Saturday October 16, 2010 8:45 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
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For players like Lester Hudson, Adam Morrison, Cartier Martin, Hamidy Ndiaye and Sean Marks, these are anxious times as they have only a few pre-season games left to prove to the Wizards' coaching staff that they belong on the roster before final cuts are made. So who makes it and who gets left out in the cold? Position by position, I will take a shot at who suits up for the regular season opener October 28 at Orlando.
Guards: John Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich might all start with the three guard alignment that we have seen coach Flip Saunders trot out during the pre-season. Of course, that's when Arenas is healthy and not faking injury. If Arenas' groin (yes, real injury this time) isn't ready, Nick Young will likely step in, although Saunders has not been enamored with Young's defensive and rebounding efforts in the pre-season. Saunders doesn't mind Young's scoring but wants more consistency from the fourth year pro. Young scored 24 points against Atlanta last Tuesday but Saunders quickly mentioned afterward that Young didn't have a rebound or an assist.
Lester Hudson has an outside shot but that's about it -- an outside shot -- at making the roster. A 6'-3" shooting guard in the NBA is rare but that's what Hudson is. If he makes the team, he would play the instant offense role off the bench but I think his inability to handle the ball will keep him off the team.
Forwards: Yi Jianlian, Al Thornton, Josh Howard, Andray Blatche and rookie Trevor Booker are certainly entrenched on the team, which leaves Cartier Martin and Adam Morrison likely fighting each other for a spot. Martin played in eight games last season for the Wizards and hopes to stick on this year. He has a good shot with Flip Saunders continually praising his play in the pre-season. Martin is a good spot up shooter and his athleticism fits in well with the Wizards' up-tempo style. Defensively, he can play physical with forwards and swing men, something he showed well in his D-League stints.
Morrison has looked nothing like the player who warranted a top 5 pick by Charlotte in the 2006 NBA draft. Morrison has a fragile, unphysical way about him on the court and can shoot but that's about it. In today's NBA when good shooters are so hard to find, that might be enough for Morrison to make the roster, but I don't think so.
First round pick Kevin Seraphin might be headed for the D-League to start the season after seeing little playing time in the pre-season, and it's quite clear he needs to get in shape. Seraphin looks very much like a project for the Wizards.
Centers: JaVale McGee will likely be the starter opening night with Hilton Armstrong backing him up -- but Flip Saunders has been creative at the center spot, even starting normal forward Yi at the 5 in a pre-season game. Saunders has expressed frustration with McGee and his progress. Late second round pick Hamidy Ndiaye is certainly headed for the D-League to get quality minutes and professional experience. He was a great shot blocker at Rutgers but needs to develop his offensive game big time to have a shot at sticking in the NBA someday. Savvy NBA journeyman Sean Marks has been hobbled by injury all pre-season and hasn't seen much practice or playing time, so it will be hard for him to make the team simply because of inactivity.
There are two pre-season games left for players to prove they belong. It starts Sunday night at New York.