Wizards Progress Report: Small Forwards

Whereas point guard and shooting guard are crowded positions in some regard although not as much anymore, with Justin Robinson waived, Chris Chiozza in Brooklyn on a two-way deal, and Garrison Mathews banged up small forward has been the position where you ask yourself, “Do they really have to play someone?” For a variety of reasons, this group hasn’t lived up to its billing. However, there should be hope moving forward.

Isaac Bonga

The Wizards acquired Bonga in the Dwight Howard trade with the Lakers this summer. The 20-year-old German is very new to the game of basketball, so any analysis of him was based on projection. At 6-foot-8 with the ability to handle the ball, he seemed to provide versatility, with the potential to develop into a point forward. If nothing else, he should be able to serve as a defensive presence.

Bonga has played in 31 of the Wizards’ 36 games, starting 20 of them. For now, he is a defensive-mind wing player who won’t steal shots from the team’s top scorers.

Although he’s a starter, he’s only playing 16.2 minutes per game. He’s been an low-volume, efficient shooter (56.9 percent) from two-point range and he’s very active defensively (although his basic statistics don’t quite back that up), but the Wizards would undoubtedly like to see more from him.

Bonga is raw, but he appears to be trending in the right direction. He’s had back-to-back career nights 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting on Saturday and 10 points and seven rebounds on Monday. If he can keep this up, he’ll stay within Scott Brooks’ rotation if not the starting lineup past this season.

Troy Brown Jr.

Brown spent the vast majority of his rookie season either outside of the Wizards’ rotation or in the G League. It was a lost season for him, although there is some value in making him even as the 15th pick in the draft climb the ladder.

With that said, there’s a reason why Brown has only started 14 of the 33 games he’s played this year. Although his skill set makes him a logical sixth or seventh man, his performance has also been spotty. He’s averaging 10 points and nearly six rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game, but his production has come in bunches.

Even so, he undeniably has talent. The Wizards’ recent matchup against the Celtics is a reminder that he has comparable traits and abilities to Jaylen Brown, a third-overall pick who also had a bumpy start to his career before becoming a force on both ends of the court this season. But none of that matters until D.C.’s Brown delivers on that potential.

He may be doing just that. Through four games this month, he’s averaging 16 points and over nine rebounds per game including double-digit points in all four. Looking even further out, in the 15 games since his 22-point outburst against the vaunted Clippers on Dec. 8, he’s averaging just below 14 points and more than six boards per game with at least one steal in all but two of them. If this is a sign of things to come, he might be tapping into the player the Wizards had hoped for when they drafted him.

C.J. Miles

The outlook isn’t so fortunate for Miles. After missing the start of the season while recovering from foot surgery, the 32-year-old wing suited up for 10 games before suffering ligament damage in his left wrist. There’s a good chance that he won’t return this season, taking away the one three-point threat the Wizards appeared to have at small forward.

With that said, he seems to be in good spirits and is likely sticking around for at least a little while longer if not all season. He’ll be a welcome addition if he ever returns to the court, but his veteran presence is vital on such a young team not to mention at a position where the other players are both only 20 year old.

The Future

In terms of reps, it’s doubtful that much will change at small forward. Bonga and Brown did play elevated minutes against Boston with Admiral Schofield as the only available true power forward but both will remain well within the rotation when players return to action. However, they might be walking on relatively thin ice in that regard, considering that the young guards have also provided a boost recently.

What their true on-court roles are going forward has yet to be firmly established, though.   Both can handle the ball and have the makings of solid defenders at multiple positions. However, neither of them have shot the ball as proficiently from distance as many small forwards do. While that doesn’t necessarily have to change, it would help them stay on the court in high-leverage situations, especially considering this team lacks three-point shooting  Isaiah Thomas and Davis Bertans are the only core players that have done it particularly well this season, although an uptick from Bradley Beal is likely.

An improvement in this area is absolutely possible it’s actually fairly common.

  • Jaylen Brown
    • Year 1: 34.1%
    • Year 2: 39.5%
  • Justise Winslow
    • Years 1-2: 25.8%
    • Years 3-4: 37.7%
  • Pascal Siakam
    • Years 1-2: 21.6%
    • Years 3-4: 37.9%
  • Paul George
    • Year 1: 29.7%
    • Year 2: 38.5%
  • Jimmy Butler
    • Year 1: 18.2%
    • Year 2: 38.1%
  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    • Years 1-2: 29.6%
    • Year 3: 34.1%
  • Otto Porter Jr.
    • Year 1: 19%
    • Year 2: 33.7%
    • Year 3: 36.7%
    • Year 4: 43.4%

The key trend is that most of these players Porter may be the exception have elevated themselves once they’ve been embraced as scorers and playmakers and frankly all-around players on both ends of the court as opposed to shooters. Letting them do what they do best has made them more successful shooters; success breeds success. If the Wizards can take this approach with Bonga and (in particular) Brown, who knows what might happen?

Wizards Progress Report: Shooting Guards

Whereas the point guard position is in a state of flux from top to bottom, there is some certainty at shooting guard. The starter isn’t a mystery, and the pecking order behind him is also relatively clear.

With that said, the Wizards need more from this group (from multiple perspectives) if they want to separate from the other teams near the bottom of the league standings which no one outside the organization can definitively say they do want. That process starts at the top in terms of both players and staff. Continue reading “Wizards Progress Report: Shooting Guards”

Ron Rivera hire has a chance to change team culture for the better

Ron Rivera gets introduced as head coach of the Washington Redskins. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s been a rough season all around for the Washington Redskins. The team’s dealt with front office ineptitude, a star player that refused to ever play in a Redskins uniform ever again and, of course, just plain bad on-field performances. 

It’s arguable this was the worst season in franchise history, yet this offseason doesn’t feel quite so hopeless. 

Continue reading “Ron Rivera hire has a chance to change team culture for the better”

Wizards Progress Report: Point Guards

In many respects, point guard was the Wizards’ most uncertain position entering the season. Aside from John Wall who might not even play this year, due to his Achilles injury Washington didn’t retain a single player at the position who ended last season on its roster.

Rather than making a splash, Tommy Sheppard opted to sign a former All-Star to a one-year “buy low” deal, a lifelong backup for two years, an undrafted rookie to a semi-guaranteed deal, and another youngster who has split time between the NBA and the G-League to a two-way contract. Continue reading “Wizards Progress Report: Point Guards”

The definitive ranking of Redskins Dysfunction

With 2019 coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what made this a truly mediocre decade of Washington Redskins football. 

Sure, there were good times in the last 10 years, the two division titles stand out the most, but the majority of Redskins fans would agree that the bad times outweigh any positive moments enormously. 

And that’s why we are here today, to reflect on the moments both on and off the field that were truly a part of this organization’s unique brand of dysfunction. While I tried to keep it down to just 10 moments, I’m sure there are plenty that I also missed which just goes to show exactly how bad this organization has been this decade. 

So, let’s kick off this list in style, and look towards the next decade as a means for hope, and a chance for better days. 

Continue reading “The definitive ranking of Redskins Dysfunction”

Early impressions from the Capitals’ first 20 games of the season

It’s been just 20 games into the 2019-20 NHL season, but the Capitals are already shaping up to be a serious Stanley Cup contender after starting their season with a league-best 14–2–4 record. 

The team has been on a serious hot streak as of late, securing at least a point in their last 13 contests; their last loss in regulation came against the Avalanche on Oct. 14. Continue reading “Early impressions from the Capitals’ first 20 games of the season”

The Adventure of Jonny Venters in D.C.

He’s already won Comeback Player of the Year once before. If Jonny Venters pitches next year, he should win it again by default.

Venters has already undergone “three and a half” Tommy John surgeries. He also looked like his prime self — one of the most dominant left-handed relievers in baseball — in 2018. The fact that he was even available in late May (when the Nationals signed him to a minor league contract) was largely due to his checkered past health-wise. Continue reading “The Adventure of Jonny Venters in D.C.”