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State of the Wizards: Players thriving under Brooks

State of the Wizards: Players thriving under Brooks

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Brooks overseeing improvement on offense - In watching the Wizards this season, it's hard not to notice that many are having the best seasons of their career. John Wall is posting career-highs in points (23.1 ppg), steals (2.3 spg) and field goal percentage (46.4). Bradley Beal is also scoring more than ever (21.8 ppg) at a career-high field goal percentage (45.6). The same can also be said about Otto Porter, who is scoring 14.5 points on 54 percent shooting, both career-highs.

Marcin Gortat is shooting a career-high 57.5 percent from the field to go along with a career-best 11.6 rebounds per game. Even Kelly Oubre, Jr. can be included in that mix, as he is having a breakout year of sorts.

The Wizards as a team currently have their best offensive rating (109) since the 2007-08 season. Their 47.2 field goal percentage is their highest since 1996-97. 

So, is it a coincidence that all of these guys are taking their games to new levels? Surely there are multiple factors that play into each and every player's improvement. But I asked some of Brooks' players this week what he deserves credit for as a new coach and the consensus was that they like the changes he has made to their offensive system:

Wall: "He challenged me personally and challenged everybody else... He gets credit for it. He gives me the opportunity to excel by giving me the ball and letting me to be the point guard out there and run a lot of sets. I can be aggressive. I give a lot of credit for myself for doing what I had to do to get back from the surgeries over the summer, [too]."

Beal: "I think he grants everybody freedom. I think that’s great for us. I’m able to dribble and handle the ball. John is able to handle the ball. Otto is even able to handle the ball in pick-and-rolls. Even with bringing it up the floor. I think our freedom and our ability to just have a little bit of control. I think his plays are great. We do a better job of screening. Our flow is awesome. I think ultimately it’s just everybody improving their game. Us being able to spread the floor out just makes it difficult for the other team."

Porter: "The ball just moves. With John creating and doing the things that he does, it helps everybody else. The confidence that we have going forward is key for us. Everybody is getting touches. We’re playing good defense and getting steals. We’re running the break and just feeding off each other."

Gortat: "[For me] it’s just more minutes. It’s more minutes and at the same time, coach has really given me a chance to play and given me a lot of confidnece. He’s kind of just leaving me out there and leaving me alone consistently. Obviously, I’m just trying to do my job, but he is just letting me play and do my stuff. I’m going to come up with some crazy stuff. Sometimes I’m going to come up with some crazy stuff and some unnecessary stuff, but he knows that ratio of good stuff to crazy stuff is like three-to-one, so. He doesn’t have to worry about anything."

The Wizards are currently one game out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference after beginning the season 2-8 and battling numerous injuries, most notably to their biggest free agent acquisition, Ian Mahinmi. Brooks has done an impressive job helping his team stay afloat and along the way has overseen several players take their game to new heights.

[RELATED: Wall wears long wig in TV acting debut]

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: John Wall 1/10 vs. Bulls - 26 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, steal, block, 11-of-21 FG

[RELATED: Wizards players take stock at midpoint of season]

Quote of the Week

"You just woke a monster."

- Wall to Denzel Valentine in the Wizards' win over the Bulls after his three-point dance

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road ahead

Mon. - 120-101 win vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tue. - OFF
Wed. - 104-101 win vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Thu. - 113-110 win vs. New York Knicks
Fri. - OFF
Sat. - 6 p.m. at Detroit Pistons (CSN)
Sun. - OFF

[RELATED: Wall and Beal not named All-Star starters]

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Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

USA Today Sports Images

Ramon Sessions signs with Wizards for rest of season, giving them long-term insurance for John Wall

The Wizards have signed point guard Ramon Sessions for the rest of the 2017-18 season following the expiration of his second 10-day contract, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Sessions, 31, has played in five games for the Wizards this season with averages of 7.2 points and 3.4 assists. He spent 13 games with the Knicks previously this season before first signing with the Wizards on Feb. 23. He signed his second 10-day contract on March 5.

The Wizards were only permitted to sign Sessions to two consecutive 10-day contracts per league rules. They had to decided at the end of the second deal whether to sign him for the rest of the season or release him to free agency.

"His reputation is amazing and rightfully so. He showed me and the staff that he comes and does his job every day," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He was more than deserving of the opportunity to stay here all year."


Sessions is eligible for their playoff roster if they do indeed make the postseason, as he was let go by New York before March 1. That was always going to be a consideration in their plans at the end of his second 10-day contract. If they were to go out and get someone else, the March 1 deadline would come back into play.

Sessions gives the Wizards depth at the point guard position along with Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier, who have collectively held down the fort with John Wall out recovering from left knee surgery. By keeping Sessions, the Wizards have another backup plan in place.

Brooks said on Friday that Wall will be placed back into the starting lineup immediately when he's ready to return. That was expected and it will have a domino effect on Sessions and the other guards once he is back. The minutes may dry up completely for Sessions, a 10-year NBA journeyman.

"You're gonna have guys that are going to have to be good teammates," Brooks said, suggesting the playing time would go away. "Sacrificing is a big part of this league."


Satoransky will be the primary backup to Wall and Sessions may be out of minutes alongside Frazier. Brooks did, however, note that Satoransky could spend time at shooting guard and small forward. That could theoretically open the door for Sessions or Frazier to get playing time.

Whether Sessions plays or not, he's happy to be in the fold. Though he often said the uncertainty of the 10-day deal didn't weight on him, he admitted on Friday that it wasn't easy to navigate.

"This was my first time doing a 10-day and those were probably the longest 20 days I've been a part of in the NBA," he said. "I'm just excited to be back here. D.C. is my home." 

The news was first reported by the Washington Post.

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Bullets legend Wes Unseld excited for Phil Chenier ahead of jersey retirement

Associated Press

Bullets legend Wes Unseld excited for Phil Chenier ahead of jersey retirement

When Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey is raised to the rafters at Capital One Arena on March 23, there will be a lot of emotions for those who have followed his career. There will be a unique sense of pride for his former Bullets teammates who know how integral he was to the franchise's success in the 1970s.

Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, for one, thinks it's not only well-deserved but that it is probably overdue.

"It's about damn time, to be honest with you," he said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson. "I thought it should have been up there a long time ago. This guy was instrumental in a lot of the success this organization has had over the years."


Chenier and Unseld played nine seasons together with the organization, first in Baltimore and then representing Washington, D.C. Unseld recalls Chenier, a three-time All-Star, as a gifted player on both ends of the court. Many remember Chenier for his shooting abilities and the fact he consistently averaged 20-plus points per game, but Unseld wants everyone to remember the defense as well.

"He was the total player," Unseld said. "He could get into you defensively."

Unseld first met Chenier when he had already made a name for himself and Chenier had yet to set foot on campus of the University of California. It was in San Francisco and Unseld was stopping through on his way to Japan.

They played together in a scrimmage and Chenier was just in high school. 

"They brought this little kid out on the court who looked like he was in the sixth grade. I thought, man, this little kid could play," Unseld said.


It was just four years after that when Chenier joined Unseld on the Bullets as a selection in the hardship draft. Chenier made an instant impact and earned All-Rookie honors for the 1971-72 season.

Unseld still saw Chenier as a kid playing well beyond his years.

"When he came to the team, he looked so young. I remember a few of the older guys said they had to protect this guy because he could carry us. He could give us something that we really needed. We couldn't allow him to get beat up or hurt," Unseld said.

There was one time in particular where Unseld remembers he had to look out for Chenier. They were playing against Walt Bellamy, another NBA Hall of Famer who had previously played for the Bullets. Bellamy would stick his knee out on screens and caught Chenier a few times with the trick.

Chenier was furious and told Unseld in the huddle. Unseld made sure it didn't happen again.

"I sure as hell didn't want him hurting Phil at that time. We needed him," Unseld said. "I just wanted to make sure that if Walt stuck another knee out then it was something we would have to deal with."



Unseld saw Chenier grow up as a basketball player and as a man. He is now thrilled to know that Chenier's jersey will be hanging up along with his and that Chenier will finally get this day he has so long deserved.

Chenier will have many close ones on hand for the ceremony including his kids, grandchildren and longtime friends. Unseld hopes they and all the Wizards fans out there understand how good Chenier truly was.

"It just shows them visually and it tells the rest of the Washingtonian people that they recognize that [Phil] was a pretty damn good player," he said.

Chenier's jersey retirement will take place at halftime on March 23 when the Wizards host the Denver Nuggets.

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You can listen to Wes Unseld's full interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast right here: