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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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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?