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Morning tip: Without Beal, Wizards short on shot creators


Morning tip: Without Beal, Wizards short on shot creators

The weakness in the Wizards when John Wall isn't on the floor, or even when he is, is that their shooters have difficult creating their own shots off the dribble minus Bradley Beal.

The L.A. Clippers had the personnel surround Wall in 108-91 in part because of an athletic, rim protection like DeAndre Jordan. They would sink in on his penetration to form a wall and dart out to the perimeter to run shooters off the arc. They also switched defensively to close the distance on shooters.

With Beal still weeks away from returning from the latest stress reaction in his lower right leg, the Wizards (14-15) just aren't as adept at hitting shots on the move.

Jarell Eddie, who made four consecutive three-point shots in a win over the weekend vs. the Brooklyn Nets, was 2-for-7 from deep; Garrett Temple 0-for-4; Kris Humphries 0-for-2; and Jared Dudley 0-for-1.

Tonight, the Wizards will have to contend with the Toronto Raptors who have Bismarck Biyombo policing the middle. When they lost 84-82 to them earlier this season on a buzzer-beater from Cory Joseph, Biyombo didn't score but had 16 rebounds, four blocks and altered countless shots inside the paint.

"We were moreso focused on defense," Eddie said about Tuesday's practice, before the Wizards left for Toronto. "(The Clippers) really hurt us in pick-and-roll. Not having our help man over on the weakside."

The coverage by the Wizards was inadequate for the first time in a while and it's why Chris Paul (23 points, 7 assists in 27 minutes) and Jordan (15 points, 13 rebounds in 28) had such an easy time. There was poor recognition of when to help and when not to help.

For instance, if Luc Mbah a Moute (0 points in 19 minutes) was spotting up on the weak side for the catch-and-shoot, the Wizards had to force the ball out of Paul's hands, collapse on Jordan and take their chances with Mbah a Moute. Instead, they stayed at home on him while allowing Jamal Crawford (21 points) to roam free. 

"Offensively we went over some plays of when teams start switching or teams start icing and different concepts," said Dudley, the latter part a reference to forcing the ball away from the screener who in most cases would be Marcin Gortat and allows the defense to momentarily defend two with one. "What it came down to for us is a little bit of communication and not knowing personnel out there."

Though the Raptors aren't as athletic in the middle so the Wizards won't have to worry as much about the ball going over the top, their backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have shredded the Wizards' pick-and-roll coverage in past seasons. 

This is why being better much defensively than they were vs. the Clippers is so important and both issues raised are connected. When the Wizards' defense leads to transition baskets and clean looks while the opponent is in scramble mode in the open court, it alleviates pressure from the offense and Wall having to create everything.

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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.