What we’ve learned about the Wizards

The Washington Wizards played on Christmas day, on prime time television. Not only did the Wizards win but they knocked off the first place team in the east, the Boston Celtics. It was an impressive win, but it’s still just a 1 game win, which puts the Wizards at 19-15 and only the 6th spot in the east. Here are 3 things we’ve learned about the Wizards thus far.

The Wizards NEED John Wall. To no surprise the Wizards win and lose by the play of John Wall. John was recently sidelined with a knee injury in which he received PRP injections. The Wizards went 4-5 without John in the lineup. While yes, Thomas Satoransky played really well during that span, the team just isn’t the same. If this team is going to make any kind of January, February or March run the game has to be put on John’s shoulders. During the span of John’s injury, individual players still played well but there was just a missing piece and that of course was John.

The Wizards STILL play up and down to their competition. I feel like this point is made over and over again, season after season. Until this gets fixed this is the single most concerning part of this team. The Wizards came out today and played like a top seed team. Just 3 days ago this team got crushed by the Nets. A Nets team without Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell and their newly acquired center Jahlil Okafor. The Nets are 12-20 and are not very good, yet their kicked Washington’s butt. I don’t know what it is with this team but they really play down to their competition. There is just no excuse for getting beat by many of these teams that are beating them. Defense is the first thing that comes to mind in these games, then it comes down to execution. The Wizards need to be laser focused now that January is right around the corner and they need to dominate the teams they should dominate or else it’s going to be a long end to the season.

The DC to DC crave should just stop. Demarcus Cousins is a talented player, he may be a top tier player. I don’t see how it would work with (this) Cousins in DC. Cousins is taking on average 19 shots per 36 minutes, where are these shots going to come from in DC? Are you going to ask John, Brad, or Otto to shoot less so Cousins can get his touches? What’s the price you would have to pay for Cousins? I don’t see a way the Wizards can make this trade happen without giving up a key piece such as Otto or Oubre, not to mention a Center, which likely won’t be Mahinmi. The price is too steep for a rest of the season guarantee for someone who consistently hasn’t been on a winning team and who would take shots away from our home grown stars. Not to mention March (Marcin Gortat) is quietly having a decent year. Yes, he gets slammed by fans on twitter but there is something to be said about his chemistry with John Wall in the pick-n-roll/pick-n-pop. It will be interesting to see if Ernie Grunfeld makes a move at the trade deadline but unless it’s going to put the Wizards at the top seed THIS year, then I am out on the move.

Yes, the Wizards are having a mediocre year thus far, but yes, they can still make a deep run. The starting 5 is playing good to great and the bench can finally score and hold their own. The defensive game needs to step up, and John Brad and Otto need to all play like all-stars night in and night out. Let’s go Wiz! #DCFamily

Wizards Seem Unfocused; Bored

When a team goes to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, you expect them to come in the next year motivated and hungry to take the next step. That’s exactly how things looked to play out as the Wizards started the year going 3-0 and they beat up on rising Philadelphia, a Pistons team that has proven to be legit good the first 3 weeks this year, and a Denver squad that had all the makings of a deep playoff run after the addition of Paul Millsap. Since then, it has been terrible loss after terrible loss to the dregs of the NBA. Sure, they’ve mixed in a couple of solid wins against the Knicks and Raptors, but in losing 5 of their last 7 the Wizards have shown us what they are….A flawed, inconsistent team who talks a bigger game than what they show night to night.

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Don’t believe me? Just look at the quotes from Bradley Beal and John Wall before their game with Cleveland last Friday night. Claims by both of them that Cleveland ‘tanked’ to avoid the Wizards in the second round last year or that they view themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. This from a team that had lost to Phoenix (PHOENIX!) a couple of nights prior and then promptly went out and got smacked around by LeBron to the tune of 57 points and a near triple-double. Not to be outdone, the Wizards, after beating Toronto, went out and laid an absolute egg against the Mavericks, a double-digit loss to a bottom-feeder in the Western Conference. Dallas came in and embarrassed the Wizards on their home floor and left with twice as many wins as they had coming in. So that’s two losses to the worst that the Western Conference has to offer along with a failure to back up their smack talk against LeBron. Even Lavar Ball disrespected the Wizards and instead of doing something about it, they lost to his son’s team, the Lakers, just as Lavar had predicted.

It’s early so it’s easy to get caught up in bad losses and focus on those negatives instead of the positives. Hell, Cleveland has gotten beaten up pretty badly over the first weeks of the season suffering bad losses to some of the worst teams in the league. The difference? Cleveland has 3 straight trips to the finals and a Championship trophy to hang their hats on. What do the Wizards have? Other than a couple of trips to the second round, absolutely NOTHING. When you don’t have a track record, you need to set your sights on earning one before talking a big game. The Wizards instead seem set on establishing a track record through their words; making them an entitled team that hasn’t won anything to speak of. Just like the rest of D.C. sports, they talk a big game, but don’t do anything on the field or court to back up that talk.

This year, the East is as wide-open as it has ever been. There seems to be one near-complete team, the Celtics, and a bunch of teams trying to wiggle their way to the top. Cleveland, despite the Celtics 10-game winning streak, is clearly the favorite even with their shaky start to the season. Then there is a second tier where the Wizards belong, but instead they see themselves as a favorite, not a second tier team. That’s a good mentality to have sure, but at the same time you have to beat someone before you think of yourselves that way. Milwaukee is rising fast due to another leap by Giannis and a smart trade to get him some help in trading for Eric Bledsoe. Toronto is still here, but no one expects them to seriously challenge Boston or Cleveland. A bunch of teams have surprised early on like the aforementioned Pistons and 76ers as well as the Magic and Pacers, but again they are first-round fodder for the top teams in the Conference. It gets late early as they say so the Wizards better get their act together if they want home-court advantage at least in the first round.

Not all hope is lost, however, despite the terrible losses. Markieff Morris is back healthy and contributing which unlocks a lot of what the Wizards want to do in terms of downsizing their lineups. Otto Porter has taken his game to another level early on and has been the most consistent starter so far this year. Even Bradley Beal has taken a mini-leap, being more assertive and taking his drives to the basket instead of pulling up for a deep jumper in years past. An encouraging development has been the play of Kelly Oubre early on. With better focus and consistency, the Wizards can start to rely on him for bigger minutes down the stretch. The possibilities for a lineup with Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter, and Morris are mouth-watering to think about given the overall length and speed that this lineup possesses. It could be a great closing group if everyone maintains their early season improvements throughout the course of the year.

Who do the Wizards want to be? That’s the question that these guys have to answer. Do they just want to be a second-round team for the next few years? That’s certainly possible given the lay of the East. To go deeper, the Wizards will have to dig deeper and find that next gear that only shows up in certain games. Good teams are good night-to-night and not just on the nights that they have something to prove. The East is there for the taking, it’s on these guys to go out and take it.

Week in Wizards; The NBA is Crazy w/Eric Yeboah

There is a first time for everything… and this is certainly a first. Joe is flying solo on this episode of DTC as last minute changes kept FP and LP from joining as scheduled… but never fear Eric Yeboah is here! That’s right! Atlanta Hawks and NBA insider Eric Yeboah sits it for the entire show with Joe and the duo discuss everything NBA from the Wiz slow start, to the slumping Cavs, to the the extremely disappointing Thunder. Joe get’s Eric on the record about the idea that the lack of back-to-back games benefit the below average teams then the two proceed to discuss several of those teams that are performing well to start the season. Eric also shares his thoughts on the MVP of the league so far (Harden or M. Gasol) and in an unforeseen twist, the guys start discussing Crunk and Go-Go music. There is something for everyone in this episode of DTC, listen, like and share!

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Washington Wizards: 5 Games in

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the start of the NBA season and the Wizards were off to a hot start. The Wizards took down the 76ers, the Pistons and the Nuggets before dropping 2 straight to both the Lakers and the Warriors. As it sits the Wizards are currently in second place in the Eastern conference in this very young seasons. 5 games is a small but decent sample size to judge how this team is matching up against the rest of the NBA. Four quick thoughts on this very young NBA season as it pertains to the Washington Wizards.

  1. The starting 5 are good, as good or maybe even better than any starting 5 in the NBA. The key to this offseason was the Wizards maintained a level of consistency. Of course a majority of the bench are new but the starting 5 is in tact from the 49 win ’16-’17 season and the most significant bench player in Kelly Oubre is still with the team. There is a big asterisk next to this thought because we have yet to see Markeiff Morris on the court, however there is no reason to believe he won’t be as good or possibly better than last year.  We have seen the starting 5 out play every team they have played this year and that includes the Warriors. Marcin Gortat, who was my biggest concern, is actually averaging slightly more points and rebounds per game than he was last year. Otto Porter is making over 55% of his field goal attempts, and John and Brad are playing like all stars, no doubt about it. John is averaging 22 points/game while Brad is averaging 20/game. If the NBA was only about the starting 5, I would crown the Wizards the NBA champs, however the NBA goes so much deeper than just the starting 5. Either way the starting 5 should be carrying this team deep into the playoffs.
  2. The bench is slightly improved but still needs work. Jodie Meeks is averaging 9.6 points/game but he’s doing so much more than just that. He is hitting his shots when called upon, and playing smart, sound, basketball. Mike Scott and Tim Frazier are playing sub par ball right now. Mike Scott has only racked up 35 points in a 103 minutes played, 18 boards, 3 assists and 1 steal. Anyone can see the Wizards absolutely need more from him. Tim is making a whopping 23% of his shots and averaging 4.6 assists/game. While there is some improvement in the bench, at least Tim Fraizer is able to bring the ball up court without getting pressured and turning the ball over like Trey Burke was doing last year, but Tim has to find a way to truly spell John Wall in crucial mid-game moments. On our weekly wizards podcast Joe has already been talking about bringing in mid-season trades, lobbying for Kenneth Faried.

BealGreenFightPhoto Courtesy of abcnews.com

  1. Suspensions are likely. In an all out skirmish Bradley Beal looked like he headlocked Draymond Green, when Green responded by tackling Brad off the court where it seemed like John Wall’s body guards stepped in to try and break up the fight. However the skirmish got worse, Kelly Oubre jumped in and looked like he tried to connect on anyone who was in the way, Morris and Carrick Felix left the bench to jump in on the skirmish. In the best possible outcome for the Wizards, Bradley Beal gets suspended for a game, while the others possibly get off. However it’s probably more likely that 4 Wizards get suspended for 1 game. Fair or not, we all know Draymond is a dirty player but the Wizards have to keep their composure. When asked about the incident Brad said “It’s unacceptable by me for sure. I’ve got to show better leadership and better control.” (Tweet from Candace Buckner of WaPo) The league should also suspend Omri Casspi for the kick to the groin of Otto Porter, I guess Draymond teaches that in practice.
  2. The Wizards still play down to their competition. If you don’t know what I am talking about then you clearly didn’t stay up until 1:20AM on Thursday morning to watch the Wizards drop the game to the Lakers. This has been a crutch for the Wizards as long as I can remember, they simply play down to the competition of teams they should be running out of the building. On the flip side of this they do play up to the upper echelon of the league, see Warriors game.

Gearing up for the Wizards Season

In just 2 days the Washington Wizards will open up the 2017 -2018 preseason. While it seems that the NBA offseason has been about the super teams becoming more super. Teams one upping each other by bringing in more super star talent, the Wizards offseason has can be summed up in one word. Continuity. The Wizards are bringing back the core of the team, with all 5 starters returning, the Wizards are building chemistry, continuity and stability. Here are a few things to catch you up on all you need to know before the Wizards preseason tips on October 2nd.

Markeiff Morris is out 6-8 weeks to start the season. On September 22nd Markieff Morris under went sports hernia surgery and the initial timetable for return is 6-8 weeks. That will put Morris out of the regular season anywhere between 2-4 weeks. That means he is going to be out for about 7-14 games. The Wizards have to find a way to get production out of players like Mike Scott or Jason Smith. Or that could mean that Kelly Oubre gets extended playing time if the Wizards decide to go smaller with Otto playing more in the stretch four role. This isn’t necessarily ideal as it puts the Wizards in a tough test right out of the gate.

Otto Porter has bulked up. Porter was one of the thinner players on the Wizards last year, and it looks like he has been hitting the weight room hard this offseason. Judge for yourself on the picture below. This is by all means going to help Porter. After getting signed to a max contract this offseason Porter is due for a big year. Porter has had all the talent needed to make him a star in the NBA and this season is his year to prove it to the rest of NBA. Otto has been a rising star for the past 3 years and this year I think he takes that big step forward and solidifies himself as the third all-star on the team.   OttoPorter

2016 media day on the left and 2017 media day on the right. Courtesy of Rob Carr/Getty Images and Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images and bulletsforever

Tim Frazier may be the backup point guard we have been looking for. The Wizards have had a revolving door at the back up point guard spot. The Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions, Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky, Brandon Jennings door seems to have been resolved, for now, with the signing of Tim Frazier. Tim has already built chemistry with John Wall and Bradley Beal and seems like he is set up to succeed here in Washington D.C. The key for Tim is to stay healthy. (Tim has already suffered a mild groin injury and will at least miss time in preseason) His best ability has to be availability.

Ian Mahinmi has slimmed down. After missing 51 games last year due to knee and calf injuries, Mahinmi has slimmed down this offseason in hopes of improving his overall health. The slimmed down version of Mahinmi will help in in the pick and roll defense and his (hopeful) improved ability to guard the perimeter. Mahinmi’s defensive presence should help the team. Again as with Tim Frazier, Mahinmi’s best ability has to be availability.

The Cavs are getting more superstars, see D. Wade. The Celtics are also getting more superstars, Kyrie and Hayward. The Wizards are staying put and building from within. While on paper everyone is going to be picking one of the 2 super teams, while the Wizards are going to be contending in the east. There is something to be said about continuity and the way that Coach Brooks develops players. The Wizards backcourt combo is one of the best in the league, Gortat seems like he found a new energy, and this team is going to be exciting to watch! We are so excited to be covering the Wizards this season! Let’s get excited #dcFamily!