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John Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Scott Brooks' confidence in him

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John Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Scott Brooks' confidence in him

Wizards guard John Wall has never been afraid to share his personal goals, even knowing things can be taken out of context and used to set expectations in the minds of many.

Some athletes shy away from proclamations, knowing they will be held to them.

This offseason Wall already threw it out there he wants to make first team All-Defense for the 2017-18 season. And now he's talking about winning the NBA's most valuable player award. Actually, it was his head coach Scott Brooks who got it all started on media day last week.

"John Wall is one of the best players in basketball," Brooks said.

"I think now you can really talk about him being in the MVP conversation. He has that type of ability. He has that type of game."

When asked about Brooks' quote, Wall didn't walk it back or beat around the bush. That's not his style.


"It's a goal that I have for myself, also," he said. "It's not more pressure. It's an opportunity knowing how much I worked on my game. It shows how much coach believes in me. He wants me to run the team. He's put me in different positions to excel. That's my ultimate goal, to be MVP one day, why not have it have an MVP season this year?"

Earning the MVP these days is about as difficult as it has ever been in the NBA. Last season, Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook took home the honors by setting an NBA record for triple-doubles. He was the first player to average a triple double since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. Rockets guard James Harden finished second and he had one of the best seasons in league history with an absurd line of 29.1 points and 11.2 assists per game.

The NBA's MVP award was so competitive last year that LeBron James finished fourth despite setting career-highs in rebounds and assists and helped lead the Cavs while Kevin Love missed a quarter of the season. Wall was just the second player in NBA history to average at least 23 points, 10 assists and two steals while shooting over 45 percent from the field in a season and he wasn't even a finalist.


Now, last year was unusual in the annals of the NBA. Not since 1972-73 had a player averaged at least 29 points and 10 assists in one season and both Harden and Westbrook did so in 2016-17. Those are tough numbers to compete with, especially for a point guard like Wall who was directly compared to them.

If history is any indication, Wall will have to score more to leap into the MVP mix. His 23.1 points last season were excellent and enough to tie Bradley Beal for the lead on the Wizards. But no MVP has held a scoring average that low since Steve Nash in 2005-06. The only MVP to score less than 25 per game since Nash was Stephen Curry in 2014-15, but he had a 59.4 effective field-goal percentage and led the best team in the NBA. 

In theory, Nash's path the the MVP (he won it twice) is probably the best blueprint for Wall. Nash took home the award with seasons of 15.5 points and 11.5 assists (2004-05) and 18.8 points and 10.5 assists (2005-06) per game. Wall puts up those type of numbers on a regular basis, but much has changed about the point guard position since Nash's heyday. 

Now the top point guards are often the No. 1 scoring options on their teams and scoring is a big determinant of postseason awards. With everything Wall already does, between passing, rebounding and racking up steals, adding a few more points per game is what it will probably require to get his name into the MVP mix. An argument could be made he should have been in the discussion this past season, but as history shows it's scoring that reigns supreme, especially for point guards these days.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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