Yes, I know, I’m having a lazy start to 2022 because I am still pondering over 2021 with one final piece.
In today’s piece, I will go over our staff’s picks for our favorite stories from 2022. In general, these stories weren’t among the most-read pieces based on Google Analytics data. But they were among our best-written pieces nevertheless. Here are ten pieces, in no particular order that we have selected:
- What’s the point of statistical analysis in basketball? (Kevin Broom) — As you know, Kevin is our deputy site manager and recaps every game the next day with cold, hard numbers. Sure, the eye test is important. But data can also confirm or deny various trends within a game or a particular season stretch. He goes over why he grew to become a fan of the stats over the years.
- The Mystics must bolster their post depth this offseason, but they must also move on from Emma Meesseman to make it happen (Diamond Holton) — After the Mystics’ lottery-bound 2021 season, Washington finds itself at a crossroads. The Mystics did win the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, however, so that should help Mike Thibault construct another squad that could be back in contention sooner rather than later. Of everything in Diamond’s piece, I would say that her take on Meesseman is probably the most pointed that I’ve read on any major site in some time. That’s because she was clear that Washington shouldn’t pursue her anymore. After the Draft Lottery, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault also signaled that he isn’t confident about her returning, but he is also not as decisive as Diamond and many of our commenters would want him to be. I may not have written as strongly as Diamond did on the “pink Delirium Tremens elephant in the room,” but I agree with her. Our hearts tell us that the Mystics must keep Meesseman if at all possible, but our heads tell us that the Mystics must let her go. We’re going with our heads.
- This will be Russell Westbrook’s most impressive triple-double average season yet (Albert Lee) — Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game in the 2020-21 season in his lone season with the Wizards, breaking the career mark of triple doubles along the way. It was the fourth time that Westbrook averaged a triple double, and he also had career-high marks in rebounds and assists per game during his age-32 season. That’s impressive because he was at the end of his prime last season and isn’t averaging a triple-double for the Lakers this season, though their talent is certainly partly why as well.
- The Wizards should reconsider whether Bradley Beal is a long-term fit in light of their recent slump (Marcus Atkinson) — The Wizards’ hot start in November was followed by a December slump. Washington has openly stated that they wanted to keep Beal to the long term but is that possible if the Wizards don’t appear to be a championship contender?
- The Wizards express disappointment, anger about yesterday’s U.S. Capitol riots and how those events tie with racial inequality (Ian Decker) — Jan. 6, 2021 will be a day that will be known as the day when rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an act of insurrection against the federal government. It was also a day when the Wizards had a road game against the Philadelphia 76ers. While Russell Westbrook and Co. lost 141-136 that night, the events at the Capitol were on players’ minds. Westbrook, Beal and then-head coach Scott Brooks all debriefed on what happened and how it ties with society in general.
- 10 fan overreactions after 10 Wizards games (Matt Modderno) — Washington began the 2021-22 season with a 10-3 start. Before Washington regressed to the mean, Matt explained why some of these reactions on social media were a bit much! But hey, we were very happy last November.
- Ariel Atkins adjusting to life with the USA Basketball women’s national team during the Olympics (Greydy Diaz) — Atkins and Tina Charles represented the Washington Mystics for Team USA as they went on to win the Gold Medal. Team USA was always the favorite in the tournament, but it took time for the team to gel and adjust to jet lag. It was Atkins’ first time playing for Team USA in the Olympics.
- The technical foul in the NBA is becoming more of a subjective “shut up and dribble” violation. It needs to change. (Yanir Rubinstein) — The NBA’s referees, at least early in the 2020-21 season, were quick to call technical fouls on players who complained about calls or lack of them. Technical fouls are warranted for egregious situations like fighting or maybe a player who continues to complain about the same call for three quarters. But just for a single complaint? Come on!
- The Wizards’ shooting woes come with a silver lining (Renzo Salao) — Washington has been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA this season. But that’s also because many of their best shooters have been quite poor to start their 2021-22 season campaigns. Hopefully things improve as the season goes on.
- Quantifying the quality of international basketball leagues and their NBA Draft prospects (Kevin Broom) — Ever wonder why Spain generally has the top basketball league in Europe and why it’s also generally regarded as having a better quality of play than NCAA Division I? Look no further than this piece!
- Our Two-Part interview (Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here) with Dan Grunfeld about his family’s multigenerational story (Albert Lee) — While then-President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld served in his role with Washington for 16 years, he wasn’t perceived to be transparent, and was even considered a distant figure to the average Wizards fan. While we didn’t get to interview the man himself, we did interview his son and former Stanford star Dan, who wrote a book on his grandmother’s journey from Romania to the USA as a Holocaust survivor as well as his father’s childhood, both in Europe and in the USA. The interview gave a lot of insight into why Grunfeld wasn’t a PR guy like his successor Tommy Sheppard, and a better understanding of his upbringing.