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Beal finds aggressive spirit in Boston


Beal finds aggressive spirit in Boston

Since the start of training camp it's become essentially a daily ritual writing about Bradley Beal, the Wizards latest first round pick. Hey, without John Wall and Nene around, the third overall pick stands out on a roster devoid of star power and in a year where rookies have dominated the D.C. sports landscape. However, dating back to the final game of the preseason and including the first two official games of the 19-year-old's career, the focus has been more on struggles than positive play. That's not an editorial decision, but rather a case of reporting the facts.

The fact is Wednesday night in Boston Beal played with renewed confidence, got his hustle on with an early block against one of Boston's All-Stars and knocked down several shots including his first one in eight days. Told you he'd been struggling.

Beal logged the most minutes on the team (38) in Washington's 100-92 overtime loss in Boston as Wizards coach Randy Wittman had the newbie on the court for the opening tip and crunch time. The Florida product matched Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster with a team-high 16 points and A.J. Price with three 3-pointers including a break-the-ice bomb midway through the first quarter.

With Washington trailing 11-2 after yet another slow and clanking start, Price pushed the ball up court in a semi-fast break situation and found Beal open on the left wing. Splash. The 3-pointer snapped a string off 11 straight misses from any angle and slowed Boston's early momentum. The basket came shortly after Beal raced over to swat a Paul Pierce attempt out of bounds, which came days after Wittman suggested that contributing in other areas would get the sweet-shooting guard's touch back in gear.

More assertiveness came in the third quarter. At the tail end of a 2-on-1 fast break with Pierce defending, Beal took a pass from Trevor Ariza and attacked the right side of the rim. After making contact with the physical Pierce, the 6-foot-4 guard cocked the ball well behind his head before following through with a shot off the glass and in. He completed the 3-point play and gave the Wizards a 49-44 lead, which would be their largest going forward.

In the fourth quarter of the back-and-forth affair and Boston holding an 82-80, Beal was one of only two starters on the court as the clock ticked under two minutes with Washington looking for a score. After heading toward the baseline with Celtics guard Rajon Rondo in pursuit, Beal jogged to the high post and set a forearm-leaning back screen on Kevin Garnett while Kevin Seraphin headed toward the rim. With Chris Singleton holding the ball on the left wing beyond the arc and Garnett occupied, Rondo dropped back to stop the Wizards big man, leaving Beal to roam.

The rookie found space at the top of the key. Singleton found the open man. Curling off a non-existent pick, Beal caught the pass, raised and fired without hesitation. The straight on shot went in-and out, kissed the backboard before sliding through the net, giving Washington a one-point lead.

There were misfires in between and after the makes - Beal finished 6 of 15 overall - not to mention a costly turnover during the Celtics 8-0 run in overtime. That will be discussed before the Wizards' next game, a home date Friday against Milwaukee. After a stretch of funky play, let's focus on the positives, which included four rebounds and three assists. Beal is certainly feeling better.

“Most definitely, and not even in terms of scoring, because I could care less about that," Beal told reporters after the game. "It was just the fact that I was aggressive on both ends of the floor. I was rebounding, I was playing defense and I was scoring some points as well. When coach took me out the first time, he told me I don’t care if you keep missing, because he was saying I was being aggressive. I was proud of myself in just doing that. They got me back to having fun; I was laughing on the court and having a ball. Eventually it just started flowing to me, it felt right.”

Asked about the importance of the game specifically for Beal, Wittman told the media post game, "This isn’t about individuals, it’s about guys learning how to play and Bradley’s part of that. Kevin’s part of that. A lot of guys are in that spot, but Bradley came out aggressive tonight. This is probably the best game he’s played so far. He made quick decisions and had a lot of good looks that didn’t go in. As long as you are getting good looks and taking good shots, that’s all you can ask for."

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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