In a parallel universe somewhere, the Washington Wizards won an ugly home opener against the New Jersey Nets. In our universe, this game never happened because of the NBA lockout. The parallel universe sounds more fun, so let's discuss five topics from this game based on that.
- How about JaVale McGee, huh? Pretty impressive start of the season for him, showing just what he can do to take advantage of his strengths when matched up with a slower center. Early on, Brook Lopez got some open jumpers off pick and pop action, but the Wizards eventually adjusted by sending a third defender from the opposite wing and Lopez started missing. When the Nets tried to do straight post-up on McGee, Lopez didn't really take advantage. On the other end? I know the Nets' rotations were bad, but man, McGee killed Lopez in the pick and roll, getting a bunch of easy hoops. I think Flip Saunders said it best when he said that McGee's able to take advantage of slower guys when he sets his mind to it. Tonight, he set his mind to it and was the best player on the floor.
Was John Wall forcing it too much? You could tell he wanted to come out with a vengeance after his summer, but he kind of froze out his teammates in the process. On the bright side, he made a couple big plays defensively to seal it, especially the intercept on the cross-court pass by Anthony Morrow. Winning play there, even if he didn't play a great game. He'll get better. I think his eyes got wide going up against Deron Williams and he forced some things.
The frontcourt is still an issue. Lopez was mostly held in check, but Kris Humphries was dominant on the glass. Saunders mostly praised Humphries as a player when asked about it in the post-game press conference. I would have liked to see him be more critical of Andray Blatche's struggles boxing him out instead.
- Jordan Crawford, in a nutshell: Horrible shooting game, some really bad shots, and yet he hit the jumper with 45 seconds left to hold the Nets off for good. Afterwards, Crawford waxed philosophical about how a shooter has to believe he's making the next shot every time he puts it up. Something tells me we'll receive a lot of lectures like this. Far too many, in fact.
- Concerned about Jan Vesely? He didn't play all that much (seven minutes) in the win, and looked pretty bad when he was in there. I wouldn't be too concerned about it yet -- as Saunders said after the game, Vesely's doesn't have any plays run for him, and that's an adjustment to be made when playing with bench guys. Still, it wasn't an inspiring debut. On the other hand, while the three-guard lineup of Wall, Crawford and Young worked late, it would have been nice to see Chris Singleton get some burn, if only to check Williams for a couple possessions.