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Do the Wizards Have Enough Frontcourt Minutes to Go Around?

July 29th, 2014 at 3:44 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

During a busy offseason, the Wizards addressed their lack of depth in a big way, adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair and retaining Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. Suddenly, the Wizards have a crowded front court, with several bigs fighting to work their way into the rotation. If the team adds Al Harrington with it's final roster spot, the Wizards will have 7 players who play either the 4 or 5 battling for a limited number of minutes. It's not a bad problem to have, and the extra depth will help come playoff time or in case of injury. But the Wizards will have to do some maneuvering to fit everyone in.

Center Marcin Gortat averaged 32.8 minutes per game last year, highest among their big men. Gortat is the Wizards's best two way big man, and they aren't likely to cut into the minutes of their $60 million man. The team has the luxury of resting him more if need be, but he's still likely to average around 30-32 minutes a game. That leaves about 15-16 center minutes to go around, with Blair and Humphries the likeliest candidates. While undersized, Blair played center in college and seems comfortable at the position, so he's probably the favorite to be the first center off the bench, with Humphries, Gooden and Seraphin able to play the 5 if need be. 

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Are We Headed for a John Wall-Boogie Cousins Reunion on Team USA?

July 29th, 2014 at 11:30 AM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: GAMEFACE-PHOTOS / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the most interesting subplots of Team USA camp so far has been the departure of forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. With Love departing due to the trade talk swirling around him and Griffin leaving due to a back fracture, the team has now has a gaping hole in its front court depth. The need to replace Love and Griffin, both of whom were considered locks to make the team, has created an opportunity for one or more of Team USA's young big men to make the World Cup roster, and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins seems poised to seize the opportunity. Cousin held his own on day one of camp and displayed a strong effort on both ends of the court, and he appears to be taking the opportunity very seriously. 

The idea of the much-maligned Cousins becoming Team USA's savior would be another fascinating subplot and would be a nice validation for the young center. Cousins is known for his volatile temperament and questionable behavior, but he can get it done on the court. Coming off a career year where he averaged 22.7 PPG and 11.7 RPG, the 6'11", 270 pound Cousins would give Team USA a physical presence on both ends of the court. While the team can likely get away with playing small ball against most teams, Cousins's size would come in handy against Spain's front court of the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka. 

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Should the Wizards Leave a Roster Spot Open for Al Harrington?

July 27th, 2014 at 4:29 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Wizards have been more active than usual this offseason. After resigning center Marcin Gortat, the team made a surprising move by signing veteran Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza. The team didn't stop there, as they fortified their front court by adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair while bringing back Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. After this series of widely praised roster moves, the Wizards have filled 14 roster spots, leaving one vacancy that the team doesn't seem to be in any rush to fill. Veteran Al Harrington is considered the most likely candidate for the final spot should he decide to play another season. But is that really the best option?

Harrington, an 18 year veteran, brings valuable leadership and experience to the locker room. He's a respected presence who cans serve as a mentor alongside Paul Pierce and Andre Miller. On the court, Harrington can stretch the floor better than any of the wizards's current big men and has proven to be an effective scorer throughout his career. But at 34 and coming off knee surgery, Harrington may not be healthy enough to make a serious contribution, and the wear and tear of another season may prove too much for his body to handle. And even if he is healthy, the Wizards now have a loaded front court, and with only so many minutes to go around, Harrington would struggle to crack the rotation behind Gortat, Nene, Humphries, Blair, Gooden and Seraphin. 

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The Wizards and the Cavaliers Are Set to Reignite Their Rivalry

July 26th, 2014 at 12:26 PM
By Matt Graber

 

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From 2006-2008, back when LeBron James was a playoff neophyte and Gilbert Arenas was an NBA star, the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers faced each other in the first round of the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, with the Cavs sweeping all three meetings. While that hardly sounds like a compelling rivalry, the first of those meetings was a hotly contested series marked by two overtime games and LeBron's stellar playoff debut. Their 2007 series, a Cavs sweep, was hardly memorable, but 2008 elevated the rivalry once more, thanks to a bizarre personal beef between LeBron and then-Wizard DeShawn Stevenson that came to involve Jay-Z and Soulja Boy. Wizards-Cavs became one of the Eastern Conference's most interesting rivalries thanks to on and off the court drama.

After those three meetings, the Wizards and Cavs took diverging paths. While the Wizards sunk into a pattern of losing and off-court turmoil, LeBron's star continued to rise and the Cavs became perennial contenders. However, fortunes were reversed when LeBron left Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach, as the Cavs became one of the worst teams in the league while the Wizards slowly began to build a legitimate contender. Flash forward to 2014, and both the Cavs and Wizards are among the East's best, thanks to LeBron's return and a series of shrewd moves by the Wizards' front office. The stage is set for the next chapter of the Wizards-Cavs rivalry to ignite.

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John Wall to Attend Team USA Camp; Can He Make the Cut?

July 25th, 2014 at 10:21 AM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

ESPN's Marc Stein reported yesterday that Washington Wizards point guard John Wall has accepted an invitation to attend Team USA's training camp in Las Vegas next week. Wall's initial exclusion was viewed by many as a snub, as the young guard is coming off a breakout season. But the report is that the team wanted Wall in camp all along and was waiting to make sure he was full committed and able to play at his full strength after a the Wizards' lengthy season. Wall will join teammate Bradley Beal in camp, making the Wizards one of two teams with two players on the camp roster, Golden State being the other with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. While the team will add Wall, they will lose a high-profile name in Blake Griffin. The Clippers forward withdrew his name for consideration from the final roster, as he has chosen to dedicate himself entirely to the Clippers' 2014-2015 season.

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