There are a lot of things that need to go right for the Washington Wizards to make their playoff goal — Nene needs to stay healthy and be a force in the paint, Bradley Beal needs to take a step forward, Otto Porter has to fit in, Emeka Okafor needs a solid season.
But in the end it’s really all about John Wall.
Finally healthy, he is the guy who has to carry this team as a leader, the guy who is the lynchpin of their offense.
Coach Randy Wittman, when asked by J. Michael of CSNWashington.com which Wizards player he expects the most growth from this season, singled out Wall, who just signed a new five-year, $80 million contract with the team.
John (Wall) has had another good summer. I see him not only physically, on the court, but I think his maturity is at another level. People forget how old John is (23). Going through what he’s gone through this summer, his work in becoming a better player, his contract, the responsibility of that I’ve been really pleased with his development. I see a different John Wall.
He needs to be the same John Wall from a stretch of late last season — for a 10-game stretch last season he averaged 24.6 points a game, shooting 49.1 percent overall and 53.3 percent from beyond the arc, plus he dished out 8.4 points per game. The final 10 games of the season, as the Wizards were just playing out the string, those numbers faded. But you get the idea — when Wall plays like that, the Wizards are in the playoff mix. He needs to be that guy every night now.
Wittman also talked about other guys where he has seen improvement.
“Kevin (Seraphin) is a more confident person in himself right now. He’s had two years where he’s played. Once you realize and believe that you belong, you carry yourself differently. I noticed that in him. Bradley (Beal) has had a really good summer. He was a little disappointed in the amount he missed having to sit through the first part of the summer to get him healthy (because of a stress injury to his lower right leg). He had a great July and August. Emeka (Okafor) was in town just about every day working on his body. There was a lot of good things we were able to accomplish and we still have time to. … (Otto) Porter has no hamstring issues. He’s been full-go the last three weeks. Martell (Webster) and is great. He’s been back here since the third week of August and he’s been a full-go. No problem with the (abdominal) strain. I expect a fully competitive training camp.”
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James says Gregg Popovich taking over as coach of the U.S. Olympic team will be a factor in whether he plays in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
James has won two Olympic gold medals, but he skipped last summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games to get rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship. On Saturday, James said Popovich “factors a lot” in his plans going forward with the U.S. team.
James was asked about Popovich, San Antonio’s longtime coach, before the Cavs hosted the Spurs.
James considers “Pop” the greatest coach in NBA history and called him a “great mastermind of the game of basketball.”
Popovich is replacing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led the U.S. team to three consecutive gold medals.
It was rumored this week that the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves were mulling a trade that would send Ricky Rubio to Michigan and Reggie Jackson to Minnesota. Now, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy says that isn’t happening.
Nor was it a real offer that was even on the table.
In a video posted to the Detroit Free Press, Van Gundy went off on one of his classic fireside chats — the kind that involves profanity — on how he sees the NBA as it works.
Warning: NSFW language ahead.
While the whole thing is worth watching for the Van Gundyness of it all, here’s the meat you’re looking for:
All these rumors and stuff look I mean know it’s fun for everybody and you’ve got some source somewhere and it’s also all bullshit. Im not denying that discussion — they take place all the time – -that’s a lot different than considerations. Somebody says ‘Hey would you consider Ricky Rubio for Reggie Jackson that discussion might have taken pace. And clearly we didn’t make that move. We wanted to see if they’d go [Michael] Gbinije for LeBron.
Van Gundy said he didn’t know if the specific Jackson-for-Rubio discussion even happened, saying that Pistons president Jeff Bower only brings him trades they are actively considering.
Meanwhile, Van Gundy confirmed that he did text Jackson after his agent made contact with Bower.
“This is the crazy season. We’re not trading you for Ricky Rubio,” said Van Gundy about his text to Jackson.
The NBA league office fined Washington Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe $5,000 — and the team an additional $15,000 — for his role in distracting a New York Knicks shooter during a game this last week.
Now, the league has issued a warning to teams: make sure you’re practicing good bench etiquette, or we’re coming for your wallets.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams on Saturday reminding them to remain on their own bench in accordance with league rules. Obviously that means no stepping onto active basketball courts:
So what are coaches needing to confine themselves to?
Official NBA rules state simply:
The coach’s position may be on or off the bench from the substitution box line (closest to the coach’s bench) to the baseline. A coach is not permitted to cross the midcourt line and violators will be assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul immediately. All assistants and trainers must remain on the bench. Coaches and trainers are not permitted to go to the scorer’s table, for any reason, except during a dead ball.
Like we see with preseason points of emphasis, it’s possible we see additional fines in the weeks to come. Several coaches enjoy toeing the line (literally) to see what they can get away with and how far out on the court they can stand. Tom Thibodeau immediately springs to mind.
Or, it could go the other direction. Perhaps we see more coaches sitting back, respecting their distance?
Hopefully we just don’t see any more of them trying to close out on opposing shooters.
The NBA got rid of the center position on the All-Star ballot starting in 2013, thanks in part to some positional confusion around former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan. But just a handful of years later, Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid says it should make a comeback.
Embiid — who finished third in the Eastern Conference for forwards in All-Star fan voting — told CSN Philly that due to the plethora of talented big men in the NBA, the position should return.
Via CSN Philly:
“There’s a lot of talented big men in the league, especially at the center position,” Embiid said. “That’s something the NBA should think about, putting the center back on the All-Star ballot.”
There has been a resurgence of talented and burgeoning centers that have entered the league and are performing at a high level. Embiid is one of them, and so too is DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Jahlil Okafor.
Adding the center position back might be a tough sell as having it doesn’t reduce eliminations from the roster. It’s much more free-flowing now, and there’s nothing keeping great centers off the All-Star team.
It would also be a little strange if center was added back but there wasn’t a point guard spot, too. ESPN’s Zach Lowe has suggested three categories for the roster in point guard, wing, and frontcourt. That idea is as good as adding the center position, perhaps moreso to many folks in the NBA.
I don’t think adding the center position will make a comeback any time soon. Meanwhile, we’re all just waiting to see if Embiid makes the All-Star reserves.