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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Brandon Jennings

5 things to know about new Wizards guard Brandon Jennings

Here are five things to know about point guard Brandon Jennings, whom the Wizards signed to a free agent deal on Wednesday following his release from the New York Knicks...

--Jennings played the junior and senior seasons of his high school career at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. Jennings grew up in Compton, California and transferred to Oak Hill after two years at Dominguez High School. At Oak Hill he played along former Duke star and NBA player Nolan Smith and former Maryland guard Pe'Shon Howard. Oak Hill is a basketball factory that has produced stars at the college and NBA level like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Jerry Stackhouse.

--Jennings was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Virginia for the 2007-08 season. He was the No. 1 recruit for the 2008 high school class as ranked by ESPN and Scout.com. That class included Wizards forward Markieff Morris and NBA All-Stars like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Isaiah Thomas and Kemba Walker.

--Jennings committed to the University of Arizona before instead opting to turn pro and play in Europe for Acea Virtus Roma, an Italian team based in Rome. Jennings was the first to play in Europe instead of college after the NBA's one-and-done rule was established in 2006. 

--On Nov. 14, 2009 in a game against the Golden State Warriors, Jennings dropped 55 points and became the youngest player ever to hit the 50-mark. His 55 points were the most for a rooke since Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe scored 56 in 1968 as a member of the Baltimore Bullets.

--Jennings has a history with the Wizards. There was this dustup between him and then-Wizards player Casper Ware during the preseason, an incident that saw Kelly Oubre, Jr. step in:

And then there was this game in November where Jennings and Wall had a back-and-forth of trash talking in the fourth quarter of a Wizards win. All of that is water under the bridge, of course, now that Jennings is on their side.

[RELATED: Scott Brooks reacts to Wizards signing Brandon Jennings, cutting rookie Danuel House]

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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