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Singleton getting jump on Summer League


Singleton getting jump on Summer League

Barring trade, injury or alien abduction, likely four players on the Wizards summer league roster will be with the team at the start of the 2012-13 season. Of that quartet, Chris Singleton arguably has the most to gain from a strong showing during the teams mini-camp and when the games turn real-ish in Las Vegas.Jan Veselys jumper may still be a work in progress, but as the sixth overall pick in last years draft, the team will provide room to grow. Bradley Beal is the flavor of the month and the guard with deep range addresses a major team need. As it current stands, Shelvin Mack remains the backup to starting point John Wall, a role that keeps him in the playing rotation.That leaves Singleton, who became the first Washington rookie to play in every regular season since Jeff Ruland during the 1981-82 season. The Florida State product started strong, appeared overwhelmed at times and struggled on both ends of the court as the season progressed. Now with Trevor Ariza in the mix, with Vesely and Trevor Booker potential poaching minutes at the 3-spot, Singleton could be the odd man out on most nights next season.
That is why this post-Tuesday morning practice quote from Randy Wittman is worth noting.Chris had the best practice Ive seen him have since he's been here, the Wizards coach said. All last year and these first three this year. I see a player that has a year under his belt and got some playing time and he's come out here and I'm very pleased with his effort.Asked why his coach gushed about his latest practice, Singleton said, "I just have a lot to prove. Last year I felt like I underachieved. This year Im just going out there and just playing."Thrust into the starting lineupin the eighth game of his initial professional campaign after the miniest of NBA offseasons, Singleton averaged 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Though some his pre and post All-Star stats were comparable, Singletons shot disappeared during the middle of the season, hitting only 29 of his attempts during February. That is what Singleton meant by underachieving.Noted as defensive-minded prospect coming out of college, the 6-foot-8 forward was on the receiving of some high-scoring nights by some of the games elite small forwards like Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce.Still, Wittman dismissed the idea that Singleton lost confidence at times last season. Thats not to say playing time is necessarily there for him either just because the 22-year-old is part of the Wizards youthful brigade.Its got to become a situation where your playing time is rewarded, and its not just because I'm a young guy I know I'm going to play, Wittman said. Sometimes I worry about that when you're in situations with a lot of young guys that in their mind say 'I know I'm going to play' I read it in the paper every day I hear it, management, ownership 'young guys are going to play'. Now, is your effort always going to be at the maximum level. Thats where I do a little bit of worrying.This brings us back to the recent deal that brought Ariza, another defensive-oriented forward, and Emeka Okafor to Washington. On the surface, adding two established veterans could push the green talent down the depth chart, especially with a playoff spot deemed the franchise goal this season. Wittman sees a competitive situation, one that ideally raises the daily focus for all involved.This isn't a bad situation for Chris or any of our young guys, said Wittman, before projecting his belief onto the rising talent. I've got to perform now, Ive got to earn those minutes, and if not, there's somebody else there coach is going to look at and say hey, go out there and see what you can do.

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Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus


Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus

Markieff Morris is just as amused as the rest of us when it comes to parallels between him and his twin brother, Marcus -- stuff that he likes to refer to as "twin s---." They played together at every level, including the NBA, before they were split up by trades from the Phoenix Suns. Yet the same things always seem to happen to them.

This year has been no exception, as Markieff has followed a similar path with the Wizards as Marcus has with his Celtics. Like Marcus, Markieff was moved to the bench and happens to be enjoying a good deal of success in his new role.

Marcus was the first to go from starter to reserve. He played mostly off the bench last season and then in his first 17 games this year before getting bumped back to the starting lineup.

Marcus thrived with the second unit in Boston and that success showed Markieff a blueprint. After all, it's easy to visualize yourself doing something when you have an identical twin who did it first.

"S--- happens. I mean, it's crazy how that switch happened," Markieff said. "Watching my brother and the success he had off the bench kind of helps me also, seeing [him] come off the bench after being a starter for a long time."

Wizard head coach Scott Brooks made the change before the team's Nov. 20 match-up with the Clippers. Markieff was moved to the bench and at the time was replaced by Kelly Oubre Jr.

In the 10 games since, of which the Wizards have won six, Markieff has put up improved numbers. He is scoring more, getting more rebounds and shooting more efficiently:

Markieff as starter (15 G) - 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 43.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%, 103 off. rating
Markieff as reserve (10 G) - 15.0 ppg, 6.6
rpg, 46.3 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 109 off. rating

Markieff is even playing more minutes. He's averaging 28.3 off the bench compared to 25.1 as a starter. Brooks is trusting him more to finish games. When he was starting, Markieff averaged 6.3 minutes in the fourth, but as a reserve, he leads the team with 9.9 minutes on average in the final frame.

Markieff explained his success off the bench in part based simply on the competition being different. He's used to going up against the best frontcourt players each team can offer. Now, he's facing their back-ups.

"I'm playing against second unit guys, so the game is easier," he said.

But Markieff sees other advantages from the switch, ones that Brooks was aiming for when he first explained the move. Markieff gets to take more shots now. He is the most reliable scorer on the Wizards' bench and, because of that, is getting more looks.

Markieff is averaging 12.3 shots as a bench player compared with 8.1. But, as he explained, it's more than just the attempts.

"It's me being involved in the offense more. It's the ball touching my hands a lot more in the second unit. I'm finding guys and scoring the ball. I've always got a rhythm," Markieff said. 

"Obviously, the first two options are John [Wall] and Brad [Beal]. They demand a lot of the offense in the first unit. We just need some structure in the second unit, a go-to scorer, a guy that is basically myself that structure the offense better."

Markieff has also noticed an advantage in beginning the game off the bench. He can watch how the opposing team is defending the Wizards on a given night. He can see how they are switching, whether they are helping on post touches and what they are trying to take away on pick-and-rolls. By the time Markieff hits the floor, he knows what to expect. 

All of that worked for Marcus in Boston, so, sure enough, it is the case for Markieff in Washington.


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John Wall won't play in Wizards' Monday night clash with Pacers

John Wall won't play in Wizards' Monday night clash with Pacers

John Wall acknowledged he probably shouldn't have played in the Wizards' Saturday loss in Cleveland. It appears Washington's five-time All-Star will listen to his body Monday in Indianapolis.

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters at Monday's shootaround that Wall would sit out the final game of the Wizards' four-game road swing, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on Monday night. The point guard battled bone spurs in his left ankle in the 116-101 loss to the Cavaliers. 

Wall, who was also under the weather in Cleveland according to Brooks, scored a career-low one point in what he called the "worst game of my life." He missed all five of his field goal attempts in 26 minutes.

“It’s just like a bone spur but today it got really hot," Wall said Saturday. "Probably shouldn’t have played. That’s my fault… I’ve had it for a while. It comes and goes from days where it’s hot and today it’s like I really couldn’t run.”  

Wall played in the opening 24 games for Washington, but will now miss two of the last three. He sat out Wednesday's 131-117 win at Atlanta for "personal reasons." 

The Wizards thrashed the Hawks, setting a season-high with 35 assists. Bradley Beal established a new season-best in Atlanta with 36 points. Washington's other All-Star is averaging 28 points over the last four games.

Despite the shocking result in Cleveland, Washington is 2-1 during the current road swing. Finishing with a winning record won't come easy against an Indiana (16-10) squad that has won three in a row despite the continued absence of injured guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers lead the NBA in points allowed (101.5) and rank fifth in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

Brooks played coy Monday over who replaces Wall in the starting lineup. Austin Rivers handled such duties against Atlanta, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.