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Film study: Before praising Brandon Jennings too much for offense, defense is problematic

Film study: Before praising Brandon Jennings too much for offense, defense is problematic

Brandon Jennings led the bench with 10 points.

He made 4 of 5 shots, and had a key assist, helping the Wizards come back in Game 2 late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks.

But pump the breaks with the praise.

He only helped undo a deficit that he had a major hand in creating in the first place because of his porous one-on-one defense that has been a recurring theme.

The obsession with points and offensive statistics in general -- see the NBA MVP race which has become hijacked by it -- ignores how the Wizards got behind.

Jennings made three consecutive shots, all jumpers, in a 2:07 span to start the fourthh quarter. The score went from an 80-76 deficit to 84-all following Jennings' assist to Jason Smith at the rim. John Wall and Bradley Beal closed the 109-101 victory for a 2-0 series lead.

Jennings' defense, however, has to change. He's not old and slow. He doesn't have any apparent physical limiations. There is no shame in getting beaten 1 vs. 1 in the NBA. It happens. But Jennings is getting beat on the first move before his help defense is in position to clean up the miess. The Hawks haven't shot the ball well but even the worst shooters can make layups:

Frontline foul trouble

Instead of moving his feet laterally to stay in front of Tim Hardaway, who has shot 7 of 28 in two games of the series, Jennings allows him by with red carpet treatment to the rim. This isn't on the rim protection. This is on the guard's lack of containment. To make matters worse, Jennings has to know who is on the court and the situation. Aside from Hardaway not being able to buy buckets from the outside, Markieff Morris gets put in a bind and ends up fouling Hardaway going downhill. It's his fifth foul. He'd started the fourth quarter after being on the bench most of the game and went right back to it.

Non-shooters get layups (and a rhythm)

Despite going under on the screen and Smith hedging to slow the ball, Jennings still gets beat to the rim by Schroder. He'd given him the cushion to take the shot and still gets blown by. Schroder had missed 2 of 3 shots to start the game -- all jumpers. Easy buckets can get a player like Schroder into a rhythm and then all of his other shots start falling. He started on a down note but Jennings' defense let him off the canvas. First and foremost, Schroder wasns to get to the rim. Not take jumpers.

Straight-line drives allowed

Before the defense even gets set, Kent Bazemore -- a lefty -- goes straight at Jennings and gets to the basket. Smith was correctly concerned with his man, Mike Dunleavy, running to spot at the arc (Smith was guarding Ersan Ilyaova but in transition defense you match up with the closest man). Smith's containment help could've been better as he made a reach, too, but he wasn't prepared for how quickly it developed. Bazemore's ballhandling can be suspect and he loves to go left. At least force him to change direction to his weaker side where he's more prone to mistakes and less likely to finish.

Turning corners allowed

Jennings has Schroder pinned on the sideline which should serve as an extra defender. There's only one thing he can do here to be successful. But Jennings is on his heels which allows the real estate to the rim rather than dictating to the ballhandler where he's permitted. Smith is out of position to help as he's tracking three-point shooting big Mike Muscala off a split . By the time he tries to slide down, it's too late. 

Solution

Beal defends Schroder late in the fourth quarter exactly the way you're supposed to each and every time. He shoots an airball. That simple. Beal has been consistent defensively all season because he doesn't go for the home-run plays. Give Schroder enough space to take away the drive, move your feet but keep your hands in your own pockets. 

Each time the Hawks were able to erase early deficits to get back into games with the Wizards in this series, they went at Jennings. Being targeted should motivate him to do better, but in later rounds of the playoffs vs. better teams these moments will ultimately cost the Wizards a close game or two and ultimately a series.

Talking about it or addressing it then will be too late. Of course, making shots like he did Wednesday can smooth some of that over but he can't be an open door on defense and the 27.4% shooter he was in 23 regular-season games in Washington.

MORE WIZARDS: Jennings helps Wizard's 4th quarter turnaround in Game 2

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Does Chris Paul's trade to Rockets set the price for Pacers and Paul George?

Does Chris Paul's trade to Rockets set the price for Pacers and Paul George?

An NBA superstar named Paul was traded on Wednesday, but not the one who has been linked over and over in the last few weeks to the Wizards. No, it was Chris Paul who got dealt from the Clippers to the Rockets in a deal reported by Yahoo! Sports and not Paul George of the Pacers.

Paul's trade, however, could apply to George and by relation to the Wizards. That's because Paul is also a superstar and also has just one year left on his contract now that he agreed to opt in and head to Houston. George can opt out of his contract following the 2017-18 season and has made his intentions clear to the Pacers that he plans to leave.

Now, George has an extra wrinkle involved that Paul did not. He has indicated he not only wants to leave the Pacers next summer but specifically to join his hometown L.A. Lakers. Though Paul could leave the Rockets after one year, George seems almost certain to leave whichever city he plays in next year.

[RELATED: Wall is lobbying George to come to Wizards]

Still, set that aside and there may be something to learn from what the Rockets gave up for Paul if you are a team trying to land George from Indiana. First, let's look at what Houston gave up:

Rockets receive: PG Chris Paul

Clippers receive: PG Patrick Beverley, SG Lou Williams, SF Sam Dekker, 2018 first round pick

The Wizards already have a point guard, so they weren't interested in Paul. But could they offer something comparable for George? The Rockets' first round pick is likely to be in the late 20s, so that is doable. But in Beverley, Williams and Dekker the Clippers get two proven players who can help them win now and a high-ceiling former first round pick.

Whether the Pacers would accept NBA players like that, or if they seek more picks for the future, is unclear. The Wizards could not compete with teams like the Celtics and Lakers when it comes to picks, given the ones they hold will likely land in the lottery.

If the Wizards offer something similar to what the Rockets gave up, that hypothetical would likely include some combination of Otto Porter, who would have to do a sign-and-trade, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Marcin Gortat or Ian Mahinmi. Markieff Morris has such a team-friendly contract and gets along so well with John Wall and Bradley Beal that it's tough to see them give him up.

The Wizards may still not have the pieces to outbid others for George, but the Paul deal certainly appears to be a good starting point.

[RELATED: Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Paul George]

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Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets where he will team with James Harden, report says

Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rockets where he will team with James Harden, report says

There may be another super team forming in Houston, as on Wednesday the Rockets pulled off a deal to acquire superstar point guard Chris Paul and pair him with James Harden, a two-time runner-up for MVP.

That's according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who tweeted this on Wednesday morning and in doing so set Twitter on fire:

Paul and Harden in the same backcourt will form one of the most talented duos in basketball, but how they will work together is not clear yet. Paul is a point guard and Harden has found his success in recent years at the same position. Harden's background is as a shooting guard, but he thrives with the ball in his hands and running Mike D'Antoni's offense.

The Clippers will receive guards Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a 2018 first round pick, according to multiple reports. That's all for Paul, who has one year left on his contract now that he has agreed to opt in. That brings up the question of whether Paul will sign a long-term deal. It would be understandable if he wants to see how the first year goes first.

Either way, this is a major, major blockbuster deal and NBA free agency hasn't even started yet.

[RELATED: Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Paul George]