The Washington Post

Flip Saunders says Wizards are ready to make a big jump


I was mostly just listening out of morbid curiosity, in case Vinny said anything like this, which he eventually said: “Trying to build through the draft, that’s the way it looks like you guys are trying to that kind of the philosophy?”

(Note: He did not follow that up by maniacally laughing at the prospect of a D.C. franchise attempting to build through the draft.)

But as long as I listened, I will provide five highlights.

1) Saunders said John Wall has been working out in Verizon Center for three or fours a day over the last several weeks.

“His shot is almost 100 percent better than what it was about a year ago,” Saunders said. “I think he’s gonna made a huge stride from where he was last year to this coming year.”

2) Saunders compared this year’s draft to the 1995 version, when he said Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace were the consensus top four, and nobody wanted pick No. 5. That’s where the Timberwolves got Kevin Garnett.

“It depends what you want,” Saunders said. “I think that we’ll end up with a very good player at No. 6 that will fit in our rotation. We’re looking for guys that have the ability to get out and run with John...high-motor guys, defensive-oriented guys. And I think we’ll get someone really good at 6. There are five or 6 guys we’re looking at at 18, and [we’ll get] somebody good at 34. We feel pretty good where we’re at with the draft, with cap flexibility. We feel like we’re ready to make a big jump next year.”

3) When Cerrato asked about building through the draft, Saunders agreed.

“That’s been the gameplan,” he said. “Ted’s been very patient this past year. We knew what we were doing....We’ll be able to get a couple more really good young players we think can help us in our top 10 players, but you have to add some veteran guys so the young guys know how it’s done. But we feel great....We think we kind of found the formula [at the end of ‘11], started kicking in a little bit the style of play and how we want to play.”

4) There was a lot of NBA Finals talk, and Vinny finally asked Flip Saunders about comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan.

“It should have never even been talked about from the beginning,” Flip said. Here here. (Note: Also, hear hear.)

5) Vinny also asked Flip about the Wizards’ new uniforms.

“Red, white and blue is great for the city,” Saunders said. “I like red . Shows aggressiveness. I like being a little bit aggressive.”

The segment ended with Cerrato telling Saunders “good luck in the draft, man,” at which point I had a slight but involuntary shudder.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.


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