Trevor Booker gets a great block against the Spurs

This video is getting a little old, but this was a great block by Trevor Booker.

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Tough match-up and self-inflicted wounds limit JaVale McGee’s effectiveness

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.

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Wizards Rookies Attend NBA Orientation

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.

Star-divide

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

  • Computer Training
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Professionalism/Networking

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Game recap: Trevor Booker, JaVale McGee and a “little” John Wall

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!).

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Unofficial Wizards 2010 Summer League Roster

Slowly a few teams are beginning to publish their 2010 Summer League rosters.  As I am writing this, the Wizards are not yet one of those teams.  However, unofficially, the roster seems to be taking shape.

Please note that the majority of this list was compiled by Scott Schroeder @ Ridiculous Upside.  As this is an unofficial list it is subject to change.  [Updated on 7/7/10 based on reporting by the Post’s Gene Wang]

PG – John Wall, Jerome Randle, Sun Yue, Cedric Jackson Abdulai Jalloh

SG – Cartier Martin, Eric Hayes, Jon Scheyer (via @draftexpress) Lester Hudson

SF – Raymar Morgan, Kyle Spain, Kevin Palmer, J.P. Prince

PF – Trevor Booker, James “Boo” Jackson, Michael Sweetney

C – JaVale McGee, Hamady N’Diaye, Aaron Pettway

According to the Post’s Michael Lee, the Wizards Summer League squad will be without PF Kevin Seraphin who continues to recover from a knee injury.

As it stands this team has a nice mix with JaVale McGee getting some work during the summer; a couple of 2009/10 Wizards trying to earn a spot on the team (Cedric Jackson and Cartier martin), newly drafted Wizards (Wall, Booker and N’Diaye), DLeaguers looking for a shot (Michael Sweetney and Boo Jackson) and finally undrafted free agents.

Clearly, I like everyone else is looking forward to our first chance of seeing John Wall, Trevor Booker and Hamady N’Diaye play for the Wiz – even if it is only the Summer League.  So setting that aside, I am probably most intrigued by Sun Yue.  Since my days growing up idolizing Magic Johnson, I have been fascinated by big Point Guards.  And while the only thing that I will claim that Sun Yue has in common with the greatest Point Guard ever (IMHO), is his height 6’9”.  Nevertheless I am intrigued.  In 2007, he was drafted in the second round by the Lakers but was left overseas until 2008.

During an interview, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said the following about Yue:

“I spoke to Kobe last week, because Team USA played against China and Kobe said that he knew who the guy was. He said he was competitive and feisty and he did not back down. I know that he’s athletic enough. I like his size, I like his skill level. I think he’s a ball handling guard at 6’8″. Those are all positives, but he hasn’t played at this level and I think he’ll show well, but the NBA is a different game. He’ll face challenges he hasn’t faced before, but I don’t think he’ll back down. I think he’ll embrace the challenge and at the end of the day if the guy is good enough after 28 days of training camp (and pre-season), we’ll know it and he’ll make the team. It’s not something that will be ferreted out in a week or 2, maybe some guys will know in a week if they’re good enough, but if you’re with the team for 28 days, we’ll know and he’ll know too (if he’s good enough).”

Ultimately, the Lakers waived him in 2009.  When the Lakers waived him, Mitch Kupchak said that given the talent currently on his team, he did not feel that Yue would get any playing time.  He was picked up very briefly by the Knicks in 2009.  Sun Yue has played for his national team, and in both the ABA and NBDL.

Yue strikes me as a perfectly intriguing player, one that a team should provide with an opportunity during the Summer League.  It is not very often that you can take a peek at a 6’9” 212 lbs true PG, who can also potentially play SG or SF.  However, Yue’s overall athletic ability, strength and outside shooting touch were his main drawbacks when he first tried to break into the league – all very substantial concerns.  This is the perfect place to attempt to get a feel for how hard he has been working on those deficiencies.  If he has, then this could be his opportunity to earn an invitation to the Wizards (or some other team’s) training camp.

When looking at the undrafted free agents, I am probably most intrigued by the competition that will likely develop between Maryland’s Eric Hayes and Duke’s Jon Scheyer.  In many respects they are identical players and while the Wizards will need players who can hit open threes, I don’t think that either will ultimately make the team.  It will be interesting to see them both battle to earn an invitation to training camp this fall.

Wizards play the “tortoise” and let others play the “hare”

A few teams (Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Miami) decided to clear all of their available cap room in order to make a run at one or more of the most significant free agents in the 2010 class (which includes LeBron James, Dewayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson).  The Wizards to the dismay of some of its fans decided to take a decidedly different approach – avoid the big names and try to capitalize on those desperate to make moves to target the big names.

While this is clearly an extremely talented free agent class, one that has not been seen since 1996, a GM must not overreact.  The management of a team has to realize that there are a number of forces at play that must be taken into account:

  • There are four teams with enough cap room to sign two or more max free agents – CHI, NY, NJ and MIA
  • Teams with little (or no) available cap space, still want to improve their teams, have owners who are unafraid to spend money, and are willing (and possibly able) to use current assets to swing sign and trades for one of the power free agents – DAL, HOU and LAC
  • The power free agents’ existing teams are still best positioned to offer more money than any potential suitor.  In nearly all cases these players can make an additional $30 million, over the course of the new contract, by remaining with their existing team
  • Even if all free agents leave their existing teams, there aren’t enough power free agents for each team that wants them – plenty of teams will be left out in the cold
  • Desperation increases as power free agents begin to fall off the table
  • If your team is able to sign two or three of the best free agents, will you have enough money to surround them with enough talented roll players?

Any GM worth their weight in salt is going to weigh these factors, and many others, as they formulate their strategy for building their team.  We can only hope that the strategy is flexible enough to adapt as the environment changes.

Off-season

From the trade deadline until about June 24, the Wizards had enough money available under the cap that many fans hoped that they would make a serious run at one of the major free agents.  That was purely wishful thinking, as all of the power free agents have “talked” about winning championships now – which would mean that they don’t want to play for a rebuilding team.  (We will soon see if money or championships is the primary driving force.)

NBA Draft

The Wizards started June 24 with three picks (#1, #30 and #35).  In the hours leading up to and during the draft they made a couple moves that were generally killed on the Internet and the blogosphere.  In part, I believe this was due to some who still had dreams of max free agents still clouding their minds.  Just prior to the start of the draft, the Wizards accepted Chicago’s offer of Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin (17th pick) and $3M in cash for essentially nothing (a future 2nd round pick).  Later in the evening the Wizards swapped their 30th and 35th picks to trade up to get Trevor Booker (#23) and back to pick up Hamady N’Diaye (#56) from Minnesota.  At the conclusion of the draft, the Wizards finished with 5 players that they feel best fit their needs.

Some of the criticism about these moves revolved around the typical quibbles over one player versus another, to whether or not the Wizards trade was as good as Oklahoma City’s deal, to whether Hinrich’s contract prevents the team from being a player in Free Agency.  All of those are legitimate concerns to have during and following the draft.  Those of us that consider ourselves fans aren’t privy to the team’s strategy so it is normal for us to criticize based on what we believe the strategy is (or should be) and the moves we feel best compliment our strategy for the team.  Ultimately, we know that you can’t judge how successful the draft truly was for you team for about three to five years.

Just prior to the start of free agency, the Wizards traded a back up guard, Quinton Ross, to the New Jersey Nets for Yi Jianlian – a starter for the Nets and likely a back up for the Wiz and $3M in cash.  This was a trade that did not immediately make every Wizard fan happy – some in Nets nation even laughed.  Clearly Yi has been inconsistent in his relatively short career.  He has both struggled and showed flashes with both the Bucks and Nets.  He has also had injuries which have affected his performance so far.  But for essentially nothing, the Wizards picked up a big (7 ft 250lb Forward) who was talented enough to be a lottery pick, just a few years ago.  And while he may never develop into Chris Bosh, it is nice to have someone who will push Andray Blatche to start.  And if his role is to come off the bench, he offers the Wizards a skilled 7 footer coming off the bench who has a mid-range jumper.

New players
Name Position Height Weight Yrs pro
John Wall PG 6’4″ 195 R
Trevor Booker F 6’7″ 240 R
Hamady N’Diaye C 7’0″ 235 R
Kevin Seraphin C-F 6’9″ 264 R
Kirk Hinrich G 6’3″ 190 6
Yi Jianlian F 7’0″ 250 3
Existing Players
Gilbert Arenas G 6’4″ 215 8
Andray Blatche C-F 6’11” 248 5
JaVale McGee C 7’0″ 252 2
Al Thornton F 6’8″ 220 3
Nick Young G 6’6″ 200 3

Start of Free Agency

Once12:01 on July 1 rolled around, the Wizards had eaten into the cap room that some thought would be available for a power free agent.  Entering this phase of the off-season the Wizards still need a 3rd PG, 3rd SG, veteran Center and a starting SF.  Given their needs, the Wizards could afford to sit out the initial flurry of free agent activity.

With teams going after the power free agents and others like Atlanta, Memphis, etc offering max deals to lock up their prized free agents, which will mean that there will be solid players available after the initial flurry of activity.  Some teams, due to max deals that they offer their stars, will likely have to cut players for salary cap reasons that they, under normal circumstances, would like to keep (i.e. Marvin Williams in Atlanta).  This type of activity will add to the pool of players that will be available for teams like the Wizards.

And while I am not in the Gilbert Arenas must go crowd – actually I am in the camp that wants him to stay – the Wizards would be fools to not listen to offers.  About a month ago, most “experts” laughed that no one would want any part of Gilbert.  Well as we pass the first 24 hours of free agency, that tone is changing.  It already is beginning to look like New York and New Jersey could very likely get shut out in the power free agent bidding war.  The teams that get shut out will need players to show for their efforts.  As a result, Gilbert’s name is beginning to come up much more frequently.

In addition, if teams like Chicago or Miami are able to get one or more of the power free agents, then teams like Orlando need to make changes to its roster in order to keep up.  The point is that all of a sudden Gilbert is beginning to look like a potential trade asset within the first 24 hours of free agency.

Teams like Miami, Chicago, New Jersey and New York sprinted out in an effort to land LeBron and company.  There is the very real possibility that two or more of these teams will be disappointed by the end of free agency.  Most of the power free agents will remain with their current teams, leaving Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer as the most likely candidates to move to a new team.  The Wizards should continue to look for the best opportunities that are presented to them based on the harried pace created by the “hares” who begin to scramble to fill their roster once most power free agents don’t change teams.  Let’s hope that taking a measured approach will continue to pay dividends for the Wizards.