Tag Archive | "NBA"

Statheads and ex-jocks, can’t we all just get along?

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Statheads and ex-jocks, can’t we all just get along?

Posted on 11 February 2015 by Luke Jones

The spat between Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is just the latest example in the battle continuing to be fought across multiple sports.

The “old school” way of thinking versus statistical analysis.

Never mind that the mindsets aren’t mutually exclusive, you better choose one or the other in this fight!

Despite being a self-proclaimed baseball nerd — we’ll use that sport for our example — I’ve always maintained it’s up to the individual to decide how dedicated and in depth he or she wants to be as a fan. After all, we’re talking about sports and not matters of national security.

It’s supposed to be fun.

Embracing sabermetrics to adapt how I study the game in recent years hasn’t swayed my enjoyment in watching a perfectly-executed relay or a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Finding new ways to educate yourself about the game isn’t a mandate — however, it should be for those who work in the game and want to remain relevant — but it’s silly to criticize simply because we may not understand or be interested.

Admittedly, statistical analysis is heavy as it can quickly start to feel like a calculus lesson instead of a baseball discussion. With many of these advanced stats — OPS-plus, FIP, UZR, and WAR just to name a few — I’ve developed a functional understanding of what they mean and how to apply them without wasting brainpower remembering how to calculate them. It’s akin to enjoying the steak without dwelling on how it’s prepared at the butcher shop.

For anyone not convinced of the value of sabermetrics — but will at least humor me — I typically present three questions:

1. Would you rather have a .300 hitter or a .260 hitter?

Many — not all — traditional fans will go with the .300 hitter, which has long been viewed as a benchmark for greatness, but how much does batting average really tell us?

In this case, the .300 hitter could also be a free swinger who doesn’t walk often and hits for very little power. In contrast, let’s pretend the .260 hitter clubbed 60 extra-base hits and walked 80 times over the course of the season. Under such a scenario, the .260 hitter is likely to be the far superior option without getting into their value on the bases or in the field.

This is why on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) is embraced while batting average is being thrown aside by many statheads as a limited piece of information. If you want to take it a step further, OPS-plus takes into account how a hitter’s home ballpark — think of a pitcher’s park in Oakland compared to a hitter’s park — impacted his performance and allows for better comparison among players across the league.

2. Do you want a pitcher with a 3.70 ERA last year or one who had a 4.00 mark?

Again, many purists will point to the hurler with the lower ERA and be right in most cases, but is it always that simple?

What about the defense he played with in comparison to the group that was behind the other pitcher? What if one was really lucky or had great misfortune over a number of starts?

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is complicated to calculate, but it uses the outcomes a pitcher solely controls (strikeouts, walks, hit by pitch, and home runs) to produce a value on the same scale as ERA. Its intent is to eliminate factors such as defense and bloop hits in trying to assess a pitcher’s effectiveness and to help predict his future performance.

As an example, the 2014 Orioles ranked seventh in the majors in team ERA (3.44), but they ranked 24th in team FIP (3.96). It reflects just how much Orioles pitching benefited from the exceptional defense behind it — which confirms what many purists witnessed with their own eyes, mind you — and how it would likely fare with an average defense.

3. Would you prefer the shortstop who made six errors or the one who made 12 last season?

This question is a good one as baseball fans have long been prisoners to a lack of data to truly assess defense. Hypothetically, a player could stand in one spot on the field all year and not commit an error, but that would make him quite poor defensively, wouldn’t it?

Sabermetrics are ever evolving when it comes to measuring defense, but numbers such as Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) are finally accounting for how much ground a player covers in the field. The measures aren’t perfect as there is fluctuation from year to year, but we’ve taken giant leaps from the days of simply quoting the number of errors, putouts, and assists a player collects.

To answer the above question, we need to know how the first player’s range compares to the second shortstop. If the latter gets to many more balls in the hole and up the middle, it’s logical to conclude he’s likely to commit more errors, but how many more outs will he also have created in the process?

Of course, the three above questions only scratch the surface of what’s out there in baseball.

Statistical analysis is about accounting for variables and answering questions. There isn’t one fancy statistic that should be viewed as gospel — or a number to which you become a “prisoner” in Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s words — in the same way that no person’s gut feeling or eyeball test is foolproof, either. Computers and numbers don’t play the games on the field, but they can tell us more about what’s happening and what is likely to happen next.

It’s possible to appreciate the human element as well as what the numbers say. In fact, we might even find that a statistic will confirm a gut feeling or an observation.

If more statheads were willing to explain their rationale and more traditionalists were open to learning, we wouldn’t have the embarrassing exchanges like we saw this week between an NBA general manager and one of the great players in league history.

There’s a place for both statistical analysis and traditional evaluation if we’re willing to embrace both.

And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a Hall of Famer to do it.

 

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Jerry’s Collision Center Presents WNST Wizards Hoops Bustrip to D.C. vs. New York Knicks (April 3)

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Jerry’s Collision Center Presents WNST Wizards Hoops Bustrip to D.C. vs. New York Knicks (April 3)

Posted on 05 December 2014 by WNST Trips

We’re trying to get more aggressive and do even more WNST trips to Wizards games in D.C. than usual this season but can only do these trips based on demand. If you love the Wizards and the NBA and don’t like the drive before and after games, our trips have an eight-year track record of being easy, fun and affordable. We appreciate you supporting all that we’re doing to grow the hoops  community in Baltimore. If you know of other NBA and Wizards fans in Baltimore, please help us spread the word and fill some buses with hoops fans.

All aboard another Jerry’s Collision Center Wizards Bus to D.C. as Washington takes on the New York Knicks at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2015. Our Gunther Motorcoach will depart from the White Marsh Mall at 4:30 p.m. with a pickup from Catonsville/UMBC I-95 Park N Ride (at Rt. 166) at 5 p.m. All tickets are upper level in the Verizon Center and include a limited supply of cold beer (for those 21-and-over) en route and snacks, soft drinks and fun videos and giveaways.

We will be able to accommodate larger groups upon request and always keep groups together.

We hope you join us for a night of hoops and fun aboard the Jerry’s Collision Center WNST Wizards Bus to D.C. Families and children are welcomed and encouraged to join us! It’s a great night out!

Your PayPal receipt is your ticket and we always throw you an email 48 hours before the game to confirm everything. All you need to do is purchase and we’ll see you at the bus. We bring the game tickets with us. Nice and easy!

If you have any questions, throw me a note: nasty@wnst.net

COST: $90 per person

Pickup Location
Mobile contact #

 

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John Ourand joins Nestor to talk Washington Wizards basketball

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John Ourand joins Nestor to talk Washington Wizards basketball

Posted on 18 November 2014 by WNST Staff

John Ourand joined Nestor to talk about the NBA and the Washington Wizards. With all of their young talent, they look to build off of an impressive season last year. Like the 2013-2014 season, they hope to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this year. LISTEN HERE.

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Sterling

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Los Angeles Clippers Sale Finalized, But Who Really Won?

Posted on 14 August 2014 by Brandon Sacks

In case you have been living under a rock since April, you have at least been hearing some intermittent updates about what has been happening with Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers.  In case you need a refresher, here’s a quick recap.

On April 26, TMZ released phone calls Sterling made on his personal phone where he said he did not want African Americans to attend his games.  The general public did not like this and called for the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, to do something about it.  Eventually, it was ruled that the NBA would force the sale of the team.  Sterling fought this idea, obviously wanting to keep his team.  Eventually, his wife made the sale to Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft.  After a legal battle of his mental capacity to make the sale and be responsible for doing so, the sale was finalized today for $2 billion.

The sale of the team gets it out of the hands of someone who may not have the highest opinions of a certain racial group, which is exactly what most people wanted.  Many say there is no place in sports for racists, which is something that makes sense.  However, once all of the rage settles from the initial comments, everything became quiet until today’s sale.  The question that seems to still be lingering is how the sale really settles anything.

Here’s a little lesson in history.  In 1981, Donald Sterling purchased the San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million.  In 1984, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, and in 1999, they began playing in the Staples Center.  Since moving to the Staples Center, the Clippers have become consistent contenders in the Western Conference.

That being said, something that sticks out is the amount of money he initially spent on the team.  He bought the team for only $12.5 million.  The team was just sold for $2 billion, or 160 times the purchasing price.  If that number isn’t bothersome, maybe this one is: Sterling just made $1,987,500,000 for making racist comments.

Thats right. Sterling, who made a few racist comments and was forced to sell his team by the league as a result, just made close to $2 billion.  What message is this sending to everyone?  Nothing good will come from paying an alleged racist to just go away.

As the shock continues to set in, many may begin to wonder what the proper punishment should have been.  The NBA filed a lawsuit against Sterling over what happened, but this is only a consequence of a poor decision from the start.  It’s a shame that this series of events has occurred because this is the first thing that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will be remembered for doing.  Unfortunately, the consequences of the lifetime banishment and forced sale of the team have the very real potential to tarnish the reputation of Commissioner Silver.

If there’s something to take away, just remember that people were outraged that Sterling made his racially disparaging comments, but no one has expressed any discontent for the amount of money he made after selling the team.  Can people really be angry at him if they ignore this fact?

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Christmas day trip to New York highlights Wizards’ 2013-2014 schedule

Posted on 13 August 2014 by WNST Staff

WIZARDS ANNOUNCE 2014-15 SCHEDULE

Team Opens Home Slate on Saturday, Nov. 1, vs. Milwaukee
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Washington Wizards announced their 2014-15 regular season schedule today, including their home opener on Saturday, Nov. 1, against the Milwaukee Bucks. 
 
The Wizards tip off the season with a two game road trip to Florida when they visit the Heat on Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Miami, then travel to Orlando to face the Magic the following night.  Overall, the Wizards will play 18 of their 41 home games on the weekend (Friday-Sunday), with 18 of those coming on Friday (six games) and Saturday (eight games).
 
The Wizards 2014-15 schedule features ten nationally televised games including a Christmas matchup versus the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on ESPN at noon, which marks the teams first Christmas game since 2008 when they faced the Cavaliers in Cleveland. 
 
The home schedule features a visit from the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 13, the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 21 and Feb. 20, the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 23 and Jan. 9 and the lone visits of the Los Angeles Lakers (Dec. 3), Los Angeles Clippers (Dec. 12), Oklahoma City Thunder (Jan, 21) and the Houston Rockets (Mar. 29).  The Wizards will host the Philadelphia 76ers in a Martin Luther King Day matinee matchup on Jan. 19. The home finale will take place on April 12 when the Wizards host the Hawks prior to finishing the season with back-to-back road games against the Pacers (Apr. 14) and Cavaliers (Apr. 15).
 
The Wizards longest home stand is five games from Mar. 25-Apr.3, while the longest road trip will take place from Dec. 29-Jan.5 and consists of five games.  The team will also embark on two four-game west coast swings.  The first one will send the Wizards to Portland, Denver, Los Angeles to face the Lakers and Phoenix from Jan. 24-28.  On the second west coast trip from Mar. 18-23, they will face the Jazz, Clippers, Kings and Warriors. 
 
Each team in the Eastern Conference will visit Verizon Center twice with the exception of Milwaukee (Nov. 1) and Toronto (Jan. 31), while the Wizards will visit Boston (Dec. 7) and Detroit (Jan. 22) only once during the regular season. 

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Dorsey’s Dugout – Durant to DC and Capitals Potential Forward Lines

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Dorsey’s Dugout – Durant to DC and Capitals Potential Forward Lines

Posted on 01 August 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

Durant to DC Talks Must Settle

With LeBron James going back to his hometown team, discussions around the country have escalated regarding another NBA star heading back to his hometown in the near future. Kevin Durant, arguably the leagues best player behind James, is set to be a free agent at the end of the 2015-16 regular season and already talks have begun on the possibility of the Thunder star coming back home.

There is a legitimate shot that the 2014 NBA MVP could wind up in a Washington uniform for the start of the 2016-17 regular season, but the chatter must settle for now.

The former Longhorn standout still has two more seasons in Oklahoma City and his deal is not similar to what LeBron James had in Miami. When Durant signed a five year contract extension in 2010, his deal did not include an opt out clause after the fourth season. So unfortunately for Wizards fans, he cannot opt out after the upcoming season.

The coming back home hype for Cleveland fans was warranted after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season because there was a chance that James would opt out of his final year in Miami. The city of Cleveland remained patient for a whole season and the Akron native did what they had hoped.

Wizards’ nation is now feeling what Cavs fans did over a year ago, but it is a different situation. Washington must be patient due to the fact Durant cannot opt out of his final year and hit free agency.

As enticing as it may sound to land one of the biggest stars in the game, Wizards fans must play the waiting game. The game will not be too difficult because of the potential this team has for the upcoming season. With all the pieces added to the puzzle from the off-season, there are high expectations. So for now, Washington fans should just live in the moment because this season has a chance to be something special.

Washington Capitals Potential Forward Lines

With training camp on the horizon, everyone will await to see how new head coach Barry Trotz tinkers with the Capitals forward lines. Since Washington did not address the hole left at second line center by Mikhail Grabovski, there is uncertainty how the top six will shake up.

Trotz recently dropped hints regarding potential replacements for Grabovski, who signed a deal with the New York Islanders in free agency. The former Predator head coach mentioned the possibility that players like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky could fill that center void.

With Brooks Laich back in the swing of things assuming he stays healthy, the top six can get tricky. Even the top nine becomes crowded with some of the younger prospects trying to climb their way into the lineup. With that being said, it is time to sort out the four forward lines and evaluate the possbilities.

1: Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2: Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Troy Brouwer
3: Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward
4: Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle

As of now, the above line up could set up to be the top four forward lines for the Washington Capitals. It is possible, but there are several different ways these lines could change and it begins at the top.

Brooks Laich has seen his time on the wing playing along side Ovi and Backstrom in his career, but he was given a contract extension years ago based on his ability to be a quality two-way center. So if Laich can stay on the ice, he could find himself filling the void at second line center.

The third line should remain in tact because that combination above was consistently the most productive line throughout the season. Ward and Chimera had career years and their chemistry on the ice would be tough to separate.

The biggest problem that arises from this current lineup is Tom Wilson playing on the fourth line. Wilson is a young promising player and it is now his time to see increased minutes. Remaining on the fourth line will not help Wilson get those minutes, so he could find his way into the top three lines.

The wildcard of all this could be last years first round selection Andre Burakovsky. The 2013 first rounder had a tremendous season for the Erie Otters in the OHL, so there is temptation to bring him up to the big league. If he shows flashes of promise in training camp, Burakovsky could find himself on the big roster.

With all that being said, here is another look at how the lineups could unfold for the upcoming season:

1. Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2. Tom Wilson, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer
3. Jason Chimera, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Joel Ward
4. Eric Fehr, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle

The first line does not see much change except for the swap of MoJo and Laich. This second line is assuming that Trotz hopes for Laich to hold onto the second line center position. This top six seems ideal for a couple of reasons.

Tom Wilson gets a lot more experience cracking the top six, which will be imperative for his growth. The second line has the make up of a Trotz style in which accountability is a priority. Laich is a very good two-way center while Wilson brings another dimension of physicality. Troy Brouwer got hot scoring toward the tail end of the season and this line would depend on him to continue providing points.

The third line had a minor change in dropping Fehr to the fourth line. Kuznetsov did not play a lot of center last season and with this lineup, he would get the much-needed experience at playing that role. Ward and Chimera were the constant point producers from the third line last season with the center position being interchangeable between Grabovski and Fehr. Kuzy could find his way to become the second line center if Laich re-aggravates past injuries.

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Rice scores 24 but Wizards bow out to Kings to Summer League semis

Posted on 21 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Game Recap: Kings 74, Wizards 62

The Sacramento Kings (5-1) earned a spot in the Samsung NBA Summer League Championship with their convincing 74-62 victory over the Washington Wizards (5-1) Sunday at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. Sacramento used a 39-10 run that spanned the first and second quarters to outdistance itself from Washington to earn its fifth straight victory in Las Vegas.

The Kings will square off against the Houston Rockets (5-2), who are also riding a five-game winning streak of its own, in Monday’s title bout at 6:00 pm.

Trailing 7-4, Sacramento scored six straight points to turn the game’s momentum in its favor. Nik Stauskas, the eighth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, got things going — a 14-4 run — with a game-tying 3-pointer moments before Quincy Acy sank a go-ahead free throw. The Kings wound up outscoring the Wizards 10-4 the remainder of the period.

Sacramento kept the pedal down in the second as its lead grew to as much as 26 points — 43-17 — with a 25-6 run that lasted the initial 7:29 of the stanza.

In all, the Kings had nine different players contribute at least two points in the massive 39-10 outburst. Stauskas (five points), Acy (two), Eric Moreland (two) and Ray McCallum (five) combined for the first 14 points that sparked the first-quarter offensive. MarShon Brooks scored 14 in the second quarter alone to couple with 11 more from a combination of Jared Cunningham (three), Ra’shad James (two), Brendan Lane (two) and Ben McLemore (two).

Sacramento took a 21-point lead into intermission and maintained a healthy distance until Washington rattled off a 19-5 run to pull within seven in the early stages of the fourth quarter. The spurt began with 5:11 remaining in the third and the Wizards trailing by 21. Otto Porter (seven), Glen Rice Jr. (five), Jarell Eddie (five) and Daniel Theis (two) combined to pull their team within single digits for the first time since early in the second frame.

That seven-point margin was the closest Washington would get to Sacramento as the lead grew to as much as 17 midway through the final stanza.

Sacramento was paced by a quartet of players in double figures. Brooks paced the team with 14, while McCallum added 11 to 10 apiece from Acy and Cunningham. Moreland, who had six points, led all players with 12 rebounds — 10 of which came on the defensive boards.

Rice Jr. had a game-high 24 points for the Wizards behind an 8-for-23 day from the field. He sank one 3-pointer and made all seven free throws.

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Wizards’ Rice Jr. named NBA Summer League MVP

Posted on 20 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Rice, Jr. named MVP, leads All-NBA Summer League team

Official release

LAS VEGAS — Glen Rice, Jr. of the Washington Wizards was unanimously named Most Valuable Player of the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014, while nine additional standout players highlight the Samsung All-NBA Summer League First and Second teams, as selected by a panel of media members. The summer classic has featured 24 teams competing in a total of 67 games over 11 days and will culminate tomorrow night in the Championship game between the 14th seeded Houston Rockets and the 8th seeded Sacramento Kings. The Championship game will air live on NBA TV at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.

Rice, Jr. played in six games in Las Vegas, helping the Wizards advance to the semifinals of the Samsung NBA Summer League tournament and secure a 5-1 record at the event. He averaged a league-leading 25 points on .469 shooting, to go along with 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Rice, Jr. is joined on the Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team by Wizards teammate Otto Porter, along with Chicago Bulls Doug McDermott and Tony Snell and Donatas Motiejunas of the Houston Rockets.

Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (New York Knicks), Jordan McRae (Philadelphia 76ers), Russ Smith (New Orleans Pelicans) and T.J. Warren (Phoenix Suns) make up the Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 has featured a tournament-style schedule for the second consecutive year, with the Golden State Warriors having won the inaugural championship in 2013. Each of the participating teams played three games apiece between July 11 and 15 before being seeded in the tournament, which tipped off on July 16 and will run through the championship game on July 21.

The Samsung All-NBA Summer League teams are listed below.


Samsung NBA Summer League Most Valuable Player
:

Glen Rice, Jr. — Washington Wizards

 

Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team

Doug McDermott — Chicago Bulls
Donatas Motiejunas — Houston Rockets
Otto Porter — Washington Wizards
Glen Rice, Jr. — Washington Wizards
Tony Snell — Chicago Bulls

 

Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team

Rudy Gobert — Utah Jazz
Tim Hardaway, Jr. — New York Knicks
Jordan McRae — Philadelphia 76ers
Russ Smith — New Orleans Pelicans
T.J. Warren — Phoenix Suns

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Wizards top Spurs in 3OT to advance to Summer League semifinals

Posted on 20 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Game Recap: Wizards 95, Spurs 94 (3OT)

It took triple-overtime for the Washington Wizards to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 95-94 in the final quarterfinal game of the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014. The Wizards (5-0) will take on the Sacramento Kings (4-1) on Sunday in the semi-finals. The Spurs went 4-2 in the summer desert classic.

With 36 seconds left in the game Vander Blue hit a three-point jump shot to tie the game at 81, neither team would score in the final seconds forcing overtime to decide the game. Austin Daye connected on a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left in overtime to tie the game at 84. Glen Rice Jr. hit a three at the buzzer to force triple overtime.

Rice scored a game high 36 points and pulled down a team high 11 rebounds for the Wizards while Otto Porter scored 27. Austin Daye scored a team high 27 points for the Spurs while Bryce Cotton added 16.

In the opening quarter of play the Spurs earned a one-point lead, 21-20, after trailing by as many as five early in the quarter. Daye and Green powered the Spurs offense with six points apiece while Porter led the Wizards with eight.

The Spurs blew the game wide open when they went on a 20-1 run and led by as many as 17 in the second quarter. The Wizards answered with a 9-2 run to end the quarter, San Antonio took a 49-39 lead at the half. Daye continued to lead the Spurs offense with eight points in the quarter while Kyle Anderson added five. Daniel Theis tallied six for the Wizards.

Washington answered back in the third with a 17-2 run of their own in the period and finished up 63-61. Rice scored 12 points for the Wizards while Porter added five. Deshaun Thomas and Cotton each scored four for the Spurs.

The two teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter, neither team leading by more than four points. The quarter featured seven lead changes and was tied up twice. Rice led the Wizards with seven points while Blue added seven for the Spurs.

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Grunfeld Building a Contender with Stellar Off-Season

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Grunfeld Building a Contender with Stellar Off-Season

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

The Washington Wizards 2013-14 season was among the most successful the franchise has had in quite sometime. There is a lot of momentum from last season to build off of and general manager Ernie Grunfeld had a task ahead of him going into the off-season. Continuity was the main goal and for the most part they succeeded.

Priority number one for the organization was bringing back center Marcin Gortat. Washington acquired the Polish center from the Phoenix Suns in a trade last off-season and a first round pick was part of the price. Gortat had one of the best years of his career averaging 13 points, nearly 10 rebounds and had 37 double-doubles.

Gortat was a big difference maker for the Wizards last year and they could not afford for him to walk. He helped elevate the franchise to a playoff contender and giving up a first rounder for Gortat made him nonexpendable. The front office took care of priority number one by signing the Polish center to a five year $60 million deal.

The second priority for Grunfeld was bringing back starting small forward Trevor Ariza. The 10-year veteran had one of the better seasons in his career averaging 14 points and shooting 40% from the three-point line. Ariza also brought a great defensive presence and should have gotten recognized for his defensive skills on one of the All-NBA defensive teams.

Ariza wanted the big contract, as he was most likely entering his last big free agency period of his career. Wanting long-term financial security, this was his best time to get that.

Washington did not want to overspend for the services of Ariza, but they expressed interest in bringing him back. Unfortunately, they were unable to come to an agreement and Ariza chose to sign with the Houston Rockets for a four-year deal worth $32 million.

The loss of Ariza at first left a large hole for the former third overall selection Otto Porter to fill, but Grunfeld made a big move.
Former Brooklyn Net Paul Pierce signed on the dotted line and was officially a Washington Wizard. This move came as a bit of a surprise to many, but it is a move that had to happen. There are several different opinions about Pierce at this point in his career, but this was an outstanding addition to the roster.

Entering his 17th season, Pierce played a career low last year in terms of minutes per game. He might have some age to him, but Pierce brings qualities to this team they desperately need.

When Ariza left for Houston, a lot of experience within this team was lost. Trevor Ariza won a championship with the Lakers and brought that championship experience to a team that was so young and not full of playoff experience. The Wizards now get that back with Pierce, who has won a championship with Boston and was once awarded Finals MVP.

Washington was able to close games in their first round series against the Chicago Bulls, but found difficulty in closing out games against the Indiana Pacers. Bradley Beal was that guy first round, but Paul George made it tough for him second round to do so. Nobody else was able to step up in that role and Paul Pierce brings that ability with him.

The Truth is known as one of the more clutch players in the NBA and is one of the best closers. With the experience he brings to the lineup, no stage is too big for him and it will rub off on the rest of the squad.

Otto Porter is due to get an increased workload this year and right now the Pierce signing does not limit that. Pierce will be great for Porter from a mentor standpoint and he is not killing a severe amount of playing time for the second year player. With Pierce only getting about 28 minutes a game last season, Porter will still get plenty of minutes to gain experience.

This situation could get a little tricky over a month into the season once Martell Webster gets back onto the floor. For now, the signing of Pierce is a huge addition for the Wizards due to the experience he brings and the ability to close out in the big moments.

Washington has other needs to address this off-season such as providing better depth in the front-court and adding another guard to the mix. The Wizards made several trades in the past few days to add to the depth in the front-court.

Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair were added to the roster through sign and trade deals. Humphries is a solid shooter from mid range much like Nene, except he is not as physical and defensively sound as Nene. Blair appears undersized at 6’7 for the low post, but he is a physical player able to rebound and score inside well.

With Drew Gooden set to return as well, the Wizards front court depth is much better heading into the season than they were last year. The roster is almost set nearing the 15-player maximum and Washington has flexibility with that last spot.

Ernie Grunfeld has done a tremendous job of building a contender in the Eastern conference. He has done a great job of setting up the team for success now, but also the future as well. Many of the new acquisitions have short-term deals with player options in the mix. These contracts give an opportunity for the front office to clear up a good amount of cap space.

This flexibility with the roster and the salary cap already is raising discussions on whether the Wizards are positioning themselves to make a run for Kevin Durant in 2016. With the LeBron returning home story just happening, eyes are already gazing upon Durant to potentially make a return home to DC.

Landing Durant is a possibility with an attractive roster to surround himself with and the cap room to get a big deal. It also bodes well for Washington when they chose to hire Durant’s former high school coach David Adkins. The pieces are falling into place for the potential signing, but that time is out on the horizon.

The Wizards took a big step as a franchise last season winning their first playoff series since 2005. With playoff experience gained and good pieces added to the roster, Grunfeld has the Wizards set to be a big-time contender in the Eastern Conference.

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