The Washington Wizards knew what they had — last year at Summer League Sam Cassell (coaching the team in Vegas) and Flip Saunders said the Wizards were going to run. They had John Wall, they were going to up the tempo and get in in the open court.
And they did, they moved from 21st in the league in possessions per game two seasons ago to ninth last season (2.2 more possessions per game faster, so they can do more).
They may go even faster, which is part of the reason they drafted Jan Vesely. He and JaVale McGee make an athletic front line that can finish spectacularly.
Vesely told CSNWashington.com he wants to be a part of that.
“I like Washington’s game,” Vesely said. “They are fast and we can run the floor and we can work. This is a young team and we have enough time to work hard and practice well. I came here to help the team.”
“He [Wall] is a very good point guard and very quick, and I can run the fast break with him,” Vesely said. “It will be good. I play very fast basketball, and I think it will translate well.”
A number of scouts think Vesely’s game is better suited to the NBA than Europe. He can run, finish and block shots, the rest of his game needs to grow (in particular perimeter shooting).
The Wizards need to run even more next season — they should be in the top five in the league in pace. Big men that can beat their opponent down the floor (even in the secondary break) put incredible pressure on a defense. The Wizards have guys that can do that and a point guard in John Wall who can get them the ball. One key is rebounding — Washington was the second worst defensive rebounding team in the league last year, and you can’t run without the ball. It’s part of the need to improve their defense overall — the Wizards were pretty good at creating turnovers last season (seventh best in the league) but not at getting stops.
But we do know this — the Wizards may end up being the most entertaining team in the league next year. They will be a highlight reel.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.