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John Wall Looks Off Carmelo to Find Paul Pierce for 3-Pointer

There’s obviously lots to like about this pass from John Wall to Paul Pierce in last night’s 98-83 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But even more impressive than the look-off to freeze Carmelo Anthony, I think I’m in love with the cohesion of Wall and Pierce after just four games.


At the very beginning of the video clip, Pierce isn’t even in the shot. But that doesn’t mean Wall doesn’t see him. He attacks down toward the basket, gives the impression he’s dishing to a shooter in the corner (a play the Wiz like to run) and instead passes back to the arc where Pierce can walk into receiving a pass and blast a wide-open three.

This assist (one of Wall’s seven on the night) was quite delicious.

Assembling the House of Guards: An NBA Fantasy Draft Fable

House of Guards is my team name, but sadly I ended up zero Wiz bros on the squad.

House of Guards is my team name, but sadly I ended up with zero Wiz bros on the squad.


For the first time in a long time, I participated in an NBA fantasy league draft with other members of the hoops crew at numberFire.

I’m not entirely sure how these draft fables go over with readers — whether or not they’re entertaining or completely useless — but here’s a trip through the snake drafting process of a novice with the second-overall pick in a 12-team head-to-head format.

And to better set the scene for strategy, the scoring format consists of nine categories: field goal percentage (FG%), free throw percentage (FT%), three-point shots made (3PTM), points scored (PTS), total rebounds (REB), assists (AST), steals (ST), blocked shots (BLK), and turnovers (TO).

Additionally, each roster consists of 13 guys: 10 starters and three bench spots.

Here’t goes.


Round 1 (Pick 2) – LeBron James

Not a whole lot of shock and awe going on here. I did contemplate taking longtime man crush Kevin Durant and fighting through the first 12-20 games of the season without him, but that was a tough maneuver given my experience.

It’s LeBron. He’ll get me some of everything. He’s durable. I’m pleased.


Round 2 (11) – Nicolas Batum

While Bron Bron was great in the first, I felt the wrath of the snake quite early, as I had to wait another 20 picks before turning in the card on my main man’s wingman.

Heading into the second round, my goal was LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, and John Wall — probably in that order. Unsurprisingly, Aldridge was gone at 2.4 and Wall was gone at 2.6. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting excited about the chance of Leonard falling to me.

Leonard goes at 2.9, then Horford, then I rebound with Nicolas Batum — a versatile running mate alongside James who gives me good minutes, points, rebounds, and decent assist numbers. Another pleasing pick here.


Round 3 (2) – Joakim Noah

Immediately after taking Batum, I felt a sense of urgency to go big in the next couple rounds. a

Marc Gasol was available here, and I also really, really thought about Brook Lopez. I ultimately sided with Noah for his rebounds and hustle on defense.


Round 4 (11) – Kemba Walker

There was no chance DeAndre Jordan would fall to me this late in the round, but I at least wished for it. In terms of what I thought even slightly possible, I targeted Chandler Parsons, Nikola Vucevic, Mike Conley if he happened to be there, and Tim Duncan.

Parsons, gone; Vucevic, gone; Conley, gone; and Timmy sniped a pick before me.

Pretty harsh feeling at that point — the timer ticking down and literally your entire target list long gone. The only silver lining I had in this situation is that I’d be picking again two spots later.

I landed Kemba Walker for his points and assists, also recognizing the loss in field goal percentage. And while he may not hit them at a great clip right now, I do like that Walker isn’t shy about chucking from beyond the arc (216 made threes over the past two seasons).


Round 5 (2) – Kenneth Faried

Derrick Favors was one of my pre-draft targets — a guy I felt good about and told myself I wouldn’t pass on if given the chance to take him.

In retrospect, I should’ve taken Kenneth Faried — another guy I really, really wanted — at the end of Round 4, then turned right around and drafted Favors to solidify a strong, youthful front court.

Nonetheless, I’m happy to have Faried on the House of Guards squad.


Round 6 (11) – Jamal Crawford

Round 6. The Round of the Sniper.

With Marcin Gortat taken at 6.5, I shifted focus to Greg Monroe, Jimmy Butler, and David Lee. Then Lee went at 6.7, Monroe at 6.9, and Butler, ever so fittingly, selected a pick before me at 6.10.


I’m not mad about landing Jamal Crawford. First guy off the bench or starter, the dude puts up points and buries three-pointers. I wanted (and also felt I needed) both.


Round 7 (2) – Nikola Pekovic

As much as I enjoy the Pekovic stat line, there was some concern surrounding this pick given the stuff I’ve read regarding the Timberwolves limiting Pek’s minutes due to some knee-itis type malarkey.

I took him anyway, expecting something like 16 points and 8 rebounds a night, as well as effective shooting from the field.


Round 8 (11) – Eric Gordon

This is where I felt things began to unravel for me.  At the top of the eighth round, I planned on taking Tyson Chandler and felt good about his availability.

Targeting Chandler (and ONLY Chandler), however, ended up being my biggest downfall. Totally my fault.

Chandler was selected at 8.5 and I suddenly had no idea what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of another scoring type and thought long and hard about The Truth in Washington. Then I backed off and thought about going for another big.

Lost in space, I ended up with Eric Gordon.

I’ve crossed my fingers for Gordon to stay healthy since I made that pick more than eight hours ago.


Round 9 (2) – Enes Kanter

Paul Pierce was still an option here (he’d later go at 9.6), but I felt a strong need to address my front court after taking Gordon in the last round.

I’m not sure the rest of the crew agreed with Enes Kanter this high, but I viewed it as a pick with upside. He’s a full-time starter in Utah this season, and if rumors are true that he’s going to get some long-range looks, then bring ‘em on.

I like what Kanter can give me in the points department, as well as field goal percentage, and I think his rebounding numbers can/will improve to make him a steady double-double guy.


Round 10 (11) – Tristan Thompson

Entering the back end of the draft, I was looking for a guy with some double-double potential who could serve as a decent utility guy. I was really after Jeff Green, but he ended up going 11.11.

There’s probably not enough balls to go around in Cleveland, but I like the idea of Thompson’s athleticism paired with LeBron.


Round 11 (2) – J.J. Redick

I thought about Ersan Ilyasova here, but then remembered my pre-hypertension and figured his play throughout the season is a roller coaster best not experienced.

Then, as embarrassing as it may sound, I thought about Carlos Boozer here too.

Ultimately I ended up with the man/kid/dude I grew up loathing. And I mean that literally. I spent nearly my entire adolescence (and beyond) defiling J.J. Redick and anything having to do with his existence.

Setting emotions aside for a second though, I ended up with a pretty decent basketball guy if/when he can stay healthy. Going after a three-point shooter made sense at this stage in my draft too, so Redick it is.


Round 12 (11) – Terrence Ross

I had Marcus Smart sitting in my queue for quite some time, and I was confident in landing him at the end of the round. Instead, discussion heated up on the Google Hangout we had going on, this guy said “Smart”, that guy said “Smart”, and before I knew it, Smart was out of my queue and gone at 12.4.

That’s not bitterness of course. I’m not talking as if I’m some NBA draft pro that just lost the season because us guys decided to talk about a certain someone in the second to last round. I’m just saying, Marcus Smart would’ve been cool.

Good news for me: Terrence Ross is also cool. He finished last season averaging 11 points per game with 161 made three-pointers. He also added better than three rebounds and an assist every night in under 27 minutes.

Also noted: Once Smart was off the board, I was comfortable going with Alec Burks. He was taken two picks before me.


Round 13 (2) – Kevin Garnett 

Matt Barnes was the smart pick here, but I favored a big man who could play the five.

And respect, of course. Respect for the Big Ticket and my duty as a basketball fan to never allow him to go undrafted in fantasy formats. Ever.

Speaking of which, what ever happened to the “Big Ticket” moniker? Was that considered an immature nickname?

Anyway, there was also the possibility of taking Dion Waiters to close out my draft, but with his recent slew of shit talking, I couldn’t stomach the move. Not to mention, the crew and I were giggling so much about Waiters through the previous 12 rounds that I didn’t want to be the guy that actually landed him. #BealOrDie


Not a terrible fiddle, I suppose. I was definitely outmatched by the other guys, who are extremely wise and savvy and absolutely worth your follow on Twitter (@weisband, @rustypedalbike, @gdula13, @bryan_mears, @HurmNF, @Real_Hauss, @BitterPackerFan, @GalinDragiev, @bRo14thekid, @Style_N_Out).

Again, things really seemed to go awry for me after the seventh round. The sniping rate was picking up, I wasn’t nearly as sharp as I should’ve been regarding intriguing late-round fliers, and I reached on a fair share I’m guessing.

Now onto the games!


  1. Klay Thompson went 3.1, otherwise that would’ve been hard to resist.  (back)

Reports: Kevin Durant Close to Massive $325 Million Endorsement Deal with Under Armour

Kevin Durant Redskins 2

The dream of Kevin Durant returning to Washington, DC is still alive and well — just in case anyone was checking.

The latest puzzle piece to nestle into place? The rumor that Durant will be moving on from his longtime partnership with Nike to sign an incredibly massive $325 million endorsement deal with Under Armour.

And the rub? Under Armour headquarters is located in Durant’s home state of Maryland.

Will I continue to feed this monster? Yes I will — ’til the summer of ’16 when KD is donning a fly-ass Wizards jersey.

Grading the Wizards’ 2014 NBA Summer League Stay

Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr.

Some fans enjoy the NBA summer league. Others hate it.

If I had to guess, I’d say a majority tend to lean toward the “hate it” side. Why? Lots of reasons, really. But things like “sloppy play”, “who the hell is this kid?”, and “is that so-and-so’s brother’s nephew’s cousin?” probably top the list.

Anyway, the conclusion of the Las Vegas summer league (congrats, Sacramento?) means another chapter of the NBA offseason in the books, which then gives us the opportunity to hand out praise and criticism to our beloved Washington Wizards for their two-week layover in Sin City.

Here’s a look at the good and bad from Washington’s summer league stay.


  • Although it’s really what should’ve happened for the Wizards this summer given each guys’ time spent on the roster last season, both Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. impressed in their six games in Vegas. Rice averaged 25 points per game and won summer league MVP (hardware!), while Porter chipped in with 19 and nearly six rebounds a game. One could breakdown each guy’s play, game-by-game, but the most noticeable takeaway from the young duo (both of whom should be a part of the team’s active roster) is their confidence. I think assistant coach Sam Cassell was the first to say it (I think…no link), but it was so true — both Rice and Porter were playing like they were the best players on the court, and it made a world of difference in their play. Hopefully that carries over.
Porter 6 31.8 0.484 0.389 5.8 1.8 0.5 2.2 19
Rice 6 32 0.469 0.361 7.8 2.3 2.5 3 25
  • As someone who’s been on the Khem Birch bandwagon for quite a while now, it was nice to see him play well this summer, and for the Wizards to boot. His five points per game in a little more than 19 minutes of action were on par for the type of hustle/defensive/ rebounding player he is. Birch doesn’t fit the mold of a stretch-4, but he’s an easy guy to root for because he does all the other stuff (5.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game) well and does so with maximum effort.
  • Sam Cassell remains a hot coaching candidate, which is great in terms of his current duties with the Wizards, but also concerning that he could be on his way to Los Angeles in exchange for a second-round pick (according to Wojnarowski). Given Ernie Grunfeld’s drafting ability, Cassell is worth about 68 times more than a second-round pick. I hope he stays.
  • I’m willing to call it the best moment of the Wizards’ summer league — the ever so studly Bradley Beal was sitting courtside, wearing a headset and chatting it up with the commentary crew during one of Washington’s games against the Miami Heat. As Beal talked about his own development as a player and the Wizards’ expectations heading into next season, Tyler Honeycutt (who is quite bad) attempted to drive the left lane and slam on Wizards center Daniel Theis. Honeycutt was successful with the driving part, but Theis dished out a peak-high block that was well-qualified for the four-letter network’s top-ten plays, ultimately leading to a whooing crowd and Honeycutt’s miserable remains hunched on the hardwood.

Beal then added commentary of his own, giving us the best 16 words of the tournament and helping complete a truly special moment in Theis’ young career.

I don’t know his name — I think he’s from overseas — but that was a good block.                                                                        – Bradley Beal, nevermore

So who really is Daniel Theis? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. Even didn’t have much info outside of his vitals (6’9″, 215 lbs), his age (22), his hometown (Braunschweig, Germany), and his Eurocup stats from last season. But following five games with the Wiz this summer, the athletic power forward with the blonde comb-over averaged 6.6 points, six boards and nearly two blocks a game. Definitely cool. 

Somewhat chilly

  • My current nightmare: rooting for Daniel Orton. Why the torture? Because he was a part of the John Wall draft class in 2010 and I crush on John Wall like a teenage school girl? I have no answers. Even so, I feel like I barely saw Orton this summer, despite him playing five games with the Wiz. His stats were pretty ho-hum for the most part: 4.4 points, 5 rebounds, and barely a block per game. The better side: 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals. Go Daniel Orton.
  • Rookie Jamil Wilson looked the part of a small forward, standing 6’7″, 230 pounds. Additionally, his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin is the same as former-Wizards forward Caron Butler. Kind of cool/coincidental.

Not Cool

  • I know you’re not supposed to invest a lot into the summer league, but I had high(er) hopes for rookie point guard Deonte Burton. It’d be nice for a young point to come up through the ranks behind guys like John Wall and veteran Andre Miller, and Burton seemed like a fun project. But after averaging less than two points per game on 15 percent (!) shooting with an ugly assist (1) to turnover (1.3) ratio, Burton takes the cake for most disappointing of the Wizards’ desert vacation.

Wizards go 5-1 in Las Vegas, the Jrs. (Glen Rice and Otto Porter) find their mojo, Sam Cassell is a valuable asset, I still like Khem Birch (and for some reason Daniel Orton too), maybe someone knows who Daniel Theis is by now (but probably not), and the Deonte Burton balloon (if there ever was one) has already gone flat.

So long, summer league.

Wizards Acquire DeJuan Blair, Strengthen Frontcourt

c/o Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

c/o Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports

I’m not sure where this ends up on the fandom gauge, but I’m willing to label myself thrilled regarding the Wizards acquiring DeJuan Blair from Dallas.

I wrote more about it at numberFire, which includes reasons why I refer to him as DeJuan Bear, how he fits in Washington, and why he’s an upgrade for the Wizards.



Often times it’s difficult to make sense of Ernie Grunfeld making sense, but Wizards fans shouldn’t have too many gripes this summer. The Washington front office is pulling all the strings to improve (or replenish in some instances) a second-round playoff team from just a few months ago.

Sticking to the offseason script of subtle, efficient, and cost-effective, the Wizards acquired 25-year-old forward DeJuan Blair from the Dallas Mavericks in a sign-and-trade that will send the Mavs a $2.1 million trade exception (which was acquired by Washington when they traded Eric Maynor to Philadelphia last season).

Not to be a Washington homer, but this is another move that belongs under the “good” column for the Wizards. Here’s a brief breakdown of the transaction.

Money and Budget

Blair’s new contract with the Wizards is reported to be a three-year deal, worth $6 million. And wouldn’t ya know it – the final year of the contract comes as a team option.

Not to harp on the issue, but the Wizards’ intent is becoming more and more obvious with every signing. Like the two-year deal for Paul Pierce, and the three-year deal for Kris Humphries, the Wizards are constructing all new contracts with the summer of 2016 in mind – when hometown hero Kevin Durant becomes a free agent.

It should also be noted that, in terms of future cap room, the Wizards are preparing to pay Bradley Beal – the 21-year-old two-guard the team drafted third-overall in 2012 and have watched developed into a promising NBA star.

Additionally, what’s great about Blair’s contract (and Humphries’ contract, for that matter) is the fact that the team-option is extremely affordable. Say the dream does come true for Wizards fans and Durant returns to DC – the Wizards could essentially bring back solid frontcourt depth in the form of both Humphries and Blair for less than $6.5 million (estimated).


When it comes to rotational players like Blair, referring to per-game statistics can be a bit misleading. Take Blair’s production from last season for example, where averaging 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game tends to scream mediocrity.

But when you consider the fact Blair posted those numbers while averaging less than 16 minutes per outing, reception changes. Stretch that kind of output over the course of 36 minutes (i.e. a starting role) and you get an impressive 14.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, more than two assists, and nearly two steals.

Unlike Humphries who can drift away from the paint to knockdown jumpers, a majority of Blair’s scoring will come from within 10 feet of the bucket. Despite being an undersized big man at 6’7″, Blair makes up for it with his 265-pound frame. He’s strong and bulky, easily eating up space down low and playing with great anticipation in order to provide himself with clean-up opportunities and cutting finishes around the rim.

How He Fits

After the departure of Trevor Booker, and with the looming possibility of Kevin Seraphin leaving Washington for more money elsewhere, the Wizards are beefing up their frontcourt depth and arguably improving what they had last season.

Blair may not be a defensive stalwart, but you won’t be left questioning whether or not he’s fighting for position or looking to secure a board. And by just barely out-rebounding their opponents on average last season (42.2/42.1 per game), the Wizards were clearly looking to add feisty rebounding types.

There’s also some position versatility that comes with Blair, as he’s able to fill-in at center if need be. Although not the rim-protector type, Blair once again falls back on his ability to carve space in the paint and fight for boards. Last season in Dallas, Blair played a career-high 36 percent of his minutes at center.

The Wizards’ current starting frontcourt of Marcin Gortat and Nene, albeit effective and strong, does require some insurance. Although the Polish Hammer plays more like he’s 28 than 30, Nene is 31 and hasn’t played more than 61 games in a season in three years.

As an added bonus, Blair brings with him valuable experience and work ethic, despite becoming the fifth-youngest player on the Wizards roster. In addition to being a part of arguably the best organization in the league for four seasons in San Antonio, Blair has been to the playoffs in each of his five NBA seasons, and has strung together solid production to the tune of 17 points, 13 boards, nearly two assists, and better than two steal per 36 minutes, with a 24.4 career playoffs PER.

Fans Could Get Used to This

Again, this is odd for Wizards fans. The front office is making quality moves, while remaining prudent, and relatively under the radar. And for the first time in a long time, Wizards fans can boast (at least a little) about their team’s frontcourt depth. From a net perspective, the Wizards upgraded their talent from Booker and Seraphin (who hasn’t left town just yet) to Humphries and Blair, and for a lower cost to boot.

Blair is a guy I’m willing to believe in, which may stem entirely from the fact that I was banging the table for the Wizards to draft him early in the second round five years ago, and instead they drafted some dude name Jermaine Taylor who they then sold to Houston only never to be heard from ever again.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because per-36-minutes stats have consumed me when it comes to gauging rotational players and, in that case, DeJuan Blair is just as beastly on a stat sheet as he appears in person.

Michael Jordan Playing Beer Pong

Because why the hell not?

MJ the GOAT playing beer pong while dressed in himself — Jordan XI kicks, an AIR tshirt and some khaki shorts (also likely Jumpman).

Michael Jordan Beer Pong

Despite being 50 years old, something tells me Jordan calling next on your beer pong table is a little different than your girlfriend’s father stepping up to bury you in 10-cup.


Wizards Send Okafor and First-Rounder to Suns for Marcin Gortat

Okafor - Gortat

The Washington Wizards made a large splash last Friday when they sent center Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for center Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee.

My thoughts and opinion surrounding the deal were put on the back burner for the weekend for a couple of reasons.

1.) I felt like I was in the minority in terms of liking the trade,


2.) that made me feel somewhat guilty.

Many are quick to call this deal a scramble job by Washington, blaming them for hastily sending away a valuable draft pick in order to better their chances at fulfilling a preseason promise for the playoffs in 2013.

I tend to think it was a smart deal by general Ernie Grunfeld in the final year of his deal.

For the first time in what feels like forever (DC’s last postseason appearance was 07-08), the Wizards entered this season with a legitimate chance at the playoffs. There was John Wall with his massive new max deal, Bradley Beal entering his second season after a promising rookie campaign and Emeka Okafor and Nene holding down the frontcourt.

Then Okafor went down with a herniated disc and the Wizards were suddenly left with a not-so-durable Nene playing center and a 31-year-old Okafor on the bench with a bad back due to make $14.5 million.

Would the Wizards have made the playoffs without Okafor? I guess you could argue they could. But does anyone really think Nene can stay healthy for an entire 82 games?

I don’t. And without Nene, the Wizards don’t make it with Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin logging significant minutes.

Across the way in the desert, the 29-year-old Marcin Gortat was entering the final year of his deal, perhaps growing a bit agitated given the Suns current roster position.

Due to his desirable skill set in the trade market and Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough’s craving for as many first-round as he can get his hands on by next summer, Gortat was the perfect trade bait for all parties involved.

Because the Polish Hammer is set to make $7.7 million this year, the Suns were required to throw in additional pieces in order for the money to work. That’s where guys like Kendall Marshall (!), Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee came into play. But according to reports, the Wizards aren’t expected to keep any of the additional fluff — making no Marshall in Washington probably the most disappointing part of the whole deal.

Although the departure of Okafor also means kissing his efficient defense goodbye, Gortat brings more offense to a Wizards team that ranked dead last in points scored per game last season.

Not to mention, the amount of content written by knowledgable roundball guys about how good Gortat is in the pick-and-roll is, quite honestly, the most excited I’ve been about a big man in Washington since becoming eager about Andray Blatche’s “potential” in 2007.

For at least a season, the Wizards have a true center. A guy that can score, defend, move, rebound — and perhaps more importantly — allow Nene to return to his more natural power forward position.

Obviously giving up future draft picks isn’t a real comfortable feeling. Not when you’re the Wizards, anyway. And that’s what gives me that guilty feeling.

The unknown, or what could be in terms of that draft choice, is scary to give up. But it’s also important to remind yourself that it’s a protected top-12 pick, meaning the Wizards hang on to it if they wind up sucking something awful and picking somewhere inside the top-12.

So here I am confessing my love for the trade, while cautiously waiting to see what would’ve fallen to the Wizards — in what’s supposed to be a loaded 2014 draft class — had they held on to their first-rounder, a crippled Okafor and maybe an eighth seed in the East.

Happy basketball season.


Seven Days of Steez Presents: The Ghita

With just a week five days to go before the Washington Wizards embark on their 2013-2014 season, we’ve decided to countdown the days by way of an exclusive “Seven Days of Steez” episode, named after former Wizards guard and village idiot Jordan Crawford. Although the direction of this nostalgic Shae & Dr. J production isn’t exactly clear, we hope you enjoy the photos and quick blurbs in all of their glorious randomness. And to increase effect, please take a marker now and inscribe “Playoffs” on your footwear. 

* * * *

Ghita Half II

An introduction isn’t needed. Neither is a story.

Gheorghe “Gita” Muresan goes down as one of the most legendary Bullets players of all time, despite just four seasons in Washington.

Muresan averaged more than ten points and nearly seven rebounds per game during his stay with in Washington, which begs the question: how does a man standing 7’7″ not grab at least a dozen boards a game?

And I don’t know the answer.

Ghita Half IAll Ghita errything.

There’s five days left til the Wizards tipoff the season in the Phone Booth.

Warmest regards.


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