NBA PM: Jack Fitting In Perfectly In G.S.
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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One of the most underrated transactions of the offseason was the Golden State Warriors’ acquisition of Jarret Jack in a three-team deal with the New Orleans Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers. Jack, who is very capable as a starter, has thrived coming off the bench for the Warriors, averaging 10.6 points and 4.8 assists per contest.
The 29-year-old point guard has helped the Warriors start the season off at 16-8, which currently has them in fifth place in the Western Conference and just two games out of second place. HOOPSWORLD caught up with Jack to talk about the team’s success, the keys behind it and how much he’s loving life as a Warrior in this video interview:
Waiting On Wall: The Washington Wizards need their best player back in the worst way. At 3-18, they are in last place in the league. They are eight games out of the playoffs already and have been hit by one injury after another. They are currently without Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price and Trevor Booker, but they’re missing John Wall more than anyone. Wall has yet to play this season due to a troublesome left knee that is still a ways away from being court ready.
Wall received a third Synvisc injection last week as his left knee problems developed into cartilage damage underneath his left patella. His doctor told him he could increase his work load once the swelling and pain goes away, but there’s still no set timetable for his return.
“Nothing’s been going the right way for us this year,” Wall said to Michael Lee of the Washington Post. “It’s very disappointing. I just feel like God is challenging me mentally, giving me a course like this to see if I can get through it. I have to sit back and wait.”
Luckily for Wizards fans and especially head coach Randy Wittman, who joked that the team needed an exorcist to help reverse their bad luck with injuries, Wall does expect to play at some time this season.
“I’m not thinking like that,” Wall said when the possibility of him missing the season was mentioned. “Hopefully the time I’ve taken off and the shots I got and the treatment I’ve been getting is helping me get healthy so I can play basketball this season. You don’t want to miss a whole season. If it comes to it, you have to, but I’m not trying to think that far ahead.”
Wall’s mind is set on playing this season. His knee is getting better slowly, but surely. He’s now able to shoot with a little bit of lift, whereas before he couldn’t even run or fully extend his left knee. If he does come back, he won’t shoulder the burden of trying to save the Wizards’ season, which may already be a lost cause, by himself.
“I don’t think I have to be heroic,” Wall said. “I think just being out there and lifting the spirits of my teammates, having one of their leaders out there playing and just having another point guard there, makes the job a lot easier.”
While there may be reason for optimism with Wall, the Wizards still have to find a way to survive until he is able to get on the court. With only one healthy point guard on their roster, a move could be on the horizon for them.
“We’re going to keep our options open, looking at different scenarios, keep observing how we feel this is going and what direction and make our decision based on that,” Wittman said. “Nobody really thought at the time that, even when [Wall] had a little discomfort in there, that it was going to be middle of December and he still hasn’t been able to do anything.”
Spoelstra Focused On Backcourt: The Miami HEAT are off to a very respectable start at 15-6. However, when you’re the defending champions with a roster like they have, there’s always going to be questions and criticism. Previously, everyone wondered whether or not LeBron James could lead them to a championship. Now that he’s proven he could, the big question mark is whether or not Dwyane Wade is at the level he needs to be at in order for them to repeat. Wade is averaging his lowest point total (19.4) since his rookie year, but head coach Erik Spoelstra is neither surprised nor concerned.
“He’s coming off knee surgery and we talked about it,” Spoelstra said on WQAM in Miami. “We knew about it in the preseason. I had a conversation with Dwyane. I said, ‘Okay here are the expectations: I want you to get stronger, healthier and play more efficient as the season goes on and there’s going to be some ups and downs at the beginning of the season, that’s inevitable.’
“He missed the summer. He was able to participate in the preseason, but you don’t just jump into the season playing at a top-five level that he has always been accustomed to playing. Now I also had a conversation with him that people are going to judge, probably harshly judge and make assumptions early on when you’re going through these ups and downs and we all need to be on the same page and weather it. Not worry about what other people are saying, just stay on the same course and remember what the big picture is. Your best, healthiest and strongest basketball has to be coming during the spring stretch run.”
Point guard Mario Chalmers, on the other hand, is a concern of Coach Spoelstra. Chalmers is averaging just 6.5 points a game on 39 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc, a noticeable drop off from last year. However, Spoelstra still believes in the fifth-year point guard.
“We’ve driven and pushed Mario really hard, but right now I think we have to give him some confidence because he is a proven championship point guard,” Spoelstra said. “We play at an entirely different level and we don’t feel like we can get beat when he plays well. It’s a symbiotic relationship so we all have to work together. He’s got to work to get back to his game and play the way he’s capable of playing and we have to work and I have to do it as a head coach to give him some confidence and get him playing aggressively again and playing where he’s at his best so we can go to another level.
“That’s going to happen. We met yesterday and we have been spending time after practices. He puts in the time so it’s just a matter of time. Players go through this, even veteran players. You go through some segments where it’s just not here. As long as everybody is pure about it and you don’t overreact to it, you get it back quickly and that is what we anticipate with Mario.”