To get you ready for what will likely be a continuation of the dark despair that has been the Grizzlies’ skid, we spoke with Jake Whitacre, the Site Manager at SB Nation’s Bullets Forever and pun aficionado. Here’s what he had to say.
1. There have been reports that John Wall will return to action on Wednesday night. If he’s in the game, how much do you expect him to play and what are your expectations for level of play?
If Wall plays, my guess is the Wizards just let him rip with very little restriction. It's hard to get a guy like Wall to play at half-speed and when they tried to throttle his minutes after surgery last season, it went poorly and they wound up abandoning the plan pretty quickly. My guess is maybe they try to shave a few minutes here and there, but if the Wizards get behind quickly that could all go out the window.
2. How have the Wizards played in John Wall’s absence, and do you think having to deal with that injury will help them going forward?
Save for last week's embarrassing 47 point loss on the road to Utah, they've actually fared quite well. Bradley Beal has found a nice balance between scoring and playmaking as the primary option, and the team has gotten some pleasantly good production from their bench. Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi in particular have stood out, which wasn't a thing I was expecting to type in December 2017, but here we are.
3. Otto Porter received a max contract this offseason, and so far he’s posting improved numbers in points per 36 and 3 point shooting. Do you think Porter will be able to live up to his contract, or do you think the Wizards will end up regretting that deal?
I think Porter is already living up to his contract and then some. Not only has he improved his shooting efficiency, but he's improving how he gets points. During the playoffs, teams would try to hide smaller guards on him, but now he's rendering that moot because of how well he posts up and how he's gotten better at taking players off the dribble. He's also improved on the defensive end. While he'll never be Paul George there, he continues to get better at disrupting passing lanes and covering guys one-on-one when needed. He's everything the Wizards could want out of a third option alongside Wall and Beal.
4. There’s been a lot of talk about the Wizards potentially trading for DeAndre Jordan. Do you think that’s a move that they absolutely have to make?
Getting Jordan would be awesome. He can give you everything Marcin Gortat does as a low-usage, screen-setting big who would pair well with John Wall, and he gives you an extra dimension defensively and as a lob threat. Imagine taking the Wizards' death lineup of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter, and Gortat -- which has a +22.5 net rating this season -- and swapping out Gortat for Jordan. The Wizards would have an incredibly productive lineup on both ends that can play long stretches together in the playoffs and the transition would be pretty seamless.
That said, I don't think the Wizards have to make a move for Jordan, because I'm still not sure if they have enough to take down Cleveland and Boston with Jordan in the lineup. He won't fix Washington's depth issues and that could make things more complicated in late-game situations if he gets hacked off the floor. Jordan would certainly give the Wizards a puncher's chance against anyone, but Washington has to be careful about not giving up too much here, considering they have so few future assets.
The Wizards haven't made a draft pick since 2015, and at least two of their future second round picks are already committed to other teams. If they were to trade Oubre as part of this deal (A HORRIBLE IDEA STOP INCLUDING HIM IN TRADE IDEAS, MAINSTREAM NBA SITES) then you'd have to go all the way back to 2013 to find a Wizards draft pick that's still with the team (Otto Porter). That's not how you build a sustainable winner.
5. What were your expectations going into the season, and how do you feel about those expectations 26 games into the season?
Going into the season, I really thought this would be the year Washington could crack 50 wins and be a dark horse to win the East. That hasn't quite happened. There have been quite a few humbling moments this season, whether it's losing by 47 to the Jazz, watching LeBron drop 57 on them, or losing winnable games against the Lakers, Suns and Mavericks.
John Wall getting banged up hasn't helped anything. It's hard when your star misses games. It's harder when he gives it a go in games where he's clearly not at full strength.
If you had told me through 26 games the Wizards would be 14-12 even though Wall had missed 10 games and they had already knocked out both of their trips to the West Coast, I'd be satisfied. I still think they sleepwalk through some games a little more than a team that hasn't made the Conference Finals is entitled to, but hopefully that means they'll hit another gear once the games start to matter.
Bonus: Which Wizard is the most likely to watch Bee Movie 357 times in a single year?
Oh it's absolutely Mike Scott. I bet he already has a custom hockey jersey devoted to it.
And because this is becoming a tradition: Mike Scott’s latest customized NHL (San Jose Sharks) jersey.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) November 2, 2017
It’s soooo cold in the D (C) pic.twitter.com/1SytbH1OJb
Thanks again to Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever. Be sure to follow them for more insight on the Wizards as they take on the Grizzlies.