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CSN Summer Series: Bradley Beal's development as a star and leader worth the wait

CSN Summer Series: Bradley Beal's development as a star and leader worth the wait

On Thursday, July 13 CSN will air specials on John Wall (7 p.m.) and Bradley Beal (8 p.m.). Part of CSN's 'Summer Series,' the hour-long shows will look at the impact each has made on the Wizards following the best season for the franchise since the 1970s. To help preview Beal's special, here is a look at his road to stardom with the Wizards...

Bradley Beal’s path to a $128 million max contract wasn’t ideal. It was a rocky one which is why he entered 2016-17 with quite a bit to prove individually while balancing his ambition with team goals.

He accomplished both in his fifth NBA season, posting career highs in points (23.1), field-goal shooting (48.2%) and assists (3.5).

Beal should’ve been named as a replacement to make his first All-Star Game but NBA commissioner instead chose Carmelo Anthony before later acknowledging maybe he should’ve gone another route.

Beal was that deserving. He posted his first 40-point game in a 106-101 win against the Phoenix Suns, shooting 14-for-22 for 42 points in the victory. Then he had three more games of 40-plus vs. L.A. Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers.

[RELATED: Wizards' Summer League roster includes some stories]

He put the ball on the floor and created his own shot, using hesitation dribbles and stepbacks to diversify his attack. Beal erased his reputation as just a catch-and-shoot player. He was allowed by coach Scott Brooks to run the offense more, too, and did it efficiently.

In the postseason, Beal struggled in most of a first-round series vs. the Atlanta Hawks until a closeout Game 6 in which he combined with John Wall to score 73 of their 115 points.

Where he flourished in the next round, a seven-game series loss to the Boston Celtics, was on the defensive end. Coach Scott Brooks put him on Isaiah Thomas and that helped flip an 0-2 deficit to 2-2.

Beal had five games of 31 points or more in the playoffs. And he averaged a career-high 24.8 points there despite shooting less than 30% from three-point range Beal made almost 60% of his shots inside the arc.

Beal’s defense went overlooked on a team that didn’t defend well overall. He got no votes for the NBA All-Defensive teams while the likes of Thomas, Steph Curry and Damian Lillard did.

Beal doesn’t make the highlight reels for spectacular blocked shots or acrobatic dunks. He plays solid position defense, doesn’t reach in and allow automatic dribble penetration and tries to use his size (6-4) and physical strength to force shooters to finish over him.

[RELATED: 5 things to know about new Wizards forward Michael Young]

It’s why Beal and Wall now are considered the best backcourt in the East – ahead of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto – and probably only second to Curry and Klay Thompson of Golden State.

But the biggest number Beal put up in the season is 77. That’s the number of games he played in out of 82.

It’s a career-high coming off a career-low of 55 appearances in 2015-16 in which the Wizards failed to make the playoffs.

The recurring stress reactions in Beal’s lower right leg that interrupted each of his first four seasons evaporated.

Brooks managed his minutes on and off the court better. The medical staff, which was revamped by Wizards vice president Tommy Sheppard, was more pro-active as well.

It all worked out.

If there’s even more to be seen from Beal, as Michael Jordan would say, “the ceiling is the roof.”

[RELATED: The best strategy to keep John Wall happy?]

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Wizards will face Lakers, Clippers in Orlando's NBA exhibition schedule

Wizards will face Lakers, Clippers in Orlando's NBA exhibition schedule

Before the Wizards begin their eight-game schedule to close out the regular season on July 31, they will have three exhibition games to get warmed up in Orlando.

They will start July 22 against the Denver Nuggets and also play the Lakers and Clippers. Those are the three top seeds in the Western Conference.

Here is a look at their three-game set:

7/22: Nuggets, 3:30 pm ET
7/25: Clippers, 8 pm ET
7/27: Lakers, 3 pm ET

The question here, of course, is whether the stars will play given these games won't count. In a usual preseason, the answer would probably be 'no.' But in this case, with each team only having three games to find their rhythm before games start, and after months off, it is anyone's guess.

RELATED: NO OLADIPO FOR PACERS IN ORLANDO

It wouldn't be surprising if the Wizards did see some combination of Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The biggest question mark would be that Lakers game since it is the last exhibition game for both teams. Maybe James and/or Davis sit with two games already under their belt and an opening night meeting with the Clippers awaiting.

Either way, the Wizards will get a look at some of the NBA's best teams before they kick things off for real. And this also means they will be playing games nine days ahead of their regular season. There are now just under three weeks to go until the Wizards return to the court.

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Report: Pacers' Victor Oladipo opts out of NBA restart in Orlando

Report: Pacers' Victor Oladipo opts out of NBA restart in Orlando

Victor Oladipo has opted out of playing in the NBA's restart in Orlando, marking the biggest star yet who was expected to play backing out.

The news, which was first reported by the Athletic, is a health precaution as he aims to get 100 percent healthy for next season. He had played only 13 games this season after missing a full year due to a torn quadriceps tendon.

Oladipo, 28, is a two-time All-Star. His absence leaves the Indiana Pacers, the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference, without their best player.

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The Wizards happen to play the Pacers as part of their new eight-game schedule to close out the regular season. Now they won't see Oladipo, who they had yet to face this season. 

Given Oladipo's recent injury history, it is not all that surprising he would make this move. But it also could open the door for other players of his stature to decide similarly.

Oladipo is a star in the league, but not on a team expected to compete for the title. Will others in a similar boat decide not to go? Wizards guard Bradley Beal, for one, is still mulling his own decision on whether to play.

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