December 20, 2014

Washington Wizards Add Veteran Depth With John Lucas

On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Wizards announced the signing of veteran guard John Lucas.

The signing of the Oklahoma State product seems to be purely for depth reasons, especially with Bradley Beal expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a wrist injury. Along with Andre Miller, the Wizards now have some solid veteran depth to rely on at the guard position. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Wisely Lock Up Marcin Gortat on Day One of Free Agency

On the morning of July 1, the opening day of the NBA free agency period, The Washington Post reported that the Washington Wizards had already reached out to their two most important free agents, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. By the time day one of free agency was over, Gortat had himself a new deal to remain in Washington. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Announce 2014 Summer League Schedule

In a press release issued on Thursday afternoon, the Washington Wizards announced their schedule for the NBA Summer League this coming July. [Read more…]

Wizards vs Pacers Game 6 Preview: Will The First Quarter Decide The Winner?

By the end of the first quarter on Thursday night, it’s very possible that we’ll know who’s going to win Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Washington Wizards and the Indiana Pacers. While there will still be three quarters, 36 minutes, of basketball left to play, the first quarter will ultimately decide who wins.

Seriously. Follow me on this one. [Read more…]

Wizards vs Pacers Game 5 Preview: It’s Time For John Wall To Be An All-Star

On Tuesday night in Indianapolis, the Washington Wizards will be fighting for their playoff lives as they’ll take on the Indiana Pacers down 3-1 in the series. The NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series between these two has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

While the dynamic of this series has changed many times, one thing has stayed the same and that is the (lack of) productivity by Wizards’ All-Star point guard John Wall. As myself and fellow DSP writer Dave Nichols have touched on recently, Wall has pulled a Roy Hibbert in this series and disappeared.

After averaging a team-high 19.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists in the regular season, Wall was able to carry that momentum into the Wizards’ opening-round series with the Chicago Bulls. In five games, the fourth-year guard averaged nearly 19 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game. In the decisive Game 5, it was Wall’s 24-point effort that propelled them to victory.

In their second-round series with Indiana, Wall seems to have, well, hit a wall. His shooting percentage has dropped to 31-percent and he’s averaging just 11.5 points and barely three rebounds. To his credit, he has managed to up his assists to 7.5 per game, but that’s a small consolation as it hasn’t amounted to much success in the grand scheme.

At the free throw line, Wall has seen his percentage go down (from 76-percent against Chicago to 72-percent against Indiana), but has also seen his attempts decrease. In round one, he averaged nine free throw attempts per game. Through four games against the Pacers, Wall has seen the charity stripe an average of just 4.5 times per game.

While you can easily accredit that stat to poor officiating, it’s important to remember that the officiating wasn’t exactly spectacular in round one, either. Rather, I think that stat has more to do with what Wall is doing with the ball when he drives. Instead of rising to finish at the rim, he’s looking to pass the ball out. He’s playing unselfish basketball, but it’s backfiring.

It would be one thing if Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza were knocking down the open jumpers that he’s setting them up for, but they’re not. Collectively, the sharpshooting duo are averaging just 47-percent from the floor and provide an average of five threes per game. Those are solid numbers, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been inconsistent shooting from them overall.

As a shooter, Wall has never really been that guy. He only averaged 43-percent shooting from the floor in the regular season and was usually good for just one made-three a game. All along, his game has been to quickly put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. His shooting struggles in the postseason, particularly in round two, are nothing new.

Wall’s biggest attribute is his speed. No matter who else is on the floor, he’s the fastest. When the ball is in his hands, he’s like lightning in a bottle. In round one, Wall used his speed to his advantage to get to the rim. The Bulls’ defenders had two choices: let him score or foul him. It was his mindset to constantly attack the rim that led the Wizards to victory in the series.

Against Indiana, he’s stopped using that speed. Rather than putting his head down and flying through the paint looking for nothing but the rim, he’s looking around at who he can pass to. Even when he creates an open look at a layup, he’s looking to dish the ball back outside. He’s losing his identity and it’s costing the Wizards this series.

For Washington to have a chance in Game 5, Wall needs to be that lightning-in-a-bottle player he’s capable of being. He needs to go at Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi and get them into foul trouble. What good is a 7-foot big man if he’s sitting on the bench? Both Hibbert and Mahinmi have taken control of the paint and it will be Wall, not Nene or Marcin Gortat, that can take back that control.

It’s almost as if Wall is okay with being the number three, or four, guy in the lineup. He’s had no issues allowing Ariza and Beal to do the work and Nene has certainly been in the forefront of the game plan. However, neither of the three brought the Wizards to this point. Rather, it’s been thanks largely to the effort of Wall that they made the playoffs in the first place.

Of the Wizards’ starting five, Wall has been here the longest by nearly two seasons (Nene was acquired in the middle of the 2011-2012 season). If there’s one player that deserves all the glory and credit, it’s him. There’s no reason why he should be looking to pass the ball. He is the man on this team and it’s time he play like it. The others are there to support him and he’s trying too hard to get them involved.

Before the start of Game 5 on Tuesday night, Wall needs to find himself again. A first-time All-Star this past year, he needs to find that player agin. Rather than focusing on not making mistakes, he needs to relax and just play his game.

Time and time again, the old saying of “speed kills” has been proven true. At 7 PM on Tuesday night in Indianapolis, John Wall will need to use his speed in order to keep the series alive and force Game 6.

Wizards vs Bulls Game 3 Preview: 5 Keys to Victory for Washington

On Friday night at 8 PM EST in the Verizon Center, the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls will add a third chapter to their highly contested Eastern Conference Playoffs series.

This past Tuesday night, it took some late game heroics from young Bradley Beal to bring the Wizards to victory. Now up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 1982, Washington has a chance to take a stranglehold on this series. If they want to do just that, here are their five keys to victory.

Key Number 1: Fast Start

The Wizards raced out to a 17-point lead on Tuesday night in Chicago and immediately took the hometown crowd out of it. This will be the first time since 2008 that D.C. has hosted an NBA playoff game, so you know the “Phone Booth” will be wild and crazy. A fast start will keep the crowd into the game and make things that much harder on the Bulls.

Key Number 2: Three-Point Shooting

If Game 3 comes down to which team shoots the three better, then Washington can win the game handily. In their explosive start to Game 2, they shot 5-of-8 from behind the arc. The Wizards made nine threes, including four from Beal, in their overtime win on Tuesday night. If they can continue to shoot well from downtown, they’ll take care of business.

Key Number 3: Make The Free Ones

After shooting 74 percent from the free throw line in Game 1, Washington managed just 57 percent in Game 2. Had they made their free throws in the second half, Tuesday’s would have never gone to overtime. If the Wizards can make the freebies, they should have no problem taking Game 3.

Key Number 4: Front-Court Play

After combining for 39 points and 21 rebounds in Game 1, the front-court duo of Nene and Marcin Gortat contributed just 24 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2. Luckily for Washington, the guard play was much improved and they picked up the slack. Nene played well in the first quarter and overtime of Game 2, but Washington will need him playing like he did in Game 1 for them to have their best shot at winning.

Key Number 5: Guard Play

Note that that doesn’t say back-court play, but rather guard play. More specifically, this is referring to John Wall and Beal. While they totaled 29 points in Game 1, Game 2 saw them pour in 44 points. As mentioned in key number four, the front-court struggled, but that back-court picked up the slack. If Beal and Wall can duplicate their Game 2 efforts Friday night, Washington should take care of business.

With a win on Friday night, the Wizards will have a chance to sweep Chicago out of the playoffs at home in Game 4. If they can take care of these five keys, then Sunday night’s game will be an exciting one for D.C as they’ll try to win their first playoff series since 2005.

John Wall Named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The NBA announced today that Wizards guard John Wall has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 24.

Wall averaged 24.3 points, 8.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game while shooting .500 from the field, .880 from the free-throw line and .500 from three-point range in leading the Wizards to a 3-1 record during the week.

The fourth-year guard tallied 30+ points in consecutive games for the first time in his career after scoring a season-high 37 at Toronto on 11/22 (including 30 in the second half) and then 31 vs. New York in a 98-89 win on 11/23.  Wall had two double-doubles on the week and scored 14 points while dishing out a career-high tying 16 assists, with only one turnover, in a 104-100 win vs. Minnesota on 11/19.  He is the only player in the NBA this season to have a game with at least 16 assists and only one turnover.  The last player to accomplish this feat was Wall in March of 2013.  In a 98-91 win at Cleveland on 11/20, Wall poured in 15 points, 10 assists and four steals.

On the season, Wall is averaging 18.6 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

Wizards Announce 2013-14 Schedule

The Washington Wizards will tip off the 2013-14 regular season on the road against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The Wizards, who closed out the 2012-13 season with a 29-53 record, will open at home on Friday, Nov. 1, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Overall, the Wizards will play 22 of their 41 home games on the weekend (Friday-Sunday), with 20 of those coming on Friday (seven games) and Saturday (13 games).

The Wizards will face crowd-pleasers such as the 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat on Jan. 15 and Apri. 14, the New York Knicks on Nov. 23, the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder (Feb. 1) and an ESPN-televised game against Cleveland on Feb. 7.

The Wizards will also host two holiday games this season, including a New Year’s Day matchup against the Dallas Mavericks and a Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Philadelphia 76ers.  The home finale will take place on April 14 when the Wizards host the Heat prior to finishing the season with a road game at Boston on April 16.

The Wizards will have two five-game homestands during the season and will host two sets of back-to-back home games (Jan. 17/18 vs. Chicago/Detroit and Mar. 28/29 vs. Indiana/Atlanta).  The team’s two longest road trips will take place from Jan. 24-29 when they head west to visit Phoenix, Utah, Golden State and the L.A. Clippers and then from Mar. 18-23 when they travel to play at Sacramento, Portland, the L.A. Lakers and Denver.  The Wizards will play a span of eight games in 12 days from Nov. 19-30, comprising their most condensed portion of the 2013-14 schedule.

Each team in the Eastern Conference will visit Verizon Center twice with the exception of Indiana (Mar. 28) and New York (Nov. 23), while the Wizards will visit Brooklyn (Dec. 18) and Chicago (Jan. 13) only once during the regular season.

All home games will tip off at 7:00 p.m., with the exception of the New Year’s Day game vs. Dallas (6:00 p.m.), the Martin Luther King Day game vs. Philadelphia (2:00 p.m.), Sunday games on Jan. 5 vs. Golden State and Feb. 9 vs. Sacramento (6:00 p.m.) and an 8:00 p.m. start vs. Atlanta on March 29 (which will be preceded by a Capitals home game at 12:30 p.m.)

Sports community shows support for Jason Collins

On Monday morning, news broke that Washington Wizards center Jason Collins announced his coming out in the May 6 edition of Sports Illustrated. In the article, he states: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

With news of Collins’s announcement, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld issued the following statement on behalf of the team: “We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.  He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career.  Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.” [Read more…]

John Wall Named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week

For the first time in his career, John Wall earned the title of Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, March 11, through Sunday, March 17.

In that timeframe, Wall recorded three double-doubles, averaged 24 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and 2.5 steals per game while shooting .617 from the field. He also shot .800 (4-of-5) from three-point range and .857 from the free-throw line.

He started off the week by scoring 27 points and tallied a season-high 14 assists in the Wizards’ 95-90 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Wednesday’s 106-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, he added 23 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals and in Friday’s 96-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets, Wall recorded a season-high 29 points on 12-of-15 from the floor. He capped off the week with 17 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in Washington’s 127-105 win over the Phoenix Suns Saturday night.

Wall is the first Wizard to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week since Antawn Jamison won it for games played March 10-16 of 2008. To put that into perspective – Wall was just 17 years-old at the time.

The Wizards are now 18-14 (.563) since Wall returned to the lineup on Jan. 12 after missing the first 33 games of the season with a stress injury to his left knee.

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