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John Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Scott Brooks' confidence in him

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John Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Scott Brooks' confidence in him

Wizards guard John Wall has never been afraid to share his personal goals, even knowing things can be taken out of context and used to set expectations in the minds of many.

Some athletes shy away from proclamations, knowing they will be held to them.

This offseason Wall already threw it out there he wants to make first team All-Defense for the 2017-18 season. And now he's talking about winning the NBA's most valuable player award. Actually, it was his head coach Scott Brooks who got it all started on media day last week.

"John Wall is one of the best players in basketball," Brooks said.

"I think now you can really talk about him being in the MVP conversation. He has that type of ability. He has that type of game."

When asked about Brooks' quote, Wall didn't walk it back or beat around the bush. That's not his style.

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"It's a goal that I have for myself, also," he said. "It's not more pressure. It's an opportunity knowing how much I worked on my game. It shows how much coach believes in me. He wants me to run the team. He's put me in different positions to excel. That's my ultimate goal, to be MVP one day, why not have it have an MVP season this year?"

Earning the MVP these days is about as difficult as it has ever been in the NBA. Last season, Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook took home the honors by setting an NBA record for triple-doubles. He was the first player to average a triple double since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. Rockets guard James Harden finished second and he had one of the best seasons in league history with an absurd line of 29.1 points and 11.2 assists per game.

The NBA's MVP award was so competitive last year that LeBron James finished fourth despite setting career-highs in rebounds and assists and helped lead the Cavs while Kevin Love missed a quarter of the season. Wall was just the second player in NBA history to average at least 23 points, 10 assists and two steals while shooting over 45 percent from the field in a season and he wasn't even a finalist.

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Now, last year was unusual in the annals of the NBA. Not since 1972-73 had a player averaged at least 29 points and 10 assists in one season and both Harden and Westbrook did so in 2016-17. Those are tough numbers to compete with, especially for a point guard like Wall who was directly compared to them.

If history is any indication, Wall will have to score more to leap into the MVP mix. His 23.1 points last season were excellent and enough to tie Bradley Beal for the lead on the Wizards. But no MVP has held a scoring average that low since Steve Nash in 2005-06. The only MVP to score less than 25 per game since Nash was Stephen Curry in 2014-15, but he had a 59.4 effective field-goal percentage and led the best team in the NBA. 

In theory, Nash's path the the MVP (he won it twice) is probably the best blueprint for Wall. Nash took home the award with seasons of 15.5 points and 11.5 assists (2004-05) and 18.8 points and 10.5 assists (2005-06) per game. Wall puts up those type of numbers on a regular basis, but much has changed about the point guard position since Nash's heyday. 

Now the top point guards are often the No. 1 scoring options on their teams and scoring is a big determinant of postseason awards. With everything Wall already does, between passing, rebounding and racking up steals, adding a few more points per game is what it will probably require to get his name into the MVP mix. An argument could be made he should have been in the discussion this past season, but as history shows it's scoring that reigns supreme, especially for point guards these days.

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Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

Isaiah Thomas expected to miss several more games due to calf injury

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas has missed the Wizards' last two games with a left calf strain and it sounds like he will be out at least a little while longer.

The Wizards guard caught up with NBC Sports Washington at his holiday toy giveaway at the Boys and Girls Club in Northwest D.C. on Saturday and gave an update on how he's feeling.

"I'm good," he said. "I think I will be out a few more games and then be able to come back."

Thomas nearly played on Thursday in the Wizards' home win over the Sixers, according to head coach Scott Brooks. He pleaded with the coaching staff to play, but was advised not to as a precaution.

Thomas categorized the injury in a similar way, that the team is just playing it safe.

"I always feel like I can play, but the medical staff wants to be cautious about it, knowing it's a long season. There's a bigger picture and I'm just listening to whatever they've got to say," he said.

Thomas, 30, is enjoying a career renaissance of sorts with the Wizards. He is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 41 percent from three on 4.9 attempts per game.

With Thomas out, the Wizards have gone 1-1 with Ish Smith in his place in the starting lineup.

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Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

Why Isaiah Thomas brings his kids to help him at charity events

WASHINGTON -- Isaiah Thomas likes to bring his sons with him just about wherever he goes. They walk with him into the Wizards' locker room, they shoot around on the court at Capital One Arena; he's even brought them to the podium for postgame interviews.

On Saturday, Thomas brought one of his sons to the Boys and Girls Club on 8th St. in Northwest Washington and for a specific reason. Thomas wanted him to help give back.

Just as Thomas was handing out toys to underprivileged youth, so was his son. The contrast was not lost on Thomas, who knows his son is well off as the kid of a millionaire NBA player. Not everyone is as fortunate.

"When I can do these types of things, I always want my kids to be around it," Thomas told NBC Sports Washington. 

"To be able to give back and see how blessed we are and how blessed he is and how we can put smiles on peoples' faces, especially around the holidays; it's definitely a point of emphasis to do that and bring my boys around to see it."

Thomas said his father instilled the same lessons in him when he was growing up in Washington state. Every Saturday morning at 6 a.m., his dad would take him to a shelter to serve breakfast to the homeless.

"That was something I was born into doing," Thomas said.

Thomas grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club himself and has partnered with them and World Vision throughout his NBA career to give back. Their efforts nationally have allowed him to continue the relationship no matter which team he has played for.

"Isaiah Thomas has been an amazing partner for World Vision," aid worker Brian Duss said. "Isaiah wasn't even in D.C. four days before he partnered with us at a school in [Southeast] to give away 400 backpacks filled with school supplies."

Before handing out toys and taking pictures with the children, Thomas addressed the crowd with a microphone. He spoke of his experience going to the Boys and Girls Club as a kid and explained the impact he hopes to make in the D.C. community.

"Whatever you need from me, I'm always here for you," he said. "I hope everyone has a happy holidays."

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