Wizards Report January 1Posted on January 14, 2013 by DJ-WizardsRadio
By Dave Johnson
Happy New Year!. The Washington Wizards are looking for a better one beginning Tuesday night at home against the Dallas Mavericks and they do so with the knowledge that the key to consistent improvement is linked to good health.
With the corps of a Wizards’ team back that ended last season with a six-game winning streak and an impressive commitment to defense, there was hope for a positive start to the 2012/2013 campaign. That hope faded when Nene aggravated his plantar fasciitis at the Olympic Games and then a month later John Wall’s knee injury was discovered.
In basketball there are only five players on the floor at a time to begin with, but the point guard and center positions are arguably the most critical. With the Wizards starting the season without their starting point guard and center the degree of difficulty was increased. Since then there have been other injuries including a broken hand to Wall’s fill-in A.J. Price.
The Wizards’ quest to replace Wall and then Price has not been easy. Jordan Crawford has proven he can operate at the point guard, but it is not his natural position. To be sure Crawford’s game has evolved, he is become a better passer, and it is commendable that he is more than willing to accept the challenge. It just is not his natural position.
To help solve the point guard issue, the Wizards plucked Shelvin Mack and Garret Temple from the D-League. Mack spent last season with the Wizards. The Wizards are the sixth NBA team that Temple has been with since 2009.
Mack was a final cut in pre-season and it could be argued that he would have made the team had Nene not been injured which opened an opportunity for center Earl Barron. Time in the D-League clearly benefited Mack and Temple needs the rght opportunity to succeed in the NBA. Having not been drafted out of LSU in 2009, it has been harder for Temple to latch on to a team.
In three games with the Wizards Mack and Temple have made a difference. In two of the three games the Wizards shot above 40 percent from the field as they helped get the ball in comfortable spots. Over the three games the Wizards have averaged 22 assists per game as a team.
With Mack and Temple the Wizards have enjoyed one win and the two losses have been by a combined 13 points. Individually Mack is averaging 5.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, while Temple is averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. In three games Mack and Temple have only combined for 11 turnovers.
Here is today's Wizards Report:
Nene and Okafor:
It has been a good week on the inside for Nene and Emeka Okafor. All season long Okafor has been a defensive anchor, but in recent games he has increased his offensive production. Since Christmas, Okafor has scored 31 points and pulled down 29 rebounds. Against the Bulls on Saturday Okafor had a season-high 18 rebounds. Okafor has also blocked nine shots over the last three games.
The Wizards are just plain better with Nene on the floor. Nene has started the last three games and averaged 16.3 points and 9 rebounds per-game. Nene debuted in 101-100 loss in November at Atlanta and has only missed 3 out of a possible 19 games. Nene has been on the floor for all four of the Wizards’ victories. In the 12 losses Nene has been a part of the average margin of defeat has only been 5.3 points.
The Mavericks are also looking for a better 2013. Dirk Nowitski is back from knee surgery, but the Mavericks have lost six straight games and are 12-19 on the season. Nowitski has played the past four games and is averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench.
Three times in the last six games, the Mavericks have been held below 90 points. On the season the Mavericks are actually ranked 11th in offense at 98.3 points per game. Uncharacteristically for a Rick Carlisle coached team defense has been a problem with the Mavericks yielding 103.1 points per-game and ranked 28th in the league.
The commitment of the Washington Wizards was evident when incredibly 17 of their first 23 points against the Dallas Mavericks were second-chance points. It was not a sign of things to come as the Mavericks ended their six-game losing streak with a 103-94 win over the Wizards.