining on a corner three.

Unfortunately, Al Horford was able to put-back Dennis Schroeder’s missed layup attempt over Nene’s back and the Atlanta Hawks stole Game 5, 82-81. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 4 Review: Wizards can’t quite catch Hawks; series tied at 2

BRADLEY BEAL GOES FOR 34 IN NEW PLAYOFF HIGH

Although John Wall was upgraded to a game-time decision early in the day, the Washington Wizards All-Star point guard missed his third-straight game in the second round of the playoffs since injuring his left wrist in Game 1. With a team that was confident that they could compete against the Hawks, a hot shooting start looked promising for the Wizards. However, the Hawks early dominance in the paint and the Wizards inability to cash in late resulted in a 106-101 loss, evening the series at two games apiece.

After hitting the game-winning jumper to put the Wizards up 2-1 in the series, Paul Pierce drained his first three attempts from beyond the arc. The Hawks countered with early domination in the paint, where they scored their first 12 points of the game. The Hawks were getting too many open looks inside the paint and were beating the help defense with ease. Randy Wittman was forced to call timeout after the Hawks took a 19-16 lead on a 7-0 run. After the Wizards made a push to retake the lead late in the quarter, the Hawks were able to rely on their surprising dominance in the paint to take a 29-26 lead into the second quarter. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 3 Review: Pierce delivers The Truth

PIERCE HITS GAME-WINNING BANK SHOT AS WALL LANGUISHES ON BENCH

Washington Wizards floor general John Wall missed his second straight playoff game with five non-displaced fractures in his wrist and lots of swelling in his left hand. In Game 2, Wall’s lack of presence lead to a number of turnovers that ended up being a difference in the game, even though his team fought hard to claw their way back. In Game 3, Wall’s teammates stepped up as the Wizards had five players in double figures. After blowing a 21-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the game, Paul Pierce sent the fans home happy with a buzzer-beating bank shot giving the Wizards a 103-101 win.

After nailing a three-pointer for the Wizards first points of the game, Pierce left the game with a shoulder injury after trying to draw the charge on DeMarre Carroll. His teammates picked up the slack, starting with Nene who would score back to back baskets against the less defensive Pero Antic, leading to an 11-2 Washington run. As hot as Nene was to start, hitting back-to-back jumpers, the Hawks were getting too many opportunities on offensive rebounds directly leading to points. Out of a Randy Wittman timeout, the Wizards went on a 9-0 run late in the quarter that gave them their first lead after the first quarter this series, 28-18.

After a slow start to the second quarter for both teams, with just a bucket each in the first three-plus minutes of action, things started to pick up. Although Atlanta was starting to up its shooting percentage from sub 30 percent to 35.5, the Wizards were outhustling the Hawks. Otto Porter stole away a defensive rebound after he missed a jumper and finished between two defenders with a reverse layup.

Moments later Nene took the ball away from Millsap after not expecting the pass and finished at the rim plus the foul. The strong defense was starting to translate into offense before things got ugly. Beal secured an outlet pass from Porter and was off to the races before Jeff Teague grabbed up high at his head and threw him to the ground. Beal came up hot and was restrained. Teague was assessed a flagrant-one foul and the Wizards cashed that possession into five points. The Wizards 18-point lead was Atlanta’s largest deficit so far in the playoffs. The Wizards maintained a decent lead at halftime with a 56-43 advantage.

Atlanta came out to a hot start in the third led by Teague, who was aggressively attacking the rim. The Hawks cut the deficit to single-digits, but the tide changed slightly after an additional altercation. Beal fouled Teague hard going to the rim (not dirty), but Teague bucked at Beal and picked up a technical foul, which fired the crowd up. Beal came back with his own 3 to stretch the lead back out to double digits. Even with Teague trying to will his team back with nine points in the quarter, the Wizards made enough big shots to control the game, including a three-ball from Drew Gooden. The Wizards ended the quarter on a 7-1 run and secured their largest lead of the game at 19 and headed to the fourth quarter up 85-66.

With the Hawks’ Al Horford going to the locker room with a reported lower right leg injury, Nene went back to work in the post. Nene drew fouls and had a put-back bucket to put back some energy in the crowd. That set the table for Will Bynum to receive the outlet pass from Ramon Sessions and go in for a layup — plus the foul — against a flopping Mike Muscala (Horford’s replacement).

The Wizards pushed their lead up to 20, but Atlanta made a solid push on a 7-0 run that forced Wittman to call timeout with 6:11 remaining. The Wizards began to self-destruct as the Hawks extended out their run to a whopping 17-0. Thankfully, Washington got much needed buckets from Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat late in the game to give them a five-point lead with 1:17 to go. Atlanta was forced to play the foul game at the end but were still within one possession before Muscala tied the game on a three pointer with 14.1 seconds left in the game. When all looked lost, the Wizards followed the Nationals walk-off in suit as Pierce hit a jumper off the backboard as the Wizards escaped with a 103-101 victory. The Truth would later say that he did not call bank when he released the shot, Pierce said he called game; such is exactly why the Wizards were brilliant in bringing the future Hall of Famer to the nations capital.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • The Atlanta Hawks are known for their three-point shooting abilities. Tonight the Wizards shut them down from beyond the arc as the Hawks were just 7 of 23, while the Wizards were thriving with 10 made shots from beyond the arc.
  • Filling in for Wall: Bradley Beal had a playoff career high eight assists, Sessions chipped in with six assists, and Porter had a career high 17 points.
  • Post production for the Wizards as Nene came alive for the first time in the series. He and Gortat combined for 31 points on 16 shots, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals.

The Wizards have at least one more home game on Monday night before having to return to Atlanta. With the possibility of following the Capitals by going up 3-1 in the conference semifinals, DC continues to rise. It is unlikely that Wall would be able to suit up unless the swelling in his wrist comes down significantly, but as he has reiterated he will take things day by day. However, the Wizards showed that they had the ability to dominate the Hawks for parts of the game even without their leader. The Wizards were able to not loose all momentum possible by sealing the deal at the end and now have the opportunity to push the #1 seed to the brink of elimination in front of the Verizon Center faithful.

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 2 Review: Wizards fall without Wall as series with Hawks is tied 1-1

The Washington Wizards are ridiculously good on the road come playoff time. In the past two seasons the Wizards are 8-1 coming into Game 2 at Atlanta. To give some semblance of how extraordinary that is, the Spurs have the next best record of 7-7 in the category over the same stretch.

But without their floor general, John Wall, who was a late scratch because of his swollen left wrist, the Wizards had to find help from other role players to step up. Although Ramon Sessions filled in admirably with a post season career high 21 points, the Hawks pulled away late to drop the Wizards 106-90.

Atlanta came out aggressive on both sides of the ball as they attacked the rim and trapped Wizards players. The Wizards started shooting the ball a cold 3 of 11 from the floor and had three turnovers. That allowed the Hawks to go on a seven-point run to take a 13-7 lead and force coach Randy Wittman to call an early timeout in yet another playoff game. With the Hawks running the pick and roll to perfection they started the game 10 of 18 from the field and had a comfortable 28-20 lead after the first quarter. [Read more…]

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