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Wizards media day: 19 players, for now


Wizards media day: 19 players, for now

Another Wizards media day has come and gone,meaning the latest training camp is on the cusp of tipping off. Before we get too far down the line of position battles, injury updates and who said what, it might be wise to simply remind everyone who is here.With the addition of veteran point guard Jannero Pargo, the Wizards enter the weeklong camp with a 19-man roster. That includes John Wall, who is expected to miss eight weeks with a leg stress fracture, and Nene, who was not quite ready to offer a timetable for his return from plantar fasciitis.That leaves at least 17 other bodies available for Randy Wittman's first training camp as Wizards head coach. The general position breakdown and projected hierarchy is as follows:Power forward: Nene, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Brian Cook, Shavlik RandolphSmall forward: Trevor Ariza, Chris Singleton, Martell Webster, Cartier MartinCenter: Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin, Earl BarronShooting guard: Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Steven GrayPoint guard: John Wall, Jannero Pargo, A.J. Price, Shelvin MackAs for today, all the players spoke with the media - or at least were made available on the team's practice court. As expected, lots of "what did you think when you heard about John Wall's injury" questions were asked. Jordan Crawford's quote here proved rather atypical, though there is nothing ordinary about replacing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft (Taking that lofty status up a notch, Wall casually referred to himself the basketballeras once in a lifetime to find people like that.) Including Pargo's partially guaranteed contract, 15 players have fully or partially guaranteed deals. Of the non-roster players, Cook, a nine-year veteran, has the best chance of making the roster especially if Nene's injury lingers into the regular season. Gray's outside shooting gives him a punchers chance. The odds are much steeper, if not off the charts, for Randolph and Barron barring additional injuries.As discussed earlier today, Pargo joins the Plan B point guard options. Make me guess now and I'll say that starting the season he comes off the bench.I kind of like his energy and veteran presence in that scenario - plus it puts him in position tonurture the 19-year-old Beal while providing a 1-2 perimeter punch off the bench. That makes Price- and his solid game- the starter with Wall out. Once Wall is back, Price'sminutes could fade away from there with Pargo perhaps being the better option for the needed8-10 minute a game role. As for Mack, the addition of not one but two veteran point guards puts not only his primary backup role in jeopardy, but also his place on the roster. Assuming the Wizards keep 15 players, the final spot could come down to Mack or Cook. The prognosis for Wall and Nene's health as the Oct. 30 season opener at Cleveland nears could be the tipping point.The battle for minutes behind Ariza, the presumed starter,at small forward is another one to watch. Singleton started 51 games and played in all 66 as a rookie, but if the Wizards are to improve their outside shooting, Martin or Webster need to play. The two swingmen could take a turn in the backcourt, but Crawford and Beal figure to gobble up the shooting guard minutes.Speaking of Nene, I tried pinning down the easy going big man or at least getting any kind of specific timetable for his return from the plantar fasciitis injury he reacquired during the Summer Olympics. Me: Do you think you'll be available for training camp this week?Nene: "I don't give specific time. I am just going to control my act, go to therapy, rest and do what is possible to get well." Me: How about tomorrow?Nene:"Same answer."I'll fill you in on tomorrow's dramatic findings, but the apparent goal for Nene's full return is opening night with anything else being a bonus.Training camp officially opens Tuesday at George Mason with a morning and evening practice session, a plan in place during the bulk of the week spent on the Fairfax campus. The first of eight preseason games is Oct. 7 at Charlotte and the final day of camp is Oct. 9.And for those wondering, no, there will not bea Gilbert Arenas sighting unless the ex-Wizard and current free agent joins a team that plays these Wizards. Just wanted to make that clear.Ben Standig blogs about the Wizards, Redskinsand the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at bstandig@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @benstandig.

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.




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Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Realistically, the Miami Heat had no business even being in position to win on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, compared to 46.9 percent for the Wizards, and had 19 turnovers. 

The Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost a tough one to the Magic the night before. They were missing a host of rotation players, including two of their regular starters.

Yet, the Heat pulled out a 113-112 victory to stun the Opening Night crowd at Capital One Arena simply because they out-hustled the Wizards. They out-rebounded the Wizards 55-40, including a 22-7 margin in offensive boards. Those 22 offensive rebounds were tied for the most allowed by the Wizards since 2012.

"Rebounding the ball is really why we lost the game," Wizards guard John Wall said. "That's really where they killed us."

Miami's advantage on the glass allowed them to put up a whopping 16 more shots. That led to 27 second chance points compared to just 10 for Washington.

It was the central theme of the game, so naturally it played a role in how it was decided. After Wall forced a miss by Dwyane Wade on a fadeaway attempt in the closing seconds, Heat big man Kelly Olynyk was right there to catch the ball and scoop it in for two.

That score proved to be the go-ahead points as just 0.2 seconds remained on the clock. All night, the Wizards made plays on defense, only to have the Heat save themselves with second looks.

The Wizards had no better explanation postgame other than Miami simply tried harder.

"They out-hustled us," forward Jeff Green said.

"Rebounds come down to whoever wants it the most and tonight they wanted it more than we did," forward Otto Porter Jr. said.

It sounds simple, and perhaps it was indeed that easy to explain. But there were other factors at play, some in their control and some not.

For one, the Wizards were missing their best rebounder, Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained piriformis muscle. Even at 32, Howard remains one of the best rebounders in basketball and would have made a significant difference. 

It would have been nice to have him, a 280-pound giant in the paint to match up with Hassan Whiteside, one of the most physically imposing centers in the league.

With Howard out of the mix, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, but they each stumbled into early foul trouble. Head coach Scott Brooks had no other option than to go small with guys like Green and Markieff Morris at the five-spot.

Brooks wants to employ that strategy more often anyways, but not by necessity. And sure enough, it was Green and Morris on the floor when Olynyk broke loose for the final deciding play.

"The last rebound, we definitely need to put most of the ownership on me and Jeff because we were the biggest guys," Morris said. "I think that might have been the easiest layup of the game right there."

"I was surprised I was open," Olynyk admitted afterwards. "It kinda just popped open and I was kinda just standing right there."

Though many factors were at play, the Wizards' struggles rebounding the ball came down to the simple fundamentals of boxing out their opponent. As they learned last year, it's tough to be consistent when you can't take care of the little things that separate wins and losses.