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Pargo picked Wizards over Bulls

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Pargo picked Wizards over Bulls

Though NBA teams are in the midst of opening their respective training camps with the regular season less than a month from tipping off, as of this past weekend Jannero Pargo had no gig. That's not the same as saying he had no options. The Chicago Bulls let the eight-year veteran and Windy City denizen know they had interest. Pargo, who spent part of four previous campaigns with the Bulls, pondered the been there done that situation. Rather than jump back into a familiar scene, he waited for something else.Then news of John Wall's injury came out. Then the Wizards came calling over the weekend. By Sunday night, the 33-year-old was in town. On Monday, the whirlwind scenario had the 6-foot-1 guard in a numberless Wizards jersey answering questions from the media about how it all came down."I think once (the Wizards) found out about the injury to John, they needed a veteran point guard to come in and try to help this team win games until he gets back - and hopefully be part of the rotation when he does," said Pargo, who played 55 games for the Hawks last season, including five during the playoffs.No doubt, there is intrigue about the upcoming Plan B battle between Pargo, A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack for those hefty point guard minutes made available by Wall's stress fracture - and who emerges as the primary backup in two months when Wall is expected back.
But hold on a second. Jannero, you picked the Wizards over the Eastern Conference contending Bulls? Explain yourself."Chicago was always there, they wanted me," said Pargo, who termed the last 24 decision-making hours "crazy." In the end, he became the sixth newest Wizard since the end of last season."But when this opportunity presented itself, I thought this was a better opportunity and the Bulls understood."Yeah, we need further clarification. The Wizards haven't tasted postseason since the 2007-08 season. The Bulls, even without the injured Derrick Rose, figure to be a lock for those extra games. So, why Washington over Chicago?"That's a good question," the pondering Pargo said. "I've been in Chicago on a number of different occasions. I didn't really quite get the opportunities that I wanted. I think this situation here, I think they're going in the right direction. Getting some different guys in here, Ariza, Nene, guys that know what it takes to win. I think they're going to rebuild and be a lot better than they were last year and I wanted to be a part of that."Fair enough, though potential playing time likely factored heavily into the equation. The Bulls have combination of established types like Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson plus first round pick Marquis Teague ready to fill in for their injured point guard. Before Monday, the Wizards options for the next two months without Wall included Price, who saw his minutes cut during three seasons with the Pacers, and Mack, who remains a work in progress when it comes to running an offense.Now Pargo is onboard. Beyond his experience - Pargo's eight seasons in the league is two more than Price, Mack, Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal combined - the ex Bull, Laker, Raptor and Hawk also brings a consistent 3-point touch to a team in need of perimeter help."I believe we're going to be a team that plays inside-out. We have a lot of good guys that can score inside, Nene, Kevin," said Pargo, showing his knowledge of the Wizards situation despite being able to gauge how many minutes he's been on the roster simply by counting his fingers and toes. "When those guys draw double teams, we have to knockdown jump shots. I think myself, Jordan and Bradley should be able to do a good job of that," said Pargo, who sank 38.4 percent of his 3-point attempts last season in Atlanta."Thats also another veteran point guard. Somebody that can knock down the three point shot. Can run a team," said Wall, who learned of the signing during his media day questioning. "Its great to add him before training camp started. Going to be excited for me to see those guys battle it out."Indeed andone of several interesting position battles entering training camp, which kicks off Tuesday at George Mason. As for what happens down the line?"When John gets back and he's healthy, he's going to play 38, 40 minutes per game," Pargo said. "If I can provide something off the bench, 8, 10 minutes, I'll be happy to contribute anyway I can."IfPargo can make three's and prove a steady hand with the second unit, his contribution could be greater than expected. Oh, don't worry about his uniform number. He's got one picked out."I'm going to go with number 7...I was seven last year, thought I played pretty good. Think it worked for me so I'll stick with it." And as one of the media members noted, it's now available.

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

At his final media availability of the 2017-18 season, John Wall highlighted specific types of players he wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, he pointed to an athletic big and bench scoring.

The Wizards ended up adding those things and more.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green to free agent deals, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. Howard is the athletic big and Rivers is the bench scorer Wall coveted.

Whether coincidental or not, Wall got his wish. And he's excited for the possibilities now that the Wizards appear to have shored up some weaknesses.

In his recent interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall offered thoughts on each key addition.

On Howard: "Even though he's older, he's still an athletic big and still has respect in this league. I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he's a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we're attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we're throwing lobs. Now, do you get more layups? Probably. Or, you get more wide open threes because guys are going to have to crack down on him. If you don't crack down on him, that's an automatic layup or a lob. I think that benefits us a lot. It's going to help. If you look at [Clint] Capela, DeAndre [Jordan] and those types of guys that are athletic, JaVale [McGee]. Even JaVale at times, being athletic and just getting to the paint. Guys are stepping up and you're throwing lobs to those guys. We have a person that can do that."

On Rivers: "I think it's going to be fun and interesting. Austin is someone who I've always watched since high school. He's a competitive guy. He definitely can score the ball. High volume shooter, once he gets it going, he's going. I think it just gives us that guy that we've never really had off the bench, that can create for himself and can create for his teammates at the two-guard position."

On Green: "Just being able to switch one through four, a guy that can post up if you put smaller guys on him. He can guard every position. He's athletic and can run the floor with us in transition. He does the little things that a lot of people don't notice."

On Brown: "He's very poised for his age. He doesn't try to force anything. The only thing I would tell him is just be more aggressive... and make mistakes. Try to make mistakes and improve your game to get better. It's going to be hard to find minutes and at practice at times with [Kelly Oubre, Jr.] and Otto [Porter, Jr.] and those guys being there."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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