Recent News

Washington Wizards Week in Review, Vol. 2

November 16th, 2014 at 9:32 PM
By Matt Graber

A look at some of the top Wizards storylines from the last week.

A historic start

So much for starting slow. After years of getting off on the wrong foot, the Wizards have flipped the script this season, jumping out to a red-hot 7-2 start. They currently sit in first place in the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference, just a half game behind the Toronto Raptors. Granted, the Wizards have had a easy schedule, with their wins coming against the Magic, Pacers, Bucks, Knicks, and Pistons, but they haven't overlooked any of their opponents and they've done what they had to do to get wins, no matter how ugly some of them have been. The team is playing with more focus and discipline than ever before, and it's paying dividends.

The rise of the Bench Mob

One of the keys to the Wizards' early success has been the much improved play of their bench. Once a glaring weakness, the Wizards are getting solid production from their second unit, and it's been a big difference maker. For instance, in their recent win over the Magic, the bench scored 48 of the team's points compared to just 13 for the Magic. Guys like Otto Porter, Kris Humphries, Rasual Butler, and Drew Gooden are becoming impact players, and with Garrett Temple set to return to the second unit, the Wizards are legitimately 12 players deep.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Bradley Beal Recovering Well, May Return to Practice Next Week

November 14th, 2014 at 9:57 PM
By Matt Graber

Good news, Wizards fans: it sounds like Bradley Beal's return may just be right around the corner. According to J.Michael of CSN Washington, Beal had his left wrist examined today, and word is that the results are very positive. Beal could be back practicing fully as soon as next week. Beal's agent, Mike Bartelstein, shared the good news earlier.

"The report was terrific," agent Mark Bartelstein told CSNwashington.com. "It's all good news … there were no setbacks," he said. Bartelstein would not give any more specifics.

Beal's injury occurred on October 12, when he fractured his wrist during a collision at the basket during a preseason game. He's been progressing steadily in his recovery, and as seen in Wizards' pre-game warmups, he's starting to shoot with both hands. Beal was initially expected to miss six weeks, and Monday, his potential return date, marks the start of week six, so it looks like his recovery is right on schedule.
The Wizards have played surprisingly well without Beal, but his return should nevertheless be a huge boost. The 21 year old guard averaged 17.1 PPG last season and truly elevated his game in the playoffs, averaging 19.2 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Assuming there aren't any significant lingering effects from his injury, he should be set for a breakout year.
Beal's return signals a return to the bench for Garrett Temple, who started at shooting guard the previous eight games. Temple did a solid job in relief, averaging 10.1 points and shooting 40% from three, but remains better suited to coming off the bench. With Beal set to return and Temple and Rasual Butler solidified as reliable relief options, the shooting guard position should no longer be an area of concern for the Wizards.

Seeing your team play in the SuperBowl is priceless. Watching the SuperBowl live in the stands for $1 per week is beyond priceless. Find out how at TicketScore.com, the future of Championship Tickets.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Recap: Wizards Edge Pistons 107-103, Continue Hot Start

November 12th, 2014 at 10:48 PM
By Matt Graber

The Washington Wizards continued their hot start Wednesday night, notching a 107-103 comeback victory over the Detroit Pistons to improve to 6-2. The Wizards hadn't reached six wins this early in the season in 40 years, and they're proving that they can do more than just survive without Bradley Beal. John Wall had another double double with 27 points and 11 assists, Marcin Gortat added 14 points and 13 rebounds, and the bench had a strong showing with 39 points, led by Rasual Butler with 18.

Like most Wizards victories, this one didn't come easy. The Wizards trailed by 10 after the first quarter before cutting the lead to two at half, and the two teams traded the lead back and forth several times before the Wizards finally took control in the end. Wall's jumper with a little more than a minute left put them up by one, while a Marcin Gortat dunk soon after extended the lead to three. A Kentavious Caldwell-Pope layup got the Pistons back within one with seconds remaining, but a pair of Rasual Butler free throes with four seconds to go secured the hard-fought win.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Sorry Sam, Kobe Bryant to the Wizards Isn’t Happening

November 10th, 2014 at 7:24 PM
By Matt Graber

Veteran NBA reporter Sam Smith, who currently writes for the Chicago Bulls, has some interesting thoughts on Kobe Bryant's future. Assuming that Kobe does not want to stay in Los Angeles for two more years, Smith began laying out some trade scenarios involving the future Hall of Famer. Included in his list were the Knicks, the Cavaliers and … the Wizards? Yep, Kobe Bryant to the Washington Wizards. Smith has the whole thing planned out:

But as much as Lakers' fans believe it’s about Kobe, Lakers’ management would have to jump at a chance for a young star to accelerate their rebuilding. Which is why Kobe to the Wizards may be the one. The Wizards have a young, potential star shooting guard in Bradley Beal. You can build with a player like him. Then you give the Lakers Nene and another player since the Wizards have plenty of guys they’re not much using to include in trade. For the Wizards, it’s the chance to take a shot, which they really don’t have now. With the addition of Paul Pierce, the Wizards are about now. Adding someone like Kobe with Pierce, John Wall and Marcin Gortat gives them a shot at the top of the weak East. And how sweet would it be for Kobe to go where Michael Jordan couldn’t win and get somewhere? Kobe’s not getting that sixth title. Maybe besting Jordan that way would appeal to him.

Yeah … no. Kobe Bryant to the Wizards just doesn't make sense, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Smith's proposed trade of Beal and Nene for Kobe doesn't work financially. He seems to forget that Kobe's $23.5 million albatross of a contract makes him extremely difficult to move. Giving up another player would further cripple the Wizards' depth, and they likely wouldn't receive anyone of use in addition to Kobe. The trade would be a lot messier than just a simple three player swap.The trade would also cripple the Wizards' future flexibility. In addition to losing Beal, one of the best young guards in the league and a cornerstone type player, the Wizards would be committing a lot of money for two seasons of Kobe.
Smith argues that the trade would give the Wizards a shot at the East crown, which apparently they don't have now. But does adding Kobe really get them that much closer? It's not like the Wizards are right on the cusp of title contention and shooting guard is their one weakness. The team is 5-2, and that's without Beal. Maybe we should see how the team does with Beal actually on the court before making those types of assessments. Furthermore, adding Bryant doesn't necessarily make the Wizards the favorites in the East. Kobe, Wall, Pierce, and Gortat are a strong top four, but it not like the Wizards are pairing a prime Kobe with a prime Pierce. The two are a combined 73 years old, and they would hardly be a strong defensive duo on the wing. It's like loading your fantasy team with guys like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Tim Duncan and assuming you'll have the best team based on name value.
You can argue that Beal is a better fit for the Wizards not only in the future, but this season. Kobe is averaging 26.5 PPG this season, but he's also shooting 40% from the field and attempting 24 shots per game. He's a ball-dominant guard who loves to shoot, and that's not going to change if he goes to another team. The Wizards' offense is based on Wall as the lead guard using his speed, passing skills, and court vision to create for his teammates. Kobe doesn't really fit into that equation. Beal is 16 years younger than Kobe, he's a more efficient shooter at this point, he has continuity with the team, and he's proven that he can be effective playing alongside Wall.
Smith argues that the Wizards are in win-now mode, but that isn't really how their roster is set up. They have veterans like Pierce, Nene, and Andre Miller, but the core of this team is Wall, Beal, and Otto Porter. There is a difference between being able to win now and needing to win now. The Wizards want to maintain future flexibility while developing their young trio, all the while keeping themselves an attractive destination for free agent to be and DC native Kevin Durant.
As for Smith's claim that winning with the Wizards would be a way for Kobe to stick it to Jordan, it's kind of a false equivalence. It's comparing apples to oranges; the rosters are completely different, so it's not like Jordan couldn't win with Wall and Pierce and Kobe has a chance to do something Jordan couldn't. If Kobe is going to surpass Jordan, it'll be on the scoring list, not by making the Eastern Conference Finals with the Wizards.
Kobe himself has said that he isn't going to be traded, and he has a no-trade clause, so a move doesn't seem likely at all, at least for now. And even if he does get traded, it won't be to Washington. The Wizards are fine; they aren't giving up a 21 year old future All-Star in a misguided attempt to win now. Especially not with Kevin Durant's impending free agency.
We aren't the only ones with a strong opinion on the subject. Check out these articles by Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever and Ben Standig of CSN Washington for more thoughts on a potential Kobe trade.

Seeing your team play in the SuperBowl is priceless. Watching the SuperBowl live in the stands for $1 per week is beyond priceless. Find out how at TicketScore.com, the future of Championship Tickets.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...

Are Glen Rice Jr.’s Days in DC Numbered?

November 10th, 2014 at 12:09 PM
By Matt Graber

Coming into the season, there was a lot of optimism surrounding the Wizards' second-year duo of Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. Both had excellent showings in the Summer League, especially Rice, and the team hoped that their good form could carry over into the regular season. With Bradley Beal and Martell Webster out with injuries, there was plenty of opportunity for each to earn a significant role on the perimeter. So far, it's been a mixed bag. While Porter has become a valuable part of the Wizards' rotation, the highlight of Rice's season has been getting punched in the groin by J.R Smith.

Rice Jr. has been relegated to a limited role on in the Wizards' lineup, averaging only 8.6 MPG in five appearances. Given his play so far, it's surprising he's even earned that much playing time. Rice is averaging a mere 2.2 PPG on 20% shooting with a PER of -3.5. He's been thoroughly outplayed by Garrett Temple and Rasual Butler, and he's shown nothing that suggests he'll surpass either of those two anytime soon. Porter has managed to reinvent himself and develop a clearly defined role; he's a rangy defender who moves well without the ball and boasts a lethal midrange game. Rice has talent, but he hasn't been able to harness it, and his streaky and inconsistent shooting isn't doing him any favors.

Read more...
Join the Conversation...