Wizards

Quick Links

3-point play: Wizards-Celtics, part deux

seraphincelts.png

3-point play: Wizards-Celtics, part deux

Three keys for the winless Wizards (0-2) heading into Wednesday' night tilt at Boston, the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Celtics.

*Remain defensive - After answering a series of questions about the team's struggling offense in two close losses, Wizards coach Randy Wittman made a salient point: it's because of the team's much improved defense that Washington was able to have a shot at wins despite the offense not clicking. Heck, the man called the Saturday's second half defense against Boston "beautiful". Especially without John Wall and Nene in the lineup, the Wizards identity, at least to the outside world, is non-existent. Those that have watched throughout training camp know that defensively is where this team can - and must considering its limited scoring options - make its mark. Two games is a nice start. Make it three and then four, now we have a trend.

*Offensive balance - Right now it's easy to critique Bradley Beal's scoring struggles, but the reality is the wing guard is the only pure scorer, shooter among the starting five. Guess what, opposing teams know this. That's why they are focusing on stopping the 19-year-old rookie while conceeding perimeter shots to veteran's like Trevor Ariza or not doubling 30-year-old Emeka Okafor in the low post. The Wizards don't have tons of other ways to go for scoring punch - maybe even fewer if Jordan Crawford's ankle injury keeps him out -, though Kevin Seraphin sinking 8 of 9 shots for 19 points on Saturday against the same Celtics suggets they have at least one inside. Wittman was not willing to state whether the 6-foot-10 center would enter the starting lineup, but Boston would certainly send a double-team Seraphin's way. That would open the court for Beal and let others revert to their more natural roles. We'll see if the coach see it that way.

*Production beyond points: Speaking of Ariza, here's hoping he bought a relaxation tape - or six - since Saturday. Throughout camp the defensive presence has been out of sorts offensively - which has carried over to other parts of his game. So much so that when Wittman offered a detailed list of what he wants out of his small forward, offense wasn't one of them. Considering he'll likely be tasked with trying to contain Paul Pierce, Ariza will be busy for sure without focusing on making buckets, not that he did that once on Saturday. Wittman offered the same simple advice for Beal; grab rebounds, play defense, basically get the juices flowing in those directions which will take some pressure, mental anyway, away from the shooting woes. Beal left college with legitimate rebounding credentials, but Wittman made a point of telling the media the 6-foot 4 guard (or 6-foot-5, or 6-foot-3, depending on the source) grabbed only one board against Boston on Saturday. Even if his scoring doesn't improve in the rematch, Beal numbers on the board and elsewhere figure to be a good indicator of whether he's gotten all those "people in my ear" out of there.

Quick Links

Rui Hachimura is a 'late bloomer' in basketball, but the Washington Wizards like that

rui-hachimura-dunk-gonzaga-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports

Rui Hachimura is a 'late bloomer' in basketball, but the Washington Wizards like that

Rui Hachimura was introduced to the sport of basketball at 13 years old after spending his childhood on the baseball diamond, emulating Ichiro Suzuki, as many kids in Japan do. Just eight years later, Hachimura has charted his own path as the first Japanese-born lottery pick in the NBA after the Washington Wizards drafted him at No. 9 overall.

That trajectory is important to note when considering Hachimura's age. He is 21 years old, which is on the older side for an NBA draft prospect in the age of one-and-dones. But, you could say he's only eight in basketball years.

That's not a technical term used by NBA front office executives, but the fact Hachimura is a "late bloomer" was one of the biggest selling points for the Wizards. That's how interim team president Tommy Sheppard described him on several occasions the night of the draft and the day after. And even majority owner Ted Leonsis referenced it when asked about the pick in an interview with the Washington Times over the weekend.

While reason may suggest a younger player has higher upside, the Wizards are looking beyond simple age. In Hachimura, they believe they have a player who could benefit from not having the year-round strain of AAU basketball in his past.

"When you come to the game a little bit later, maybe you don't have some bad habits that you accumulate. You don't have a lot of extra miles," Sheppard said. 

"Those kinds of things resonate with us. You have to be healthy to play in the NBA, and there are so many players in this particular draft that for whatever reason, there are a lot of sad faces tonight because I think medical held a lot of people back. He has a clean bill of health, and that's exciting to us."

Sheppard could have been referencing any number of prospects who carried the label as an injury risk into draft night. With the ninth overall pick, the Wizards took Hachimura over Duke's Cam Reddish, who has several red flags, injuries among them. In the second round, they passed on Oregon's Bol Bol, who had a stress fracture in his foot, in favor of Admiral Schofield.

But health isn't the only potential benefit of picking up the game at a later age. Sheppard alluded to the development of bad habits. He thinks Hachimura is more of a blank canvas for the coaching staff and that could work in their favor long-term.

Sheppard made a comparison for Hachimura that was interesting for several reasons.

"With [Raptors forward] Pascal Siakam, you see what happens when guys come to the game a little late and what he was able to do. It's not the same, but if you ask me of someone who's story his reminds me of, it could remind you of something like that," Sheppard said.

Siakam's name was invoked over and over during the pre-draft process but more often to draw a parallel for Sekou Doumbouya of France. Sheppard was more so comparing the development track for Hachimura than the playing style, but it holds some weight.

There have been some famous cases of late bloomers in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan and Joel Embiid reportedly didn't start playing basketball until high school.

Duncan may be a good example of avoiding bad habits, as he is considered one of the most fundamentally sound players of all time. Olajuwon might be the most skilled big man in NBA history, and Embiid has a chance to become an all-time great.

What gives the Wizards hope that Hachimura will reach his potential and someday enjoy breakout success like Siakam has is his work ethic. The Wizards did deep background research on Hachimura, including through discussions with his college coach, Mark Few of Gonzaga.

They believe they found something in Hachimura that other teams may have overlooked.

"The things that you hope for and that you're optimistic about, they seem to be there. So, we're excited about that," Sheppard said. "It's really up to Rui and how bad do you want to be good?"

MORE WIZARDS NEWS

Quick Links

How to watch the NBA Awards, where Bradley Beal is nominated for Community Assist

usatsi_12504590.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

How to watch the NBA Awards, where Bradley Beal is nominated for Community Assist

Despite the NBA world examining next season’s rookies and their potential in the days following the 2019 NBA Draft, we won’t know until Monday night who the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year is. 

Finally, the NBA Awards are here, and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is among this year’s nominees. Beal is one of 10 nominees for the 2018-19 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award, which celebrates players who have had an exceptional positive impact off the court. 

Working with Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, Beal’s off-the-court work included mentoring boys and young men specifically from D.C.’s Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. He made at least two visits to the all-male school this year, as NBA Cares explained:

Most notably, Bradley shadowed the principal for a day, participating in activities with his mentees, and gifted students with game tickets, basketball uniforms, toiletries and food for school’s pantry. Bradley later hosted the students to a private, advanced screening of CREED II, and led his mentees on a guided tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Joining Beal in the category are the following nominees: LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Pascal Siakam, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, Mike Conley, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton and Dwight Powell. The winner of the award will receive a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

Here’s everything you need to know about the NBA Awards, including how to watch. 

2019 NBA Awards

When: Monday, June 24, 2019
Where: Barker Hangar in Los Angeles
Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT

List of Top Awards and Nominees

NBA MVP

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden, Houston Rockets

Past NBA MVP Winners

2018: James Harden, Houston Rockets
2017: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
2016: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
2015: Steph Curry Golden State Warriors
2014: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Rookie of the Year 

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Luka, Dallas Maverickssssss
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Past NBA Rookie of the Year Winners

2018: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
2017: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
2016: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
2014: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Defensive Player of the Year 

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Past NBA Defensive Player of the Year Winners

2018: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
2017: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors 
2016: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2015: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2014: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

NBA Sixth Man Award 

Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

NBA Most Improved Player

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

NBA Coach of the Year

Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award

Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Jared Dudley, Brooklyn Nets
Channing Frye, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers
Garrett Temple, LA Clippers
Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers

NBA Sportsmanship Award

Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Al Horford, Boston Celtics
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

Lifetime Achievement Award

Larry Bird
Magic Johnson

Sager Strong Award

Robin Roberts

NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

MORE WIZARDS NEWS