Charlotte Hornets vs. Washington Wizards 10/17/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards both looked to continue their strong preseasons on Friday. John Wall and the Wizards looked to prove their hot start was more than a fluke, while the Hornets looked to continue to build momentum heading into the season.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Otto Porter Has Golden Opportunity with Wing-Depleted Washington Wizards

This is exactly what Otto Porter Jr. needed. 

After a letdown rookie year, he’s been presented with a golden bounce-back opportunity in Washington. Trevor Ariza is gone. Bradley Beal could be out two months with an injury. Martell Webster is coming off major back surgery. Glen Rice Jr. just sprained his ankle. 

There’s only so much weight the Wizards can lean on 36-year-old Paul Pierce.

Whether he deserves the title or not, Porter has suddenly become an X-factor for one of the more competitive teams in the Eastern Conference.

The good news for Porter is he’s entering the season healthy and not trying to play catchup. Last year, Porter missed most of NBA Summer League, all of the preseason and the team’s first 18 games. 

With Ariza playing the way he was and the Wizards battling for playoff position, Porter never really had a chance. 

He was also looking at a significant role adjustment, having been the centerpiece of a strong Georgetown rotation (24.09 usage rate in 2012-13) before entering Washington’s lineup as a fifth option (15.3 usage rate in 2013-14). 

Porter was ultimately thrust into the lineup cold, midseason, after spending the last two years in college. That’s like jumping into a conversation spoken in a different language mid-discussion. 

But Porter appears to be a little more prepared heading into his sophomore year with the Wizards. He’s coming off a tremendous Las Vegas Summer League where he averaged 19 points on 48.4 percent shooting. And he’s looked sharp in preseason so far, having scored at least 12 points and shot at least 53 percent in four of five games.

“He’s night and day,” teammate Kevin Seraphin told WSNWashington.com’s Ben Standig. “I told him that yesterday. I’m proud of him. He’s really stepped up right now. He’s more confident in everything. I love his game.”

“I do feel like I’m back to myself, where I was before I got drafted,” Porter said via Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. “(I’m) mentally prepared, physically prepared.”

He’s even knocking down threes, something he’ll need to do in order to justify regular minutes, not just with the Wizards, but as a pro in general. Porter was just 4-of-21 from downtown last year—between Vegas and preseason this summer and fall, he’s 11-of-27.

Given all of Washington’s injuries on the wing, along with its overall lack of offensive depth, Porter isn’t just a body filling in—he’s going to be put in a position that asks him to generate offense, whether it’s as a playmaker, scorer or finisher.

It’s the ideal chance for Porter to showcase his versatility, arguably his most attractive quality out of college. At 6’8″, he’s got excellent size for a wing who can handle the ball and separate into mid-range jumpers.

With John Wall on the floor, Porter will be able to play a bit more to strengths, which center around his ability to make plays off the ball as a cutter, shot-maker and offensive rebounder

Where Porter really must improve, other than shooting, is as a driver getting to the hoop. According to NBA.com, Porter didn’t score one basket off a drive, or a take from 20 feet out that resulted in a bucket within 10 feet of the rim, in 2013-14. 

Just by being on the floor longer with fewer weapons in the lineup, Porter is going to see more opportunities to attack one-on-one. 

Castillo noted that Porter had spent the summer working on offense and “emphasized creating separation, shooting, attacking the rim, and ball-handling.”

The bar will naturally get higher for Porter heading into his second year in the league, regardless of what happened last season. And it should—Porter was the No. 3 pick in 2013, with part of his appeal having stemmed from his maturity and perceived NBA-readiness.

Having gotten a season under his belt and a little more comfortable in the offense, Porter looks poised for a breakout sophomore year in what’s likely to be a regular role for a surging franchise. 

“I do feel that way, now that I’m healthy,” Porter told Castillo when asked if he’s improved over the past few months. “Also, I learned so much last year. And now that I’ve seen it and learned from it, now I can attack. My goal is to be very aggressive—ultra-aggressive—and having fun.”

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Maccabi Haifa vs. Washington Wizards 10/15/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Washington Wizards looked to keep their strong preseason campaign rolling when they faced Israeli side Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday. The Wizards had won three of their four preseason games, but they faced a tough test from the Israeli powerhouse.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards 10/12/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Washington Wizards hosted the Detroit Pistons Sunday in a preseason matchup. 

John Wall and the Wizards are seeking to return to the playoffs this season and make a run in the seemingly wide-open Eastern Conference, while the Pistons are hoping to turn around their franchise and build a team that can contend in the future. 

Watch the video for full highlights.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards Live Blog: Instant Reactions and Analysis

The 2-1 Washington Wizards will host the 2-0 Detroit Pistons in the Verizon Center at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

The Pistons are coming off of a win against the Milwaukee Bucks that featured a 20-point game from second-year player Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In just their third game under Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons still have a lot to prove and learn.

The Wizards were defeated by the Charlotte Hornets in their last preseason game, a game that saw Bradley Beal break his wrist. The talented guard will miss up to two months, adding to injury concerns that the Wizards already had.

Check back around 12:30 p.m. ET today for the beginning of coverage.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards: Five Takeaways

I know, it’s the first game of the preseason and there isn’t much to go on, but it was just too exciting to see D. Rose back and all those fresh faces out there for the Chicago Bulls. So, what exactly did we learn from the Bulls vs. Wizards preseason game?
Nikola Mirotic is Emotional
Watching Nikola Mirotic reminds me of watching a high school star play. Heat checks, chest pounding, and fist pumping were all part of Mirotic’s debut. One thing to worry about is that this backfires. I could definitely see him pouting if he is open and Hinrich doesn’t see him because he is dribbling in a circle for 23 seconds (more on that later).

Another thing Mirotic will have to work on (and will receive an earful about tonight) is calling out picks/screens. Nikola was near the top of the key as the Wizards brought the ball down, and almost got Jimmy Butler decapitated by not calling out the switch or anything. Butler ran pretty much full speed into a Washington Wizard’s defender Kevin Seraphin, and was lucky to

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Washington Wizards season preview: Roster Analysis

John Wall and company got a tremendous boost via the free agency pool this off-season but does that mean they have a shot at the NBA championship? The answer is a definite yes because the front office of the Washington Wizards  has assembled a nice nucleus comprised of veterans and young talent that can prove themselves night in and night out against any team in the league.
The Washington Wizards became a huge threat in the NBA last season and their roster has enough firepower for them to continue their winning ways this season.
Roster  Overview:
The Wizards have an array of talent on the roster. The combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal may just in fact be the best guard duo in the entire league. Washington lost Trevor Ariza, who signed with the Houston Rockets over the summer but they gained a very intelligent veteran in small forward Paul Pierce. To round out the starting five,Marcin Gortat and Nene are a formidable front court that possesses enough skill and power to go toe to toe with the best big

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Renewed Cleveland Cavs, Washington Wizards Rivalry Would Be Good for NBA

The obituary for NBA rivalries has been written for a while now, but the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers and rising Washington Wizards have given them a pulse again.

Playoff adversaries for three consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2008, the Cavs and Wizards stand poised to renew their rivalry in the 2014-15 campaign. At least they would be if they were willing to wait that long.

Judging by the verbal barbs thrown back and forth already, they are not.

Third-year Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal fired the first shot without even knowing he was armed.

“We’re definitely the best backcourt in the league,” Beal said of he and teammate John Wall to reporters at the team’s media day.

Considering the types of claims made at these sessions—when, as Grantland’s Andrew Sharp put it, “everyone’s either gained or lost 15 pounds, at least 45 different players added some post moves over the summer, and everybody’s in a good mood”Beal‘s comment seemed like par for the course.

But, in the best rivalries, nothing is as ever as simple as it seems. This was no exception to the rule.

Once Beal‘s words traveled back to Cavs guard Dion Waiters, the Syracuse product added some fuel to the old fire.

“That’s nonsense,” Waiters told reporters after practice. “(Beal is) supposed to say that, but I know deep down, he’s not messing with me and Ky (Kyrie Irving). I think me and Ky are the best backcourt, young backcourt.”

Further stoking the flames, Wall was next to chime in with a response to Waiters’ rebuttal.

“Why he (Waiters) think that?” Wall said, per TruthAboutIt.net’s Adam McGinnis. “They haven’t seen a playoff game yet so when they make one, they can start talking.”

Waiters, apparently realizing that a war through the media is so outdated, took to Twitter for his next rejoinder:

The verbal beef came back around to Beal on Wednesday, who had the following exchange during an appearance on ESPN 980′s Inside the Locker Room (h/t Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post):

‘So you and Dion Waiters, you guys gonna be hanging out any time soon?’ Scott Jackson asked. ‘What’s the story there?’

‘Shots fired,’ Beal replied.

‘What do you think?’ Jackson asked.

‘I’m just gonna say November 21, man,’ Beal replied.

‘Are you guys trying to sell tickets, or what are you doing?’ Jackson asked. ‘It’s great. It’s like WWE almost.’

‘We’re trying to amp it up a little bit,’ Beal said. ‘Pay-per-view game, hopefully.’

Pay-per-view? Doesn’t that seem like a little too much for a rift over a backcourt crown that really doesn’t belong to either team?

Well, no, actually. Not when you consider the history between these clubs.

While ultimately one-sided—the Cavs took each of the aforementioned series by a combined record of 12-4—those meetings still provided what fans expect out of a great sports rivalry.

The star power was impressive on both sides of the coin.

LeBron James, just 21 years old when the postseason clashes started, shredded the Wizards to the tune of 31.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists over the 16 games. Three-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas tallied 34.0 points (on .464/.435/.771 shooting), 5.5 boards and 5.3 dimes in the 2006 series, but a torn meniscus held him out of the next one, and lingering knee problems made him ineffective for the final meeting.

Although the Wizards could never knock off the Cavaliers, when they were at (or near) full strength, they had a way of giving Cleveland problems. The Wizards put up 1,163 points over the 2006 and 2008 series, only 19 fewer than the Cavaliers (1,182).

The games were exciting—and often incredibly chippy.

There were hard playoff fouls and copious amounts of trash talk. Ex-Wizards wing DeShawn Stevenson thought it would be a good idea to call James “overrated,” per Michael Lee of The Washington Post, and the Washington faithful later serenaded the King with Stevenson’s word.

The rivalry even had things fans never knew they needed—or wanted—in a spirited sports clash.

Rapper Jay-Z dropped a diss record of Stevenson in support of James (warning: NSFW). There was an ill-fated marketing ploy that stemmed from then-Wizards center Brendan Haywood, who now calls Cleveland his NBA home, mocking James for claiming the Wizards wanted to “hurt Lebron James in this series.”

Bad blood drenched the two teams like champagne inside a champions’ locker room.

It looks like it’s brewing once again.

Both teams seem stronger on paper now than they did back then.

The Cavaliers, bolstered by the offseason arrivals of James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller, could have a historically explosive offense. Cleveland averaged 48 wins in the seasons leading up to its playoff matchups with Washington. This team, according to FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver, is projected for 65 victories.

The Wizards aren’t quite on the same level. Bleacher Report’s Josh Martin has them down for 50 wins, which would be a six-game improvement from last season.

However, Washington could make a steeper climb if Wall and Beal take another substantial step forward. Both are coming off career seasons, and neither has celebrated their 25th birthdays (Wall will next September, Beal‘s isn’t until June 2018).

The pair combined for 36.4 points and 12.1 assists in 2013-14, numbers suggesting that both have plenty of upward mobility left.

The explosive backcourt is also joined by one of the league’s more intimidating interior tandems in Nene and Marcin Gortat. Washington’s bigs both have the scoring touch needed to carry an offense in spurts, which could come in handy against a Cleveland frontcourt that appears short on rim protection.

The Wizards lost two-way swingman Trevor Ariza over the offseason, but veteran Paul Pierce arrived shortly thereafter to take his place. Pierce’s championship experience could be a vital asset for the youthful Wizards, but it’s his history with James that adds another level of intrigue to this rekindled rivalry.

Pierce and James have had some legendary postseason battles, to the point that James’ old running mate Dwyane Wade dubbed Pierce “the closest thing to a rival, if LeBron has one,” in 2012, per ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.

While Washington could never match Cleveland’s top-level talent before—and still can’t now—the Wizards used their toughness, tenacity and heart to keep competitive with the Cavs.

If Washington has a chance to recapture that same passion, Pierce might be the best guy to bring it out of his new teammates.

“I am not intimidated by nobody in the league,” Pierce said, per ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “There are always going to be great players and there’s always going to be challenges. That is one of my greatest strengths. I am not afraid to face challenges or any matchup in the league.”

Sports are nothing if there’s no passion.

That’s why this has the chance to be something. Between the backcourt beef and the history of Pierce and James, these teams should not lack for intensity whenever they meet.

As Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post noted, even Irving and Wall have their own individual rivalry:

Wall and Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will always be linked. The Wizards selected Wall with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. One year later, the Cavaliers took Irving with the first pick. The point guards landed in rebuilding projects and suffered through miserable seasons in the mediocre Eastern Conference.

Wall led his team to the playoffs first, heading the Wizards’ run to the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring after making his first all-star team. But it was Irving who was named the All-Star Game MVP last February and made the final Team USA roster after Wall didn’t survive the first cuts this past summer. Irving went on to start for Team USA in Spain and was named the tournament’s MVP.

Both franchises are now eyeing the same ultimate goal of competing for a title. Given the strength on each side, there is a chance that quest will eventually pit them against one another in a playoff setting.

Hoop heads should hope that’s the case, at least.

In recent years, few teams have reached the emotional levels these clubs hit during their postseason battles. Considering those battles never took place outside of the first round and always produced the same outcome, it speaks volumes as to how they felt about one another.

The NBA needs that same fire again. Any professional sports league benefits from burning desire.

With the stakes potentially heightened and the talent level undeniably increased, the Wizards and Cavaliers won’t simply renew their rivalry—they will make it even better than before.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Which Washington Wizards Player Will Make Biggest Leap in 2014-15?

Bradley Beal‘s upside is difficult to predict. Not because he’s wildly inconsistent or because he has so much to improve on.

It’s because he has the highest upside of almost anyone in the NBA right now, and there’s simply no telling how good of a player he can grow into.

Beal just recently turned 21, and he’s already played in two playoff series, went toe-to-toe with Paul George, made clutch three-pointers to sink a higher seed in the postseason (the Chicago Bulls) and has simply gone where only a few players have gone before.

Although John Wall is a young talent, it seems as if we already know where he’s headed. It’s likely that Wall will be an All-Star year in and year out as long as he’s healthy.

But Beal‘s upside is much higher at this point, and for this season, he’ll take a bigger leap forward than Wall.

In his second year in the league, when he was 20 years old at the All-Star break, Beal was one of only four players ever in their sophomore campaign to shoot at least 40 percent from three-point range, average three assists and 17 points per game and have four win shares.

The other three guys? Vince Carter, Hersey Hawkins and Stephen Curry. That’s some pretty great company to be in.

In his third year, Carter’s per-game averages in those categories increased by 1.9 points and 1.1 win shares while his assist and three-point numbers stayed the same. Although Curry started only 23 games in his third year and his points-per-game average dropped, his three-point shooting increased to 45.5 percent, and he had .144 win shares per 48 minutes, up from .128 in his second year.

It’s not unreasonable to see Beal‘s assist and points averages making a similar jump in addition to his win shares increasing by one or two.

Beal also was only one of two players ever between the ages of 18 and 21 to have a player efficiency rating of at least 17 in the playoffs while averaging 19 points and shooting 41 percent on three-pointers. The only other player to do that was Russell Westbrook in 2010, who played in just six postseason games that season. Beal played in 11.

Just based on that grouping of players, it’s clear that Beal is on pace to be one of the top players in the NBA.

In the context of Washington’s offense, Beal will improve on the offensive end with the addition of Paul Pierce.

Beal‘s biggest flaw last season was his propensity to take ill-advised mid-range jump shots.

He shot just 37 percent between 16 and 24 feet and attempted more shots from that range than any other shooting zone.

By adding Pierce, Beal will be able to patrol the perimeter more—his strength—and Pierce can be more of the mid-range guy. Pierce made 42.41 percent of his shots from that range last season, as shown in his shot chart from NBA.com/Stats.

Beal had an effective field-goal percentage (a field-goal percentage that weighs three-pointers as being worth more than two-pointers) on catch-and-shoots last year of 58.1 percent, according to NBA.com/Stats.

We’ve seen that Beal is a below-average ball-handler and that the Wizards are better off when Wall is making plays at the rim with Beal at the corner. Although Pierce isn’t an elite three-point shooter, he’s effective at making threes on the fast break and is at least a better ball-handler than Beal.

The Wizards want Beal doing what he’s best at: shooting threes. Having a veteran like Pierce on the floor is only going to help Beal grow.

On the defensive end, Beal is going to have to take on a larger role with Trevor Ariza gone.

Washington will likely go with a “by committee”” approach to having a primary defender mainly because there isn’t an elite guy on the roster right now on that end of the floor.

Wall tends to look lost at times, Pierce isn’t as quick as he used to be, and Beal is simply not experienced enough to cover guys like Lance Stephenson, LeBron James and Derrick Rose—players whom the Wizards will face multiple times this season and likely in the playoffs.

Off the bench, Garrett Temple can be an end-of-game defensive stopper but probably won’t be on the floor at the same time as Beal in the first three quarters. Otto Porter Jr. and Glen Rice Jr. both have the length to be solid defenders, but we haven’t seen them on the floor enough to know what they’ll bring to the table.

When given the opportunity, Beal will struggle at first to cover elite guys but will only improve over time this season. Like Wall, he has great close-out speed, as seen against this defense of a D.J. Augustin shot in the playoffs.

However, he has problems with rotations on defending the pick-and-roll.

As Umair Khan of Bullets Forever wrote when describing Beal on defense:

For Beal, containing dribble penetration will be how he earns his keep on defense. He’ll have to do a better job on ICE calls, which requires him to position himself on the ball handler’s hip and away from the screener and force his man baseline, making it impossible for his man to use the screen. There were a number of times last season where he failed to do so despite his big man being in position to defend on the sideline, and the end result was the ball handler getting to the middle of the floor.

These are things that are certainly fixable, and with more experience, Beal will improve on defense, only making him a better player.

Even with slight tweaks and the addition of Pierce, Beal is going to take a huge step forward. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 21 years old, and by the time he’s 25, there’s no telling how great of a shooting guard he’ll be.

- All statistics are from Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Former Washington Bullet Rex Chapman arrested for shoplifting at Apple store

In the ‘Where Are they Now?’ category, former Washington Bullets guard Rex Chapman was arrested in Arizona on charges of theft after allegedly stealing $14,000 worth of merchandise from an Apple store.
MORE: Chapman is alleged to have swiped items through Apples’ self-checkout & then sell them at a pawn shop for cash. pic.twitter.com/0kO6HJkJRI — AZ Family (@azfamily) September 19, 2014
According to ABC15.com, Chapman was charged with nine counts of theft and five counts of trafficking in stolen goods.
Sgt. Mark Clark said Rex Chapman is alleged to have picked up items in the store, located near Scottsdale Road and Greenway, and made it appear that he was paying for the items through the store’s self-checkout. He would then leave the store without actually paying for the items. He reportedly took the items to a local pawn shop and sold the goods for cash.
Chapman, 46, played four of his 12 NBA seasons with the Bullets (now Wizards) from 1991-1995. He had his best statis…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Next Page »