As a quick note: I'll be on 106.7 The Fan against tonight to talk Wizards at 8:30. Tune in and call in then - I'll provide a listen live link once we get closer to the whole thing.
Anyway, let's put a wrap on last night's win, shall we?
First, the stats.
Four Factors (Bold=very good | Italics=very bad)
Snap reaction: Flip Saunders was right - the defense played very well last night, despite the size issue.
Okay, link time.
While it's hardly common for an NBA coach to play anybody -- let alone a rookie -- 38 minutes in an opening preseason game, Saunders shrugged it off. He knows Wall will be counted on for big minutes so why not get started now?
"He ran the show,'' Saunders said. "What I liked about him is he competes. ... (Saunders played Wall minutes) similar to what I did when I had (Kevin) Garnett and when I had (Stephon) Marbury (both in Minnesota)... Getting them minutes in preseason facilitates their progress. He's a high-energy guy. I haven't seen him one time in practice where he's shown any signs of being tired.''
John Wall. 21 points, nine assists, two turnovers and four steals in about 38 minutes. I guess it will do, statistically.
"When he competes, what it does is that our whole team competes."
- Flip Saunders
Ah, that's the thing too. Why, beyond statistics, Wall was worth drafting first overall. I hear DeMarcus Cousins had a nice night. And perhaps something he did sparked some energy in his team at some point. But overall, without the consistency and the label PG next to his name in the stat book, Cousins doesn't come close to doing what Wall is able to do with his energy, effort, and passion for the game that's absolutely contagious to his teammates.
Again, we could banter for ages on what a scoring point guard does for a team. But John Wall had 21 points, nine assists and four steals against (mostly) Jason Kidd(notes) on Tuesday, and while he took a couple of bad shots and looked more lope-y than he did ultraquick, this guy finds a way to put the ball in the hole. More, please.
The Wizards should be proud of this win. They hit some iffy shots early off broken plays, but it was a nice showing against a Dallas team that could really have some defensive issues this year.
Judge the team on how it plays together.
Judge the team on how it forms an identity.
Don't judge the team by what you read. Judge the team by what you see.
All those great things you heard about Wall came to light, as he showed off that blazing speed with the ball, the ability to finish on the break and even the mid range jumper in the victory. Wall is equally strong off the dribble with either hand so he is hard to contain defensively. That's what stuck out to me the most tonight, his command of the dribble and his explosiveness to the cup off it. I knew he had speed, but this was ridiculous. Wall told me in training camp he is working on limiting his turnovers and tonight he had just two so that work is paying off.
The rookie nerves got to John Wall on the first shot attempt of his first NBA preseason game, as he missed everything with an airball. But that was it.
With the jitters out of the way, Wall took the reins and set the tone, finishing with 21 points, 9 assists and 4 steals as the Wizards claimed a 97-94 preseason victory on the road at the Dallas Mavericks.
On the winning shot Hudson displayed a confidence beyond his years. Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones had just tied the game with a 19-footer with 16.7 seconds left. Off the inbound pass, Hudson received the ball just outside the center circle and held it against his hip in Gilbert Arenas-like fashion.
The floor cleared out for Hudson and with 8 seconds left he went to work on Mavericks guard Dee Brown. Hudson drove to the top of the arc and then after a jab-stab created just enough space to pull back and hit a fade-away jumper from 25-feet.
In his first significant action since returning from a broken foot Blatche picked up right where he left off last season. His stat-line of 22 points and five rebounds were very comparable with the 22 and eight he averaged over the final 32 games last season. Blatche also showed off an improved touch from outside and his 22 points came in only 26 minutes.
It's only the preseason.
No need to panic, no need to call for heads to roll or lineups to change.
No need to start proclaiming that the season is a bust.
It's only the preseason.
Awesome video here
NBA fans in Dallas were treated to quite a show on Tuesday night as preseason got underway. A game that was billed as Jason Kidd against John Wall turned out to be primarily the John Wall Show, with the top pick in this summer's draft hanging 21 points, nine assists and four steals on the Mavericks in Washington's 97-94 win. Wall looked good in the Las Vegas Summer League, but it's clear he's been putting in some work in the two subsequent months. He changed speeds constantly, got anywhere he wanted to go on the court, and made sure his teammates were where they needed to be . . .all that point guard stuff . . .and still managed to make anyone who covered him look like D-League material.
Nick Young- It wasn't just the two points, one rebound and five personal fouls on 1-for-7 shooting. Young also looked genuinely lost on the defensive end of the floor as well. His night was summed up perfectly when he came off Jason Terry to help on defense, leaving the latter wide open. That's the sort of thing that should be punished by having Young write the following out 100 times: "I WILL NOT LEAVE JASON TERRY WIDE OPEN NO MATTER HOW MUCH I WANT TO LEAVE HIM TO HELP ON THE DEFENSIVE END."
If that's all this was -- Arenas dramatically stating the obvious about the Wizards officially becoming Wall's team now in a headline-snatching, attention-grabbing way -- maybe his latest bizarre soliloquy won't have any lasting impact on the Wizards. This is an organization, after all, conditioned to trying to downplay or downright ignore much of what the former Agent Zero has to say.
Arenas' candor, however, did highlight some of the challenges confronting the Wizards, even with Wall dazzling folks already. Whether Wall and Arenas can play together in the same backcourt, with or without Hinrich, is merely Unknown No. 1 for this team. How long will Arenas stay plugged into this new Robin role? Can Arenas play well enough in the Robin role to start rebuilding his trade value? Those questions are clearly just as pressing.
Wall was more than the No. 1 pick. He was a replacement.
Arenas knows this as much as anyone. Wizards coach Flip Saunders can talk all he wants about pairing Wall and Arenas together, and even using Kirk Hinrich in a three-point guard look (as was the case against Dallas). Arenas says he's as much a shooter as he is a playmaker.
He's also expendable. Teams don't need two top-flight point guards, much less three. And especially not a team with as many holes to fill as the Wizards.
Now, you can call me an alarmist if you want. Ted Leonsis might write a blog saying I'm being negative but trust me hoop fans, this could (could) be a big, big problem for this Wizards team. If you think Gilbert is going to be "moving aside so he can become a star" I have some confederate money I'd like to sell you. I ain't buying it. Keep an eye on it is all I'm saying.
My beef with Gil still remains, as his apology to his fans has been extremely insufficient.
Gil wants to be a prick to the media and not really answer questions, fine. He pulled a similar stunt last season, and I am sure fans didn't care. From a PR standpoint, however, he should own up to his mistakes publicly and let his play change the conversation to the comeback narrative the media loves. For example, check out how Mike Vick addressed his past in this powerful interview with his former coach. Now read this emotionless editorial that Gilbert obviously hired someone to write, because we all know the voice from his blog that was transcribed by someone else, and that sure isn't it.
My take: Arenas is trying as hard as he can to play the good soldier, and he did a great job against Dallas last night. He recognizes where he fits into the Wizards plan going forward, and he's prepared to play the role off the court as John Wall's mentor and on the court as the reliable outside shooting off-guard. A subtle, controlled Arenas is what the Wizards want.
The problem is, it's a little too easy for Arenas to slip from "good soldier" to "tired, old, headed for retirement soldier." Whether he really feels that every night of the season remains to be seen. It's hard to pronounce one's future with the team over before the season has even started.
Has Arenas hit his shelf life in DC? Or is he truly being a more mature player than what we saw last year in his childish antics? He thinks very highly of Wall. A dynamic duo and lots of support for the young guard could lead to the beginning of a Wizards rise in the Eastern Conference that, beyond the top two teams in Boston and Miami, is fairly wide open. The window is there - will Agent Zero still be here when it finally opens for the Wiz?
How long do you think Gilbert Arenas' Wizards career will last? At what point do you think he'll get traded, if at all?
The John Wall-led Wizards on Comcast SportsNet went boffo on Tuesday night, earning a 1.80 average rating in the D.C. market, equal to about 43,000 households. That's up more than 200 percent from last season's preseason Wiz debut, and up 55 percent from last year's regular season average.