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Flip Saunders on John Wall's minutes, Al Thornton to start


I know you're not tired yet. (Photo by John McDonnell//The Washington Post)


When Brandon Jennings was in Washington last week, the Milwaukee Bucks' second-year point guard was asked about No. 1 overall pick John Wall and expressed some concern over Wall's heavy workload in the preseason.

Jennings started out hot last season and was a favorite to win rookie of the year after the first month before he suddenly hit the, um, wall. He finished third in voting behind Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry, even after leading his team to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference without Andrew Bogut.

Through six preseason games, Wall leads the league in minutes per game in the preseason, at 35.3 per game, nearly two minutes more than any other player. The second-highest ranked rookie is No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner, who is sixth at 32.7 minutes per game. "I think the thing that's going to be most important is that, I see a lot of box scores and I see he's playing a lot a minutes right now, as a rookie," Jennings said. "It's a long season -- 82 games is a lot. Hopefully they don't try to burn him out too soon. Once teams start scouting you and they know what you can do, it's going to get harder and harder. But hey, if he can keep this up like this, he'll be all right."

Coach Flip Saunders said on Tuesday that he wasn't sure how much he would use Wall in the preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons. He said he had to "bite his teeth" in the fourth quarter of the Wizards' 92-90 loss in New York on Sunday, with the Wizards unable to pull out the win while Wall sat the final eight minutes. Wall still finished with a game-high 35 minutes.

"We've played John a lot of minutes, something for him to get used to," Saunders said, adding that he wasn't worried about wearing out Wall in the preseason. "He likes to play, but the way he plays, he plays so hard. If in New York, we were in a position to win that game, he would've been in the low 40s, because you would've put him in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter."

Wall said he would inevitably like to have a similar influence on his team as Jennings. "The key thing I've got to do is try to get wins like him," Wall said. "He made his team into a playoff contender last year as a rookie and had a big explosion. I'm not saying I'm going to try to have a biggest game or I'll match his rookie year. I'm just saying I want to do what he did and help his team get into the playoffs."

Kirk Hinrich is second on the team in minutes played at 26.8 per game and Saunders explained that he wants Hinrich and Wall to get to used to playing together because they will be sharing the floor "a lot." Saunders has mostly decided to rest the 29-year-old Hinrich in the fourth quarters of games.

Hinrich and Wall will both start tonight, along with Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Al Thornton. Thornton was the expected starter at small forward entering training camp and will be with the first group for the first time this preseason. Saunders said Thornton would've started against Atlanta before suffering a sprained left ankle. Thornton came back to score 12 points on Sunday after missing two games. Gilbert Arenas will sit out the finale.

Saunders opened preseason by implementing a three-guard lineup, since Hinrich, Wall and Arenas being "three of the best five" players on the team. "That lineup was extremely effective. We just haven't been able to use that lineup as much as we probably would've liked to," Saunders said, alluding to the absence of Arenas. "I wish we could play it right now. We will play it. Whether we start out in game with it, as a starting lineup, that I don't know."

The Wizards will have eight days to prepare for Orlando after playing Detroit, so Saunders will have time to solidify a starting group.

Veteran big man Sean Marks practiced on Monday and will be make his debut in the finale, after missing significant time with a strained right hamstring. Marks said that he injured himself during training camp, but experienced a setback while trying to comeback. He decided to take his time before returning but wanted to get in at least one game.

By Michael Lee  | October 19, 2010; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  Al Thornton, John Wall, Kirk Hinrich  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: John Wall wants playoffs over rookie of the year
Next: Ben Wallace teaches lessons, Trevor Booker does Wallace impression

Comments

With Josh Howard, this could be an interesting club IF they rebound so they can run.

Posted by: joe2chase | October 19, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Preseason Stats

Lamar Odom is tied for 2nd with 33.6 mpg. I haven't heard anyone complain about that.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Lamar Odom is tied for 2nd with 33.6 mpg. I haven't heard anyone complain about that.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse
************************************************************************************************
Odom only plays 30 seconds for every 60 he's on the court.

Posted by: sonny2 | October 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Lamar Odom is tied for 2nd with 33.6 mpg. I haven't heard anyone complain about that.

Posted by: djnnnou

1) Odom has been a pro for a few years now and is conditioned to the 82 game schedule.

2) With Artest there, he's not always a starter.

3) Who really cares what Lamar Odom does?

Posted by: ts35 | October 19, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, who was it that brought up Wall's outrageous playing minutes the other day? And no one seemed to care? Oh yeah. That's right.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Is tonight's game televised? Streamed anywhere?

Posted by: divi3 | October 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

BTW Flip Saunders is gonna ruin Wall. This guy should not be in charge of such precious cargo. Wall finished with 35 minutes against the Knicks and didn't even play the final 8 minutes? What is the matter with Flip Saunders? Is he out of his mind?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

What is the matter with Flip Saunders? Is he out of his mind?

Yes and it's only the beginning.

Posted by: spoooooooon | October 19, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

1) Odom has been a pro for a few years now and is conditioned to the 82 game schedule.
Odom will be 31 this year, and played all summer.

2) With Artest there, he's not always a starter.
The Lakers won't threepeat without a healthy Odom.

3) Who really cares what Lamar Odom does?Posted by: ts35
Laker fans.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, who was it that brought up Wall's outrageous playing minutes the other day? And no one seemed to care? Oh yeah. That's right.Posted by: skins_fan_2

Outrageous? Ok, how many minutes should Wall be playing?

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

>>Ok, how many minutes should Wall be playing?

In preseason? No more than 25 per. He certainly shouldn't be leading the league in minutes in preseason that's for sure. 35 minutes and he wasn't even in in the final 8 of the game? Not only is that absurd. It's borderline coaching criminal. Saunders is nuts.
I HOPE LEONSIS IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!!!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Lester hudson would agree. Too many minutes for somebody who already has a spot on the roster for as long as Wall wants to stay in DC. I'm curious if there is a learning curve to see how much of a difference 27 and 35 mins a game would help.

Posted by: jefferu | October 19, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

In preseason? No more than 25 per...

Completely ludicrous.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

In preseason? No more than 25 per. He certainly shouldn't be leading the league in minutes in preseason that's for sure. 35 minutes and he wasn't even in in the final 8 of the game? Not only is that absurd. It's borderline coaching criminal. Saunders is nuts.
I HOPE LEONSIS IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!!!
by: skins_fan_22

Why does it matter when he plays in the game? It's pre-season, so a win don't matter. And giving him plenty of minutes to get used to playing at the NBA speed doesn't seem that crazy to me.

I don't know if Saunders is going to be great with these young guys, but he hasn't done anything to show that he isn't yet. It would have been stupid for Leonsis to fire him and/or Ernie right after buying the team. Give them a year, see what they can do. I think Ernie certainly had a good off-season (better than the three years prior, that's for sure.) Let's see what Flip can do with it during the season.

Posted by: japhy_ryder | October 19, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

>>In preseason? No more than 25 per...
>>Completely ludicrous. Posted by: djnnnou

Yea that's why no one else in the league is playing that many minutes in the preseason, let alone a rookie who has never played in a 70-game season. And even other players--that's real NBA players-- are concerned about it and think it's unwise.
But you're right. Real ludicrous.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse


He's gonna hit the proverbial rookie wall anyway so what difference does it make if he slams into it after 45 games instead of 50?

Flip has every right to play him as long as he wants in the preseason to get him ready for the Magic. If the Wiz somehow manage to squeak out a win with a poised Wall in the opener, I doubt if his minutes will even be brought up.

Posted by: bobabuie | October 19, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

">>Ok, how many minutes should Wall be playing?"

"In preseason? No more than 25 per. He certainly shouldn't be leading the league in minutes in preseason that's for sure. 35 minutes and he wasn't even in in the final 8 of the game? Not only is that absurd. It's borderline coaching criminal. Saunders is nuts."

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 3:59 PM

Nonsense. 35-38 minutes PT per night is commonplace for starters in the NBA, especially for a team's best players, which Wall will most definitely be this year for the Wizards. If he's going to play that much, he might as well get used to it now, and Saunders needs to find out how Wall handles this workload. The 10 minutes difference between your suggested PT and the amount currently being logged by JW, times the seven pre-season games, when compared to the 2,400-2,800 minutes that he figures to play this season, is like spitting into the ocean. Given Wall's youth, his amount of preseason playing time is about no. 347 on my list of Wizards-related things to worry about.

Posted by: rufus_t_firefly | October 19, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse


By the way, Evan Turner is playing 33 minutes a game.

Anybody ready to crucify Doug Collins too?

Posted by: bobabuie | October 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

No one is crucifying anyone, so get down off the cross.

Its a legitimate point because Flip is known for short rotations and running players into the ground.

Here we are in the PRE-season and Flip is already giving the kid record minutes. Flip has said in the past he needs to get used to playing them. Then he also needs to get used to missing time with minor injuries because that's how Flip's players spend too many games later in the year.

Why? So he can make a run at 38 wins? They've trusted Flip with the future of the franchise in Wall but also with Seraphin, Booker et al, who have barely played. You would think that a guy with mandate to build with youth (and more job security than almost anyone in the league) would get more guys time.

its easy, and a cop out, to say "so what" right now. We're thinking long term not just whats best for John Wall's first game.

Posted by: heiser3@yahoo.com | October 19, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure there's a method to Flippery's madness. He's dealt with talented rookies before and JWall seems to be a thoroughbred who can run all day.
But I think that even Flip believes he's played him too much too soon and will limit his minutes tonight to around 30. I do believe that JWall will be one of the leaders in minutes played this season.

Posted by: zxhoya | October 19, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

As a matter of fact, I'd like to crucify Doug Collins, but it has nothing to do with Evan Turner.

Posted by: Blurred | October 19, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I wish Javale had JWall's stamina, he would be an absolute beast. Stamina is his biggest obstacle.

Posted by: zxhoya | October 19, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Wall should be playing 30-32 minutes per game; including the last 10 minutes of regulation plus O/T.

And I concur that with Josh Howard (and Gilbert Arenas) healthy we will make the play-offs and contend for a Championship.

I don't care what nobody say's, the Wizards are Gilberts team because he has the magic to get us to the promised land. As for the player-hater's; maybe ya'll can start cheering for the Miami Heat.

Johnny

Posted by: upscalechef | October 19, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse


Here we are in the PRE-season and Flip is already giving the kid record minutes.

Posted by: heiser3@yahoo.com | October 19, 2010 5:01

What "record" minutes? You don't even know what the preseason "record" for minutes is. More breathless (and false) commentary from an idiot.

Posted by: bobabuie | October 19, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Its a legitimate point because Flip is known for short rotations and running players into the ground.

Here we are in the PRE-season and Flip is already giving the kid record minutes. Flip has said in the past he needs to get used to playing them. Then he also needs to get used to missing time with minor injuries because that's how Flip's players spend too many games later in the year. Posted by: heiser3@yahoo.com

Other than "short rotations", I don't think any of this is true.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

3) Who really cares what Lamar Odom does?Posted by: ts35
Laker fans.

Posted by: djnnnou | October 19, 2010 3:31 PM

Who really cares about Laker fans? It's the Wizards show around here, a new era has begun. With new management and players the Wizards have moved out of the 80's and advanced into the 21st century.

Posted by: Theone9 | October 19, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

JW is a rookie who is being trusted to take this entire franchise by the horns and run (no pun intended) with it. It is a huge challenge for someone so young, and the early season experience is mandatory if he is to get off to a good start. He needs to play as many minutes as possible in order to get used to the workload he will be carrying. If he runs into a wall (pun intended) later (as he most certainly will), we still have Gil (if we still have Gil) and Kirk to provide the requisite pick-me-up. Flip is doing the right thing in playing him a ton now. This will ensure he is ready to take control at the opening tip next week.

You can't coach (or play) scared. He doesn't need to be thinking "what-if-he-gets-hurt." If he does get hurt, there's no guarantee it will be because he played too many minutes (although many will blame it on that). For example, let's say he gets hurt in game 10. Does that mean that if he played 10 less minutes per game in the preseason, that he wouldn't have gotten hurt until game 12. I think most of you would agree that that's insane thinking.

Posted by: bpybay | October 19, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Is tonight's game televised? Streamed anywhere?

Posted by: divi3 | October 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Divi, I haven't checked yet, but check out Dave Johnson's blog on the Wiz's website. I was able to watch Sunday's game on my computer because someone posted the link to the stream there. I'm only posting this because I'm getting ready to go there now and won't be back on this blog until after the game (or tomorrow morning).

Posted by: bpybay | October 19, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

flip is clueless. He is burning Wall out and if anyone should know it would be Jennings. This team will win inspite the coach but can't go far without real leadership. Ernie do your job.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | October 19, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

3) Who really cares what Lamar Odom does?Posted by: ts35
Laker fans.

Posted by: djnnnou

Lakers fans could care less about how many minutes Odom plays, not because it's not a legit issue, but because they're more worried about the games where he just disappears.

Posted by: ts35 | October 20, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Agreed with Blurred. That crucify Doug Collins comment...Too easy

Posted by: jtrufe | October 21, 2010 2:47 AM | Report abuse

The way you'll know if Flip played Wall too much too soon is if Wall makes it through the season with out stress injuries common to overuse.

For instance, when D Wade felt a twinge in the 1st couple of minutes of the 1st preseason game he hit the bench. Why put your best player at risk to miss part of the long season ahead?

Flip needs to see what the 3 guard rotation looks like not how Wall does for 35 minutes-if Gil not able to show up Flip will have to figure it out when the games count.

See how Wall's health is after 50 games.

Posted by: katomato | October 21, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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