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Room for improvement: Bradley Beal


Room for improvement: Bradley Beal

For the Wizards to go beyond the second round of the playoffs, where they've lost in six games in the last two seasons, will require key contributors to do a little bit more. 

While it's unlikely that everyone in the rotation will magically become better at an area of weakness, this would be the best-case scenario for the Wizards. We'll go player by player, in no particular order:

Bradley Beal

The skinny: In his third season, Beal missed 19 games because of a broken left wrist and a recurring stress injury in his lower right leg. He has had the stress injury in all three NBA seasons. As a result, it was a down season for the shooting guard who was expected to make a push to be an All-Star as he averaged 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

RELATED: Room for improvement: Marcin Gortat

The fix: Manufacturing offense from the foul line. Beal's shooting stroke is fine from three-point range (40.9%), though his mid-range game can be much better (42.7% overall). But when his shot isn't falling he has to be able to get whistles to pick up freebies. No, it has nothing to do with not getting respect from officials. That's a cop-out for excuse-makers. The elite players at his position, like James Harden, get to the foul line early and often (10 times a game) by not settling for jumpers every time and forcing the action which in turn forces officials to blow whistles on 50-50 calls. This requires Beal to have a more creative handle off the dribble to get into the lane and draw contact. In 10 postseason games, Beal was that player and you saw the results. He averaged a team-leading 23.4 points. He also averaged six foul shot attempts per game, almost four more than he averaged in 63 regular-season games.

Prospects: First, this is relatively easy to turn around. It's no surprise that Beal played better when coach Randy Wittman spread the floor with smaller lineups and didn't suffer when John Wall broke his hand and wrist and missed three playoff games in the East semis (Beal tallied 22 assists in those games). They'll use more small lineups this season. It's also likely that Beal will be playing for a contract if he doesn't come to terms with the Wizards on an extension to his rookie deal before the regular season tips. He thinks he's a max player and to get those offers as a restricted free agent next summer, he'll have to prove it. Of course, if he does come to terms with the Wizards before the negotiation window closes at the end of October, he'll feel the need to prove he's earned the salary bump. Either way, he has more than enough motivation plus the deck is stacked for him to succeed with the floor more spread out for him to attack the basket. 

RELATED: Room for improvement: Ramon Sessions

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

An undiagnosed illness has convinced Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to step away from the team indefinitely, the team announced on Monday. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.

Lue, 40, is hoping to address his health issues in time to return before the year is out. According to a statement on the team's website, he has been under the weather for quite some time.


Here is what Lue said on the matter in a press release:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

That is scary stuff and certainly much bigger than basketball. But the surprising news happens to come at a crucial time in the Cavs' season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining before the playoffs.


The Cavs are just a half-game ahead of both the Wizards and Pacers in the standings. They will also have to reincorporate All-Star Kevin Love, likely sometime this week. 

That is a lot for Drew to deal with while Lue recovers and it adds another wrinkle to a Cavs' season that has been characterized by change.


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