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Can We Get the Regular Season Here?

Awoke to a coating of snow here in Chicago this morning if you can believe that. As for last night's preseason game between the Bulls and Wizards, I'll just say this: thank goodness it's over. Finally. I thought preseason football was unwatchable. The main problem was that the officials hit the Wiz with 38 fouls and the Bulls with 27 fouls so the action stopped just about every trip down the floor. The game had zero flow. Also Eddie Jordan and Scott SKiles liberally used their benches after the first quarter so players were shuffling in and out constantly.

For the Wizards, the most positive thing was that the first team dominated a first quarter for the second straight game. Even with Caron Butler getting a night off, the Wizards took an early lead and were in control against the Bulls first teamers. The Jarvis Hayes comeback tour continued last night. Hayes started at SF in place of Butler and again looked sharp. He made 4 of 7 shot, including 2 of 4 three pointers, and wound up with 11 points in 18 minutes.

The most impressive thing about Hayes and the thing that looks different from last year at this time, is that he's playing with so much more bounce. We've all seen what kind of elevation he gets on his jump shot and that's still there but he's also moving so much better defensively and when he's off the ball.

An NBA scout who was on hand for last night's game shared a couple of interesting thoughts on the Wiz. First, he said that the Wiz will badly miss Jared Jeffries when they play Cleveland because Jeffries did as good a job on LeBron James as anyone in the league. The scout feels that Jeffries' length gave James problems that few other defenders do. When I pointed out that James was still getting his 30 to 35 points in that playoff series, the scout countered: "Yeah, and against anyone else it would have been 40 to 45."

Secondly, while he feels that DeShawn Stevenson is "a little overrated" as a defender, the Wiz did get a steal in landing him for under $1 million. "He's a good fit for that team because he can get out and score in transition and he won't have to be counted on as a big time scorer. He's the kind of guy who will play his role." Stevenson has been knocked in the past for his lack of outside shooting touch but so far this preseason, he's shown an ability to make shots. Last night, he stuck a nice pull up baseline jumper over Ben Gordon. He also posted Gordon up and made a nice turnaround jumper in the first quarter.

The scout was also impressed by what he saw of Hayes. "If he's healthy, that's going to change a lot of things for this team. They haven't had that kind of shooter to spread the floor the last couple of years. I like his game. But will that knee hold up?" That's what everyone, including the Wizards, will be waiting to see.

None of the reserves particularly distinguished themselves last night. Donell Taylor had a nice offensive game, scoring 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting but he also turned the ball over four times and Jordan was clearly frustrated by some of Taylor's decision making while he was running the point. After the game, Jordan said Taylor made "too many mistakes." Taylor is built like a point guard but plays more like a classic shooting guard. He doesn't always look comfortable when he has to get the team into an offensive set and that's what Jordan wants to see out of him this preseason.

Former GW star Mike Hall had a rough NBA debut in his hometown. Hall, who had around 20 family and friends cheering him on from a section behind one of the baskets, threw up an air ball on his first shot and finished 1 of 6 with two points in 20 minutes. Hall's one basket was nice. He finished a break in the fourth quarter by catching a long pass and executing a fingeroll in traffic. However, he missed a mid-range jumper on Washington's second-to-last possession that would have given the Wizards a three-point lead. Roger Mason Jr. had a shot at the game winner but his pull up jumper at the buzzer was long and a little to the left.

Ben Wallace was exactly what I thought he'd be for the Bulls. He gives you very little offensively (he scored seven points and went 1 of 6 from the free throw line with one airball and another near airball ) but he is still an eraser at the other end. I was sitting directly under Chicago's basket in the first and third quarters and saw Wallace either deflect shots or scare Wizards into missing shots on several occassions. He covers so much ground and he gets where he wants to go withpurpose.

One play that stood out involved GIlbert Arenas. Arenas drove baseline and appeared to have an open lane for a lay in but then, at the last second, he looked out of the corner of his eye and saw Wallace coming. Arenas gathered himself with a hop step and tried to pass off to Etan Thomas but the ball got swatted away and Bulls recovered.

Last night, while downing a couple of cold ones with a good friend of mine who lives in Chicago, we discussed the Bulls and what my friend can expect from his team. Our verdict: the Bulls are going to be nasty defensively but they are going to have a lot of night's like last night when jump shots weren't falling. The Bulls shot 41.3 percent from the game. Ben Gordon made 2 of 8. Kirk Hinrich made 4 of 9. Chris Duhon was 1 of 3. The new addition at guard, Thabo Sefolosha was 0 for 4. It might be the most jump-shot reliant team in the league. We'll see.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 12, 2006; 11:23 AM ET
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Great post, Ivan. This is the knowledge we're all looking for. The opposing scout's take is really interesting. I always like to hear what they say about our squad.

What was your gut feeling about the Bulls? Overhyped? Will develop into the 3 seed? And most importantly, what were your thoughts on Tyrus Thomas? Me and my boy Bernard King were depressed for three months when GMEG didn't do anything to even try and move up to get him. To us, he was the long-term defensive answer. A PF that hates the other team and really dislikes it when you come near the hoop.

Drop it like it's hot.

Posted by: The Governor | October 12, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I smelled greatness in that young man (Tyrus Thomas) when he 'called a shot' from halfcourt and swatted it into the stands like Karch Karylai on the beaches of Malibu in a Coors Light Beach Volleyball Pro-AM.

I hear you on the trade stuff. Good points all. Also, tight post as the Governor pointed out.

With regards to the 'hype', I guess I was just going by what all the Wiz are saying and my boy Wilbon dropping that 50 win label on us. I realize that we are not a national pick to win the East. My bad on not being mre specific.

And finally, can we just talk about the game tight nature of the Washington Post sports blogs right now? Oh Whammy. Sorry about that wondrous knowledge in your eyepiece. What's that? Oh, that's just my dog Ivan Carter spilling facts and insight...yeah...he has so much that sometimes he just drops it.

Bernard King turnaround from 15...Good.

Posted by: Bernard King | October 12, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Is this scout seriously saying that Jeffries did a nice job on LeBron? It's ridiculous. If the scout wanted to talk about overrated defensive players, perhaps he should've been focusing on Jeffries, not Stevenson. Sure, Jeffries length could -- stressing could -- cause problems. But from what I saw, and from what I researched at, Jeffries was not a superior defender. He was barely average, in fact. He's suited to guard only a 3. He's not quick enough to man up a 2, and he's not big enough to shut down a 4. So much for that versatility. In fact, the most productive Wizards defensive 5-man unit consisted of Arenas, Daniels, Butler, Jamison and Ruffin, which outscored opponents by 66 points. That group played 205 minutes together, which admittedly is a low number of minutes. Arenas, Butler, Jamison, Jeffries and Haywood, the combo that played the most minutes (621) of any other 5-man unit, outscored opponents by just three points. The group that logged the next highest amount of PT (322 minutes) consisted of Arenas, Daniels, Butler, Jamison and Haywood and was +41 in points scored/points allowed.

Seems to me that Butler and Daniels can do more defensively than Jeffries.

Posted by: Colin | October 12, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Colin's expertise notwithstanding, Ivan, I'd really like to hear various scouts' insights on the Wizards (and even other teams) as the season progresses. They obviously have expertise and information that we don't have, and it is always interesting to learn how they and in turn the teams they work with see the game. Thanks.

Posted by: Henry | October 12, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The thing to remember about scouts is that their opinions can very every bit as much as players, coaches, media and fans. That said, they are the young guys doing the grunt work night in and night out and they can share some interesting info from time to time. I'll try to sample a variety of thoughts throughout the course of the season. I should have mentioned Tyrus Thomas in my morning blog. I like the kid. Long, athletic, bouncy. He reminds me of a black Andrei Kirilenko. They are built almost exactly the same. I also see a little bit of that young Dennis Rodman bounce his step. He really gets up and the court and he's an explosive leaper. He also wasn't shy. Dude jacked up seven shots quickly. I see him being an 8 to 15 minute a game guy until he gets his legs under him and figures out a role for himself. That's a pretty deep team so he's going to have to earn minutes. I also like the Thabo Sefolosha kid. He's long for a guard (he's listed at 6-7 and has long arms) and he showed a real nice handle.

Posted by: Ivan | October 12, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who spends anytime visiitng and then refers to their information and not his own clearly doesn't really know anything about basketball other than what he's told.

Posted by: nat turner | October 13, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

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