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Film study: How John Wall's defense can set tone for Wizards' success

Film study: How John Wall's defense can set tone for Wizards' success

The Wizards were intent on putting forth a better defensive effort in Monday's game with the Phoenix Suns, and there was no better example than John Wall's play. 

He was 6-for-24 from the field shooting and had a game-high 15 assists -- one more than Phoenix's entire starting five -- but it's the havoc he wreaked on the defensive end that made the difference in the 106-101 victory. 

It was the ball pressure, blowing up screens, wise decisions of when to double the man with the ball and when not to and just hustle plays. Plus, I've sprinkled in a couple plays how he created offense with not just his speed but decision-making on when to push the issue despite what appeared to be a disadvantage.

Tomorrow, I'll get into Bradley Beal's career-high 42 points and how he had those come to fruition. This is about the tone Wall set to get the Wizards (4-9) on the right path:

-- 6:38-6:28: Wall misses a three short and hustles back to block Devin Booker to prevent the layup. The Suns have produced the most points in transition of any team in the NBA. They were outscored 25-6 on fast breaks because of plays such as this. 

-- 5:38-5:28: Wall hustles back, finds ball, blows up screen-roll action between Alex Len and Eric Beldsoe, moves laterally to beat him to the spots and forces the ball out of the middle which is a staple of every NBA defense. 

-- 5:03-4:55: Fake dribble handoff from Wall to Beal occupies two defenders – Bledsoe and Brandon Knight – who follow where they think the ball is headed. Wall gets a straight line to the basket, drawing Marquese Chriss and Len, and Wall lays it off between them to Marcin Gortat for a layup. DHOs allow the ballhandler going downhill, putting the defense at a disadvantage espeically if Wall is the attacker.

-- 4:06-3:55: Wall’s ball pressure on Bledsoe, using active hands and correctly shading him to the baseline which he uses as an extra defender. Bledsoe takes the bait and drives into the help as Gortat comes off Len to seal the penetration, allowing Wall to block the shot from his blindside. Good individual and team defense. 

-- 3:10-2:54: Wall draws the defense by getting into the paint and then reverses field. Why? Knight had good position but also the lane is crowded. There's no room for a finish or passing lane. Gortat, however, makes an intelligent read to take a step out of the paint which brings his defender (Len) with him. Wall goes into fifth gear off the stop, gets to the rim this time but swings it to Oubre in the short corner. When Wall makes his drive, Beal lifts from the opposite corner to create a passing lane for when Wall gets the offensive rebound. It's an easy, wide-open look for the best three-point shooter on the team.

 

Second quarter

-- 7:35-7:25: This is 2-for-1. Wall takes an angle under Alan Williams’ screen to cut off any potential of Leandro Barbosa attacking the lane off the catch. Instead, Barbosa takes a long two-point shot that Wall makes an extra effort to contest (despite Williams moving backwards in an attempt to bump Wall, a practice NBA refs allow everywhere but call moving screens in other situations). After the miss, Wall pushes it and makes a simple cross-court pass to Marcus Thornton in rhythm stepping into an open three-point shot.  

-- 1:41-1:30: Wall reads the dribble handoff and is careful to not get sucked into it and out of position. He also gets under screen, closes out Bledsoe and pressures the ball. When the pass gets to Chriss, Wall times his double-team perfectly. Rather than trying for it immediately, which would’ve opened up Bledsoe for the pass back for an open three, Wall waits for the rookie to turn his back to make his move on Markieff Morris. That’s when Wall sells out, diving to the floor for the steal.

-- 1:13-1:03: Wall creates something out of nothing, taking a missed jump shot from Bledsoe, luring the defense to sleep as if he’s going to slow it down, kicks it into overdrive as he gets into the paint. He doesn’t have numbers as Phoenix has four players back, but they’re not prepared. He drives by Bledsoe, into the chest of Len and delivers a wraparound to Morris for the dunk.

Third quarter

7:32-7:20: The Suns are about to run some high horns action and Chriss and Len run up to the high posts to give Booker his option of which screen to take. But Wall anticipates it first, pushes up a step to go over top of the screen. Len misses the long jumper. It's a "little" thing but it shows the IQ is there and these are the sort of results the Wizards can generate across the board with better reads, efforts, second efforts and third efforts.

This is the Wall who was NBA All-Defense two years ago. He missed a lot of shots, but his points will come just because of his activity. When the quarterback is willing to get his hands this dirty, the other four players on the court with him have no choice but to fall in line. 

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Zion Williamson joins Rui Hachimura by signing with the Jordan brand

Zion Williamson joins Rui Hachimura by signing with the Jordan brand

 Rui Hachimura and Zion Williamson, two of the most high-profile NBA rookies from the 2019 NBA Draft class, have joined forces on a new team, Jordan Brand. 

The New Orleans Pelicans' new star and No. 1 overall draft pick announced Tuesday afternoon that he'll be signing with Jumpman on a multi-year deal; the details of the deal have yet to be revealed. 

This decision comes about a month after Hachimura became the first Japanese-born player to sign with the brand

Both players have entered the NBA with an incredible amount of fanfare and hype surrounding their transitions to the Association. Hachimura was the star attraction for 61 media members from 21 different outlets in Japan during the NBA Summer League, while Zion's American media presence, understandably, was also substantial.

When Hachimura signed in June it was a dream come true for him and his family. Williamson shared similar sentiments when outlining why he decided to join the Jordan Brand team:

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family," Williamson told Nike News. "Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

Since their thrilling faceoff in college, when Gonzaga edged an 89-87 victory over the Blue Devils thanks to Hachimura's 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks, the two talents have experienced a similar, yet unique, tip-off to their careers.

It's said that if you look good you play good, and it seems both Hachimura and Williamson have that first part figured out.  

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Rui Hachimura is eyeing a spot on Team Japan's roster for the 2020 Olympics

Rui Hachimura is eyeing a spot on Team Japan's roster for the 2020 Olympics

In exactly one year, all eyes will be on Tokyo as the Summer Olympics officially begin.

All Wizards fans' eyes will be on Rui Hachimura. He is likely to represent his home country during the 2020 Olympics, stating that he wants to be the face of Japanese athletes

It is expected that Hachimura will be named to the Olympic roster, although there is no official word on the expected lineup.

If selected, the rookie will have the home-court advantage as Team Japan automatically qualifies for the games.

Playing for Team Japan would be a dream come true for Hachimura.

"It has been always my goal to play the Olympics and it is next year, it's crazy," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I remember I always see the calendar and it says three years, four years, five years and now it is the next year."

This is a big deal not only for the rookie but also for his home country.

"Next year in Tokyo, it's a big thing we have been waiting for. Since, you know, when people started to talk about it when I started playing basketball." 

Assuming the USA Men's National Team will qualify for the Olympics, Hachimura may compete against one of his teammates. Bradley Beal was named to the 2018-2020 Men's National Team 35-man roster.

The USA Men's National Team boasts an Olympic record of 138-5 and has medaled in all 18 Olympic appearances. This will be the first Olympic appearance for Team Japan since the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Canada. 

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