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State of the Wizards: Analyzing the bench, other stats to know

State of the Wizards: Analyzing the bench, other stats to know

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Bench continues to struggle - The Wizards' bench has had its moments in recent weeks, to be fair. Jason Smith reached double figures twice (12/14, 12/30) in December and has shown signs of being the midrange shooting, active big man the Wizards thought they were signing. Trey Burke blew up for 27 points (10-for-12 FG, 5-for-5 3P) against the Nets on Dec. 30, more than he had in his previous six games combined. Marcus Thornton has also been decent, shooting 49 percent over his last 10 games.

But for the most part this season, the Wizards' bench has been a relative weakness. And that was once again evident in their losses to the Rockets and Mavericks on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Against the Rockets, the Wizards' bench scored just 13 points compared to Eric Gordon's 31 points off Houston's bench all by himself. Against the Mavs, the Wizards' second unit scored just 15 points while Dallas reserves Devin Harris (17 points) and Seth Curry (16) each had more individually.

It's no secret the Wizards' bench has struggled this season, but here are some numbers to show exactly how bad they have been. The rankings are among the NBA's 30 teams:

- 29th in minutes per game (14.4), second only to Minnesota

- 29th in points per game (23.7), second only to Minnesota

- 21st in field goal percentage (43%)

- 28th in three point percentage (30.9%)

- 30th in free throw attempts (3.8), second-worst team gets 5.1

- 30th in rebounding (10.5)

- 30th in assists (4.7)

- 26th in steals (2.2)

- 30th in blocks (0.9)

- 28th in +/- (-2.8)

That's 10 stats where the Wizards' bench ranks in the bottom-third of the league, including nine where they place in the bottom four. Not good. This Friday, however, the Wizards will play the Timberwolves, who may be the only NBA team with a less productive bench.

Other stats to know - That was pretty stat heavy. If stats are your thing, here are some more I found while doing research this week:

- the Wizards are 2nd in deflections (19/g), second only to the Warriors (19.6)

- Washington is 4th in percentage of points from midrange shots (19.2%), 5th best in midrange shooting (43%) and only five teams attempt more from midrange (23.5)

- they are 5th in screen assists per game (12.1), and Marcin Gortat is 1st among all players in screen assists (7.0/g),

- the Wizards gets the 2nd fewest percentage of points off 3s (22.8%), 2nd only to the Bulls (18.2)

- John Wall is 11th in field goal attempts in the restricted area under the basket (6.8) and tied with Stephen Curry for third in fastbreak points (5.7)

- Wall is tied with Jimmy Butler for third in deflections (4.0/g)

- Gortat is 7th among all players in contested 2s per game (10.2)

- Bradley Beal is 1st in contested 3s (4.6)

- Otto Porter is 13th among NBA players in distance covered, 12,959.3 ft. per game, or 2.45 miles

- Beal hasn't had a double-double since 2/2/15, a span of 108 games

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: John Wall 12/28 vs. Pacers - 36 points, 9 assists, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 11-for-19 FG, 2-for-3 3PT, 12-for-13 FT

RELATED: Oubre on YMCA incident: 'It’s just a funny story, man'

Quote of the Week

"We felt like they whooped us badly but also you’re just up 20 or 30 points, keeping your star player in trying to get his numbers we kind of didn’t like that. We took that personal. We didn’t have (anything) written on the board. We didn’t say too much. It was a lot more chippy, a lot more trash-talking than it was in the past. As long as we got the win, we’re fine."

- John Wall on Giannis Antetokounmpo after playing the Bucks in a back-to-back set

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road ahead

Mon. - 101-91 loss at Houston Rockets
Tue. - 113-105 loss at Dallas Mavericks
Wed. - OFF
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - 7 p.m. vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (CSN)
Sat. - OFF
Sun. - 2 p.m. at Milwaukee Bucks (CSN)

RELATED: Celtics player upset with Boston fans cheering for opponent

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Yuta Watanabe is chasing NBA dream, hoping to lead the way for Japanese basketball players

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USA TODAY Sports

Yuta Watanabe is chasing NBA dream, hoping to lead the way for Japanese basketball players

Before meeting with local basketball media following his pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards on Thursday at Capital One Arena, George Washington forward Yuta Watanabe first addressed a swath of reporters from his home country of Japan. Then, while he talked to the American contingent, cameras from Japanese news outlets trailed him from a distance, documenting even the media part of his experience.

Watanabe, who played four years for the Colonials in Foggy Bottom, is now chasing an NBA dream with an entire country's hope on his shoulders. He is aiming to become just the second Japanese-born player to reach basketball's pinnacle.

It's a responsibility he carries with pride.

"I know there was only one Japanese player who played in the NBA like a long time ago, so he was the only one," Watanabe said. "If I can make it, I know that’s a really big thing in Japan. That would make young guys come to the U.S. and play basketball in the U.S. I want to be one of the pioneers for younger guys."

The only player to make the NBA from Japan in the history of the league was Yuta Tabuse, who appeared in four games for the Phoenix Suns in the 2004-05 season. Four games, that's it. If Watanabe can carve out an extended career in the NBA, it would be a first for Japan, which like many countries outside of the United States has begun to produce more basketball talent in recent decades as the game has expanded globally.

Watanabe grew up in Miki, Kagawa, a town in the southwest of Japan. He had American basketball idols growing up, including Kobe Bryant who was the NBA's biggest star when Watanabe was a kid.

Now, as Watanabe has set his sights on the NBA, he has focused on others to model his game after. He said he watches film of Jazz forward Joe Ingles because he sees similarities in their game.

"I see myself trying to be like him. He’s a lefty, a great shooter and a great defender. I’ve been watching his tape a lot," Watanabe said.

Watanabe has also been consulting with Hawks forward Joe Cavanaugh, his former teammate at George Washington. Cavanaugh went undrafted last summer, but caught on in Atlanta and appeared in 39 games as a rookie.

Watanabe's best bet may be a similar path. He is currently not projected to be drafted, but there are many avenues to the NBA, as Cavanaugh has shown. He was signed for 2017 training camp by the Hawks, then cut. Then, he inked a two-way contract which was later converted to a regular contract.

Along the way, Cavanaugh spent much of his time with the Erie Bayhawks of the G-League. Watanabe may have to go that route to make the NBA. For now, he's trying to prove what he's capable of and that has not been easy. The Wizards were his second workout and Watanabe isn't happy with his performance thus far.

He is dealing with an ankle injury that has affected his conditioning, he said, and his shots haven't been falling.

"To be honest, I didn’t shoot well. I didn’t really do well in the 1-on-1s or 3-on-3. I know I have to do better on that if I want to make an NBA team," he said.

Watanabe, who stands at 6-foot-9, said he also needs to get stronger. If defense is going to be his calling card, he can't be pushed around by bigger players in the NBA.

"I know I can defend one through four. Today, I didn’t shoot well but I know I can shoot and I can handle the ball, I can pass. I think versatility is one of my strengths," he said.

The Wizards could use depth at the small forward position and will be in the market for a host of undrafted guys to fill out their summer league team and new G-League team. Perhaps Watanabe will land in one of those spots.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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