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Wizards hope new practice facility can help attract free agents


Wizards hope new practice facility can help attract free agents

Having a new practice facility conveniently located in Southeast D.C. will afford the Wizards numerous advantages they currently do not have. It will give them more space for training rooms, practice courts, swimming pools, and even a virtual reality setup that could revolutionize the way they develop players.

It will also give the Wizards another asset to wield when attracting free agents and convincing talented players to stay in Washington. The idea is to continue improving the franchise one step at a time, in this case building state-of-the-art facilities to make the team a more appealing destination for the NBA's best players.

"I think guys watch what other teams are doing and what kinds of facilities they have," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "We want to give our players the best of everything. We've tried to do that since we've been here. We've tried to run a first-class organization. Ted and his partners have been great in supporting whatever we want to do and to make it as easy as possible for our players to get the most out of their abilities. Building a facility like that will really help us along those lines."

"That's what's happened with the Caps [and Kettler Capitals Iceplex]," Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said. "They spend so much time practicing with the coaches and with the medical staff. If you create an environment that they feel trusted and loved in, it's sticky and it makes them want to come. Then, the players talk, they talk around the league. It's very important to us strategically to be able to build something that's world class and that we're very proud of."

Both John Wall and Bradley Beal were on hand at the Wizards' press conference on Wednesday announcing their plans to build a new practice facility, which is set to open in 2018. They each talked about the benefits for players of having such a space.

"I think it's good for the city and our the team," Beal said. "[John and I] both wanted it. It makes it convenient for players and on top of that it's just easy access to the community."

For Wall, having a court available at all times, one that is not dependent on the Mystics' practice schedule, will be a big plus.

"There come times when you want to work out at certain times and the girls, you gotta give their space when they have practice. We want to get on the court when we can't. I think it's going to be great for them to have their own arena when they play and for them to have the opportunity to come here and work out and not have any miscommunication or anything like that. It's something that we have to deal with now but it's exciting that we can fix that in the future," he said.

The Wizards have not traditionally been a team that has been in the mix for top free agents each offseason. But everyone who follows basketball has seen the reports connecting them to a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant during the summer of 2016.

The Wizards are a team on the rise, are well-positioned financially, and he is from the area, having grown up in Seat Pleasant, Md., which is less than 10 miles from where the new practice facility will be located.

Whether it's Durant who comes or not, the Wizards will have the resources to compete with the best in basketball when it comes time to make their pitch to whomever they want to pursue. It is all part of the plan they laid out years ago, to rebuild the franchise both on and off the court and make it one of the premier organizations in the sport.

"I think you have to keep improving and keep up with the Joneses as they say," Grunfeld said. "If you come to our facility, every year you see something change and something get a little bit better. We want to keep up with the times and stay ahead of the curve, so to speak. It's almost a necessity nowadays to have your own practice facility."

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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