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Wizards' John Wall drops, but still top 20, in SI's list of Top 100 NBA players

Wizards' John Wall drops, but still top 20, in SI's list of Top 100 NBA players

Sports Illustrated revealed the names at the very top of its rankings of the Top 100 NBA players for the 2016-17 season. 

Wizards star John Wall, while still sliding inside the top 20 players, fell four spots from No. 13 last year to No. 17 now. 

Here's some of what writers Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney had to say about Wall. First, the praise:

Wall is a genius of basketball geometry who sees through the clutter and the rotations to find the best possible angles. Even some of the game’s other top passers operate within a read-and-react framework—the lane opens and a play is made. Wall operates in a way that actively engineers those openings, not just through speed and agility but creative design ... No other guard in the league last season generated more three-pointers off the pass and only one set his teammates up with more potential assists.

Ok, so that's a pretty glowing review. But then come the (valid) knocks on the Kentucky product. 

Wall wasn’t the cause of Washington’s lost season but he did surprisingly little to redeem it. Zoom out further and you see a troublesome, Rondovian trend: Despite his impressive playmaking, Wall hasn’t yet led the Wizards to average offensive efficiency in six seasons ... Wall’s rough shooting off the dribble undoubtedly plays a part, given that he insisted on taking nine pull-up jumpers a game last season to miserable ends (38.4% eFG). Overdribbling can be a problem at times, too, when Wall is hunting for a particular passing angle that might not materialize.
 

Making plays and running offense are, in a sense, two discrete skills. Wall is noticeably further along in one than the other—to the point where even his strengths are undercut by his judgments.

As for his strengths and weaknesses, SI lists his pesky defense and great size, but notes "poor shooting" and "weirdly inefficient in transition" as drawbacks. 

A few additional observations on Wall's game: A lot of the offensive inefficiency is at least in part due to the players around him. Washington doesn't have a lot of consistent shooters on the roster.

Marcin Gortat is a reliable option in the pick-and-roll, and Bradley Beal is a talented 3-point shooter. But Beal missed 27 games last season. Markieff Morris joined the team at the trade deadline primarily as a defensive presence. And Otto Porter took fewer than 10 shots per game. 

If Beal's not on the floor and opponents play good pick-and-roll defense, Wall doesn't have very good options in front of him. 

To give context to the ranking, here are the points guards who came in above and below the Wizards All-Star. 

No. 26 - Mike Conley, Memphis
No. 25 - Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
No. 21 - Damian Lillard, Portland
No. 17 - Wall
No. 14 - Kyle Lowry, Toronto
No. 5 - Russell Westrbook, Oklahoma City
No. 4 - Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
No. 3 - Stephen Curry, Golden State

That means SI views Wall as a top 4 point guard in the NBA. That's hard to complain about unless you argue that he's better than Lowry. But better than Lowry, Lillard and Irving? Top 4 seems more than fair. 

And as previously discussed, three Wizards were ranked on the lower half of this Top 100 list, a decent haul for a team that missed the playoffs. 

MORE WIZARDS: Three Wizards revealed on SI Top 100 list

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR GAME

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

ROSTERS

TEAM LEBRON:

Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets

TEAM STEPHEN:

Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.

RELATED: JOHN WALL GIVES UPDATE ON HIS REHAB

Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT