Wizards should play even faster with Vesely in lineup

3 Comments

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.

Geeking out on NBA prospects: R.J. Barrett almost dunks from free throw line, Zion Williamson does

Getty Images
3 Comments

Duke is stacked this coming season. STACKED. They should have three lottery picks in next year’s draft. (Does that mean they are the team to beat in the NCAA? That’s not the way basketball works. But that’s another discussion.)

Duke is in Toronto for a series of preseason exhibition games, and at the end of the workout likely No. 1 pick next June, R.J. Barrett tried to show off by almost dunking from the free throw line.

Then freak of nature Zion Williamson showed him how it’s done.

That’s worth more looks.

Damn Zion is a freak of nature. Can we just put him in the next dunk contest now?

Nancy Lieberman says more women need to follow coaching footsteps in NBA

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Whenever we discuss women assistant coaches in the NBA, the topic is usually Becky Hammon getting job interviews or being moved to the front row of seats in San Antonio. Occasionally it’s a discussion of Nancy Lieberman’s job in Sacramento — or the fact she is now a head coach in Ice Cube’s Big3 — or Jenny Boucek in Dallas.

However, when Lieberman discussed women coaches on the CBS Sports Network, she was asking a bigger question:

Who steps up next?

She has discussed the NBA version of the “Rooney Rule” before. Currently, it’s not anywhere near becoming a reality, whatever you think of the idea.

However, there needs to be real opportunities for women to get a foot in the NBA door, and more of them. Including at the entry level. There are qualified women out there, but it can be tough to crack the “old boy’s network” of the NBA coaching carousel — head coach and assistant. It exists in part because head coaches (and GMs) usually hire people they trust and worked with before, and right now those are men. Give women a chance at those entry-level positions and the dynamic starts to change.

Lieberman has been a groundbreaker her entire career. She and others are doing in the NBA again, but she’s right, the big win is changing the dynamic for the next generation. And the one after that.

In no-brainer move, Nets reportedly guarantee Spencer Dinwiddie’s $1.65 million contract

Getty Images
2 Comments

Spencer Dinwiddie has worked hard at his game — I remember seeing him struggle some at his first Summer League and someone I trust telling me “watch this guy, he’s got the drive, he will make it” — and he is now a solid rotation NBA point guard that Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson can trust. He averaged 12.6 points per game last season with an above-average PER of 15.9.

He’s also on a steal of a current contract, so it makes sense the Nets are picking that up (it technically didn’t have to be guaranteed until Halloween). Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the report.

https://mobile.twitter.com/wojespn/status/1029496077320257536

Next summer, Dinwiddie is a free agent. While he’s not going to break the bank, he’s a young, solid backup point guard that a lot of teams could use and he’s going to get a nice pay raise.

Carmelo Anthony on his role with Rockets: “Let’s just let it play out”

Getty Images
2 Comments

From the moment it became clear Carmelo Anthony was going to join the Rockets — which was a long time before he actually signed the contract on Monday — the questions started:

Would he accept a reduced role with the Rockets? Maybe come off the bench? Be Olympic ‘Melo and blend in with the team?

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he spoke with Anthony and said the player is open to coming off the bench, but he’s not sure what ‘Melo’s role will be. When ambushed by TMZ trying to walk to his car, Anthony said basically the same thing.

“Let’s just let it play out, though. I don’t even know what’s going on. I just signed, let it start first.”

Anthony coming off the bench, being the fulcrum of the offense when James Harden and Chris Paul are on the bench makes some sense (CP3 and Harden are better and more efficient shot creators than Anthony at this point). It’s a chance for Anthony to get his touches and help the other two rest. However, the idea of Anthony starting the first and third quarters and getting heavy touches then but sitting more later is not out of the question.

At the end of close games, D’Antoni is more likely to lean on James Ennis — a long, switchable defender who can shoot threes in the Trevor Ariza mold — than Anthony. It will be just a better fit. Will Anthony roll with that? Will it cause problems in the locker room?

Let’s just let it play out.