Wizards Big Decision
Several beat reporters for the Washington Wizards have alleged that the franchise's top priority this offseason will be re-signing shooting guard Nick Young. The team has already extended Young a qualifying offer of 3.69 million dollars, meaning the front office can match any offer. May I ask why?
I get that he averaged 17.4 points per game last season in just 40 starts. But assuming he accepts a four-year deal, the Wizards will be stuck with a Andray Blatche/Nick Young/JaVale McGee supporting cast nucleus until at least 2013. I don't care if John Wall turns into the next Isaiah Thomas, having that group as your core contributors will struggle to get the Wizards out of the first round of the playoffs...or even in the playoffs.
Young has flashes of brilliance but his negatives outweigh his scoring abilities. Not only is he bad at defense, his effort was lacking last season. The 6-foot-7 guard also is a black hole with the basketball, meaning once John Wall passes it his way, a shot is a mere seconds from being launched at the basket. His shot selection will make you cringe too. Young averaged just 1.2 assists last season. Plus, he's already 26 years-old, not exactly a spring chicken.
He isn't going to be a player that will catapult the Wizards' success. Further signing him would be wasting money and roster space.
Young ideally would fit in off the bench as a streaky shooter for a contending team (think Chicago), not the Wizards. Plus, rookie guard Jordan Crawford showed some signs late in the season of being a formidable pair with John Wall -- averaging 18.2 points per game and 3.7 assists in March.
The Wizards need a top-flight shooting guard next to John Wall to compete in the East. UNC's Harrison Barnes could be the answer if another bad season occurs. Finding a band-aid solution would be a better fit than committing to Young.
Underrated Solutions: Denver-Aaron Afflalo (2.9 million qualifying offer), Sacramento-Marcus Thornton (1.1 million qualifying offer) or Milwaukee-Chris Douglas-Roberts (unrestricted).
Veteran Solutions: New York-Roger Mason Jr. (unrestricted), New Orleans-Marco Belinelli (3.4 million qualifying) or Milwaukee-Michael Redd (unrestricted).
NBA Comes At The Perfect Time
Late Thanksgiving night essentially turned into what felt like Christmas morning for me. No, I'm not talking about waiting in line at Best Buy for an HD TV in the wee hours of Black Friday. I'm talking about the return of the National Basketball Association.
Thanks to my Twitter addiction -- I've woken up from a dream checking my phone -- I was one of the few east-coasters who was delivered with quite possibly the best 2011 late night news since the announcement that the NFL lockout had ended. As much as I like college basketball, there's only so many Wake Forest-Maryland type of matchups I could survive before going mentally insane and joining the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I need the NBA. I crave the NBA. I was so happy with the ending of the lockout announcement that I started hugging myself. And those of you who still don't understand the appeal of professional basketball probably never will. The 2010-2011 season was the most brilliant, memorable, historic, can't-take-my-eyes-off-of-this basketball since Larry Bird-Magic Johnson. (I'll debate it was better than the Michael Jordan era because of parity.)
The obvious storylines that were forever engraved into our brains: The epic short-comings of the Miami Heat, the re-birth of Dirk Nowitzi, a 22-year-old MVP in Chicago Bull Derrick Rose and the end of the Phil Jackson era, possibly the greatest coach in any sport ever.
NBA fans will be forgiving about the lockout as long as they have basketball back. Why? Because the NBA is EASILY the most fun sport to talk about.
Unlike any other American sport, superstar players change teams on a regular basis -- Carmelo and the Knicks and soon to be Dwight Howard. With the off-season starting December 9, there are already rumblings of a Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook straight up trade. You can't daydream compelling roster changes like this in any other sport. Because there's only five players on the court at a time, a drowning franchise like Oklahoma City can nab a player like Kevin Durant and become relevant.
The basketball media does a tremendous job of painting heroes and villains which produce polarizing opinions. A Kobe vs. LeBron argument could go on for hours. Or is Blake Griffin overrated? I love pro basketball because of how individualistic the sport is, yet it takes an entire team to win a title -- just ask LeBron.
Any conversation about the NFL these days solely revolves around someone's fantasy football team or about if Tim Tebow was sent from the heavens above.
Want to talk about college football? Me neither. Besides a new horrifying scandal being leaked weekly, the sport has reiterated its message of greed with the politics of conference expansion. And let's not even get started with the BCS mess.
While I can concur college basketball is exciting and emotional, most of you would be hard-pressed to name 10 players in the entire country. I love big name athletes and the glory and/or baggage that comes with them and the NBA clearly has the largest galaxy of sports stars.
So thank you to David Stern, to the NBAPA and to the owners for getting this thing resolved. I was in dire need of something fun to gossip about.
Hailing from Chantilly, VA and East Carolina University; weighing in at 190 pounds (probably more like 195 after Thanksgiving) and standing at 6-foot-3, Kevin Jones!
Just a little bit about myself: I am basketball obsessed and blog periodically for ESPN True Hoop. I hosted a college radio show last year called Bold Sports Talk that earned some marginal success. Some of the guests I interviewed included ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Buster Olney, Yahoo's Mike Silver, New York Times' Harvey Araton, former Georgetown basketball coach Craig Esherick, Raven pro bowl fullback Vonta Leach, Redskin Brandon Banks in-studio and a bevy of local beat reporters.
I'd rank my favorite teams in the following order: 1) Nationals, 2) Redskins, 3) Wizards. No, I never joined the Capitals bandwagon and with their recent stumbling I'm pretty satisfied with my decision.