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Scott Brooks wants Wizards to embrace high expectations

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USA Today Sports

Scott Brooks wants Wizards to embrace high expectations

The Wizards put in their best season as a franchise since the Jimmy Carter administation in 2016-17 by winning 49 games, their division and reaching Game 7 of the second round of the NBA Playoffs all for the first time since 1979. Soon they will have the challenge of topping that.

With training camp just weeks away, the Wizards are close to being in a spot many of their players haven't been before, where a deep playoff run is not just hoped for but expected. If their performance on the court last season wasn't enough, now they will be on national TV 18 games this upcoming season, a clear indication this team is predicted to do big things.

That could present a new dynamic for some of the Wizards' youngest players, but head coach Scott Brooks is well-accustomed to hype preceding him. His Oklahoma City Thunder teams made the Western Conference Finals three times during his tenure and reached the NBA Finals in 2012. 

"I like expectations. I think we should have high expectations," Brooks said. "I think every team in this league should have expectations of winning the championship."

[RELATED: BROOKS KNOWS RE-SIGNING STARS ISN'T EASY]

The Wizards haven't reached the Eastern Conference Finals since that 1978-79 season, but they have been close. Twice before the made it to the second round of the playoffs with John Wall and Bradley Beal at the helm. 

In 2015, Washington fell in six games to the Atlanta Hawks. They then took a step back the following year by missing the playoffs and afterwards made a coaching change because of it.

Brooks hopes to make sure this team continues making progress.

"We’re trying to establish [a championship mentality] here. We want to have consistent and sustainable success. We don’t want to ride the rollercoaster ride of an NBA team going up and down, up and down each and every year. To prevent that from happening, we obviously have to have good players and we have that here," Brooks said.

[RELATED: PODCAST - NBA VIDEO GAMES PREVIEW]

Injuries were a big reason why the Wizards faltered in that 2015-16 season. Beal missed 27 games and Wall required surgery on both knees once the season was over.

The Wizards made changes to their training and medical staff following that year in addition to the head coach position. Brooks thinks he and the new staff have a good process going to prevent injuries.

"We have to have the good fortune of staying healthy. My job, and I have a lot of confidence in our medical staff, is to continue to put our players in the position to stay healthy. That’s so important in this league is to have healthy players every night to have success," he said.

Wall said earlier this month he thinks the Wizards will be viewed differently by other teams, saying the national TV games and recent success will make it so "we're not going in as underdogs now." That could present a challenge, but in Brooks they have a guy who has been there before.

[RELATED: CAN WALL FOLLOW THROUGH ON KOBE'S CHALLENGE?]

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Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Voting for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game's starters is now closed and though they have not fared well with fan ballots, the chances Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are picked as reserves seem good.

The All-Star reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks thinks the Wizards should have two representatives.

"They're definitely both having All-Star years," Brooks said. "I can't vote for either one, but they are definitely in my mind two of the best guards in the East."

Wall, 27, is averaging 19.9 points and leads the Eastern Conference with 9.3 assists per game. He also leads all NBA guards with 1.1 blocks per game.

Bradley Beal, 24, is seventh in the East with 23.7 points per game and third among Eastern Conference guards. He is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

The 25-19 Wizards are currently in the playoff picture, which should help their cause for two All-Stars. But there is a lot of competition at the guard position.

Beal has done plenty to make the case he should be a first-time All-Star. He leads the Wizards in points and has played in every one of their games.

What could hold Wall back is that his numbers are down from last season and the fact he missed 11 games due to injury.

Brooks, though, thinks he should be in there and that it shouldn't be all that close.

"I think John is the best point guard in the East," he said.

Wall is certainly up there among the best point guards in the conference. His competition would be guys like Kyrie Iriving, Kyle Lowry and maybe Ben Simmons. Wall is a more versatile player than Irving and has better numbers than Lowry or Simmons.

The All-Star starters are announced on Jan. 18 and the full rosters will be revealed on Jan. 23. We'll see if Wall and Beal make the cut.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 104-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday afternoon...

1. John Wall came out swinging in the first half with 22 points, 16 of them in the first quarter alone. 

This was one of his best plays. Wall split two defenders and then flipped it in off the glass:

Wall finished with 27 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

2. Kelly Oubre, Jr. led the Wizards' bench with 19 points, five rebounds and a block. He missed on this play, but nearly dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That would have been something:

[PODCAST: MIDSEASON AWARDS FOR MVP, BEST WIN AND MORE]

3. Oubre did get this one to go down. He popped a three at the buzzer to end the third quarter:

4. Wall had some nice passes including this alley-oop lob to Tomas Satoransky. Sato got way up there:

Satoransky also threw down this alley-oop pass earlier thrown by Bradley Beal:

5. This last play was by the Bucks and it was not something you see every day. Antetokounmpo fired an assist through his legs like a longsnapper:

The Wizards lost a close one. Now they head to Charlotte to begin a five-game road trip.

[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]