Nationals

LeBron about to become youngest to score 20,000

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LeBron about to become youngest to score 20,000

LeBron James was the youngest player in NBA history to win rookie of the year, to record a triple-double, to score 1,000 points, to score 10,000 points, to win MVP honors at an All-Star Game ...

You get the idea.

His latest youngest-to-do-it milestone could come as early as Wednesday. He needs 18 points to become the 38th NBA player to score 20,000 in his career. If it happens Wednesday when the Miami Heat visit the Golden State Warriors, James will be more than a year younger than anyone else to reach the mark.

``You look at how many players have come through this league, the history of the game,'' James said. ``That 20K mark is very limited. How many guys have done that? It's very, very limited.

``It'll be big-time. I'm not going to shy away from that. I'm not a big stats guy as far as individual, but that'll be pretty cool.''

James' teammates say he could have reached 20,000 even faster.

``If LeBron was a different kind of player, he'd have a lot more points by now,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ``He's so unselfish. We give him the ball enough to score more. He just won't do it. We've had the discussion. We've sat down at dinner and we both said, `Sometimes, I wish I had it in me.' We talk about it, we joke about it, but when the game comes he's unselfish.''

Considering James has scored at least 18 points in 74 of his last 75 games, including playoffs, the milestone would seem likely to be met against the Warriors. It's the next-to-last game of a struggle-filled road swing for the Heat. Miami is 1-3 so far on the trip, yet still remain a half-game ahead of the New York Knicks for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Maybe a little celebrating is exactly what the Heat need right now.

If James scores the historic 20,000th point on Wednesday, he will have done so at the age of 28 years, 17 days. According to STATS LLC, the youngest to date to score 20,000 points was Kobe Bryant, who got there when he was 29 years, 122 days old.

And only Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain (29 years, 134 days) and Michael Jordan (29 years, 326 days) reached the milestone before turning 30.

``LeBron can think about shooting, then he'll see one of his teammates are open, and then he makes the right play and gets the ball to them,'' Wade said.

From the time he started playing basketball, it's been driven into James' head that there's far more to the game than scoring.

Imagine if that wasn't the case.

It's a topic that some of his Heat teammates have debated more than once in recent weeks. The hypothetical scenario: What would happen if a plan was concocted to get James 35 shots in a game, or 40, or even more? How many points could he score? James has taken more than 25 shots in a game only once so far this season. Entering Tuesday's play, there's been 61 other instances of an NBA player shooting that many.

``LeBron taking 40 shots? Forget it,'' Heat guard James Jones said. ``It's never happening.''

He's probably right.

Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and James Harden are the top four scorers in the league this season, shooting a combined 48 percent. James is fifth entering Tuesday's play, shooting a career-best of nearly 55 percent.

``If you talk to all the basketball `people,' I'm not much of a scorer,'' James said. ``When the conversation comes up with the best scorers in the game today, I'm never mentioned. Ever. It's Kobe, it's KD, it's Melo, it was D-Wade, but they don't talk about us anymore. When you talk about scorers, I never get mentioned.''

In terms of games played, James could be the seventh-fastest in NBA history to join the 20,000 club.

Wednesday will be his 726th regular-season game. Chamberlain needed only 499 games to score 20,000, followed by Jordan (620), Oscar Robertson (671), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (684), Elgin Baylor (711) and Allen Iverson (713). If James gets it done on Wednesday, he'll reach the 20,000 mark one game faster than Shaquille O'Neal did.

``It shows, first of all, that I've been healthy,'' James said. ``It shows that I've been fortunate enough to be on the floor and I've been able to work on my game. I've been able to work on my game and everything that I've worked on, I've been able to transfer that to a game situation. And I've had some teammates as well that have taken a little pressure off me, or I've been able to take pressure off them, by using my talents to the best of my ability.''

Abdul-Jabbar owns the NBA record with 38,387 points. James is already just past halfway to that total.

And by his own measure, James' career is probably somewhere around the midway point.

It's not a completely farfetched notion that James could leave the game as its all-time points leader, especially since he has said in recent years that his goal is to be considered the game's greatest player when he retires.

``That many points is not what it's about for me,'' James said. ``If I happen to get there, it'll be cool. I don't think I will. I don't know - 38,000 is crazy. If I concentrated on just scoring, then I could make a push at it.''

Wade is certain that if James wanted that record, he could make a run at it.

``Obviously, no one's done it yet,'' Wade said. ``But if he stays healthy, he's the one who could challenge it.''

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Trea Turner on being under-the-radar, the upcoming season and Anthony Rendon

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Trea Turner on being under-the-radar, the upcoming season and Anthony Rendon

Click play in the embedded podcast to listen to The Racing Presidents' interview with Trea Turner and click here to subscribe to the podcast.

An acronym to remember whenever thinking of Trea Turner: PTBNL.

That’s him, the Player To Be Named Later from a mid-season 2015 trade with the San Diego Padres. Joe Ross arrived first. Steven Souza went out. Eventually, after grappling with some of the stranger rules in Major League Baseball, Turner joined the Nationals. 

He’s 25 now, married and the incumbent shortstop. Fame eludes Turner for the most part, which doesn’t bother him.

“I still go under the radar quite a bit, so I don’t have to deal with that,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “Sometimes I’m not jealous. Going out in public places and not being able to have a normal meal, normal slice of pizza is not always fun. If you get recognized you’re doing something right, though, in my mind. It’s kind of a plus and minus.”

Turner sat down with NBC Sports Washington on the latest edition of The Racing Presidents podcast. He talked about being in the public eye, his best pal Anthony Rendon, and the idea of running a lot more this season. Turner’s 43 stolen bases led the National League last season. Manager Davey Martinez is asking him to run more this year. Martinez is also still deciphering how the top of the order will work with Turner and Adam Eaton.

“I have my thoughts, but there’s no conclusion on it yet,” Martinez said Monday. “I’m still doing a bunch of research on which way we want to go. But you’ll see them both up at the top of our lineup.”

Take a listen to Turner at the end of today’s episode. The guys cover several other topics beforehand:

-- The latest on Michael A. Taylor from Todd Dybas at spring training. He’s making (slight) progress.
-- How Stephen Strasburg looked in his most recent outing against the New York Mets. He was sharp early and pleasant afterward. 
-- A discussion about how the catching pair could be dispatched. Yan Gomes as the starter? Kurt Suzuki paired with Anibal Sanchez? Who will play against the Mets in the opening series?

Listen, subscribe, rate, and stay tuned for more 1-on-1 conversations with players this week when we sit down with Ryan Zimmerman and Sean Doolittle.
 

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Jachai Polite would help now, while Daniel Jones would be for future

2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Jachai Polite would help now, while Daniel Jones would be for future

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Round 1: Daniel Jones vs. Jachai Polite

The opening battle in the 2019 Redskins Draft Bracket brings with it an interesting question: Should Washington use its first-round selection on a quarterback who'd likely be asked to contribute later on or on an edge rusher who'd hopefully improve the defense from Day 1?

Thanks to the arrival of Case Keenum, Jay Gruden now has two capable veterans he can lean on under center in Keenum and Colt McCoy. Therefore, if the 'Skins were to take Jones at No. 15, they'd be able to let him develop in camp and at practice, as opposed to rushing him onto the field.

And, of course, anytime you're talking about the Burgundy and Gold's QB situation these days, you have to think about the future. Keenum and McCoy only have one year left on their respective deals, and Alex Smith's career is fully in doubt. So, having Jones — who is a tantalizing albeit polarizing passer — as a high-ceiling prospect is appealing.

However, can the Redskins afford to draft for the future when there's so much pressure to win now?

Bruce Allen believes his franchise is "close." Jay Gruden, meanwhile, probably can't afford another sub-.500 campaign as head coach. 

That means someone like Jachai Polite -- an edge rusher from Florida who posted 11 sacks in 2018 and who could replace the departed Preston Smith -- may be the more sensible choice in Round 1. Landon Collins' addition gives the defense a much-needed star, and Polite could inject additional speed and talent at a key spot.

Yes, it's absolutely paramount Washington finds a long-term solution at signal caller, and sooner rather than later. Sure, they could try to scrape together nine or 10 wins with Keenum and McCoy, but even if they do, that doesn't change the fact that they still need that answer.

With that being said, a few influential figures in Ashburn may not be around to see someone like Jones grow if 2019 doesn't go well. That's why they could be more inclined to take Polite and hope his immediate impact makes this "close" roster more dangerous.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

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