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John Wall and Scott Brooks were selling points for Jodie Meeks to sign with Wizards

John Wall and Scott Brooks were selling points for Jodie Meeks to sign with Wizards

As an offensive-minded player, it was easy for Jodie Meeks to see the appeal in signing with the Washington Wizards in free agency, a team that won 49 games in the regular season and made it to Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs largely because their ability to light up the scoreboard.

There are many reasons why the Wizards' offense has enjoyed success, but for Meeks two parts stand out in particular: John Wall at point guard and Scott Brooks designing the plays. Meeks mentioned both in his first discussion with the media when framing why he signed with the Wizards.

"John's a great player, one of the best point guards in the league," Meeks said. "I'm looking forward to playing alongside of him. Hopefully he can can find me some good shots to knock down. I know he'll be looking for me."

[RELATED: What we learned from Wizards' Summer League]

Wall was second in the NBA last season in both assists per game (10.7) and points created off assists (25.3). He is as good as anyone at pushing the pace and finding shooters on the fastbreak.

Meeks shot 40.9 percent from three last season including 47.4 percent from the corner. Of his 56 three-pointers last season, only four of them were unassisted. Much of Wall's time on the court will be shared with Bradley Beal, but certainly he will be able to find Meeks for open shots when they play together.

Playing with Wall has helped many players improve their offensive numbers and reap the financial benefits that followed. Meeks thinks he can complement Wall's pass-first mentality.

"Us shooters, we love that," Meeks said.

Meeks noted how Wall is a fellow Kentucky alum and said he was his host during a recruiting visit in Lexington. That was nearly 10 years ago.

[RELATED: Meeks says he's 100 percent after signing with Wizards]

As for Brooks, Meeks doesn't know him quite as well on a personal level. They were around each other last week in Las Vegas as several players on the team had informal workouts. Wall and Meeks were there along with Markieff Morris, Tim Frazier and Mike Scott. Brooks was around to observe and get to know his new players.

"He's been at every workout that I've been a part of. He's said he's excited to coach me, but I'm excited to play under him," Meeks said. 

There are many reasons why Meeks is excited to work with Brooks.

"Even in OKC I saw how he utilized shooters and players coming off the bench. He gives players a lot of freedom and that's what I like," he said. "He's a real low-key guy. Even before I got a chance to meet him, I've always heard great stuff about him... Coach Brooks played, so he understands how guys' bodies feel after games and before practices. I think he's the type of guy that listens to his players and that's one thing that players love."

With one year under Brooks' direction, his system is firmly installed in Washington. Now Meeks hopes to fit in and take it to the next level.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Will John Wall sign the deal?]


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James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

Much of the reasoning for why the Wizards traded for veteran forward Trevor Ariza this past weekend was to plug the holes in their three-point defense. After 31 games this season, Washington ranks 26th among NBA teams in three-pointers allowed per game and 27th in opponents three-point percentage.

On Wednesday, the Wizards will receive the ultimate test for their revamped perimeter defense in the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

The Rockets are not simply a good three-point shooting team in the context of this era, they rival some of the best outside shooting teams of all-time. Their 14 threes made per game are top in the NBA and are tied for the third-most in league history. 

The top two teams ever in made threes were also the Rockets. They set the all-time record in 2016-17 with 14.4, then beat their own mark last season with 15.3 threes per game.

It's a similar story for threes attempted. Houston leads the league with 41.1 three-point shots per game. That would rank second all-time behind only last season's Rockets (42.3/g) and ahead of the third-most ever (40.3) set by Houston the year before.

The difference this season has been their percentage. After ranking 13th in the NBA last year at 36.2 percent, this time they are shooting just 33.9 percent, good for 24th. Still, no team takes or makes more threes, and the Wizards will be charged with stopping them.

The Wizards know the Rockets' three-point shooting prowess well. Houston has made at least 12 threes in the last seven meetings between the teams. Four times in that span, they have hit 15 threes or more. No team has done that more often against the Wizards since the start of the 2015-16 season. Considering they play each other only twice a year as members of different conferences, that is telling.

Ariza is also familiar with what the Rockets are capable of. After leaving Washington in free agency in the summer of 2014, he signed with Houston and spent four seasons there before joining the Suns this past summer. He was a key cog in the Rockets' 65-win team last season, as they fell one win short of the NBA Finals.

The Wizards and Rockets also saw each other less than a month ago in Washington. The Wizards pulled off a 135-131 victory in overtime, one of their best wins of the season, even with Houston off to a disappointing start. 

Chris Paul didn't play in that game, but James Harden dropped 54 points and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela were a handful. John Wall had 36 points and 11 assists and Bradley Beal put in 32 points, as well as some timely defense down the stretch on Harden. He helped force several of Harden's 11 turnovers.

Now comes the rematch, this time with the Rockets fresh off four straight wins and with Paul set to play. It won't be easy beating Houston twice in one season, something they haven't done as a franchise since 1988-89. Perhaps Ariza can help make the difference.


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Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Three weeks removed from back surgery to take care of his nagging gluteal injury, Dwight Howard rejoined the Washington Wizards for their Tuesday night contest with the Atlanta Hawks inside State Farm Arena. 

"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery," Howard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season."

During those nine games, the 33-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, while shooting over 62% from the floor. 

Howard is no stranger to back surgery. In 2012, the then Orlando Magic center underwent a procedure to repair a herniated disk which ended his season and took him out of Summer Olympics (London) participation. 

The veteran now deals with a slow recovery process before returning to basketball activities. 

Right now, the only I can do for rehab is just walk. Anybody who has had back surgery, they understand that. You know, for the first month and a half, you can't lift weights. You can't run. You can't do anything but basically walk. 

Howard plans to remain in Atlanta for rehab. Three weeks ago, Washington said it would re-evaluate Howard after two or three months. 

"Every day I try to sit down, and you know, spend at least an hour visualizing, you know, getting healthy, but also returning to the court."