We've covered the heck out of yesterday's practice (see here, here and here), but a couple things that slipped through the cracks:
- I'm going to write about this more later in some place, but there's a definite emphasis on fundamentals this year. The Wizards are calling it "Back to Basics." After Saunders instructed everyone on team defense, he split the group into three and had them go to three different "stations." One drilled the players on pick and roll coverage on both ends, one dealt with how to defend splits (when the ball is dumped into the post in a Triangle formation and the guards cut opposite ways off that) and the other dealt with properly closing out on shooters. It was refreshing, to be honest.
- Flip on that: "Assume they know nothing. Back to basics, trying to go back to everything, trying to leave no stone unturned. I've always ran practices like a college practice, with a lot of fundamentals. But I think if you look at our team, with the number of guys we have 22 or 23, a lot of these guys would still be in college, beginning those fundamentals. So we have to go through those maybe even more so than you would with a veteran team."
- John Wall was very vocal during the practice. At one point during the pick and roll drill, he zoomed past Gilbert Arenas and JaVale McGee, and jokingly shouted "You guys ain't quick enough!" after it was over. (Here's video). "When the game's close, I want them to be able to know they can trust me to get the ball to the right people and make certain play-calls. So you have to be a leader from Day 1," Wall said.
- Flip is already gushing over him. "I've had great players. I haven't had anyone as young as him that's as vocal as him. His understanding is similar to [Kevin] Garnett. He knows where everyone's supposed to be on every play. But when you have a point guard that can tell everyone where to go, that brings a whole different balance to your team."
- Andray Blatche did all the "non-competitive drills," according to Saunders, but sat out everything else. Saunders said he hasn't taken the mandatory conditioning test yet, but he will before he returns to practice. He said that Blatche passed the miniature version of the test on the treadmill, whatever that it.
- Al Thornton has spent the last two days practicing his three-point shot. He wasn't willing to admit that his focus this summer was exclusively on that, but he knows that he's going to need to improve his shooting range to play with Wall and Arenas. "I got two great guards that are going to be going all day on the pick and roll and with their one-on-one game, so I got to be sure to knock down shots."
- Trevor Booker had an interesting line when I asked him about the differences between college and NBA concepts. "It's more complicated. Probably because everybody here has a high basketball IQ, whereas in college -- I'm not going to say too many people - but a lot of players don't really know the game."
- The biggest difference between this year and last year? According to Flip, it's "how much more communicative these guys are. They talk so much and try to help each other out."
Links and photos below the jump.
First, some links:
- Ted Leonsis was fined $100,000 for some comments he made at a lunch with business leaders about the NBA likely going to a hard salary cap next summer. He shouldn't have made those comments, but 100k is a pretty insane fine. [Fanhouse, AP]
- By the way: funny fact on this that someone relayed to me on the radio yesterday: Leonsis was fined in his 112th day as Wizards owner. It took Mark Cuban over 350 days for his first fine.
- More analysis of Leonsis' fine. What's really behind it? [SB Nation D.C.]
- John Wall wants to make his mark on this team right away. There's no waiting around with this kid. [Michael Lee]
- Waiting around before he's fully ready to play is the toughest thing going for Andray Blatche right now. [Stouffer]
- John Wall has set the bar unbelievably high with his performance in the scrimmage. [Stouffer, Lee]
- Notes on the early practice. [Washington Wizards Examiner]
- The Wizards got much-needed new life this summer, and we're not only talking about John Wall. [Shaun Powell, NBA.com]
- Jake puts to rest the idea that media day showed off a "newer, quieter" Gilbert Arenas. [SB Nation D.C.]
- A really interesting piece by John Krolik on Arenas, who is number 10 on their list of most influential people in the NBA. [Pro Basketball Talk]
- Bethlehem Shoals writes that Arenas will likely be more post-brawl Ron Artest than Michael Vick, because he fundamentally is still the same person that wishes the mistake he made never happened. [Fanhouse]
- This is a pretty amazing Arenas photoshop. [JE Skeets, The Score]
- This was a remarkably awful column on Arenas' media day act. The worst part is how it juxtaposes Arenas' poker face with the idea that he's shirking his responsibility to show remorse, suggesting Arenas could do such good going to schools and talking to them. Which, ohbytheway, he has done and will continue to do. [Les Carpenter]
- And yet, this one was somehow worse. You know what will determine Gilbert Arenas' redemption? What he does on the basketball court. Well, that and writers creating the narrative. [Terrence Moore, Fanhouse]
- Great line: "Judging from the headlines generated from Monday's media day with the Washington Wizards, a lot of the reporters out there missed their true calling. They should have gone into psychology or psychiatry instead of communications. It seems they were far more interested in what's going on in Gilbert's head then they were in how his return impacts the Wizards on the court." Couldn't agree more. [DC Sports Box]
- SLAM previews the Wizards and is skeptical about Arenas. [SLAM]
- Andrew Sharp on what worked and didn't work at the Wizards' Midnight Tip-Off. [SB Nation]
- Checking in with Javaris Crittenton, who got his shot at Charlotte Bobcats camp. [Sporting News]
- Finally, thanks to all who listened to the 106.7 The Fan segment last night. If you didn't, I'll try to track down the podcast.
- UPDATE: Here's the podcast.
Double finally: some extra pictures from Lisa Rotter from practice yesterday.