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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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VIDEO: Wizards' win over Nuggets includes Nikola Jokic bumping coach Scott Brooks

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VIDEO: Wizards' win over Nuggets includes Nikola Jokic bumping coach Scott Brooks

So, this is a weird way to end a basketball game.

The Wizards were up just two points on the Denver Nuggets with :32 seconds left on Monday night when talented third-year center Nikola Jokic made a mistake that may have cost Denver a win. During a timeout, Jokic bumped shoulders with Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. Brooks was immediately incensed and Jokic was awarded a technical.

It was a bizarre moment. Watch it here:

Bradley Beal hit the technical free throw, then sank a layup on the next possession. Jokic made dumb mistake, whether it was intentional or not, and the Wizards capitalized in a 109-104 win.


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Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

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Wizards stay unbeaten, take out Nuggets to begin road trip

The Washington Wizards beat the Denver Nuggets 109-104 on Monday night at the Pepsi Center. Here's analysis of what went down.

Jokic bumped Brooks: A strange moment happened in the final minute that helped change the course of this game. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic bumped Wizards head coach Scott Brooks during a timeout, earning a technical with :32 seconds left. The Wizards were up just two points, but Bradley Beal hit a free throw and then a layup on the ensuing possession to give the Wizards a five-point lead and essentially seal the win.

Here is the play. It's not something you see very often:

Porter may be taking another leap: Otto Porter (17 points, 10 rebounds, four steals) was a standout in the first two games because of his hot starts and that continued on Monday. Porter came out rolling with 12 points in his first 15 minutes. He made it look easy with his midrange game, consistently knocking down 15 to 20 foot jumpers. 

Porter clearly looks more assertive and confident, showing no hesitation particularly early in games. The Wizards saw John Wall and Bradley Beal quickly get much better after signing their max deals and Porter looks intent on following their lead.

Backup point guard a positive: Yeah, you read that right. For as much trouble as the Wizards have had solving the backup point guard position, all was right on Monday night. Tim Frazier had easily his best game since joining the Wizards after going scoreless in his first two outings. His first made shot as a member of the Wizards was a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter from about 35 feet out.

Frazier lit a spark with 10 points, so did Tomas Satoransky. After not playing in the Wizards' first two games, he checked in late in the second quarter and immediately hit a hook shot and a three. Satoransky is on the outside of the rotation looking in, but he made the most of a brief opportunity on this particular night.

Those two guys helped buoy Wall (19 points, 12 assists) and Beal (20 points, five rebounds). Any time pressure can be taken off of them is a good thing.

Jokic is legitimate: We don't see much of Nuggets center Jokic on the East Coast and he didn't score a single point in his last game before playing the Wizards, but on Monday Jokic showed that he is the real deal. The guy came out swinging with 12 points on 5-for-5 from the field in his first eight minutes. By halftime he had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. There are so many good, young big men these days that Jokic gets overlooked, but he does just about everything well. Jokic finished with 29 points in 35 minutes.

Up next: The Wizards move on to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at the Staples Center. That means Wall vs. Lonzo Ball. The game tips at 10:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.