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Film study: Comprehensive defensive collapse in Wizards' latest loss

Film study: Comprehensive defensive collapse in Wizards' latest loss

The Orlando Magic, a team that has scored less than 90 points eight times this season, went 31 above their average with 124 against the Wizards.

Was it the second unit, which has taken a lion’s share of the blame in what is now a 7-13 record, or leaky perimeter defense? It’s everything, and that includes rim protection, having botching concepts on coverage of the side pick-and-roll by the frontline and a bunch of other stuff.

There are tons of examples, far too many to list all of them, but this is just a sample of the bad and the ugly. Defensively, there wasn’t any good. And note, ALL of this is just from the first half when the game got away and Orlando scored 65 points:

Free runs like this from Evan Fournier, even on a play that looks destined to fail, as he gets nothing but space to run with a full head of steam off a screen and at Andrew Nicholson in space. Nicholson lacks the lateral movement or shot-blocking to have a chance and Marcus Thornton can't disrupt him from turning into the lane over that screen, either.

Everyone is a step behind on this one. Otto Porter nor Marcin Gortat can stop Fournier on this. The only contact made is Vucevic rolling to the basket — the offensive player — as he bumps Porter. That makes this pass over the top easy and then the extra pass to the hot-handed Elfrid Payton easy for the open three. 

Again, call it indecisive, confused or just slow to reaction. Jason Smith has to make an aggressive decision here to trap the ball ot bump down hard on Vucevic. Smith doesn't even get his hands up/extended to make this pocket pass from Jeff Green difficult. It's simply too much space for the Magic to operate. The ball gets to Vucevic who makes the extra pass to Payton spotting up. 

The ice concept is simple: Send the ball baseline on the side pick-and-roll. Trey Burke does that but Nicholson is slow/late and gives Payton the baseline rather than using it as a third defender to stop the ball and forced the ball out. Instead, Payton is allowed to manipulate the defense inside the lane and get it to Bismack Biyombo, Nicholson's man, who roams freely. He misses but the collapse of the defense allows Payton the easy putback. 

This is an offensive disaster that leads to a three-point play for Green. The Marcus Thornton/Smith screen-roll action, whether its run on the side or high, has rarely produced a good shot. Usually, the results are something like this.

This three from Jodie Meeks is a product of Burke playing too soft on Payton (see the separation before he makes his drive) and that collapses the defense and Bradley Beal tries to help off the hot hand. Markieff Morris appears to be in position to help and stop Payton at the rim so Beal could've stayed home. But this is why stopping dribble penetration is so important. It can force teammates to actually over-help, or just help off the wrong guy.

John Wall stays with Payton, but he gets too deep and he's not in position to contest. Nicholson, however, is but he's not a shot-blocker. If Ian Mahinmi were healthy, he'd be in this position and could've prevented this look, but he's played just once because of issues with both knees.

Burke clearly thinks Smith is up on his man, Vucevic, as he's coming to screen. Payton recognizes, however, that Smith is stuck and unable to get away from Green's screen so he turns it down and goes baseline because there will be no help or containment from a big. This appears to be more of a communication thing but Burke is sending the ball in the right direction. They're not on the same page, especially with Smith.

After they played the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the Magic went back to who they really are offensively. They scored just 87 points in a 30-point loss. 

MORE WIZARDS: How Bradley Beal can be like Klay Thompson

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

The Washington Wizards would probably be smart to add at least one more pick in this year's NBA Draft. They hold the ninth overall selection in the first round, but nothing in the second round. They have no second round picks until 2023 and that one is protected and was acquired in a trade.

Like most teams, they need more young players on cheap contracts with high upside. The best way to find those is in the draft.

The Wizards could always strike a trade to land more picks, either in the first or second round. But they also have the option to purchase a second round pick. 

The Golden State Warriors are well-known for employing that strategy. They got Patrick McCaw in 2016 and Jordan Bell in 2017 by buying into the second round.

The Wizards have been doing their due diligence scouting players who could fall in the second round. They met with a collection of players at the NBA Combine that would not be considered for the ninth pick. 

If Washington wants to add a second round pick, they will have the option to. But it won't be cheap, at least initially.

The whole reason for buying into the second round is to get a player on an inexpensive contract. The Warriors have done it a few times to add depth within the confinement of their championship payroll. 

But you have to pay money to get such a player. There is a maximum money limit tied to the salary cap. Last year, that limit was set at $5.1 million. The price can vary on how high the pick falls in the second round.

Last June, the Rockets paid $1.5 million to land the 52nd pick in the back-end of the second round to take Vincent Edwards of Purdue. The year before, in 2017, the Warriors paid $3.5 million to get the 38th overall pick from the Bulls to take Bell. That $3.5 million was more than the total contract he then signed with Golden State, about $2.2 million. 

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis would essentially have to sign on for overpaying a young player. During Leonsis' tenure, they have more often been on the other end of such deals.

Former team president Ernie Grunfeld had a habit for trading away second round picks and sometimes only for cash considerations. In 2014, the Wizards infamously traded the pick that became Jordan Clarkson to the Lakers. They received a little less than $2 million in return.

Like anything involving the draft, it is an inexact science. But getting another pick, one way or another, seems like the smart move for the Wizards right now. Buying into the second round is one of their options.


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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio.