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Four questions: Should Wall and Beal sit out Game 2?


Four questions: Should Wall and Beal sit out Game 2?

Four big picture questions heading into Game 2 including health of John Wall and Bradley Beal, lineup changes, Otto Porter's role and remembering what Paul Pierce said about the Hawks at the same time he said "It" about the Raptors.

The Wizards won Game 1, meaning they'll return home with nothing less than a coveted split after two games. Therefore, should they consider sitting the banged up duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal?

The Los Angeles Clippers won the series opener at Houston on Monday without an injured Chris Paul. On "Inside the NBA," Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith both stated Paul should continue resting the hamstring he injured in Saturday's Game 7 win over San Antonio. "I don't play Chris. I don't play Chris at all," Barkley stated. "You got a free game coming up. ...Now you're looking at your next game is Friday. He'll be off almost a week."

Wall (swollen left hand) and Beal (sprained right ankle) were banged up Sunday. If they sit out Game 2, they would have five days off before Saturday's Game 3. The Wizards already snatched away home court advantage. Why not give one or both of you stars time to rest their various ailments?

Truth is no reasonable argument for sitting the starting guards will matter to those kids. The pattern has been set, particularly this season (think about those ankle injuries Wall dealt with in January/February). If trainers clear Wall and Beal to play, they will. Both are young and fearless and don't worry about tomorrow when there is a game today. The various adults within the organization appear to have the same stance.

Does Otto Porter receive the full breadth of this postseason opportunity if Garrett Temple was healthy from the start?

Temple is something of a security blanket for regular season Randy Wittman, especially when defense is required. Considering three-guard lineups were viable against the perimeter-oriented Raptors and how Porter's role had roller coaster-esque swings during the season, good chance the coach would finds ways to get Temple minutes. Maybe even the most minutes if Porter struggled early in games.

As for Playoff Randy, the one uses Marcin Gortat in the fourth quarter and Paul Pierce at stretch-4 and has the Wizards firing off one 3-pointer after another, who knows. Clearly there is no getting Porter out of the rotation now.

Marcin Gortat and Nene aren't playing heavy minutes together in crunch time, yet share the court in the starting lineup opening the first and second halves. Should Wittman strongly consider if not actually split up the big man pairing right from the jump?


The standard starting five has a negative plus minus (-8) rating through five games. The next two five-man units with the most minutes are +16 (includes Gortat) and +8 (includes Nene) while surrendering fewer points per possession. Both have either Paul Pierce or Gooden at power forward. Having a perimeter shooter at the four helps spread the court offensively for Wall, who has been a heat-seeking missile when it comes to finding open teammates with the pass.

Lastly, Toronto in Game 3 and Atlanta in Game 1 jumped out to sizable leads, putting Washington into catch-up mode from the  start. The Raptors were mentally fragile. The top-seeded Hawks are not. Why give them any kind of early confidence?

Now the caveat. This is an ego thing. If sitting one of them - meaning Nene - at the start of games causes any waves, forget it. Drew Gooden, who played 26 more minutes in January than anyone reading this, certainly is cool coming off the bench. Same with the low-key Porter. Besides, the Wizards are 5-0 in the postseason. Why mess with success.

Hawks big men Al Horford and Paul Millsap concur considering the way they controlled the game against Nene and Gortat. If Atlanta can actually make open shots in Game 2, look out.

Wait, didn't Paul Pierce have interesting comments before the playoffs about the Raptors and Hawks?

In fact, he did. Here's the section of Pierce's interview with ESPN beyond the now infamous "It" comment.

"We haven't done particularly well against Toronto, but I don't feel they have the 'It' that makes you worried,'' Pierce said. "There isn't a team I look at in the Eastern Conference that makes me say, 'They are intimidating, we don't have a chance.'

"As good as Atlanta is, they just don't give off that aura where we're afraid of them."

The Wizards certainly didn't play scared in Game 1 despite being on the road after a week off and trailing by double digits for long stretches. With The Truth in their side, no reason they should.

RELATED: [Wizards hopeful injuries will heal in time for Game 2]

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.


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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did


Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.


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