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Film study: Bad 3-point defense jeopardizes Wizards' chances

Film study: Bad 3-point defense jeopardizes Wizards' chances

When the Magic made their run on Sunday in the first half to get the lead to double-digits, and late in the fourth when the Wizards made their run, three-point shooting was the difference. The communication wasn't there as the Wizards made bad choices whether it was going under on a screen for D.J. Augustin or the frontline being late in covering a shooter on a switch.

The Wizards were falling far behind within minutes of the second quarter because of botched rotations. This is what grew the deficit to as large as 17:

The effort is there by Brandon Jennings. He hustles back to stop Mario Hezonja's drive to the rim and runs out to challenge Augustin at the three-point line.

Kelly Oubre gets caught underneath the screen by Stephen Zimmerman and Augustin, who'd drained a three in the previous clip, gets another clean look. With a 7-2 wingspan and an ability to defend point guards in space, Augustin can't get these kinds of looks. Oubre clearly was playing him more for the drive because Augustin can cause havoc there, too, but Ian Mahinmi was behind him to help with that containment if needed. (Note: Yes, that screen should be illegal but the way it's officiated for all 30 teams is as a legal screen therefore that's not a missed call. Just a questionable interpretation of the rules in regards to screening which is a completely different issue).

[RELATED: Beware of the Wizards' 'death lineup']

Markieff Morris' reaction time is off. He gets trapped under the pindown from Mario Hezonja, which is OK because the Wizards were switching these. Hezonja was now his man. Morris was slow to react and ran into Zimmerman's cross screen. The deficit was 37-27 and growing. 

In the fourth, repeated big threes from Bojan Bogdanovic were needed to keep the Magic at bay. That's because the three-point defense wasn't good enough.

This is a case of knowing your personnel. Beal made a move to get the loose ball after the deflection, but when he realized Bismack Biyombo was going to beat him to the ball he should've peeled back to Terrence Ross. Instead, he pressures Biyombo who makes an easy pass to Ross, who scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, for an open three. There were four seconds left on the shot clock. You take your chances with Biyombo shooting from that distance rather than red-hot Ross stepping into an open look.

This shot by Evan Fournier broke a 100-100 tie because Morris didn't anticipate Biyombo's screen and hesitated on closing out an elite shooter. And he didn't contest it either.

Bad three-point defense is what got the Wizards in a 2-8 hole to begin the season. The Magic made 14 (40%), the Raptors made 11 (44%) and the Jazz knocked down 11 (45.8%). The latter two were losses and the former easily could've been one, too.

[RELATED: Wizards respond after Brooks chews them out at halftime]

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John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

In just a few months, Nationals star Bryce Harper could become one of the biggest free agents not just in baseball history, but sports history. He will decide whether to stay in Washington with the team that drafted him and oversaw his development as a young player, or to leave for another city.

Wizards guard John Wall has twice faced the prospect of free agency and twice has decided to sign contract extensions to stay in D.C. Though the salary structures of baseball and basketball are different, there are some parallels between the two. 

Wall has a unique perspective on the call Harper has to make and gave his opinion on the matter in a 1-on-1 interview on the latest episode of our Wizards Tipoff podcast.

"Well, it’s kind of tough. It depends on if you want to do it off of loyalty, or if you want to do it to make sure you make the most money you can make. That’s the toughest decision that you can have. I have the opportunity here where I have loyalty and I can also make the money, so that was a bonus and a plus for me in both situations," Wall said. 

Wall noted how as an NBA player he can have the best of both worlds. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay players they drafted significantly more money.

That, however, has not stopped NBA stars from changing teams. Wall in many ways is an outlier as many superstars have left money on the table to depart their original teams. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George have all done that, to name a few. Kawhi Leonard could be next.

Harper, though, may also be able to make more money elsewhere. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or some other team could conceivably offer more money than the Nats and there are some cities like L.A. and New York that could open up more endorsement opportunities.

There's no question it pays to be the best player on the Yankees. Look at Derek Jeter and how his stardom was boosted by that distinction.

Loyalty is also going to come into play for Harper and the past few days have shown he is a sentimental person, as he has talked about all the people he has connected with over the years and how much the Washington community means to him.

Wall took all of those things into account when he decided to stay in D.C. and not look elsewhere via free agency or trades, which have become commonplace for All-Star players in the NBA.

"It was how much what the city means to me is the reason I wanted to stay and what I want to bring here is a championship, it’s what I promise and I hope I can do that," Wall said. "My dad’s from here. Just the way they welcomed me from the first day I came here. Sticking with me through the tough times, when we wasn’t winning early on and then we started to win. The city just embraced me and I embraced the city back. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else."

Though the difference in money likely won't be as drastic, Harper will have to choose how much loyalty and the human connection he has with people in Washington matters in his free agency decision. Wall knows the feeling.

Hear Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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