Wizards

Quick Links

Why Mike Scott might replace Marcin Gortat in Game 3 starting lineup

Why Mike Scott might replace Marcin Gortat in Game 3 starting lineup

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has floated possible changes to his starting lineup periodically all throughout the 2017-18 regular season. During their lowest moments, he often said he would find five guys to give him the effort and execution he was not getting from his starters.

All season-long those amounted to empty threats, but now he might be ready to pull the trigger.

That's not speculation. It's what Brooks said at the podium following his team's 130-119 loss to the Raptors in Game 2 of their first round playoff series, a defeat that has them now starting at an 0-2 deficit.

Brooks needs to make some adjustments and it may be time to go big. The idea wasn't even prompted by a question. Brooks was asked about Mike Scott's play at center.

"Who knows, he might be a starting five," Brooks quipped.

Is it time to shake up the starting lineup? If he switches it up at center, that would mean Marcin Gortat taking a seat.

Gortat started all 82 games this season at center, but as we saw in Game 2, he hasn't always received starter's minutes. Gortat played only 12 minutes against the Raptors in Game 2 and went scoreless with three rebounds.

Despite starting every game, Gortat was sixth on the team in minutes. Kelly Oubre, Jr. played more often than him and of his 81 appearances, only 11 were starts.

Scott got extended time at the five position in Game 2. He played 27 minutes and was second on the team with 20 points. He went 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from three. With 14 points in the series opener, Scott has clearly outplayed Gortat.

Scott has also outshined Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards' backup center. Mahinmi played only two minutes in Game 1 and in Game 2 he played 15.

Mahinmi, though, did play well in Game 2. He managed 12 points, three rebounds and a steal. He was 4-for-4 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free throw line.

If Brooks does make a change at center, and that remains a considerable 'if,' Mahinmi probably makes more sense to get the nod. If Scott goes into the starting lineup, that would shake up the rotation in an awkward way. Brooks would then have two centers on his bench in Gortat and Mahinmi that can't really coexist on the floor at the same time. 

Would it send a message? Yes, but it might complicate matters to an unnecessary extent to do so.

Taking Scott out of the starting lineup would also remove the spark he provides off the bench. The Wizards need scoring in their second unit to counter one of the Raptors' biggest strengths. Gortat would not help that cause.

All that said, it's very likely we see Scott more at center. The Raptors have a big front-line with Jonas Valanciunas, a 7-footer, and Serge Ibaka, who tops out at 6-foot-10. At 6-foot-8, Scott helps the Wizards go small and that can have its advantages.

Scott feels ready to step in if needed.

"When I am at the five, I know I have to rebound, stay solid and stay off those pump fakes from [DeMar] DeRozan," he said.

Whether it's Scott, Mahinmi or Gortat; clearly Brooks is weighing his options for who to start at center. Perhaps this time he will indeed make a change.

RELATED: DRAKE CONTINUES JOHN WALL TRASH TALK IN GAME 2

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

usatsi_10584651.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.

Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:

Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.

There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.

If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.

If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.

One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.

On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.

Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

 

 

Quick Links

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

usatsi_10126491.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller talked all things NBA Draft.

They gave their picks for the best options for the Wizards, the safest and riskiest prospects, plus what they expect the team to do. Texas A&M big man Robert Williams also joined the show in a 1-on-1 interview.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

MORE WIZARDS COVERAGE: