Thursday, July 16, 2009

Talking Off-Season With Kyle of Truth About It

We got a chance to interview Kyle of Truth About It. Make sure to check out his site to get your Wizards fix. Also follow him on Twitter.

1. A while back, the Wizards picked up Randy Foye and Mike Miller for Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila and the fifth pick in the draft (now Ricky Rubio). What were your thoughts on this trade? Does this show the Wizards front office wants to win now rather than later?

The Wizards are definitely in 'win-now' mode, or else they would have traded Antawn Jamison at the February '09 trade deadline in exchange for cap room and perhaps a mid-level prospect. Both Cleveland and Portland were said to be very interested. The Miller/Foye trade, which keeps Washington in luxury tax territory, further establishes the immediacy of the situation.

Overall, I like the trade. The bench gets deeper. The offense, combined with the new system Flip Saunders will implement, gets much better. However, losing Darius Songaila (Ernie Grunfeld has been on record saying that he would have rather parted with DeShawn Stevenson), leaves the Wizards pretty thin down low.

So, I'm afraid that while the trade better sets the Wizards up to secure a playoff spot, unless they significantly improve in the post, they are no better than the second round.

2. With the Wizards beginning summer league play as I write this, what are your expectations for the summer league squad and has anyone else playing in Vegas or Orlando impressed you a lot?

Honestly, I haven't watched any summer league at all up until the Wizards played their first game against Cleveland on Tuesday night, and their second one against Denver on Wednesday.

The Wiz have plenty of 'experience' on this team: JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire and Javaris Crittenton -- all roster players. McGuire actually could not play in the first game because there is some rule that you can only dress four roster players in the summer league ... I wonder if this is the first time that rule has been invoked. D-Mac played in the second game while Crittenton sat out.

But what am I looking for out of this bunch?

  • Crittenton: His jumper may come, but I want him to prove himself capable of leading the offense without turning the ball over. He had 8 assists and 2 TOs in the first summer game.
  • Young: Needs to be a more efficient scorer, a much better defender, and learn the ability to create for others.
  • Blatche: The 5th-year-to-be player is very talented, but fans yearn for consistency from him. He could also use a great deal of moxie/heart.
  • McGuire: Can play the 2-4 positions, and is a top-notch Bruce Bowen-esque defender in training. But he needs to improve his lateral defensive movement. He leaves a lot to be desired on offense, mainly his jumper and handles.
  • McGee: Needs to get tougher in the post as he was constantly pushed around last year. He has crazy athleticism, but needs to tame it with discipline. Not the smartest offensive player, even though he does have touch.

3. JaValee McGee showed flashes of greatness last season. I remember seeing him a couple times, he showed he can really run the floor, but he is still raw in many areas. Where does he need to focus his practice on? How long until we are talking about a polished big man?

McGee needs to focus on three areas:

  1. Strength: he's evidently added 10 pounds over the summer, but I'm still not sure how far that will go in terms of keeping him from getting pushed around in the paint.
  2. Discipline: the kid tries to block almost every shot and he simply cannot do that. He needs to protect the paint and trying to jump out the gym to throw a three-point attempt into the fifth row tends to put himself and his teammates in bad situations.
  3. Awareness: McGee is quick and athletic, and yes, a point he's made about being able to 'out-quick' strength is somewhat valid. However, his lack of awareness in terms of positioning in team defense, and the inability to use his "quickness" to move laterally on D will keep him on the bench.

McGee is a solid two seasons away from being close to being considered "polished", but his potential and work ethic makes waiting until then kind of exciting. Unfortunately, from what he's shown so far in the summer league, he has a much longer way to go than many Wizards fans think.

4. Bringing in more offensive minded players and Flip Saunders as coach, it seems like the Wizards are going to get big upgrades in terms of offensive game plan and firepower this season. Any concern for the team on the defensive end? Is this a possible run-and-gun team?

There is definitely a concern on the defensive end. Part of Saunders' defensive philosophy stems from being more efficient on offense ... essentially he aims for Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards to jack less shots, limiting fast-break opportunities and easy chances for the opponent.

That being said, the Wizards' three best players, Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, and Caron Butler, are all sub par defenders. Brendan Haywood is a good communicator, and coming back from missing all of last season, his presence will improve the team defense by leaps and bounds.

But he is only one man. Saunders has his work cut out for him ... good luck!

5. Have you heard anything new on Gilbert Arenas health? I saw him play towards the end of last season. He seemed solid. Has he continued working and rehabbing for next season?

All we've really heard is that Arenas has lost 20 pounds, has been playing/practicing at full speed, and is working with the famed Tim Grover in Chicago. Basically, yada, yada, yada ...

With Gilbert Arenas, no one knows. Not the front office, not the coaches, not his teammates ... perhaps not even himself. Fans can only wait and see, and hope for the best.

6. Nick Young got a lot of minutes last season just like JaValee McGee. He developed a ton and continues to impress me. He's still only 24, where does his game have to progress?

Young has the uncanny scoring ability that can't be taught. However, he needs to learn how to operate closer to the basket and earn trips to the free-throw line. He also tends to over-dribble and stall the offense a bit. Oh, did I mention he was a terrible defender? I think he loves offense so much that he easily loses focus when trying to keep track of the man he's supposed to cover. If he wants get minutes in the NBA, he'll undoubtedly have to improve his defense.

7. I love how funny JaValee McGee is crazy funny on Twitter, YouTube, etc. Which video or moment of his is your favorite and does he have the comedic potential to be funnier than Gilbert Arenas?

Not even close. Between Transformer videos and making his own music, McGee is definitely creative. But in interviews with the media, he gives uninteresting, one-word answers and comes off mundane as hell. Maybe with age he'll eventually come out of his public shell ... but I doubt he'll ever come close to touching the charisma of Arenas.

8. Do you think the roster needs anymore fine tuning before next season? I thought the only thing they might need is some more veteran help.

They definitely need a veteran big man. This team simply cannot get by with Haywood, Jamison, McGee, Blatche, and McGuire as the only post players. There have been rumors of the Wizards going after aging scraps such as Fabricio Oberto, Sean Marks, Chris Wilcox, Jamaal Magoire or Mikki Moore. Unfortunately, Grunfeld is looking to add someone on the cheap. I'm not sure that method gets the team closer to being a championship contender. But money is tight and the team is already over the cap. What are you going to do?

9. What are five things Wizards fans can look forward to seeing this season that they didn't see last season (I already know one, winning)?

  1. More "Daggers!" (game sealing/winning shots) from TV announcer Steve Buckhantz.
  2. Having at least two player in the All-Star game ... and perhaps Nick Young in the dunk contest.
  3. A relatively healthy roster for the entire season ... I mean, we are really, really, really due for one of those -- at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself.
  4. Getting past the first round of the playoffs.
  5. More 15 assist games than 40 point games from Gilbert Arenas.

10. Who would roast the other guy better: JaValee McGee or Gilbert Arenas?

Arenas is a known prankster, he would destroy McGee.

11. What are your expectations for the Wizards next season?

My expectations/hopes are relatively high. I'm thinking 50 wins and at least pushing a second round playoff series to seven games, if not getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.

But a lot of other teams have gotten better (Orlando, Boston, Cleveland). Unfortunately, Wizards fans might have to hope for bad luck to be bestowed upon those teams in order for the door to be open for their team.

Thanks Kyle! Remember to visit Truth About It!


rashad said...

Amen on JaVale McGee's interviewing skills. I've literally seen him joke around with teammates using dazzling, long flowing sentences..and then come to interviews and talk like there is a word shortage. Unbelievable.

Good interview by the way

Sweet C. said...

Sweet analysis. And excellent way with words... You sure know what you're talking about, and I hope the Wizards can make something of the recent shuffling in the coming season. Hopefully, one day, little old ladies on the street will point out the Verizon Center to her visiting friends and say "That's where the Wizards play. The best team in the eastern conference... and the jonas brothers..."


JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire and Javaris Crittenton. All who could start on other teams. Throw in Foye and that is 11 players. I completely discount Stevenson and James. I think one or both will be traded during the seaon. And then if they add a big man? Some of these players are not going to be happy. I think Crittenton will be one of them. Either this season ends with starters on the move or bench players. So this is a season of evaluation and maybe that is one reason saunders is there. They have 13 players on this team that are starters. 2 I think will be gone before the season ends. It would be nice if Jamison and Miller could come off the bench.And I think Butler is the one who gets traded next year.