The NBA Finals are underway and for the 33rd straight year, the local franchise is not in the Championship Round. So, what is a D.C. hoops fan to do? How about root like hell for the Oklahoma City Thunder? Why? Glad you asked.
1. D.C. native Kevin Durant is starring for the Thunder.
2. The Heat are in the Southeast Division with the Wizards. I mean, do any real Redskins fans root for the Cowboys, Giants, or Eagles? So don't root for the Wizards' division rival (yes, I said "rival" and yes, it is a stretch). Enuff Said.
3. LeBron James is on the Heat. I know you think I'm still "hating" on LeBron for "The Decision." Yes, I am, and how about all the ass kickings he gave the Wizards in the post season as a Cleveland Cavalier? Remember the infamous "Crab Dribble"?
4. OKC is a fun team to watch and the team the Wizards organization wants to become. Plus, what is there not to love about the Thunder? They are a small market team succeeding in a league that supposedly couldn't care less about the little guy. Everyone outside of Miami should root for the Thunder ... except for former Sonics fans, too. Sorry Seattle!
In this week's "Chain Reactions", we look at the Wizards' BIG option at #3 and how the young Nats are thriving with an old skipper.
Wizards Big Option
The Wizards need a shooter, someone that can spot up and knock down shots when John Wall breaks down the defense. There could be a few options for the Wizards at the No. 3 spot in this year's draft that fit that bill, like Bradely Beal from Florida or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes.
However, as stated in this space many times before, the Wizards really could use talent at any position, even at power forward. D.C. native and Kansas product Thomas Robinson is 6-8 3/4 in sneakers (I bet he wears them when he plays) and has a wing span of 7-3 1/4. He is not a knock-down shooter or pure scorer at the next level, though.
While Robinson may lack in offensive polish, he is strong and aggressive in the paint. He is an explosive athlete. Those are qualities the Wizards could still use, too. If you look at the Wizards roster you might say, "Well, they have Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, and Jan Vesley that are all 'Bigs.'"
However, Nene has had durability issues, and so has Booker. Plus, Vesley is still the great unknown. Besides, the Wizards were hardly a great rebounding team. They were 24th in the league in rebounding differential.
Robinson thinks he's the best player in the draft and is not ready concede anything to Kentucky's Anthony Davis, the concensus #1. Davis wore a t-shirt to the Chicago Combine that read, "Check my stats." Robinson had this to say about Davis' message.
"If you wanted to check the stats, then I'd be the No. 1 pick easily -- if that's what you want to do," Robinson told reporters."I should get one of those shirts. I'll get a shirt that says, 'Numbers don't lie.' "
"I'm going to go after every team that I step on the floor against," Robinson said. "There's really not going to be a specific team that I'm going to point out and just try to kill. I'm trying to kill everybody."
Any team that takes Robinson is going to get his best. It is hard to fathom Robinson swallowing cinnamon and putting it on "You Tube" or being a regular on the D.C. club scene. He is a "Grown Ass Man." He will be a pro's pro and will give it 110% every practice and every game.
To understand why Robinson is so driven, you have to understand what he has overcome. In his sophomore season, his grandmother, grandfather, and mother all died within a 25-day period. His only living relative is his 7-year old sister, Jayla. He uses the pain as fuel to keep working to keep being the best.
He might not fill the team's biggest need, but he has the tools and work ethic that make him one of the safest picks. If the Wizards bring Robinson home, he likely won't disappoint.
Nats Skipper Keeps Them on Course
There are plenty of great stories so far for the NL East-leading Nationals. The starting pitching has been great, Bryce Harper has lived up to the hype (did you see that blast Tuesday night?), and they have played through numerous injuries. The word "resilient" gets thrown around plenty in sports, but in the case of the Nationals, it fits.
The front office, led by GM Mike Rizzo, deserves lots of credit for assembling such a strong minor league system that is seeing the fruits of those labors.There is one guy in the organization that needs to get more credit, though.
Manager Davey Johnson, who took over in midseason last year when Jim Riggleman "quit," has done a brilliant job pushing all the right buttons. The 69-year old is calm and somewhat cocky and it rubs off on his teams, whether with the Mets, Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, and now Nationals. The man knows baseball, and his resume speaks for itself.
However, as Johnson himself has pointed out, the past is the past. So let's judge him on the here and now. This season, he has juggled line ups due to injuries, dealt with closer issues, a lack of consistant offense, and shown patience when needed.
He stuck with Danny Espinosa during his early season struggles. He moved Ian Desmond down in the order and uses rookie utility man Steve Lombardozzi at the top of the order. Johnson wanted Bryce Harper with the big club out of Spring Training, and you can see why. Harper has not disappointed his skipper with his strong start to his big league career.
Johnson let Stephen Strasburg go well past his pitch count in Boston over the weekend, even allowing the ace to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam. He has the right read on what his two best pitchers need as Patrick Reddington points out in this well-written piece.
In a sport where the team is together more than any other, you need a skipper that can communicate with his guys. The Nats have that in Davey Johnson.