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Confident John Wall lays out specific end goal for Wizards' season

Confident John Wall lays out specific end goal for Wizards' season

When John Wall is asked a direct question, he often has no problem getting straight to the point. Many athletes will talk in platitudes and give non-answers, but that's not Wall's style. If you ask a question, he will answer it.

On Thursday night he appeared on TNT's 'Inside the NBA' and was asked a simple question by Shaquille O'Neal: "At the end of the year, where do you see the Wizards?"

Wall quickly replied: "I see ourselves getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. That's our goal."

That may have seemed unrealistic when the Wizards began the season 2-8, but now 25-20 on the year and owners of the fifth seed in the East, that doesn't seem too far-fetched at all. The Cleveland Cavaliers still reign supreme in the East, but there is no question the Wizards can stack up to the rest of their conference.

Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals would be quite the accomplishment. The Bullets/Wizards franchise hasn't been there since 1979. No Washington, D.C. major sports team (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) has advanced that far since the Capitals lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998

[RELATED: Wall overcame obstacles to earn 4th All-Star nod]

Wall sat down with Shaq and the TNT crew for over seven minutes on Thursday after he was named an NBA All-Star for the fourth time in his career. The whole interview is worth checking out, but here are some other highlights...

On who was the biggest All-Star snub, Wall said: "Bradley Beal. He's having a heck of a year... Of all the shooting guards outside of DeMar DeRozan, he's putting up big numbers in the East."

On his central role in the animosity between the Wizards and Celtics: "A lot of guys aren't like [Shaq and Charles Barkley's] era. They're too friendly. I'm not saying they've gotta try to hurt anybody, but it can be a more physical game. Just go out there and compete. You can be friends outside of the lines, but when you step in between those 94 feet, you've gotta go out there and go get it."

Watch Wall's full interview here:

[RELATED: Wizards' Bradley Beal an NBA All-Star snub despite career numbers]

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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense help him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller analyze the Wizards' two picks the night of the draft.

They went in-depth on first round pick Troy Brown, Jr. and why the Wizards took him when some big names were still on the board. They also broke down why the Wizards chose to pick a draft-and-stash guy in the second round.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!