Many travelers find layovers in Atlanta trying, if not flat out miserable. This week former University of Maryland star Jordan Williams is no exception. The rising second-year forward was handed his walking papers by the Hawks afterbeing shipped to Atlanta as part of the trade that sent All-Star Joe Johnson to Brooklyn. Sounds like Williams was caught up in a numbers game after the Hawks re-signed forward Ivan Johnson.After conditioning issues delayed the start of his rookie campaign, Williams averaged 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 43 games for the Nets. Notastonishing numbers, but the burly Williams provided decent bench punch whiledisplaying his soft touch around the rim, making 50.7 percent of his attempts. Those rebounds project out to a solid 8.8 over 36 minutes according to Basketball-Reference.com. In other words, sure he wasn't a first-round pick and sure he likely will never be an NBA starter and sure his decision to turn pro early - Williams would be entering his senior season this year - looks more dubious by the minute, but he's got skills. Some around the league already are speculating that it won't be long before some team snaps up the 21-year-old. No, can't imagine it's the local outfit, not with their logjam up front, but some team makes the move.
If you are a fan of the Capitals, you have been hearing for a long time about how difficult this offseason is going to be because of how many expiring contracts the team has. There are a bunch and it can be hard to keep track of.
Luckily, we are here for you. Here is a handy-dandy guide to all of the Caps' pending free agents.
Why is everyone assuming Evgeny Kuznetsov will be re-signed but keeping T.J. Oshie will be difficult? Who is unrestricted and restricted? What are the chances players like Daniel Winnik and Brett Connolly return?
Improving on offense next season from the last will not be easy for the Washington Wizards after the strides they made during their 2016-17 campaign. They were just that good.
In their first season under head coach Scott Brooks, the Wizards put up some serious offensive numbers. Here is a sample of where they ranked in the NBA:
109.2 PPG, 5th
111.2 Off. Rtg., 7th
47.5 FG%, 3rd
52.8 eFG%, 6th
41.3 FG/G, 2nd
87 FGA/G, 10th
23.9 AST/G, 6th
37.2 3PT%, 8th
The Wizards scored more points per game than any of the teams Brooks previously coached in Oklahoma City. Consider some of the Thunder teams he had with Russell Westbrook, who was first in the NBA in scoring this season, James Harden (2nd) and Kevin Durant (12th), and that is quite impressive. The Wizards at one point this year scored 100 points or more in 23 straight games and none of his OKC teams did that, either.
All but one of those above categories, assists per game, marked an improvement for Washington from the season before. Not listed, though, are two major outliers. Despite ranking eighth in three-point percentage, the Wizards were just 16th in three-point makes and 20th in attempts. Those are things Brooks would like to see change in 2017-18.
"Our three-point shooting, I would like to make a few more," Brooks said. "Those are things that [GM] Ernie [Grunfeld] and I will discuss this offseason continues. We will figure out ways to improve our team."
The Wizards could improve on those categories from within, if Otto Porter re-signs and shoots more often and others like Markieff Morris, John Wall, Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre, Jr. continue to become more accurate. If they bring back Bojan Bogdanovic, the potential will certainly be there to rain threes with the best of them.
But clearly the Wizards will make at least some changes to their roster.
"I know that we will add pieces. Like every team and every year, you try to get better. You try to figure out how you can get better," Brooks said.
The most likely spot to make a change is at backup guard where they could use help behind Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards had Brandon Jennings as their primary backup during the playoffs and he was not a threat from three.
If three-point shooting is a big priority as they search for reserve guards, that would help the cause for guys like Patty Mills, Ian Clark and J.J. Reddick in free agency. The Wizards do have one draft pick, the 52nd overall selection in the second round, but it's highly unlikely they find a readymade three-point threat that late in the draft.
The Wizards were good at shooting threes in 2016-17, but clearly Brooks would like to see them take another step.