Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hibachi is Back!

The franchise locked up its franchise player for six more years.

Gilbert, true to his word, reportedly will leave $16 million on the table.

When this team is healthy (keyword "when"), they are tough to beat. Ask this year's Celtics. No one knows if this team is going to win a title but they'll no doubt be competitive for some time to come. Internal development is going to be essential.

Several individuals deserve credit for this latest turn of events. First and foremost, Abe Pollin put his money where his mouth was and Ernie Grunfeld didn't waver from his stated goal of re-signing Jamison and Arenas.

On an unrelated note, I'd also like to give props to Mike Jones of the Washington Times and Ivan Carter of the Washington Post. Both of these fine reporters were all over this story. Washington is lucky to have two of the best beat reporters in the NBA. Seriously, Mike and Ivan are great at their craft.

Now let's enjoy some summer league ball!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Best Player Since MJ?

The quest for the next Michael Jordan is over.

Actually, the "quest" was over the night Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
Not enough proof? How about the time Kobe had four consecutive 50-points games last season? Not even Jordan did that.

Besides Kobe's Jordan-like athleticism, Kobe's superior skill makes him the world's best basketball talent. I'd liken his skill level to that of a prize fighter. He has multiple counters for every punch. Play him tight and he'll blow by you. Double team him and he'll split you with a powerful swing-through. Deny him the ball and he'll use his speed and strength to get open backdoor. He can do whatever he wants to do on the court whenever he wants to do it.

If his offensive skills are not convincing enough, his defensive abilities are almost unmatched amongst NBA wings. When Kobe wants to put the clamps on his man, his man is going to have to work awfully hard to score.

For the doubters, only a championship will validate his Jordanesque-talent. His post-Shaq squad looks poised to prove those doubters wrong.

Seriously, as you watch this year's playoffs, realize that you are watching history.

The quest for the next Kobe has begun.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This Blog and the Washington Post Part II: Roy Hibbert

This blog is back to its celebrity spotting ways!

This weekend, one of our contributors (Mr. Wall) spotted Roy Hibbert dining at Morton's in Georgetown. The future Wizards center (did I just write that?) was apparently enjoying a graduation dinner.

Here's the excerpt from the Washington Post's Reliable Source Column:

"HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?
·
Georgetown University senior Roy Hibbert at Morton's Steakhouse in Georgetown Saturday night. The 7-foot-2 basketball center -- likely to be snapped up in the first round of the NBA draft -- celebrated graduation weekend with another guy and two women; they ate steaks, lobster tail and chocolate cake."


Seeing as the Washington Post may have plagiarized this blog the last time I encountered a celebrity (Condi Rice, see link http://washingtonwizard.blogspot.com/2008/04/bring-on-pulitzer.html), I chose not to blog about the sighting until the paper arrived in the morning.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

LeBron (by himself) > Boston's Big Three

Cleveland will beat Boston. I figured I'd go on record before this series ended. As I've mentioned in prior posts, I believe that LeBron's presence on the court is equivalent to having three NBA All-Stars in the game at once.

Agree? Disagree?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Position-by-Position Review: Shooting Guard

With Gilbert out of the lineup this past season, the Wizards lacked scoring from their backcourt. DeShawn Stevenson filled his role admirably: showing improved accuracy on his three-point stroke and playing good defense. His toughness was essential to this team's success.

Nick Young has all the offensive tools you could ask for in a shooting guard: he can shoot from everywhere, he can break players down off the bounce, he can split double teams and he can even post-up. He must improve his defense and court awareness to reach his potential (which is a 20 point per game scorer). Adding 10-15 pounds of muscle will surely help his cause but Nick needs to find a DeShawn-like mean streak. Nick's goal should be to challenge for the starting two guard role.

Roger Mason won the Wizards a few games this year with his outside shooting (the Seattle game comes to mind) so his value should not be overlooked. Mason is an elite stand-still shooter and if the Wizards hope to make a deep run, his services will be needed. If Mason could breakdown defenders off the dribble, his value would sky-rocket (I think he can).

If the Wizards lose Mason, I think they need to get a veteran two-guard with the ability to get to the rim. Overall, the shooting guard position does not appear to be a position of great need.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Looking Ahead: The Gilbert Question

As much as I hate LeBron (who outside of Cleveland doesn't?), I must admit that he is an amazing talent. I honestly believe he is the equivalent of three NBA All-Stars (this theory will be tested against Boston).

Here is a must read about LeBron giving a ten dollar tip on an $800 meal: http://www.clevescene.com/2008-05-07/news/when-it-comes-to-tipping-lebron-goes-scrooge-mcduck

The Wizards will have some interesting decisions to make this off-season and I have answers (well sort of)! In this post, I'll focus on the Gilbert debate.

Question #1: Do you re-sign Gilbert Arenas and give him too much money?

-The Wizards have no choice but to re-sign him. If they don't re-sign Gilbert, they might be able to pull off a sign-and-trade and in a best-case scenario acquire a guy like Elton Brand (an aging injury-prone vet). Acquiring Elton Brand might help in the short term but is he really going to take the Wiz to another level? Absolutely Not.

-When the Wizards are healthy (which is rare) they are extremely dangerous offensively. With three elite scoring options, defenses can't double team the Zards.

-If you sign Gilbert, and presumably give him all your money, the team must improve internally. I have no doubt that Nick Young will eventually be a big upgrade at the two guard position. I don't know how much better Andray Blatche is going to get (I just sense he's missing something) so he might be good trade bait. The nucleus needs to get better now (sorry Dominic McGuire).

Bottom line: The are only about five true franchise players in the NBA: LeBron, Kobe, Duncan, KG, and Dwight Howard. Unless you have one of those players, you're probably not going to be winning an NBA championship anytime soon.

So rather than completely rebuild and hope to win the draft lottery when the next superstar emerges (for the record neither Beasley nor Rose is what I'd consider a superstar), why not stick with a good team that with the right additions might become a very good team.

Assuming Ernie Grunfeld knows what he's doing (and he does), Agent Zero will be a Wizard next year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Wizards Are Glad To Be Home

Last week, I told a local TV producer that I thought the Wizards would make it to the second round of the playoffs. Upon hearing this, the producer rolled his eyes at me. We both agreed that the Wizards were the better team but the producer argued that LeBron would get bailed out by the refs.

Flash forward one week:

The Wizards actually should have won game 1. In fact, had they made one shot down the stretch, you could argue that the game would have been over. As things would have it, that didn't happen.

In game 2, the Wizards spirits were still crushed from game 1. The team was settling for jumpers and committing lazy fouls on defense.

Though the officiating has been a little suspect, it has yet to determine the outcome of a game. So on that front, I give the refs props.

The behavior of Mike Brown needs to be more closely scrutinized by the league. After every Wizards foul, he runs around like he's trying to hold in explosive diarrhea.

I think Brendan "Flagrant Foul" Haywood said it best. Haywood said, "C'mon Mike. That man's name is LeBron James not LeBron Brown. He' s not your son."

Look for the Wiz to win tonight and look for them to take game 4 as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cavs-Wizards Playoff Preview

Since Arenas bricked two potential game-winning free throws in the playoffs two years ago, Wizards fans have been waiting for this match up (last year didn't count for obvious reasons).

Position-by-Position Breakdown

Point Guard: Antonio Daniels & Gilbert Arenas vs. Delonte West

The Wizards have the clear edge at this position. Antonio will start and Gilbert will finish. Delonte West can shoot but is not really a threat to get in the lane and put up big assist numbers (then again does he need to with LeBron?). In a best case scenario for Cleveland, West will be able to knock down spot-up three-pointers off LeBron kick outs.

Clear Edge: Wizards

SG: DeShawn Stevenson vs. LeBron James

While LeBron isn't listed as a two, he'll be matched up with DeShawn. Guarding LeBron is going to be a team effort. If DeShawn can keep LeBron in the 30-point range rather than the 40-point range, he'll be doing well. You just can't stop LeBron on the drive so it's key that DeShawn baits him into taking jumpers.

Clear Edge: Cavs

SF: Caron Butler vs. Devin Brown

Caron will be guarding Brown on defense allowing him to rest and conserve all his energy for offense. If Caron's mid-range jumper is falling (and it usually is) look for him to have a big series. Numbers wise, Caron is in an elite group just below LeBron as far as points, assists, and rebounds. Devin Brown is terrible but he does hustle so the Wiz can't sleep on him too much.

Clear Edge: Wizards

PF: Antawn Jamison vs. Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace doesn't impress me at all. He is a major downgrade from Gooden (a guy who's killed the Wizards in past years). His defense is nice but he gives you absolutely nothing on offense. Jamison is having a career year and his inside-outside style will make Wallace uncomfortable.

Edge: Wizards

C: Brendan Haywood vs. Z. Ilgauskas

Big Z is a big dude. If his turn-around jumper is on, you can't stop him. On the downside, he's incredibly slow and injury prone. Haywood is having a career year. His free throws aren't that much of a liability anymore and his length on defense is really disruptive.

Even

Bench
The Cavs bring experienced players off the bench but "experienced players" don't always equate to good players. The Cavs have several three-point threats but it's risky to rely so heavily on the deep ball. Varejao is a disruptor and will probably give the Wizards bigs problems. Daniel Gibson is the most overrated player in the NBA (he got hot in one playoff game and now people think he's a star). For the Wizards, Mason will bring three-point shooting, Blatche will be a disruptor, Songalia will bring interior scoring, and Nick Young could be an X-factor.

Slight Edge: Wiz

Coaching: Eddie Jordan vs. Mike Brown

When you have LeBron on your team, a coach isn't that important. Brown has struggled to manage his team since dealing Larry Hughes. Eddie Jordan is arguably having a COY-type season. The way he's kept his team afloat, despite so many injuries, says a lot about his ability to motivate players to buy into his system.

Edge: Wiz

Prediction: Wizards in six games

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama Can Ball

For those of you who didn't see Bryant Gumbel's HBO piece on Barack Obama's love for basketball, it might be worth a look.

In the limited amount of footage they showed, Obama had a decent handle and seemed like a really clever passer. He had several assists of the no-look variety in a pick-up game with military personnel.

If I had to compare him to a current Wizard, it would probably be Antonio Daniels. Both players would rather drive to ball to the rim than shoot.

By his own admission, Barack said shooting was his liability (although I will say his form looked better than Brendan Haywood's).

While I doubt we'll see Barack at the playoffs this April, he might be a neighbor of the Verizon Center next January.

How many attempts do you think it would take for Hillary Clinton to make a lay-up?

I'm guessing double digits.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bring On The Pulitzer. Did The Washington Post Plagiarize This Blog?

What do this blog and the Washington Post have in common? My reporting on Condoleezza Rice's haircut (see previous post) was the impetus for a Washington Post snippet.


On Friday, after I saw Condi Rice at the Watergate, I emailed Marissa Newhall of the Washington Post and sent her a link to this blog.

Nearly one hour after I sent her the link, I received this email:

"Great sighting! I got the salon to confirm so I'm going to make a mentionin tomorrow's Names and Faces column. Thanks!"

Sure enough, I opened up Saturday's Washington Post and found this:

"Spotted: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sporting a fresh haircut, turned heads on her way out of Watergate Salon yesterday"


Here's the full link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/11/AR2008041103684_pf.html


Hmmmm, if the phrase "sporting a fresh haircut" looks familiar, that's because I originally wrote it (see previous post).

I'm not really offended. If anything, it's a little gratifying to have my words printed in the Washington Post.

But isn't that plagiarism?

So, if you thought this blog was some amateurish garbage, think again. When the Washington Post wins its next Pulitzer in investigative reporting, I too can take satisfaction in the victory.

P.S. If any gossip columnists want to hire me, I'm available.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Saw Condi Today

Disclaimer: By the time you're done reading this post, the FBI will have hunted me down.

I was enjoying a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza at the Watergate around 1pm this afternoon and I noticed a slew of people in dark suits standing at various locations outside the entrance to the Watergate Salon.

About 15 minutes into my meal, I looked up from the outdoor bench where I was sitting and sure enough Condi emerged from the Salon sporting a fresh haircut. She and her squadron of secret service officers walked right past me and up a stairwell.

Reaction to her rare public appearance was mixed.
-A female security guard who worked at the Watergate stood jaw-dropped as Condi passed her.
-A man sitting at the bench next to me said loud enough for everyone to hear, "Is that it?"
-I'm pretty sure I heard someone say, "She was supposed to come to my shop."
-Last but not least, I saw a women who had just been informed that Condi walked by and the women replied, "Oh well, I was getting a sale at CVS."

I really need to start carrying a camera.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Golden Opportunity

When you see Boston and Detroit on your schedule you usually cringe. However, with Boston and Detroit locked up in the one and two seeds respectively those two teams can afford to rest their big guns.

While the next two games will hardly be cake walks, it will be nice seeing Rodney Stuckey instead of Rip Hamilton and Big Baby instead of KG.

Believe it or not, the Wizards have a decent chance of crawling into the four seed. But let's not jump too far ahead of ourselves.

Perhaps the biggest game of this week is Saturday against Philly. With the Sixers and Raptors nipping at the Wizards' heels it is crucial that the Wizards pick up as many games as they can on the competition.

If the Wizards can stay out of the seven or eight spot, look out.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Painful Loss (pun intended) and Mr. Noodle Soup

As I got off the metro at Farragut North Wednesday night, I observed the rare sight of a wrecking ball tear through a ten-story building leaving a pile of rubble in its wake.

Such a seen was only fitting after the Wizards' spirits were crushed in a heartbreaking 110-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Verizon Center on Wednesday night.

The return of a red-hot Gilbert Arenas was spoiled by a D-League point guard named Ramon Sessions. Before this game, I thought Ramon Sessions was a brand of noodle soup (see above).

Getting back to the wrecking ball analogy.

With about six seconds remaining in the game, Caron Butler dove on the floor to force a jump ball. In that one sequence, Antawn Jamison left the game clutching his shoulder, DeShawn Stevenson limped off the court, and Caron grabbed his ailing left wrist in a fit of pain. In essence, a pile of rubble developed.

The basketball gods must not like this team. If I were Brendan Haywood (the only starter not to have any serious injuries this year), I'd wear a some of those old man knee pads (see photo) Friday against Miami.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wizards of the West

After a rocky start in Portland, the Wizards bounced back nicely against Seattle and Sacramento. In both wins, the Wizards erased big second half margins.

Regardless of what happens on the remainder of this trip, I think the Wizards did all they needed to do to stay afloat. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wizards pull out another game against some of the Western Conference elites.

Enjoy this gem from Caron:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izRbtRdlYsU

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The "Quiet Assassin"

The play of Roger Mason is the "feel good" story of the season for the Wizards. Just two years ago, Roger was playing professionally in Israel (a fine place to site see) seemingly falling off the NBA radar.
An inspired performance in training camp two years ago landed him a one year deal with his hometown team the Washington Wizards.

This summer, Roger rolled the dice on his future in a big way. The ever stable Spurs offered him a multi-year contract but Mason knew better. Mason knew he could get a better deal and he believed in a little thing called loyalty (to the team that gave him a second chance and to his hometown).

With the injury to Gilbert Arenas, Roger Mason has capitalized on his increased minutes and proved that he is a legit NBA player. I seriously can't think of many better stand-still three point shooters in the NBA. Literally every time the ball leaves his hands, you think the ball is going to be a swish (and more often than not it is).

Last night against Seattle, Mason single handily saved the Wizards with his steady play and phenomenal shooting.

While Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas are the team's key free agents, the Wizards better dole out some dough to Mason. If they don't, I'm sure 29 other teams will come calling.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Key Stretch Coming Up

If the Wizards stay afloat in the next few weeks, they will likely see either Orlando or Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. If they falter, they're going to be looking at a match-up with either the Pistons or the Celtics.

Translation: The Wizards need to finish out the season strong or they'll likely be bounced in round one of the playoffs.

If this week's mini-road trip in Florida was any indication, the Wizards might do alright. Orlando was a great win and Miami is handing out wins like Duke in the NCAA tournament.

The Wizards have a few more reasons to be optimistic: A guy named Gilbert Arenas is coming back (see my original photography above) and the Raptors and Sixers (their competition for the five and six spots) aren't that good.

A strong finish, despite a tough schedule, is definitely not out of the question.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A little luck never hurts


Despite not wearing green on St. Patrick's day, luck was on the Wizards side. Let's be honest, this game was over. Two-Thirds of the fans left before the final buzzer (who could blame them). In the last four minutes, the Wizards had at least four shots roll half way down the net before popping out. It just wasn't their night (or was it).
Antawn Jamison is truly making a case for team MVP. He's played in every game this season and he's really kept this team afloat. Right before Jamison was fouled on his three-point attempt with about 4 seconds to go, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and said that I wouldn't be surprised in someone got fouled on the play (FYI I'm a psychic). Jamison is savvy enough to know how to draw contact in those situations. Cuttino Mobley committed an unforgivable foul. I believe you are taught in grade school not to foul on three pointers.
Memo to Cuttino:
-Stick your hands straight in the air and pray Jamison misses.
As far as games of the year, here is my updated list:
1. At Boston
2.Boston
3.At New Orleans
4.Clippers

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nick-elode-Young

Nick Young has been playing fantastic basketball over the last five games (14ppg) and his efforts were on full display last night against the Bucks. Nick Young showed that he is among the best offensive talents on the team. Young's greatest asset, the ability to beat defenders off the bounce, was quite apparent considering the high number of acrobatic finishes he had last night.

I'd like to criticize ESPN for a moment:

-How was Nick Young's dunk over Bogut #2 on the SportsCenter Top 10? To be perfectly honest, the dunk was not that impressive (save for the technical Young received after getting smacked in the face by Bogut).

-I don't understand the philosophy behind ESPN's Rookie Rankings (this is not an appeal to rank Nick Young higher-well maybe it is). Jamario Moon is a nice role player but if he's the 6th best rookie we've got problems. Moon will never average more than 12 and 7. Even worse, Luis Scola is the top ranked rookie. Yeah he's on a winning team but come on. Scola's best asset is his hair not his jump shot. Scola will never average more than 14 and 7. If he's the best rookie, this rookie class might lose to the Washington Mystics.

Anyone who has seen Young play for an extended period of time could tell you with a straight face that he will average at least 15 points per game as soon as he becomes a starter.

If you so chose, you can read this garbage: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/rookies/rankings

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stood up by the Czar

Mike Fratello was supposed to be on my radio show today but apparently he "forgot" about a prior commitment.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wow...They did it again!

In yet another tight game with the Raptors this season, the Wizards managed to come out on top. Everyone seemed to play a hand in this win: Antawn was Antawn, Blatche played solid defense and grabbed some clutch rebounds, and Nick Young showed that he is the type of player who can carry his team for stretches at a time. I'll admit it, I thought this game was over when the Raptor sent it to overtime. Whenever I count this team out, they seem to prove me wrong.
Eddie Jordan (see above) is doing a great job.

For good portion of the game, I was wondering why the Raptors looked very average and then it hit me: They were playing without Chris Bosh (Is there a more forgettable superstar in the NBA?).

The Raptors have a nice roster. Almost every single player on that roster can shoot. Those who can't shoot (T.J. Ford) have a nice seat on the bench. It is remarkable how Toronto just spreads people out and then drills threes from everywhere. Outside of Phoenix, I can't think of team that runs the pick-and-roll better than the Raptors.

The Wizards host the Bobcats tomorrow night and have a very good chance to get back to .500 at 31-31.
One Final Note: At Wednesday night's game at the Verizon Center, someone won a prize for being the 25 millionth fan in Verizon Center history. The prize included, among other things, a year's worth of Papa Johns, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, AMC movie passes, and membership to Bally's. One of my friends astutely pointed out that this person could basically quit his job. While this prize sounds cool, it is also one of the most excessively wasteful ideas ever conceived.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Magic cast on the Wiz













On the first play of tonight's game between the Wizards and the Magic, Dwight Howard threw down a nasty one-handed dunk in the face of Brendan Haywood. That play pretty much set the tone for the entire game and the Wizards never recovered.

I'd like to share a few notes somewhat unrelated to the game:
-The halftime show featured a bunch of 10-year olds playing basketball. Needless to say, those kids earned the biggest cheers of the night. One kid even knocked down an NBA three-pointer. That is the equivalent of me hitting a 3/4 court shot.

-The biggest boos of the night went to Orlando's J.J. Redick. Despite the Wizards being down over 20 points, the crowd came to life as soon as J.J. entered the game. It was nostalgic hearing the crowd heckle J.J. Despite being a horrible human being, J.J. actually knocked down a few baskets which further irked the crowd.

-The best part of tonight was seeing Orlando's 5th-string center Marcin Gortat. Not only is he a terrible basketball player, he would be the center on my NBA "All Ugly Team" if not for Seattle's Robert Swift (you judge the side-by-side comparisons in the photos above).

Monday, March 3, 2008

They did it again


Either the Wizards are playing really good basketball or the Hornets are vastly overrated. While both points are probably true, the Hornets just aren't that good. When I was in their locker room last night, every single player I heard speak to the media said that they should have swept the Wizards.

I am sorry David West, Tyson Chandler, and Chris Paul, you guys aren't good enough to talk about sweeping teams. At least, Coach Byron Scott has a decent head on his shoulders. He called out his team saying they didn't know how to act like professionals and used some other words that don't bare repeating.

I'm making Tyson Chandler (see photo of Chandler fighting the entire Bobcats team above) the center on my "Most Likely to be Shot" NBA team. Right now, he and Nate Robinson (the point guard) are the only players on the team.

Quietly the Wizards have won four of five games for the first time since mid-January. Despite the lack of star players, the Wizards are playing true team ball. The bench, which has been anemic at times this year, scored over 30 points. Even Pesh knocked down a few 'buckets'.

Since I've counted the Wizards out of the last two games and they've won both, I'll again pick Orlando to win tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Chicago game

The Wizards deserve credit for having won three of their last four games. So what if they were three of the ugliest wins you'll ever see. A two point win counts as much as a 45 point win.

Let's be honest. The Wizards had no business winning this game. Chicago showed why they are perhaps the biggest disappointment in basketball. Without Caron and Gilbert, the Wizards live and die by the jump shot and fortunately in the second half the Wizards made buckets.

As good as DeShawn is on defense, his offense leaves a lot to be desired (with the exception of rare outbursts like at NO). At some point, it might not hurt for Eddie Jordan to begin shifting minutes toward Mason and Young.

New Orleans comes to town tomorrow and although I think they're vastly overrated, they'll be ready tomorrow.

I wouldn't put it past the Wizards to get this win although I doubt it will happen.

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