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Alan Anderson senses 'something big' with Wizards


Alan Anderson senses 'something big' with Wizards

LAS VEGAS -- The thought of playing with John Wall, who has a tendency to assist shooters around him have career seasons, is just too intriguing for Alan Anderson to pass up. His eyes did a jackpot when asked about the possibilities.

"I just bring in some consistency, just hard work every night. I bring a lot to the game," said Anderson at Cox Pavilion after his one-year deal with the Wizards was officially signed Sunday. "They already have a lot of energetic guys, slashers. They already have everything. I just fit in really good to help make open shots, open the floor for Wall to do his thing."

Anderson, a 6-6 small forward who spent the last two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, averages 7.9 points for his career, not including three seasons he played in Italy, Israel, Russia, Croatia and Spain. He was brought in to help fill the void left by Paul Pierce who bolted to the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. Jared Dudley was acquired by the Wizards in a trade, too.

"There's only one Paul Pierce. He fills his own shoes," Anderson said. "I'm a different player. I do different things than what Paul does. We'll see. I'll definitely be a plus."

Wings such as Anderson tend to benefit significantly when playing with the pass-first point guard. Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster, for instance, had career seasons with Wall which led to big contracts when they became free agents ($32 million and $22.5 million).

"I'm ready to knock it down," Anderson, a 34.8% three-point shooter last season, said of playing with Wall. "I know he's going to give me a lot of opportunity, lot of open looks, a lot of open shots because he's going to always beat his man. I just got to be ready."

Sitting in the stands chatting with Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, Anderson watched the Wizards' summer league squad get trounced 94-74 by the D-League Select team. Of that group of mostly free agents, however, only Kelly Oubre is expected to be a teammate for 2015-16. 

The Wizards have advanced to the East semifinals two seasons in a row, and if it weren't for Wall's broken left wrist they probably would've gotten past the Atlanta Hawks. Bradley Beal's emergence as the leading scorer in the postseason has added to the expectations that even without Pierce that the Wizards can be special.

"They're right there on the edge of things, where they can be right there and win something big, some hardware, a championship banner," Anderson said. "I just wanted to be a part of it. You got a great core. A great group of guys.

"Those two young players, they play hard, they bring it every night. Playing against those guys I knew I was going to have to bring it every night. Combining us all together I think it's going to be something exciting to see."

[MORE: Serious talks have begun with Bradley Beal over a long-term deal]

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

At his final media availability of the 2017-18 season, John Wall highlighted specific types of players he wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, he pointed to an athletic big and bench scoring.

The Wizards ended up adding those things and more.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green to free agent deals, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. Howard is the athletic big and Rivers is the bench scorer Wall coveted.

Whether coincidental or not, Wall got his wish. And he's excited for the possibilities now that the Wizards appear to have shored up some weaknesses.

In his recent interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall offered thoughts on each key addition.

On Howard: "Even though he's older, he's still an athletic big and still has respect in this league. I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he's a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we're attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we're throwing lobs. Now, do you get more layups? Probably. Or, you get more wide open threes because guys are going to have to crack down on him. If you don't crack down on him, that's an automatic layup or a lob. I think that benefits us a lot. It's going to help. If you look at [Clint] Capela, DeAndre [Jordan] and those types of guys that are athletic, JaVale [McGee]. Even JaVale at times, being athletic and just getting to the paint. Guys are stepping up and you're throwing lobs to those guys. We have a person that can do that."

On Rivers: "I think it's going to be fun and interesting. Austin is someone who I've always watched since high school. He's a competitive guy. He definitely can score the ball. High volume shooter, once he gets it going, he's going. I think it just gives us that guy that we've never really had off the bench, that can create for himself and can create for his teammates at the two-guard position."

On Green: "Just being able to switch one through four, a guy that can post up if you put smaller guys on him. He can guard every position. He's athletic and can run the floor with us in transition. He does the little things that a lot of people don't notice."

On Brown: "He's very poised for his age. He doesn't try to force anything. The only thing I would tell him is just be more aggressive... and make mistakes. Try to make mistakes and improve your game to get better. It's going to be hard to find minutes and at practice at times with [Kelly Oubre, Jr.] and Otto [Porter, Jr.] and those guys being there."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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