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John Wall, Bradley Beal Starting to Look Like World Cup Long Shots

August 1st, 2014 at 11:32 AM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After the first week of Team USA camp, Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are seemingly looking like the odd men out at the guard positions, as neither has been able to distinguish themselves enough to increase their chances of making the final World Cup squad. While both were far from shoo-ins initially, it appeared that Wall's defense and all-around game and Beal's shooting would at least give them a fighting chance. But several developments this week have put both their chances in serious jeopardy. 

Wall always faced an uphill battle to the roster's depth at point guard, and Derrick Rose's resurgence has made the back court even more crowded. Reports from camp have been glowing, with Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau and Jim Boeheim claiming that Rose's explosiveness is back and that he's been the most impressive player at camp. Rose has gone from question mark to likely starter, meaning that Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and John Wall are likely competing for one, maybe two spots. Irving seems to be the favorite thanks to his shooting and his ties to Coach K, while Team USA director Jerry Colangelo sees Lillard as a tweener, able to play both guard spots. While Wall is a better passer and defender than both players, he's an inferior shooter, which is a valuable skill in international play, and his similarity in style to Derrick Rose may work against him. It doesn't  help matters that a potential reunion with DeMarcus Cousins is seemingly off the table, with ESPN's Brian Windhorst reporting that Mason Plumlee is likely to make the team over Cousins.

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Washington Wizards Attend Workout for Dahntay Jones

July 31st, 2014 at 4:33 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Basketball Schedule / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Free agent guard/forward Dahntay Jones conducted an open workout for NBA team in Las Vegas yesterday, and according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Wizards were among the teams in attendance. The Kings, Cavaliers, Spurs and Thunder were also present to scope out the veteran, who apparently is beginning to garner a lot of interest towards the tail end of free agency. Since many teams have used up the majority of their cap space, affordable veterans such as Jones become commodities for teams looking to fill out their roster. 

The 33 year old Jones has played for six NBA teams in his career, with a career average of 5.6 PPG on 33% shooting. While Jones didn't play in the NBA last season, he could provide value to a contender looking to fill out the back end of their rotation due to his experience, positional flexibility and shooting ability. With five teams reportedly showing him interest, it looks like a safe bet he'll make his return to the NBA next season. 

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Do the Wizards Have Enough Frontcourt Minutes to Go Around?

July 29th, 2014 at 3:44 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

During a busy offseason, the Wizards addressed their lack of depth in a big way, adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair and retaining Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. Suddenly, the Wizards have a crowded front court, with several bigs fighting to work their way into the rotation. If the team adds Al Harrington with it's final roster spot, the Wizards will have 7 players who play either the 4 or 5 battling for a limited number of minutes. It's not a bad problem to have, and the extra depth will help come playoff time or in case of injury. But the Wizards will have to do some maneuvering to fit everyone in.

Center Marcin Gortat averaged 32.8 minutes per game last year, highest among their big men. Gortat is the Wizards's best two way big man, and they aren't likely to cut into the minutes of their $60 million man. The team has the luxury of resting him more if need be, but he's still likely to average around 30-32 minutes a game. That leaves about 15-16 center minutes to go around, with Blair and Humphries the likeliest candidates. While undersized, Blair played center in college and seems comfortable at the position, so he's probably the favorite to be the first center off the bench, with Humphries, Gooden and Seraphin able to play the 5 if need be. 

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Are We Headed for a John Wall-Boogie Cousins Reunion on Team USA?

July 29th, 2014 at 11:30 AM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: GAMEFACE-PHOTOS / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the most interesting subplots of Team USA camp so far has been the departure of forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. With Love departing due to the trade talk swirling around him and Griffin leaving due to a back fracture, the team has now has a gaping hole in its front court depth. The need to replace Love and Griffin, both of whom were considered locks to make the team, has created an opportunity for one or more of Team USA's young big men to make the World Cup roster, and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins seems poised to seize the opportunity. Cousin held his own on day one of camp and displayed a strong effort on both ends of the court, and he appears to be taking the opportunity very seriously. 

The idea of the much-maligned Cousins becoming Team USA's savior would be another fascinating subplot and would be a nice validation for the young center. Cousins is known for his volatile temperament and questionable behavior, but he can get it done on the court. Coming off a career year where he averaged 22.7 PPG and 11.7 RPG, the 6'11", 270 pound Cousins would give Team USA a physical presence on both ends of the court. While the team can likely get away with playing small ball against most teams, Cousins's size would come in handy against Spain's front court of the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka. 

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Should the Wizards Leave a Roster Spot Open for Al Harrington?

July 27th, 2014 at 4:29 PM
By Matt Graber

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Wizards have been more active than usual this offseason. After resigning center Marcin Gortat, the team made a surprising move by signing veteran Paul Pierce to replace Trevor Ariza. The team didn't stop there, as they fortified their front court by adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair while bringing back Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. After this series of widely praised roster moves, the Wizards have filled 14 roster spots, leaving one vacancy that the team doesn't seem to be in any rush to fill. Veteran Al Harrington is considered the most likely candidate for the final spot should he decide to play another season. But is that really the best option?

Harrington, an 18 year veteran, brings valuable leadership and experience to the locker room. He's a respected presence who cans serve as a mentor alongside Paul Pierce and Andre Miller. On the court, Harrington can stretch the floor better than any of the wizards's current big men and has proven to be an effective scorer throughout his career. But at 34 and coming off knee surgery, Harrington may not be healthy enough to make a serious contribution, and the wear and tear of another season may prove too much for his body to handle. And even if he is healthy, the Wizards now have a loaded front court, and with only so many minutes to go around, Harrington would struggle to crack the rotation behind Gortat, Nene, Humphries, Blair, Gooden and Seraphin. 

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