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Why Leonsis expects youth to be better served under Scott Brooks

Why Leonsis expects youth to be better served under Scott Brooks

Under coach Randy Wittman, young players had difficulty getting playing time and routinely were on a short leash. Otto Porter's development as a rookie in 2013 was hampered by a hip injury but it took him a while to blossom. Kelly Oubre, who the Wizards traded up for last year, shined when he got his chance but disappeared from the rotation.

Under Scott Brooks, introduced as Wittman's replacement on Wednesday, majority owner Ted Leonsis expects a significant change. 

"Many people in the league think very highly of Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre," said Leonsis, who made the unusual step of talking to every player during exit interviews after a 41-41 season in which the Wizards missed the playoffs. "Otto I think took steps forward but he didn't take that next step that most people think he's capable of taking. I think this is going to be a breath of fresh air for him as we go forward.

"Kelly Oubre, when we did our exit interviews, every player noted to me that he has no fear. He's really hard to play against. He has really, really long arms. He's tough to play against. The players wanted him to play more. So our coach has already recognized that and thinks that Kelly Oubre is a big asset for us. Well if that's the case to have two talented long wing players in the new NBA, two guards and two big men we now have enough pieces that we can now build around that and get back to at minimum being a playoff team."

Oubre made 63 appearances, including nine starts, to average 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds. When Porter aggravated a tear in the labrum in his hip, Oubre made 12 three-pointers, exactly to two per game, in six consecutive outings. He was 12 of 20, or 60%, from long range which was unexpected given Oubre only played one year in college and had to adjust to the deeper shot.

He fell out of favor, however, when Porter returned and never got a serious chance to prove why the Wizards traded up to make a draft-night deal with the Atlanta Hawks to acquire him.

Brooks has security with a five-year deal that is fully guaranteed. Wittman, in Porter's rookie season, was on the last year of his previous deal and had a playoffs-or-else edict from Leonsis which undoubtedly factored into his decisions regarding rotations. Wittman was in the final year of his full guarantee this season and didn't stick with Oubre despite his promising midseason form.

Wittman also went away from him in a key game vs. the L.A. Lakers by choosing to sit Oubre after a cheap foul on a reach-in on Kobe Bryant. The Wizards could've used the 6-7 rookie with a 7-2 wingspan to bother his fallaway jumper. 

Bryant erupted for 31 points and was defended mostly by the undersized Bradley Beal in the fourth quarter of that 108-104 loss. 

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.