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2012 Media Predictions: Beyond the answers (part 2)


2012 Media Predictions: Beyond the answers (part 2)

This week I posted results from 15 questions about the Wizards upcoming campaign yours truly and other media members answered. While I wouldn't task those doing me a solid for detailed responses, I thought I'd share my work as it were on each response and what the questions and answers suggest about the just started campaign. My answers are in parenthesis following each question. Click here for questions 1-5 and you can find all media responses here.

6) What percentage will Jan Vesely shoot from the free throw line? (63.7)

Whether you trashed the Wizards for using the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft on an international player not ready for prime time or saw enough positives athletically and instinctively during the 6-11 forward's rookie campaign to justify staying positive, everyone can agree on this: that shot needs fixing. The form looks solid enough, but somewhere between the ball sliding off Vesely's fingers and clanking off its intended target, things went awry. And yet, I saw Vesely sink multiple 15-footers during the Las Vegas Summer League. Very recently I witnessed him drain 10 consecutive attempts from that distance during practice. He can make shots outside of dunks and putbacks. Can he when the lights come on is the question. Because of his ability around the rim and as a fast break finisher, Vesely's field goal percentage - 53.7 last season - will remain high likely regardless of whether his touch from further out. However, there is no hiding at the free throw line. Another 53.2 percent outcome like lasy year will have the doubters saying I told you so.

7) What percentage will Martell Webster shoot from 3? (39.8)

Last year the Wizards lacked consistent perimeter shooting from those in the primary rotation. Outside of Bradley Beal, one question entering training camp centered on whether any of the other shooters added over the summer would find their way onto the court with regularity. Webster, a 41.7 percent from beyond the arc during the 2010-11 campaign before back injuries slowed him last season, took care of that with arguably the best preseason on the team. He did so without the benefit of a speedy passing point guard feeding him open looks or a low post big man who's well-versed in the art of inside-out basketball. If preseason counts for anything, the player whose game screams of "I get it" is poised for a knockdown jumpers kind of year.

8) How many points per game will Bradley Beal average? (12.8)
9) What place will Bradley Beal finish in the Rookie of the Year race? (Third - Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard)

Las Vegas set the over/under on Beal's per game point total at 12.5. That's the same number for Jordan Crawford, which makes sense because both wing guards figure to play prominent roles and yet circumstances could greatly alter how and when both players are used. The rookie Beal started the season opener after a strong preseason where frankly the sweet-shooting kid earned the gig. However, right now defenses are coming hard at the kid and frankly they should considering the Wizards lack other consistent scoring threats on the court right now. Part of the poised Beal's appeal is that he doesn't force the action on the court even though his textbook jumper screams "fire away." That approach also leans on others to help set him up for open looks and right now, those type of playmakers are not around. If Beal's confidence survives the early stretch of the season and Randy Wittman keeps him in the starting lineup, 12.8 might be low. If Wall and Nene don't return when expected, Beal could be moved to a reserve role for his own protection.

10) Rank in order based on who will start the most games: (Seraphin, Booker, Crawford, Price)

Could make the case for any of the four - though the one for Price involves Wall missing more than the 10 or so games currently expected and nobody wants to imagine that right now. Both Booker and Crawford are perfectly designed as energy and high-confidence guys coming off the bench. If allowed, this is how Wittman will ideally utilize them. That leaves Seraphin. With Nene out, he's easily the Wizards top interior scorer. We saw in the opener Wittman not being afraid to use anyone in tight spots while at the same time sit those with fat contracts. Seraphin's improvement over the second half of last season so impressed me that I still believe he won't be pigeon holed into a pure reserve role. Nene's injury creates some starting opportunity. We'll see if Seraphin's development and Wittman willingness to look beyond contracts when it comes to minutes does as well.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.


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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.