Photo by Keith Allison
Photo by Keith Allison
This video is getting a little old, but this was a great block by Trevor Booker.
Yes, JaVale McGee is young. Last month he turned 23 – happy belated birthday JaVale. He is also still trying to adjust to being a starting Center in the NBA. And in this particular game he was squaring off with one of the games best, the grizzled 26 year old veteran, Dwight Howard.
Playing fairly sparingly (16:59), JaVale managed 2 points on 1-5 from the field. A few of those shots were of the very low percentage variety – off-balanced and fading away from the basket. Given his shot selection, it is not a surprise that he did not manage to get to the line. He also finished with 1 rebound, 1 blocked shot and 3 personal fouls. And as his +/- indicates (-7), it was clearly not one of JaVale’s most productive games. Dwight Howard finished with a fairly pedestrian – for him – 22 points and 15 rebounds.
John Wall and Trevor Booker are in Tarrytown, NY to participate in NBA’s Rookie photo shoot. The players will move to New York City as part of the NBA’s orientation week for incoming first-year players. It is unclear if Hamady N’Diaye or Kevin Seraphin participated in Tuesday’s photo shoot, but Kevin Seraphin had hoped to have his work visa in time to participate in the NBA Rookie Transition program.
The Rookie Transition program is typically a six-day seminar which began in 1986. The objective of the program is to help the new NBA players make a seamless transition into the league. The NBA and NBAPA jointly administered program typically covers a wide range of topics including:
Professional and Life Skills
Trevor Booker turned in another solid performance last night. Booker’s line was not spectacular as much of what he provides to the team will often not show up in the box score. Booker who, coming into this game, had been perfect from the field had his worst shooting night finishing 1-7 and scoring only 2 pts. He also had 2 rebounds, 1 assist, a blocked shot and only 1 turnover. He did sets solid screens, routinely hustles back on defense and follows the ball to get into position to rebound (more on this later). Booker also blocks out!!! Let me say that again, he blocks out – I know it is a foreign concept on this team. Blocking out can obviously help him get a rebound, but just as importantly it can prevent his man from getting a rebound often making it easier for a teammate to grab a board (Ahem… JaVale and Dray!).
I know it is only the Summer League and we have only seen two Wizards games. However, tonight the ESPYs were on and I have refused to watch that mess since its inception. So as I was watching the Clippers and Sofoklis “Big Boy Schorts” Schortsanitis take on the Bulls, the thought hit me… what conclusions, if any, could we draw from the Wizards Summer Leagues stats so far? I know this sounds crazy, but hell I had some time on my hands.
Read the rest of this post here.
It is important to note that many of the players who are currently occupying roster spots on Summer League teams will never play on a NBA team. Any analysis of a player’s Summer League performance has to take the level of competition, or lack thereof, into consideration before attempting to make any judgments. However, there are a number of items that can be taken into consideration, such as a players focus, their attention to detail, how hard they appear to be working, improvement made on identified deficiencies in their game, etc.
After two games in the Summer League, I have been most impressed by the leadership skills that John Wall is exhibiting. In part, I am impressed by this because he is currently the youngest player on the team and yet players appear to be accepting of his leadership.
The Wizards have long needed a “floor general.” And many hoped that Gilbert Arenas would evolve into a vocal floor leader on the team but it never materialized. Just because a person is your most talented player, does not mean they have the mental makeup to be the team leader. Some people are just not suited for or comfortable in that role.
So instead Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler took more active roles in team leadership. However, I believe there is a significant difference between being a vocal voice in the locker room and being a “floor general.” That job of floor general needs to belong to the point guard or other player who is responsible for initiating the offense. Conversely, I do not believe that it should belong to your best scorer.
Antawn and Caron did not initiate offense, there job was to score. Those two players players passed the ball if and when they did not have a shot. And it was rare when they did not believe they had a shot. An initiator will make others better by getting them shots in places in which they can be most successful.
I can not remember an occasion during the tenure of the “Big 3” in which they corrected a teammate during a game for a less than fundamental play. Consider this exchange between Wall and McGee which was captured by Mike Prada at Bullets Forever:
…Wall and JaVale McGee ran a typical pick and roll that resulted in Wall throwing McGee a lob pass that should have been a dunk. Instead, McGee came down with the ball, took one dribble toward the other side, pivoted back to the same side he caught the pass, leaned away from the hoop and hit a fadeaway jump hook while drawing the foul. As McGee started his typical post-move celebration, Wall immediately ran over to him and shouted “COME ON! DUNK THAT S*** MAN!” A high-five soon followed, but the message was clear – just because the shot went in doesn’t mean the shot was the right one.
I was thrilled to see John Wall get in McGee’s ear. Too often in recent years the young Wizards have passed up the easy, more fundamental play for the less fundamental and much more difficult one. They have long needed someone who was willing, able and best positioned to point these issues out to his teammates. And what is probably most encouraging is that the other players appear to be listening.
I also feel compelled to contrast Wall’s behavior against players like McGee and Blatche. Flash back to last season, there were occasions when Coach Flip Saunders would pull Andray Blatche or JaVale McGee out of a game, typically for some breakdown in fundamentals. Both of these players have either walked past Flip (in the case of Blatche) or looked uninterested (in the case of McGee) when Flip was trying to provide them with instructions on what he wanted to see from them. Through two games in the Summer League, when Wall is not in the game, or during stoppages in play, he is with the coaches receiving whatever instruction the coaches are providing. Again, extremely refreshing behavior particularly for a team leader.
Some other random observations: