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Chris McCullough is doing his best to improve with limited playing time and free agency months away

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Chris McCullough is doing his best to improve with limited playing time and free agency months away

It is not often that Wizards fans get a glimpse of forward Chris McCullough, who resides on the end of Washington's bench. He only gets playing time at the very end of already-determined games or out of necessity due to injury on rare occasions.

McCullough is often only in the game for a few minutes at a time, but he makes the most of the opportunity. He is active running the floor and attacking the rim, trying to put up any stats he can before the final buzzer rings.

The numbers reflect that if you want to have fun with small sample sizes. McCullough is averaging 2.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 4.8 minutes, which equate to 19.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes. Obviously, his numbers can't fairly be extrapulated over a full game. But the numbers he does record demonstrate that when he gets out there, he's not messing around.

"I make the most out of my three minutes," McCullough said. "I go get me a rebound, an assist or a dunk. That's my three minutes right there."


His efficiency with his minimal playing time has drawn attention and jokes from his teammates. In a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 27, regular rotation players Markieff Morris and Mike Scott couldn't help but notice they didn't get a dunk in 30 minutes and 23 minutes, respectively, but that McCullough did in just four minutes on the floor.

"I come in and get a dunk right away. That's what I normally do," McCullough said.

Scott is a good player to ask about McCullough, as the two spent time together in the D-League during the 2016-17 season. He has watched McCullough develop over the past two seasons, first as a member of the Nets organization and now with the Wizards.

Scott sees a bright future for the 22-year-old.

"Man, he has so much athletic ability," Scott said. "I always tell him all the time 'man, you're gonna make a lot of money.' I know people are not supposed to say that to keep younger players like him level-headed and to keep them humble. But I always tell him that."


At 29 years old, Scott has played six NBA seasons and his game has changed along the way. He relies less and less on his athleticism as a veteran player who has learned the tricks of the trade. 

McCullough remains a raw talent and has a lot to learn, but Scott has noticed improvement.

"He has nice touch, he has great length, quickness, speed. I just tell him he needs to slow down sometimes," Scott said. "His mind is moving faster than his body. Once he slows down and really starts to understand the game, he's gonna be a problem. He already can jump out of the gym."

Scott, who jokingly claims he taught McCullough how to shoot, says he thinks the game is slowing down for McCullough, but the young forward needs to continue learning his shooting spots on the floor and working on his ball-handling.


McCullough said his focus recently has been pull-up jumpers in the halfcourt and transition. He is also continuing to learn how to establish a proper routine for NBA success.

Part of that is observing veteran players like Scott, Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith.

"First guy I watch is Jason Smith. He's been here for 10 or 11 years. He's a good professional. Not only on the court, but off the court as well. Everything he does, I try to mimic," McCullough said.

The Wizards declined the fourth-year option on McCullough's rookie contract back in October, but have the ability to sign him this summer if they want when McCullough will hit free agency. Members of the Wizards front office remain confident about his future and their chances of retaining him if they choose.

Though it may not show up during meaningful minutes in games, McCullough appears to be heading in the right direction.


Listen to our recent interview with Chris McCullough on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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