Tag: Washington Wizards

Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James

Bucks’ GM believes team has six-man core of the future


Jabari Parker. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Greg Monroe. Michael Carter-Williams. Khris Middleton. John Henson.

Last season, with four of those six in place (Parker was injured most of the season, Monroe was in Detroit) the Milwaukee Bucks took a big step forward into the playoffs. They did it with great defense and the guidance of Jason Kidd.

Can they take another step this season? They should have an improved front line and offensive punch with Parker healthy and Monroe in the fold as a free agent. However, they Bucks sent veteran voices like Jared Dudley, how much will they be missed?

What matters more to GM John Hammond is continuity — he has a core in place now he thinks he can win with down the line. They just need time to grow and develop together. Look at what he said on The Baseline Podcast, as transcribed by Brew Hoop.

We’re trying to build around some kind of consistency with the nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and John Henson. Those six guys are the young core that we look and say that’s kinda the future of this organization, and that’s not discounting anyone else. Other players have to step and become a part of that group with us. But those guys are the group we hope we can build some kind of continuity with.

While we can debate whether guys like Henson or Carter-Williams are part of the long-term core for them, Hammond is spot on about continuity. But more than just continuity of roster, there has to be continuity of system and style. You can keep the same players, but if you change coaches and systems as often as Sacramento, it’s not going to matter.

Let these guys grow together and see what they can become under Kidd. They are still a few years away from being a threat to Cleveland (if they get there at all, we’ll see where their trajectory takes them) but the Bucks have to be patient and let it all play out.

Then right about the time they move into that new downtown arena, this could be a very dangerous team.

Martell Webster as stretch four? Wizards may try it next season.

Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers
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When the Washington Wizards tip-off next season, they will have Marcin Gortat at center and Nene at power forward.

But their moves this summer show that when one of those two sits (specifically Nene) the Wizards will embrace going small, as they did last playoffs when they blistered the Raptors in the first round. (Small-ball was less effective against the Hawks.) Washington let Kevin Seraphin walk to the Knicks this summer and replaced him with guys like Jared Dudley, a stretch four. (Paul Pierce left, but it was Otto Porter’s time.)

What about Martell Webster?

He may play some stretch four, too. But he is going to have to earn those minutes, notes J. Michael at CSNmidatlantic.com.

Webster played some (at the four) when he began his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Wizards have floated the  possibility of using him there when — if? — he can work his way back onto the court.

The challenge, of course, will be cracking the rotation that already has Drew Gooden, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson expecting to log a majority of the time there behind Nene when the Wizards go to small-ball lineups.  Webster, who is 6-7, played in just 32 games last season which was his least since the 2008-09 season. It also was the first time since then that Webster didn’t log a start.

The challenge for Webster — and the Wizards as a whole — going small is on the defensive end. As Matt Moore pointed out in an interesting piece at CBSSports.com, the Wizards three-point shooting and offense was much better when they went small, but the Hawks defense neutralized that somewhat. Worse yet the small ball Wizards simply tried to outscore teams, their defense suffered. That can sometimes work, against certain lineups, but it is not a long-term solution. Look at it this way, the Warriors are champions because they can go small without sacrificing defensively (thanks to Draymond Green — that’s why he’s getting paid more than you, Tristan). That is hard to replicate.

Webster is going to have to stay healthy then actually knock down threes to see the court as a stretch four — you don’t help space the floor if nobody respects you from three.

But as the Wizards go small more often — at least we expect Randy Wittman to go small more — Webster will get a chance to prove he has a role with the team, and in a small-ball NBA.


Miami’s Justise Winslow signs with Adidas

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Adidas may be getting out of the NBA uniform game, but they are opening up the checkbook to stock their roster with quality players that will get the public’s eye. Most notable this summer, they landed James Harden, pulling him away from Nike. He joins stars such as Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, and John Wall, not to mention up-and-coming players such as Andrew Wiggins.

Now you can add Justise Winslow to the mix.

The No. 10 pick of the Miami Heat, he signed a shoe deal with Adidas, the company announced.

“I’m excited to be a part of adidas,” said Winslow. “I loved playing in their basketball shoes at adidas Nations and what they’ve been doing with Kanye and Originals is changing the game. I pride myself in being the best player on the court and having unique style off it and adidas will definitely help me do both.”

Adidas Nations is the shoe brand’s big annual high school player camp and games, where many of the nation’s top young ballers come play.

Winslow looked good at that game, then in the draft landed in a spot where he should get some run and be a key part of what the Heat do this season. Winslow’s game showed it needs work at Summer League, but his athleticism and defense are things Erik Spoelstra will put to use well off the bench immediately. Plus he can dunk and will show up on some highlights from the start. He could grow into a quality player in a popular market.

Which is just what Adidas is looking for.


Report: Wizards signing 7-footer Jaleel Roberts

North Carolina-Asheville v Duke

The NBA is experiencing a small-ball revolution, teams more committed than ever to forgoing height in favor of shooting, ball-handling and agility.

But size still creates opportunities for players.

That’s why someone who averaged 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a UNC-Asheville senior is getting an NBA contract.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

The Wizards already have 15 players, the regular-season roster limit, with guaranteed contracts. So, it’s unlikely Roberts lasts past the preseason.

Washington also doesn’t have its own D-League affiliate. So, the Wizards didn’t sign him to waive him and assign his D-League rights.

Most likely, they just want another big body for practice to limit the wear and tear on Marcin Gortat (31), Nene (32) and Drew Gooden (33). Washington needs to save its veterans for the regular season and playoffs.

But if the Wizards clear a guaranteed contract – maybe by trading Garrett Temple – and Roberts impresses, maybe he could stick. Washington typically likes to have an open roster spot, but because Roberts’ deal is unguaranteed, he wouldn’t limit flexibility.

Bucks GM touts Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ability to play center

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks coach Jason Kidd kicked around the idea of playing Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard last year, though didn’t really go anywhere beyond the preseason. Antetokounmpo spent most of his minutes on the wing.

He could reach the other end of the positional spectrum this season.

Milwaukee general manager John Hammond on The Baseline NBA Podcast (hat tip: Frank Madden of Brew Hoop):

I love the thought of small-ball for us. Potentially, if there’s ever a matchup situation where you say “OK, they’re going to go small, how do we match up with that”” whoever that team may be, I think you play Giannis Antetokounmpo at center. And he’s 6-foot-11, so it’s not really small-ball per se, but his ball skills and know-how of how to play will give us the ability to do that. And I think that could be a really fun team to watch someday if you do look at small-ball theory.

Antetokounmpo played 98% of his minutes last season with at least one teammate – Zaza Pachulia, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Johnny O’Bryant, Miles Plumlee, Kenyon Martin, Ersan Ilyasova – who was clearly more of a center than him. Even in the other 2%, Antetokounmpo didn’t handle center responsibilities clearly more frequently than players like Jared Dudley and Jabari Parker.

So, this would be a big shift for the third-year player.

But Antetokounmpo has the tools to make it work. He has tremendous length and good shot-blocking timing. The Bucks like to switch and trap, so he wouldn’t have to defend like a traditional center, either. Offensively, he could pull opposing bigs all the way to the 3-point arc and slash and dish against a strained defense.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t have the bulk to play center over long stretches, but against the right opponents, he could do it. As the league gets smaller, it’s a nice option for Milwaukee.

And it’s darn sure exciting to watch a player who can legitimately play any position 1-5.