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Grading Bradley Beal's play for 2014-15 season

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Grading Bradley Beal's play for 2014-15 season

With three seasons under his belt, Bradley Beal has yet to get through one without injury. He missed most of preseason and the first nine regular-season games with a broken left wrist and had his third stress reaction in his lower right leg for the third year in a row. That hiccup cost him nine games, too. But the way Beal shined in the playoffs, especially when John Wall missed three games with a broken left wrist himself, gave a glimpse of what he can be when he’s healthy and fully locked in on both ends.

The stats: 15.3 points, 3.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds and  40.9% three-point shooting (career high).

The improvements: Given the start-and-stop nature to Beal’s season, these weren't  obvious until the playoffs. His ball distribution went to another level which gives the Wizards a viable perimeter option other than Wall off the dribble. As their best shooter, Beal grew more aggressive in looking for his shot and taking initiative rather than allowing the opposing to defense make him settle. It resulted in Beal getting to the basket and foul line more. And his defense of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Korver, both All-Stars, in the playoffs was key to the Wizards’ success. This is the first time Beal has shown the ability to be a consistent two-way player, and his offensive output increased with more emphasis he placed on his defense. That's a good sign.

MORE WIZARDS: THUNDER PROMISE MAY TAKE PLAYER OFF WASHINGTON DRAFT BOARD

The ranking: Everything with Beal is about potential. There are countless scorers and shooting guards to contend with for recognition, though in the East there are few. Beal has trailed the likes of DeRozan and the aging Dwyane Wade but that should change soon.

The next step: Like with Wall, where Beal can gain separation from the pack is with his defense. Being an All-Star is a realistic possibility provided he can have a relatively pain-free fourth season. His offseason should involve a lot of ball-handling to make him a better creator off the dribble so he can get to the rim. Beal should never have multiple games of not getting to the foul line like he had this past season. A better handle will help him manufacture his offense.

2014-15 grade: C+.

2015-16 outlook: An All-Star Game selection as a reserve and 20-plus points per game.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?