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Bradley Beal and Otto Porter show why they're stars in their own right with John Wall out

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Bradley Beal and Otto Porter show why they're stars in their own right with John Wall out

With little salary cap room this past summer to make significant additions to their roster, the Wizards essentially need to improve from within to improve much at all this season. It was an offseason of unprecedented change around the NBA. Yet the Wizards have rested their hopes on young players continuing to ascend.

Through nine games, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter don't just appear to be better, as many young players do year-over-year, they look leaps and bounds above what they were just months ago. 

Once known as a three-point specialist, Beal has developed inside-outside versatility on offense only seen in MVP candidates. Otto Porter has expanded his game on both ends of the floor, emerging as a capable third scoring option and one of the best in the NBA at swiping steals.

It was easy to notice the growth of the Wizards as a team on Sunday night, as John Wall sat on the sidelines, out due to a sprained left shoulder. The Wizards beat the very-good Toronto Raptors in a game they may not win even one year ago. Long a team where one key player absence would sink the ship, that is not the case anymore.

Yes, Kyle Lowry was ejected in the second quarter. But Wall's supporting cast pitched in to take out a playoff team on the road and following a stretch of four losses in five games.


Beal played opposite DeMar DeRozan, another one of the NBA's best shooting guards, and for a night belonged in a completely different category. While DeRozan couldn't find his rhythm, Beal was lights-out. He dropped 38 points on 16-for-26 shooting, his third straight game of 35 points or more and his second straight shooting 60 percent or better.

Beal cleary worked on his ball-handling this offseason, building off his career-year in 2016-17. After proving he could stay healthy, Beal now uses more complex dribble combinations and attacks the rim with even more confidence, no matter who is standing in the lane.

Porter's improvement getting steals is no accident, either. He is getting smarter at the gambles he takes, whether it be from watching film or retaining more information from scouting reports. 

Porter helped limit DeRozan to his 8-of-21 shooting and stuffed the box score with 19 points, five rebounds, two steals and a block. He shot 8-for-13 from the field and 3-for-4 from three.

After nine games, Beal is averaging 25.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Those aren't just All-Star numbers, as many have him predicted to be in Los Angeles this February, that level of production would put Beal in the All-NBA conversation.

Porter is averaging 18.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game, all while shooting 56.9 percent from the field and 52.5 percent from three. Those stats could put Porter in the All-Star Game.

Getting three All-Stars in one season is not an easy feat. The Wizards haven't seen that happen since 1974-75 when Phil Chenier, Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes all earned the honor. 

There is a long road to February, but with a few weeks of the 2017-18 NBA season having passed, the Wizards have two players in Beal and Porter, both 24, who are raising the bar for themselves and quickly.


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Bucks' coach Jason Kidd to miss game vs. Wizards due to birth of child

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Bucks' coach Jason Kidd to miss game vs. Wizards due to birth of child

The Milwaukee Bucks will be without head coach Jason Kidd on Monday night when the host the Washington Wizards to be with his wife, who gave birth to their daughter on Sunday.

Kidd will be replaced by assistant coach Joe Prunty. A longtime NBA assistant, Prunty's head coaching experience includes Great Britain's national team. He has been their coach since 2013.

Prunty has filled in for Kidd in the past. He coached several games in 2013 when Kidd was suspended as coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He also replaced him in 2015 to coach the Bucks when Kidd was out due to hip surgery.

The Wizards and Bucks are squaring off for the first time this season.


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NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: Celtics still won't lose, Wizards rise

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NBA Power Rankings 2017-18: Celtics still won't lose, Wizards rise

The Celtics passed their toughest test yet with a win over the Warriors. 

The league's leading defense held the defending champion Warriors to a season-low 88 points Thursday night to keep its winning streak alive, and added their 15th straight win Saturday against the Hawks.

Spoiler alert: there's obviously no way you can move them from the top spot after doing all that. 


The Sixers and Knicks are actually above .500, and see themselves rising, while teams like the Clippers and Thunder can't seem to put a consistent stretch together. 

Heck, the Clippers would be happy for a win at this point. 

The Magic also seem to be leveling out after a strong start to the season.

To see where all 30 teams came in this week, check out our latest NBA Power Rankings.