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Riding the Wizards Bench October

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Just Who Will Be Ready For The Start Of The Regular Season?

Nobody knows, that's one of the problems. Currently, the Wizards are short 4 players expected to get regular minutes in the preseason: Juwan Howard, Tim Legler, Gheorghe Muresan, and Rod Strickland. Playing that short-handed can be difficult.

Tim Legler is likely to play tonight (against the Lakers) - he's feeling much better and has been practicing. Juwan Howard is practicing on his own and will be reviewed by a doctor tomorrow. He could rejoin the team for its final 2 preseason games, and that's good.

Muresan is almost certainly headed for injured reserve. The Wizards just have to make do in the meantime.

Rod Strickland will be interesting. He has a pulled left hamstring, though team trainer Kevin Johnson says that the injury is not as bad as he first suspected. Still, I would expect that Rod would not be back to full speed with 10 days of rest. However, David Aldridge of ESPNet Sportszone is reporting that Strickland expects to be in the regular season lineup.

Who to believe? I'd err on the side of caution, but Strickland is a competitor and wants to play. We'll have to wait and see. Whitney obviously gets the starting nod if Strickland isn't playing. If Strickland doesn't go on IR, then rumor has it that Shammgod would get stashed on IR.

That has interesting ramifications. Leckner probably gets the spot set aside for Muresan. But who gets the 12th roster spot? If it isn't Shammgod, then it looks like Darvin Ham gets added to provide deep bench support in the front court, and Wallace still makes the team. (And it looks like the story about Wallace's roster spot being at risk was meant as a motivator, although he didn't perform well (see the boxscore) in his first game after the story was released.)

So, when they open on the road against the Detroit Pistons, who do the Wizards start? I'm thinking that, with Howard still recovering from that ankle sprain, Bernie doesn't want Howard trying to guard Grant Hill. Plus, do you want Lorenzo Williams matching up with Brian Williams? No, CWebb could handle that (as Williams isn't a traditional center anyway). I'd expect Harvey Grant matched on Grant Hill, along with CWebb, Howard, a point guard (Strickland or Whitney) and Cheaney. That gives you Murray, Legler, Williams, and a backup point guard off the bench.

Some food for thought as the end of the preseason closes in, and the Wizards aim to build a new reputation with a new franchise name.

wtf 22 October 1997

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