Kushner: So Far Nats Exceeding Expectations

Kushner: So Far Nats Exceeding Expectations

Friday, May 21, 2010 10:55 a.m.

By Holden

I was leaning on the Nats dugout 90 Minutes before the Nationals hosted the Mets this week, and Drew Storen was being fawned over by fans and media alike. Not by me, Ive known the kid a little bit since he was 16.

Storen was called up a little ahead of schedule. I believe the driving force behind the early promotion is because the team is playing .500 baseball a quarter of the way into the season.

Yes, its only seven weeks into the 2010 campaign, but things are different at Nats Park these days.

I initially felt that this team should be expected to win 74 or 75 games. Ryan Zimmerman gave the guarantee that, No way we lose 100 games this year. I was all over that lofty expectation. Not in a good way. It was slightly embarrassing because it verbalized just how bad things had gotten around these parts.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told me that his expectations for this team have not changed. We expect to win every day. Ive felt like that since day one.

While that doesnt mean that theyll win every game, the difference between this years team and Nats clubs of years past is that they do have a CHANCE to win every day. Thats every day excluding the ones that Roy Halladay pitches. Who knows, maybe theyll get to him a time or two this year.

Third Base coach Pat Listach says his expectations for the team have changed since Opening Day. Hes adjusted his perspective because, We have Matt Capps. The bullpen let us down too many times last season.

That leads us back to Storen. He takes pressure off of the overtaxed arms in the bullpen. The fresher arms are in the late innings, the better chance of holding onto a lead.

Ultimately, a few things need to happen for the Nationals to heighten my own expectations for this years ball club.

Stephen Strasburg must be effective when hes called up in a couple of weeks. Theres no way Livan Hernandez continues to pitch like Cy Young, so The Savior needs to give six solid innings every fifth day once he arrives to the majors next month.

Chien-Ming Wang will have to throw 75 effective innings in the second half, so that John Lannan, Craig Stammen and Livo arent relied upon to be anything more than they actually are: back-end of the rotation starters.

More offense from right field would help too.

A .500 team after 42 games? Im pleasantly surprised.

Have I changed my expectations for this team? Not in terms of wins and losses, but Ive come to realize that this team will battle game in and game out. Theres something to be said for that and I wasnt sure that would happen.

74 or 75 wins? Maybe. 81 wins and a .500 record? Not out of the realm of possibility.

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."


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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

School: Virginia Tech
Position: Guard
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 204
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.4 FG% (5.6/11.8), 37.4 3PT% (1.7/4.6), 77.8 FT%

Player comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Tomas Satoransky

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, 14th, Bleacher Report 18th, Sports Illustrated 20th, Ringer 16th

5 things to know:

*Walker-Alexander is a big guard known for his offensive skillset. He can handle the ball, pass and score in a variety of ways. He can play both point guard and shooting guard and affect games with his passing at either spot. 

*He was an excellent three-point shooter in college. As a freshman, he shot 39.2 percent from long range on 4.5 attempts per game. His percentage dipped as a sophomore to 37.4 percent, but that was still impressive given he attempted 4.6 shots per game. 

*Walker-Alexander has a plus wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on defense. He averaged 1.9 steals per game this past season in Blacksburg and his highlight reels are flooded with open court dunks off turnovers. He appears to have strong instincts as a perimeter defender, but could struggle initially at the NBA level against quicker and stronger guards.

*Though he has great size and length for a guard, Walker-Alexander is not considered a premier athlete for the position. He does not have elite quickness or the ability to play consistently above the rim. Because of that, some wonder how high his ceiling will be in the NBA. He may, however, have a high floor given his well-rounded game and basketball IQ.

*Walker-Alexander is from Canada. He has played for the national team as a junior and is part of a new wave of players from the country in the NBA. Walker-Alexander was a high school teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who just enjoyed a strong rookie season with the L.A. Clippers.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards need help at just about every position, so even a guard can't be ruled out. Walker-Alexander would give them more backcourt depth and that is needed long-term, even after John Wall returns from injury.

If Walker-Alexander can develop into an above average perimeter defender, he could be very useful for the Wizards. They need to improve at stopping dribble penetration and three-point shooters. They could use more players with Walker-Alexander's length and ability to force turnovers. Also, he would help spread the floor with his shooting.

All that said, the Wizards could probably find a player with more upside than Walker-Alexander with the ninth overall pick. He would be more in line with their decision to take Troy Brown Jr. last June.

Like Brown, he is smart and a safe bet to carve out a long NBA career. But could Walker-Alexander become an elite player at his position? He seems like a better option if they trade down into the teens and acquire more picks.

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