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J. Michael: No one complains about John Wall taking Wizards' last shot when it goes in

J. Michael: No one complains about John Wall taking Wizards' last shot when it goes in

John Wall took – and converted – the final shot. It was his first make in the final 10 seconds of a game to win in his seventh NBA season with the Wizards.

Is anyone complaining about it, after he knocked down the last two jump shots in a win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday?

No. It's a ridiculous question incited by the hot-take universe where circumstances, situation and context be damned.

It's like the last two-minute reports released by the NBA when it reveals missed or incorrect no-calls by officials when usually games are decided in the first 46 minutes by the players who make a host of mistakes all on their own.

After Wall tied the score at 99 with a pull-up jumper, he drained the winner with 5.9 ticks left.

It was a simple side pick-and-roll play on which the Bulls continually switched. They were playing so soft on their coverages with Wall coming off, they took away his read to Gortat diving to the rim with the helpers.


Center Robin Lopez wouldn't commit to get close enough to Wall on the switch so the lightning-fast point guard could blow by the 7-footer for the layup. It wasn't bad defense by any stretch. 

Markieff Morris, who had a team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter, had fouled out. Bradley Beal was 0-for-2 and scoreless. He took 15 total shots, six fewer than Wall.

The logical play, make or miss, was for Wall to take the shot going to his right which is his strong side. 

He also made that same shot from the opposite side in the final two minutes of a comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Wall takes the pull-up 47.2% of the time (his most frequently taken shoot) and makes 41% of them, according to stats.nba.com. Allow him to get a clean run to get into the rhythm, his accuracy is even better. He can go straight up in the air like he did when tying the score or fade as he did on the game-winner.

Had Wall missed the winner on Tuesday, the chorus of "Why did he take the last shot?" surely would've been at full blast.

But even if he misses, Gortat is diving on the switch by the much smaller Michael Carter-Williams. The Bulls were caught naked. They covered this 2 vs. 2, and Gortat set the screen on the correct side so Wall could get space and neutralize Rajon Rondo's help to the ball. Had the screen been set inside for Wall to get to the middle, Rondo would've been there to clog the paint.

So it's not about who takes the shot. If it's the best shot available based on how the play breaks down, who is open and available and who has the best matchup to take it based on how the opponent defends. It's also about execution by both teams. If the Bulls blow a switch and there's an uncontested layup would it matter if it were Gortat taking the shot? 


Wall's decision-making hasn't always been the best when it comes to these end-of-game situations (see the second game of the season at Memphis), so to be critical of what has taken place in the past is fair. He even owned up to how he made a bad decision in Memphis when he went to the wrong side and into the defensive help. But under coach Scott Brooks he has gotten better. All of them have progressed. Late-game execution in general has been on the uptick. 

There's no rule that says the best shooter (Beal) has to take the last shot most of the time. If he doesn't that doesn't mean that the play wasn't called for him. Or maybe the other team was so concerned with not letting Beal beat them, they put Lopez and Carter-Williams in an impossible situation as long as Wall makes the correct read. 

Beal will get his chances and he'll have to make them for the Wizards to be all they can be, but this isn't a contest between the two. Beal had the final shot on the road vs. the Indiana Pacers and missed. Morris had a wide-open look at the Orlando Magic and missed. Otto Porter has missed twice, at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

Not being afraid to take the shot when it's there is as important as any of this. Making sure the best shot is taken is the next step. Ask any coach, and he can live with those results.

"He has the toughness. He has the wherewithal to see the floor.  He’s had good experiences," Brooks said of Wall. "He’s not going to make them all. I’m sure he’s missed his share in the past and hopefully he makes many more like he did tonight."


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


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 according to a new report by ESPN, they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard.

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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John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

The Wizards in recent years have made a habit of trying to speak things into existence and then not having them actually come into existence. They have talked the talk and then sometimes haven't walked the walk.

A few instances come to mind, including Bradley Beal saying of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers that "they didn't want to see us" in the playoffs. Beal also said in November that the Washington was the best team in the East, just hours before James scored 57 points in the Wizards' building.

John Wall has made similar proclamations in the past, usually about himself, including how he is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Now, these statements were all relatively normal for professional athletes who pride themselves in always feeling like they are the best player on the floor or the field. It's part of the mindset that makes them who they are.

But when those statements are made and then not backed up, they can be tough to defend, and especially for a Wizards team which last season seemed to overlook the lesser teams and suffered a down year because of it.

Wall insists all that is about to change. In his 1-on-1 interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall said the message this year will be much different, much more muted than it has been in the past.

"We want to go out with a different mindset and a different focus. We're not trying to go in and think we're a team that has already established something and got respect from people. We have to earn that respect and that means going out and competing every night against the good teams or the bad teams," he said.

That doesn't mean Wall isn't confident. His belief in himself hasn't wavered and, in fact, he may believe in his team more now than ever. That's because he is happy with the offseason the front office has produced.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green in free agency, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. All should help the Wizards improve between Howard representing an upgrade at starting center and the others providing much-needed depth.

When Wall was asked by Chris if this is the most complete team he has played with in Washington, Wall left no doubts.

"Yeah, for sure. I definitely think so," he said. "I think it gives us the opportunity where we don't have to play as many minutes. That's the key. At the end of the year, you kind of fall short because you're fatigued. Nobody uses that as an excuse. You play and try to get into the best shape possible. But if you're playing 24 minutes, the whole half, and then 24 minutes and the whole half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off of us at times."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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