After watching the Wizards play the Knicks Monday night, it's safe to say that rookie John Wall will have a lot of lonely nights in Washington with the current cast of characters surrounding him. One positive for the Wizards, they have a great mentor on the bench for Wall in assistant coach, and former NBA champion, Sam Cassell.
The particulars ...
Denver: 25-18 (5-13 on the road)
Streak: Won 1 and 5-5 in last 10 games.
Washington: 13-30 (13-9 at home)
Streak: Lost 1 and 5-5 in last 10.
Denver: Chris Andersen (knee, back) is out.
Washington: Kirk Hinrich (sprained right elbow) and Josh Howard (sore left knee) are both out.
Season Series: First meeting between the two teams
Opposition's Take: Bullets Forever
As I was getting started with this preview, I decided to check in on the Wizards vs. Knicks game unfolding at Madison Square Garden. The Wizards were enjoying a small third-quarter lead, but the game seemed to be going as Wall was going and he was beginning to fade.
When Wall's jumper started to disappear (and when he was turned into a jump shooter) and he began relying on his teammates, the lead disappeared as well. Washington was playing well when Wall was able to get up-and-down the court, flying around and making plays for open shooters or just scoring himself. When they slowed down offensively, things didn't go so well. The Knicks were able to get pretty much whatever they wanted offensively and after three quarters the score reflected that, with a high-scoring 93-91 contest in favor of New York.
New York pulled away in the final quarter and outscored the Wizards 22-15 and won the game 115-106. Wall finished the night with 18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in 34 minutes. Fellow Washington starters Rashard Lewis, Nick Young and JaVale McGee all scored in double-figures and combined for 57 points and benefitted largely from Wall's ability to manuver in traffic to the rim.
I was talking to fellow Denver Stiffs writer Jeff Morton over the weekend about Wall and how he reminded me of Derrick Rose. Jeff noted that he's a rawer verision of Rose, and I totally agree. Wall isn't as comfortable taking jumpers as he is getting to the rim and Denver fans can relate to this issue in regards to Ty Lawson. Lawson has shown more of an ability to hit pull-up jumpers this season than he did last year, but the game is coming to him quickly as it will to Wall as well. The rookie, Wall, also likes to take the ball from way above the top of the key near halfcourt to get a head of steam to break down his defender. Arron Afflalo should take note and sag off Wall if he's out near midcourt.
Rose is the unquestioned man in Chicago now, Lawson is waiting in the wings in Denver and Wall has shown why he was chosen first-overall in the 2010 NBA draft. The point guard position shares a lot in common with the quarterback position in the NFL. It's hard for young guys to come in and take control of their team right away in each league. But in the NBA, not only do you have to play smart on the court, but you have to direct guys that you may have been looking up to just a season ago when you were in college.
George Karl has stated that he wants Lawson to be more of a vocal leader with the Nuggets and has been pushing him to do so, but you can only push guys into a leadership role so far. Being a leader is something that a player has to take control of himself. And for the young guys, not having a lot of experience on the court can lead them to not wanting to bark to much at their teammates. How can they be expected to lead when they are still learning themselves? Well, in today's NBA there is not a lot of time to sit back and learn the game. You have to learn on the fly and in Lawson's case he has the luxury, and sometimes the burden, of being Chauncey Billups' understudy. In Wall's case he has been thrown not only into the starting role, but into the sole role of saving a franchise.
Gone from the Wizards are Gilbert Arenas (Magic), Antawn Jamison (Cavs), Caron Butler (Mavs) and Brendan Haywood (Mavs). They tore down what they had in a hurry and have already begun the rebuilding process with Wall, McGee, Young, Andray Blatche and Al Thornton. There is still quite of bit of tinkering left with their roster, but no matter who they bring in, this is Wall's team.
Views you can use:
- On January 15, 2011 Carmelo Anthony Tweeted, "Born in Brooklyn, Manufactured in Bmore. Point blank period" ... might we all be missing where Melo wants to return home to? If Melo did sign with the Wizards he would surely require they change their name back to the Bullets. Might the Wizards have the worst nickname in the NBA? The Thunder, Jazz and Bobcats might argue with them.
- Against the Knicks the Wizards used a heavy bench rotation of Thornton (10 points), Mustafa Shakur (6 points), Trevor Booker (7 points) and Kevin Seraphin (0 points). The only Shakur I know is the former Tupac Shakur. Booker sounds like a good name for a linebacker and Kevin Seraphin sounds like a bad backup quarterback for the Redskins.
- The Wizards only attempted 13 three-pointers against the Knicks. Hopefully the Nuggets remember to cover Lewis and Young out on the perimeter ... they combined to shoot 3-9 vs. New York from downtown.
- Speaking of the Knicks, it was funny to hear their crowd chanting "M-V-P" for Amar'e Stoudemire late in the game when he was at the foul line. 23-21 teams want a league MVP? Seriously?
- The Wizards will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. Maybe that will help slow Wall down ... Afflalo will have his work cut out for him Tuesday night.
- Only six teams in the NBA have less road wins than the 5-13 Nuggets. The Wizards are one of them as they are now 0-21 on the road. Denver can get things started in the right direction on this five-game road trip starting Tuesday night in Washington.
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