Czar’s Season Update: ROY Candidates

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Czar’s Season Update: Injury Report

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Gameday Dish: Wizards vs. Hawks on the Thanksgiving Menu

The Atlanta Hawks host the Washington Wizards tonight at Philips Arena in the Peach State. As uncomfortable away from D.C. as a rafter of Turkeys trying to maneuver on any of the ATL’s busy highway interchanges, the Wiz are winless on the road this young season at 0-6. And they have a ten-game losing streak against the Hawks coming into this Thanksgiving night contest.  Washington was last victorious against Atlanta in a regular season game almost three full calendar years ago.

From most calculated perspectives, the Wizards would appear to be an easy takedown. But on this national holiday, hope arrives in a cornucopia of forms for the squad from our capital city.  The Hawks have lost three games in a row, most recently bested in New Jersey 107-101 in OT on Tuesday night. The Wizards, on the other hand, are coming off of a hard fought, 116-114 overtime victory against our once-upon-a-time (temporary) capital city team – the Philadelphia Sixers.

Third-year center, 7-footer JaVale McGee had his best game of the 2010-11 season in the win, with season-high’s of 24 points and 18 boards – 10 of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. And first overall pick PG John Wall was back in the Wiz lineup against the Sixers after missing the previous four games with a sprained left foot. Wall finished with 25 points and 6 dimes coming off the bench.

The speedster caused problems for Atlanta in their first season matchup, contributing 28 points and nine assists. Wall is a tough assignment for veteran Mike Bibby, who is approaching the end of his career and no longer has the quickness to keep up with the spry rookie. So it will be interesting to see if Atlanta adjusts their lineup to have someone else defend Wall.

Joe Johnson suffered a preseason injury to his left hand, which may be contributing to his slow start. And the Hawks have been struggling of late, going 2-7 in the last nine games. They are trying to regain the chemistry that ignited their 6-0 run to start the season.

Most of the attention in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division this season has been on D-Wade, LeBron and the Miami Heat. But tonight at 8pm ET on TNT, the spotlight will be focused on the intra-division matchup between the Hawks and the Wizards.  Eat up, settle in and enjoy the NBA action while you recover. Dick Stockton, Chris Webber and I will be doing the same. Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Kirk Hinrich

Kirk Hinrich was a great pickup for the Washington Wizards from the standpoint that he’s an experienced veteran who has played both the point guard and off guard positions. The Wiz couldn’t have asked for a better mentor than Hinrich for their No. 1 draft pick John Wall.

This is a familiar role for Hinrich, who was willing to take a step back to give point guard Derrick Rose room to develop when the Bulls drafted him first overall in 2008. A consummate professional, Hinrich has proven to be an unselfish player who leads by example. As co-captain he will be able to pass on some of the wisdom he’s acquired over the years and help prepare Wall for what he’ll encounter in the league.

Hinrich contributes on a nightly basis. He can defend both the 1 and 2 guard positions, run the show on offense from the point position, make threes to stretch the defense, and he’s a great free throw shooter. Hinrich also has the ability and toughness to play at the small forward position if Washington wants to play three smalls together: Wall, Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas.

Averaging 11 points, 3 rebounds, nearly 5 assists and 1 steal per game, Hinrich is a very valuable addition the Washington Wizards and can add value to your roster too. Available in over 60% of fantasy leagues, Hinrich will log around 36 minutes in each of Washington’s four games this week.

Gameday Dish: Magic Host Wall and the Wizards

Since 1980 only three guards have been selected #1 overall in the NBA draft – Allen Iverson in 1996, Derrick Rose in 2008 and John Wall this past May. To say that this latest first-pick point guard will be heavily scrutinized and constantly analyzed is almost an understatement. With the Wizards entrusting the future of their franchise to this one-and-done, record-breaking Kentucky Wildcat, 20-year-old Wall already carries a lot of weight on his rookie shoulders.

Named Most Outstanding Player at the Las Vegas Summer League, Wall led all players in scoring (23.5) and assists (7.8), giving Wizards fans good reason to be optimistic. Tonight Wall and the Wizards travel to central Florida to play the Orlando Magic in what will be both teams’ opening game of the 2010-11 NBA campaign.

Washington had the fourth worst record in the league last season and was only 11-30 on the road. On the other hand, the Magic possessed a formidable home-court advantage by going 34-7 at the Amway Center.

People aren’t talking about Orlando as much since LeBron announced his move to Miami and took the media spotlight with him. But let’s not forget that last year Orlando won 59 games, and they are anchored by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, also a #1 overall pick (2004 draft) and First-Team All-League player.

Howard averages double-figure points and rebounds, and he’s one of the premiere shot blockers in the NBA. Led by their super-center and bolstered by a deep roster, the Magic will go head to head with the Heat and Celtics for a shot at the title. Orlando hopes to start this season on a better note than they ended last season when they lost to Boston 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Because Orlando felt they didn’t match up well against Boston’s bigger front line (which got even bigger with the additions of Shaquille and Jermaine) in the playoffs, they have been experimenting with Rashard Lewis starting at the small forward position during the preseason and will likely continue to explore whether this can be a successful strategy come playoff time.

The Wizards will be without three-time All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas, who has a strained tendon in his right ankle. Arenas missed most the 2010 season due to a 50-game league suspension for a felony-gun conviction.  He’s also generated some curious and negative publicity for the Wiz and himself this pre-season by faking a left knee injury in a bizarre attempt to give some playing time to teammate Nick Young.  Newly acquired guard Kirk Heinrich, a former Chicago Bull, will fill in for Arenas in the Wizards starting lineup.

Even if Arenas were playing tonight, this contest is all about John Wall’s debut as an NBA pro. Will Orlando’s newly anointed Wizard cast a proverbial spell on his opponents? Marv, Steve and I will be back in the booth when the Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic airs live at 8:00 PM EST on TNT.