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John Wall's progress bounces to next step; doctor exam on deck

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John Wall's progress bounces to next step; doctor exam on deck

John Wall dribbled during Tuesday's practice. With his left hand. That's encouraging news for the Washington Wizards. What that means for the All-Star guard's status heading into Game 5 at Atlanta remains murky.

Wall missed the last three games against the Hawks, who evened the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2 with a a 106-101 win Monday night. He suffered five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist and hand in Game 1 on May 3. Since then Wall has not been able to dribble with that injured hand due to swelling. That changed Tuesday.

"He's moving in the right direction," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall. "The swelling is down again. Minimal swelling. He wanted to dribble the ball a little bit. Get the feel of it here. That's kind of what he did today."

By dribble Wittman means just that. No scrimmages or full practice participation; the Wizards watched film together and primarily held a walkthrough. Sporting a light bandage on his left hand, Wall was shooting free throws with his right hand with reporters present during the final minutes of practice. 

"It's very light down there today. It's not like he's down there full go sprinting," the coach stated.

Typically practice doors remain open once the media arrives even as reporters move from the court area to the hallway where interviews are conducted. On Tuesday, the Wizards closed the doors with Wall still on the court and reporters waiting in the hall for Wittman. Wall later emerged as guard Ramon Sessions met with the media.

Wittman said Wall will have the injury reexamined by a team doctor either Tuesday or Wednesday. The Wizards are flying to Atlanta Tuesday afternoon and the doctors are going with them. 

Until he hears otherwise, Wittman could not offer a firm status heading into the next game. Wall remains technically listed as "questionable" by the team.

"When (the doctors) check him again I'm sure they're going to either say 'No, he needs more time' or 'It's up to you from a pain standpoint.' But I don't know what answer right now."

Game 6 will take place Friday night at Verizon Center. If necessary, Game 7 goes Monday in Atlanta, meaning an extra day between contests compared to the current every other day scenario.

"It's good," guard Garrett Temple said of Wall's improvement. "Obviously, until he is ready to play we really don't know, but we've seen him out there dribbling a little bit, handling the ball, taking jump shots. That's always a good sign. That actually gives us more motivation to go (down) there and get a win ...If he's not able to play, just keep fighting, try to get another win and prolong that process for him."

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bruno Fernando

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bruno Fernando

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Bruno Fernando

School: Maryland
Position: Center
Age: 20 (turns 21 in August)
Height: 6-10
Weight: 237
Wingspan: 7-3
Max vertical: 33.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 1.9 bpg, 60.7 FG% (5.1/8.4), 30.0 3PT% (0.1/0.3), 77.9 FT%

Player comparison: Jusuf Nurkic, Bam Adebayo

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 24th, NBADraft.net 12th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 28th, Ringer 37th

5 things to know:

*Fernando tested the NBA draft waters last year before returning to school and clearly helped his stock by doing so. He went from a likely second round pick to someone who could fall in the lottery. Fernando is ranked in most mock drafts as the third-best big man in this draft behind Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes.

*He is one of the best rebounders in this class. He averaged 10.9 boards per game as a sophomore and had five games of 15 or more. That includes a 19-rebound performance against Nebraska on Feb. 6. Fernando is a strong, physical forward so there is reason to believe those skills will translate to the next level.

*Concerns about Fernando include his lack of an outside shot. He attempted only 13 threes in college and did most of his damage around the rim. But the potential for Fernando to become a reliable scorer in the NBA appear to be there. He has soft touch around the rim and can finish with power.

*Defensively, Fernando needs some work. He has the physical tools with his size and long arms, and he averaged 1.9 blocks per game in college, but some evaluatiors criticize his defensive instincts and discipline. As long as Fernando can block shots and rebound in the NBA, he should be fine on that end of the floor.

*Fernando is originally from the country of Angola and has played for their national team in several international tournaments. Angola basketball is famous for being the subject of one of Charles Barkley's most memorable quotes. During the 1992 Olympics, he said of USA's next opponent: "I don't know anything about Angola, but I know they're in trouble."

Fit with Wizards: Fernando would fit the Wizards in a variety of ways. Rim protection and rebounding are their biggest needs and he would help them to different degrees in both areas. With rebounding in particular, he could be a big plus.

But two questions about Fernando could give the Wizards pause. One is if they can justify taking him ninth when he may fall into the teens and second is what his ceiling will ultimately be. Does he have All-Star potential or will he top out as an Enes Kanter-type rebounding specialist?

Ideally, the Wizards would find someone with very high upside to give them hope for a true franchise building block moving forward. There may be better options than Fernando at No. 9, even if they play positions that are less of a need for the Wizards.

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

With Dallas' Luka Doncic and Atlanta's Trae Young leading the way, the top five NBA draft picks from 2018 have been selected as the top five NBA rookies this season.

Doncic and Young were unanimous first-team selections for the NBA All-Rookie team, which was announced Tuesday. Phoenix's Deandre Ayton, Memphis' Jaren Jackson and Sacramento's Marvin Bagley III are also on the first team, which was chosen by 100 voters who cover the league.

Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young were the first five picks in the last year's draft.

This marks the first time since the 1984 draft that the first five picks ended up as first-team all-rookie -- the selections that year being Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley. That was the entirety of the rookie team that season; the NBA didn't start doing first- and second-team selections until 1988-89.

The Hawks had two all-rookie selections this season, with Kevin Huerter on the second team to join Young. Also on the second team were a pair of Los Angeles Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, along with Cleveland's Collin Sexton and New York's Mitchell Robinson.

Rookie of the year will be announced at the NBA Awards show in Los Angeles on June 24. Doncic, Young and Ayton are the finalists.

Doncic and Young join other unanimous first-team all-rookie picks over the last decade: Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell (2018), Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric (2017), Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (2016), Andrew Wiggins (2015), Michael Carter-Williams (2014), Damian Lillard (2013), Kyrie Irving (2012), Blake Griffin (2011) and Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry (2010).

Others receiving votes: Phoenix's Mikal Bridges, New York's Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Dallas' Jalen Brunson, Brooklyn's Rodions Kurucs, Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr., Charlotte's Mile Bridges, Detroit's Bruce Brown, Sacramento's Harry Giles III, Orlando's Mo Bamba and Indiana's Aaron Holiday.

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