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By the numbers: Wizards defenders didn't leave Raptors alone

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By the numbers: Wizards defenders didn't leave Raptors alone

Since we still have time before focusing on the semifinal round, especially with the Hawks-Nets best-of-7 series tied at 2-2, let's take a look at a few more numbers from Wizards 4-0 sweep over the Raptors.

Space invaders

"I just missed shots. They didn’t do nothing at all. Every shot I took felt good, or I rushed it a little bit. They just didn’t do nothing.” - Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan after losing Game 3.

When the Raptors were "wide open" - defined by NBA.com as six feet or more from the closest defender - they made shots. In fact, their 51.8 field goal percentage and 68.6 effective FG percentage (adjusting for 3-pointers) topped every team in the postseason entering Monday. However, Toronto only attempted 8.8 such shots per game in the series, easily the lowest in the league. Cleveland took 12.5 per game and every other team attempted at least 14.3. 

In other words, whether DeRozan and his mates "just missed shots" or not, they did so with a Wizard in their way. 

Isn't it ironic

Paul Pierce averaged 9.0 points on catch-and-shoot attempts against the Raptors. That tied with Chicago's Mike Dunleavy for fourth in the NBA ahead of Monday games. Based on alphabetical order, Pierce shows as fifth. During the regular season, the player who finished in the NBA in points per game on catch-and-shoot attempts? Trevor Ariza (6.2).

More catch-and-shoot stats for Pierce:

  • His 60 percent clip from beyond the arc during the playoffs ranks third among players with at least three attempts per game.
  • He led the Wizards with 4.9 ppg on catch-and-shoot tries during the regular season.

Quick starter

Rather than focus on Marcin Gortat actually playing in the fourth quarter against the Raptors after not doing so for a single minute in three regular season meetings, let's talk about the Polish Machine's prowess in the opening period. 

  • Gortat made an insane 14 of 15 field goal attempts. The one miss came during Game 3. 
  • Averages: 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks. By comparison, he averaged 12.2, 8.7, 1.3 per game on the season

Here's a non-first quarter stat. Gortat's 45 points combined in Game 3 and 4 were his most for any two-game stretch this season.

[MORE WIZARDS: Nets beat Hawks behind 35 from Williams, tie series at 2-2]

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Wizards to remove interim tag from Tommy Sheppard, making him permanent GM

Wizards to remove interim tag from Tommy Sheppard, making him permanent GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes has confirmed. 

Sheppard had been serving as Washington's interim GM since the firing of Ernie Grunfeld on April 2. He oversaw the Wizards' 2019 NBA Draft selections of Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, as well as their offseason transactions this summer. 

According to Hughes, the Wizards will announce the decision next week, with more changes to follow. 

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Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Issuf Sanon remains very much a blank canvass as an NBA prospect. The Wizards' 2018 second-round pick is only 19 years old and still spending most of his time overseas, this past season playing professional ball in Slovenia.

So, the Wizards see the current stage of his career as an opportunity for experimentation. During Sanon's time in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Wizards toyed with him as a shooting guard despite the fact he was drafted as a point guard by trade.

Sanon spent much of his time on the floor during four Summer League games off the ball. It was an adjustment for Sanon, but one the team feels he is well-suited for due to his size at 6-foot-4.

"He's still picking up the game, still learning," Wizards Summer League head coach Robert Pack said. "I don't want to put a lot of pressure on him to be a point guard or to be an off-guard."

Sanon didn't exactly take to the new role quickly. In his four Summer League games, he averaged only 1.5 points and a rebound while shooting 18.2 percent from the field. He even missed his free throws.

But beyond the stats, the trademark aggression Sanon usually has was mostly missing. He usually runs around the court with reckless abandon, sometimes to a fault. In the 2018 Summer League he got into foul trouble too quickly and stood out for slapping the floor on defense.

Those in the Wizards' front office rave about his motor and the edge he brings to the game. He almost has too much energy and the Wizards have no qualms with that. They say it's easier to reel that in than to ask a player to ramp it up out of nowhere.

But in the shooting guard role, Sanon did not appear comfortable, at least on offense.

"[I have to focus on] cuts, baseline, back screens," Sanon said of the difference in playing as a two-guard. "Like how we do in Europe, not play 1-on-1. Small cuts, back doors and stuff like that."

Without a consistent jumper, Sanon's ceiling off the ball on offense appears low at this point. Developing a three-pointer that other teams have to respect would be crucial for him becoming a combo guard long-term.

Defensively is where it makes more sense. Sanon is better on that end of the floor and has the size to defend shooting guards. He is tall and also strong. He is not your average, lanky 19-year-old basketball player.

Sanon has the size to play physical defense and the quickness to stay in front of point guards, at least at the Summer League level.

"I like to play defense. It starts on defense. If I play good defense, I have a good game," he said.

It may be another year or several before Sanon makes the leap to the United States to play for the Wizards. When he does, expect explosive athleticism and a commitment to the defensive end. 

Whether he will arrive as a point guard or something different, though, now appears to be up in the air.

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