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Lineup shuffling Wizards win; Seraphin leaves with calf injury


Lineup shuffling Wizards win; Seraphin leaves with calf injury

Recapping the Wizards first preseason win of the year, a 99-95 victory at Cleveland...

The basics: Making his first start in three preseason games, Bradley Beal scored 14 points, tying Jordan Crawford and Brian Cook with team-high honors while Jan Vesely assertively added 13.

As promised, Wizards coach Randy Wittman shook up the starting lineup, inserting Beal, Martell Webster and Jannero Pargo while bringing Crawford, Trevor Ariza and A.J Price off the bench. Of the new starters, only the poised rookie seemed to maintain his level of play. Crazy to think the 19-year-old Beal has been the most consistent Wizard during the preseason - but it's true. Outside of the St. Louis native innocently tweaking some stunned D.C. sports fans by tweeting out some Cardinals joy following Game 5's epic comeback against the Nationals, the kid has been rather spot on. Meanwhile the two highest plus-minus lines on the team belonged to Crawford (+14), whose skill set and demeanor are ultimately best suited for a sixth-man role, and Price (+11). Once again, Washington fell behind early and trailed by eight points after the first quarter, but the margin never ballooned into double figures.

Bumps, bruises and then some: Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the victory is that it came with so many out of action, especially up front. For the third straight game no Emeka Okafor (food poisoning), no Trevor Booker (sore left hamstring) and yes, no Nene or John Wall. Chris Singleton (right shoulder contusion) joined that dinged up group pregame. Just five minutes in, center Kevin Seraphin did as well with a right calf strain. He never returned, leaving non-roster invitee Shavlik Randolph (nine rebounds) to start the second half at center. Remember when the question entering the camp was how would the Wizards find playing time for everyone up front...

The point guards: Pargo is the most experienced and the most offensively potent of the lead guard options, but over the last two games, he's also been the most turnover-prone. In just over 16 minutes against Cleveland, the 33-year-old committed six turnovers (with two assists), the same amount he coughed up against New York on Thursday. Meanwhile Shelvin Mack (nine points, three assists in 20 minutes) continues to value possession as the rising second-year guard has not committed a single turnover during the preseason. Mack, who sank 4 of 6 shots and continues performing at a higher level when not tasked with initiating the attack, also formed a nice duo with Crawford (seven assists, five turnovers), who has no issue with the attack initiating angle. Price finished with seven points and one assist in 11 minutes.

Kyrie Irving (nine points, seven assists) did play for the Cavaliers, but did not take over the game and missed 10 of 13 field goal attempts.

Jan Vesely: Here's a portion of what Wittman said Thursday after Vesely's tepid two points, four rebound performance against the Knicks.

"Jan’s got to be more aggressive. Right now, he’s  a little tentative when he’s rolling to the basket and finishing at the rim. It’s not with the authority that we’ve seen."

That was not the case for Vesely against Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers other bigs. He made all five of his field goal attempts including two jumpers outside of 12 feet, but also stuck his nose into the fray on the boards and defensively with two blocks. Pulling down five rebounds in 32 minutes won't cut it on a regular basis and he's hardly got it all figured out offensively, but this level of effort should keep Vesely in the playing rotation on a regular basis even when all hands are on deck.

In the bonus...Ariza finished 2 of 6 from the field and is now shooting a brick-laying 23.8 percent during preseason...There might not be a roster spot available for Cook (3 of 6 from beyond the arc) when all the injured return, but the NBA veteran is reminding the coaches he can fill the stretch-four role if needed...The Wizards return to action Monday (7:30 p.m.; televised on Comcast SportsNet) against the Brooklyn Nets in the brand new Barclays Center.

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Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

When Mike Scott left to join the L.A. Clippers, the Wizards replaced him as the backup power forward with Jeff Green and in doing so found a guy who is similar in many ways, albeit for a cheaper price. He is experienced, versatile offensively and even a local guy who roots for the Redskins.

Where they differ on the offensive end is the ways they like to score. Scott is more of a three-point threat, while Green is more comfortable operating in the post. 

Last season with the Wizards, Scott attempted only a third of his shots from less than 10 feet, while Green took 54.2 of his attempts from that range. Nearly a third of Green's shots (30.3) came within five feet of the rim.

Green's ability to score inside and with his back to the basket may end up complementing others in the Wizards' second unit quite well. Three-point shooting is more important than ever in today's NBA and his ability to draw the defense inside can open up the floor for others like Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers.

The Wizards did not have anyone on their bench last season with Green's level of skill in the post and Green showed in the preseason a willingness to pass from the paint.

Against the Knicks in the Wizards' fourth preseason game, Green had the ball in the post when he noticed Satoransky's defender was moving closer inside, perhaps anticipating a rebound. He fired the ball to Satoransky, who pump-faked a three and dribbled to his right before knocking down a jumper at the top of the key.

"It's just smart basketball. There are a lot of unselfish guys," Green said of the Wizards' bench. "I think we just work well together. We feed off each other. I think we know how to play the right way."

Satoransky led the Wizards with a 46.5 three-point percentage last season. He knocked down 51.2 percent off catch-and-shoot plays. Rivers shot 37.8 percent from three last year for the Clippers and 37.1 percent on catch-and-shoot looks.

Oubre shot only 34.1 percent overall from three, but that number dropped significantly towards the end of the year. He can get hot from three and is dangerous when cutting to the basket off the ball. Ian Mahinmi, though not highly skilled in the post, can make defenders pay for leaving him on double teams.

It's not only about threes for Rivers and Satoransky, as Satoransky showed on that one play in New York. Both are solid at catch-and-gos. Rivers is decisive and quick and Satoranksy has made noticeable strides since he entered the league and taking off once he gets a pass. 

Green, 32, is still learning their strengths.

"I try to use their attributes to our advantage and creating what I can create," Green said. "If they can shoot and I'm being doubled, I'm going to make the right play and get it to the shooter."

The Wizards made upgrading their bench a big priority this offseason and the net result may be the most versatile group they have had in years. They can shoot threes, run the floor and, with Green in the mix, work inside and out.


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Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

On Saturday, two days before the deadline to finalize Opening Day rosters, the Washington Wizards waived four players - LaVoy Allen, Chris Chiozza, Chasson Randle and Tiwian Kendley - and in doing so trimmed their roster down to 14 players. That's one fewer than the NBA roster maximum of 15 players, meaning they opted to leave one of their roster spots vacant.

This was not a big surprise, but it's worth going through the reasons why they chose to do so for those who may be wondering. 

For one, the Wizards have a lot of money committed to their roster and could use some savings. They are fourth in the NBA this season with a total cap of $134.9 million. That is $11.1 million more than the salary cap limit, which means they are due to pay $19.1 million in luxury tax next year, according to Spotrac.

The Wizards also don't absolutely need that 15th player. They have two two-way players in Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae who collectively give them depth at a wide variety of positions. 

Under two-way contracts, they can be activated for up to 45 days this season before the Wizards have to decide on a fully guaranteed NBA deal. The NBA adjusted the rules this season to exclude travel days from that 45-day clock. The NBA days limit for Robinson and McRae also does not begin until G-League training camps begin on Oct. 22.

Speaking of the G-League, the Wizards have their own team now. The Capital City Go-Go will begin their inaugural season in November and that will give the organization the deepest stable of prospects (and roster spots) is has ever had. They now have much more room than ever to stash young players that would otherwise be considered for the final spot.

Even if the Wizards didn't have that option, as they did not last year, it wouldn't necessarily convince them to fill the last roster spot. Last season, they went without a 15th player for much of the year and for extended stretches only carried 13, the league minimum. They even rolled with 12 after the NBA trade deadline, as the league allows two weeks for teams to reach the minimum.

That recent history alone was enough to suggest they wouldn't fill the 15th spot. And, truthfully, that 15th spot rarely came into play as an actual need. This isn't the NFL where injuries make every roster spot incredibly valuable, or MLB where extra innings can sometimes make it feel like their rosters aren't deep enough.

Perhaps the Wizards will fill the 15th spot at some point this season. They can do so in a variety of ways, including if they trade one player for two. Just don't count on it, for all the reasons listed above.