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Wizards training camp: Frazier's injury, McCullough is standing out, Young is a Penguins fan

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Wizards training camp: Frazier's injury, McCullough is standing out, Young is a Penguins fan

The Wizards held their third day of 2017-18 training camp on Thursday on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

Here's what you need to know...

Frazier injured

The Wizards saw backup point guard Tim Frazier go down with a Grade 1 groin strain on Thursday. The Grade 1 distinction means it's minor, but he will likely be out a few days.

"We'll see in the next couple of days when we evaluate him. I don't anticipate him practicing tomorrow," head coach Scott Brooks said.

That's good news that it's minor, but Frazier was one of the Wizards' biggest pickups this offseason and plays an important role as John Wall's backup.

Young is a Penguins fan

Wizards rookie Mike Young hails from the University of Pittsburgh and grew up in nearby Duquesne. Like many of those who grow up in the Steel City area, Young is a major sports fan. He likes the Pirates and Steelers, but loves the Penguins.

Yes, he knows they are the Capitals' biggest rivals.

But he said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast that he would not be afraid to show up at Capital One Arena for a Caps-Penguins game dressed in a Pens jersey. That would be something.

For his full interview, plus a chat with Brooks, check out the show right here:


McCullough is standing out

Third-year forward Chris McCullough is an early standout at training camp and the fact he plays the same position as Markieff Morris is certainly convenient.

Brooks believes McCullough could factor into the equation early in the year when Morris is sidelined following his sports hernia surgery.

"[McCullough] will get some minutes, but it depends on he plays. He's not just on the team. He's on the team to make an impact. Hopefully he continues to play well and puts pressure on me to find him some minutes," Brooks said. 

"He's showing his athleticism and length. I like it. Defensively, I think he can give us some activity. He still has to get stronger. He's a better shooter than I thought. He hasn't played much the last few years, but he's having a good camp. I think that's through the hard work that he's put in. He came into camp in great shape. He's showing us that he can play in the league. I don't know where I can find him the minutes, but at least I know he can definitely play."

Open practice will be fun

The Wizards' open practice on Friday night at VCU's Siegel Center will feature scrimmages, a dunk contest, a three-point contest and autographs.

Apparently last year was packed and they are expecting even more interest this time around.

Mahinmi is looking good

Yesterday, Ian Mahinmi told us on the Wizards Tipoff podcast how he lost 10 pounds over the summer. Brooks can see an improvement in his mobility and morale:

"Absolutely. You can see the excitement in his eyes. He had a tough year last year. Having injuries, having a couple of surgeries, it's not fun. He was coming to a new team as a free agent as a big pickup for us. That's exactly what we need is a defending big who can protect the paint and be a pick-and-roll defender. You can see it now that he's healthy."

Brooks can't dribble like he used to

Brooks did a two-ball dribble drill during in practice and caught some heat from his players for his performance.

"He's a coach in the making. John Wall is the next head coach of the Washington Wizards," Brooks said saracastically after Wall gave him flack. "It was tough. Three minutes of dribbling is tough. I hadn't done that in 18 years. I did that drill from seventh grade on until my last year in the NBA. Basically every day of my life."



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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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