It’s been awhile since I went down to the Verizon Center to check out the Washington Professional Basketball Team. Last night I went down to Chinatown to see Nene in person for the first time he arrived to the team in a trade-deadline deal that drastically reshaped the team. The look of the Wizards is now closer to the long-term vision that the franchise hopes to make reality. By shedding the ill-fitting pieces in JaVale McGee and Nick Young and gaining quality character in Nene, the team can now focus on developing their young core and acquiring more pieces in the upcoming draft (where they will most likely have a high pick).
Now the addition of Nene hasn’t changed the team overnight, with only 14 games left to play heading into Friday’s game against Philadelphia the team was in the midst of a five-game losing streak. However there were a few things that I saw and liked about the Wizards that helped them beat the 76ers 97-76.
The Team Still Needs To Learn To Finish Games
Early in the season the saying was that the team needed to get in a position to be competitive late into games first. After that closing out a win would come second. Well it looks like that’s the case. Out of the five games the Wizards lost before last night’s win, three of them were within three points. In four of the fives losses, Washington held a lead with at least three minutes left to play. Last night the Wizards made sure such drama didn’t happen by keeping a healthy lead throughout the game. The Wiz finished the game with an 11-4 run that put the 76ers away for good. That’s how they need to respond more often when protecting a lead.
Nene Improves The Team On And Off The Court
Sure his contract is a bit bloated and he’s a health risk, I liked what I saw from the 6’11″ Brazilian. Injury concerns aside he’s a high-character player and he can set a great example in the locker room for the team. While JaVale McGee might never realize his athletic potential we know what we are getting with Nene and that means something. Even though he left the game in the final quarter with a pulled plantar fascia, we might be able to put up with the injury concerns too as long as…
Kevin Seraphin Steps Up On The Bench
The 17th overall pick from the 2010 draft has always been a team project but he’s been demonstrated improvement slowly but surely. Sure I saw a couple of turnovers and mistakes from him last night but he put up a nice 14 points off the bench with 7 rebounds. There were concerns of his playing time this year with the acquisition of Ronny Turiaf but with Turiaf’s foot injury and eventual departure gave Seraphin a chance to step up. The question is will it eventually result in the next level for him.
John Wall Still Needs To Find His Shot
We know he’s fast but I still haven’t seen an improvement in his jump shot that he needs in order to become an elite player. Last night he missed all five of his jump shots on the floor, with his nine points coming from layups and dunks. For now that can fly as long as he flies in transitions and finishes at the rim. Eventually though he’ll need to develop that crucial part of the game.
We May Never See Andray Blatche Ever Play Again
Last night I was joking about Blatche’s indefinite benching due to his poor conditioning shape, but walking out of the Verizon Center I had a great chat with Truth About It’s Adam McGinnis about a startling revelation: we may have already seen Blatche’s final game in the NBA.
The team wasn’t able to move Blatche at the trade deadline and he hasn’t done anything to make me believe he has any trade value after the season. I see the team using the amnesty clause on him, wishing bon voyage to the final nuisance of the old Wizards regime. I don’t see an NBA team that would take a chance on a malcontent who is anything but a team player. With three more years and $23.2M left on an amnestied contract he could choose to hang it up and spend the rest of his days as a celebrity host at Park & 14th.
You know never though, Gilbert Arenas is now a Memphis Grizzly.