We’re trying something new at Red94. We’re going to start reaching out to fellow TrueHoop blogs prior to games to dust-up on our knowledge of teams we may not get too much exposure to otherwise. For our first installment, we got in touch with Kyle Weidie of the Wizards affiliate Truth About It, and had him answer a few questions in advance of tonight’s game. If you would like to see the other half of the conversation, be sure to check that out on TruthAboutIt.net
MF – The Wizards raised some eye brows when they signed John Wall to a max extension this summer even though they still had control of his rights as a RFA. Has his play and subsequent All-Star nod this year put all the doubters to rest?
KW – John Wall’s play has certainly justified the investment. And while the Wizards could have waited, perhaps letting the market set itself for Wall, that doesn’t seem as smart of a move as financial analysts might think.
You want to avoid that game when a) you’ve already long-declared that you’re building around Wall, b) Wall has a power agent, Dan Fagan, who can help direct talent to Washington, and c) when Wall himself, albeit after the ink dried, said that he would have been disappointed had the Wizards not offered an extension.
There are so many feelings, emotions, and “intangibles,” as they say, in rebuilding a perpetually losing franchise past numbers, and getting Wall’s contract situation out of the way so it would not be hanging over the Wizards’ head as they try to make it back to the playoffs was part of that.
Wall hasn’t proved all doubters wrong, yet (as long as David Falk keeps his mouth shut…). He has developed a bad habit of taking some games off, especially on defense (see: last night against Nick Calathes and Memphis), and sometimes he has a little too much Allen Iverson in him on crucial possessions (but no where near the scoring acumen). But, having covered Wall closely for all his NBA career, he’s really progressed in his leadership, understanding of pace, jump shot, and ability to manage a 5-man unit.
Decision to extend last summer? Undoubtedly the right move.
This summer the Wizards made the bold move of trading for Marcin Gortat to help with the playoff push and even gave up a protected first round pick as part of the deal, something teams are loathe to do under the new CBA. How has that trade worked out through the first 50 games and might the Wizards regret giving up such an asset for a player on an expiring deal?
Bold or desperate? Without Emeka Okafor’s defensive presence — and I believe the team had a very good feeling he’d be out for the entire year when the news came out — the Wizards would have been a disaster.
Losing the pick won’t make anyone feel good, even if it is in the 14-17 range, but that’s the cost of doing business. The Wizards have had plenty of mid-to-high draft picks over recent years (and they haven’t always used them well — Wall and Beal were no brainers), so I’m not sure how much having another pick would have progressed rebuilding. I think getting Wall and Beal playoff experience, even if it’s just to lose in the first round, was far, far more important than keeping the pick.
Sure, if Gortat’s contract ran at least one year longer, Wizards brass would sleep better. Now, their No. 1 priority next summer will be to keep him. With the valuable/high-demand commodity that is the center position (especially amongst next summer’s FA crop), getting the inside track on an FA like Gortat by having him play with Wall for a year might be worth the pick, too. As I wrote just yesterday, after Wall, no Wizard has had more of an impact on the team than Gortat. Picks, smicks, that’s important stuff.
What has the development of former third overall picks Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr been like this year? And would the Wizards have been better off taking someone other than Porter Jr, or has his hip injury not allowed him to make his case yet?
Bradley Beal is only 20 and his jump shot is smooth as eggs. But also, because he’s only 20, I’d bet on Houston shutting him down tonight after he scored a career-high 37 points in Memphis last night.
Speaking of last night, it was the most minutes Beal has played in a long while. Ever since missing time with a stress injury to his leg earlier this season, Beal has been on a minutes restriction (30 minutes and more recently 34 minutes), which has frustrated fans when he’s not on the court in crunch time (a recent double-OT loss to the Spurs, for instance), and it has perturbed head coach Randy Wittman even more when the media asks about it.
But, a man-boy’s jumper hasn’t comforted franchise fans more since the days of Jeff Malone, and it has a great ability to mask the current flaws in Beal’s game: settling for midrange looks, not getting to the free throw line, and hanging his head when shots aren’t falling. Nonetheless, as Charles Barkley continues to attest, Beal is a future star in this league.
Otto Porter? The Wizards know as much about him as the Rockets know about Royce White.
Perhaps that’s a little bit overboard. Houston, through news, social media, trials and tribulations, probably knows a lot more about White.
But Otto Porter, the player? Sure, he needs more chances… all the time in the world. A hamstring injury during summer league and the subsequent mysterious hip injury have him hamstrung.
That said, what he’s shown in glimpses has not impressed by any means. He traveled the first time he ever touched an NBA basketball, and he’s looked as meek as they come. The most NBA-ready player in the 2013 draft? Please. Otto looks like he could have used a full four-year boat at Georgetown.
I’m sure he’ll come along sooner or later (perhaps three years later). What really has me down on Porter is his poor/slow shot mechanics, his lack of NBA range, mediocre handles, and his lacking athleticism. Otherwise, he seems like a sweet kid.
I’m curious to get an outsider’s opinion: What is your perspective on the Rockets as it relates to championship contention and what do you hope to see out of the Wizards against them?
I think the Rockets will need another year to gel as a team before they can get serious about championship contention. They commit way too many turnovers and shoot too poorly from the free throw line to get past more experienced teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
The Wizards? I hope to see them beat the Rockets like they are capable of doing. They have beaten teams like Golden State and Phoenix on the road and are 12-13 away from home this season. Washington is a team that should be taken seriously; now they just have to take themselves seriously.
True or false: John Wall will win the dunk contest.
False. He might pull out something nicely creative, but I don’t think his hops and arm stretch go far enough above the rim to put him ahead of some of the other competition, especially Paul George, favorite. Plus, we’re not sure how the new format will affect the ability to truly crown the best “dunker of the night.”
True or false: The Wizards have a deal left in them before the February 20th trade deadline.
True. They need a backup point guard in the worst way; even one who can play alongside John Wall, sometimes. And per Marc Stein’s Tweet yesterday, it seems “definite” that Ernie Grunfeld will pull the trigger on something, but the what, the who, and the how remain mysteries, just like the location of the cliff that Eric Maynor’s game has completely fallen off of.
True or false: The Wizards would stand a 25% chance at winning a second round match-up versus Indiana or Miami.
False. I would give Miami or Indiana 9/1 odds to beat the Wizards (and thus, around an 11 percent chance for Washington to win a second round series against them). And even that sounds too high. The Wizards have the talent in the top six or seven of their rotation to compete (and the bigs to really give Miami trouble, Indiana not so much), but Washington’s bench is very unreliable, and I don’t see any trade that will truly help that situation this season.