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LeBron James on verge of history as losing Finals MVP

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LeBron James on verge of history as losing Finals MVP

The NBA began the process of selecting one player as Most Valuable Player of the Finals in 1969. The first recipient, Lakers guard Jerry West, won the award but lost the title. Los Angeles fell to Boston that season. West's triumph remains the only instance of the player on the losing team winning the MVP award. 

That changes this year assuming the Warriors wrap up the series.

LeBron James' numbers are that good. 

They're also a bit misleading.

Golden State leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 following Sunday's 104-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors won despite James' second triple-double of the series. He finished with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. The only other player with at least 40 points in a triple-double during the NBA Finals? Jerry West in 1969.

Through five games, the do-everything forward is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Remarkable numbers indeed and certainly better than any cumulative stats produced by Golden State's top two candidates, Andre Igoudala and Stephen Curry.

Igoudala's shooting helped secure Golden State's Game 1 win. The decision to move the assertive forward into the starting lineup before Game 4 led to two straight wins. He's averaging 14.6 points a game, shooting over 40% o 3-pointers and only his defense gives the Warriors any hope of slowing down James. That's all solid, but unless he hits the title-clinching buzzer-beater, Iguodala isn't surpassing James.

Curry's signature game in the series came Sunday as he exploded for 37 points with seven 3-pointers. That's the type of performance we saw from the regular season MVP throughout the campaign. However, while James was making his fifth straight finals appearance, neither Curry nor any of his teammates had ever played in the Finals before this season. Collectively, they appeared unsure of how to handle the moment as they fell behind 2-1 after the first three games.

"I think there is a glaring difference between having been there before and having not been there before," Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said of the Warriors during an ESPN radio interview before Game 4. "Most of the Cavaliers haven't been there before, but LeBron James won championship. He's been there many, many other times. I think on some level you're seeing that experience gap show up in these [Finals]."

So while Curry needed a minute - or least three games including his first in the finals on the road - to find his swagger, James has been on point with producing points from the start. He's been on track to win the MVP since game 2. The only question was whether he would so as champion or not.

Which brings up one final point about his stats. For the most part, the Warriors don't mind at all.

Not that they could "stop" the most athletically advantaged player in the league since Shaquille O'Neal, but the Warriors have been content with using single coverage on the four-time regular season MVP. That means the physical force can often get anywhere on the court he desires, not to mention see all available passing options without much interference.

The thing is, the plan is working. All that work also wears James out late in games. Without any consistent rhythm - lots of isolation plays being called for No. 23 -, Cleveland's other players are struggling for any offense not directly generated by James. When James doesn't score, neither do the Cavs.

Though he's missing plenty of shots (39.9 FG%), James is scoring lots of points. Golden State isn't "letting" him score nearly 37 points per game, but they aren't exactly trying to slow down his scoring either. This is the plan. 

At times, especially during the first half of games, Warriors coach Steve Kerr must  wonder if James is just unstoppable. Many of the stats suggest he is. Thanks to his unreal production, James may match West's unique MVP honor.

Golden State doesn't mind. That's because it will have come in a losing effort, which will have occurred in part because the Warriors can offset points from James with plenty of their own while defending Cleveland's supporting cast with vigor.

West, otherwise known as the NBA's logo, surely won't mind losing his unique MVP status. That's because, as a member of Golden State's front office, he's one win away from another NBA title. Who better than West to understand that's really all that matters.

{RELATED Grading Martell Webster's play for 2014-15 season

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NBA Draft 2019: Rumors, predictions, and a preview of draft night

NBA Draft 2019: Rumors, predictions, and a preview of draft night

The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived. Sixty prospects will be selected and their careers will begin.

This year’s draft has a lot more anticipation than many others in recent memory, and that can be attributed to one man who needs no introduction. Zion Williamson took the NCAA by storm. Duke last season and New Orleans is prepared to add him to their core as soon as the draft commences.

There will surely be surprises, trades, storylines, and a lot of emotion when the 2019 NBA Draft begins, and NBC Sports Washington has everything you need to know to get you ready for the big night.

2019 NBA Draft Preview

The 2019 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 20. The Wizards hold the ninth overall pick. Here's everything you need to know...

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

TV: NBC Sports Washington will have Wizards-centric draft coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. on TV and the MyTeams app, the official broadcast is on ESPN

Final Mock Draft: READ

Final Big Board: READ

I Am the Prospect:

Bruno FernandoFrom Angola to the NBA Draft, Bruno Fernando is about to make NBA history. FEATURE.

Ty JeromeTy Jerome's relationship with his hard-driving father shaped him into a bona fide NBA prospect. FEATURE.

Isaiah Roby: Isaiah Roby's journey from small-town unknown to potential NBA Draft steal. FEATURE.

Nickeil Alexander-WalkerVirginia Tech's Nickeil Alexander-Walker is ready to elevate Canada's profile in the NBA. FEATURE.

DeAndre HunterNBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level. FEATURE.

Wizards Draft Prospects by Position:

Guards: The Wizards have worked out multiple prospects that will be able to assist them in the backcourt from the get-go. With John Wall sidelined for the foreseeable future, Bradley Beal can't do it all. Hopefully, some reinforcements will lighten his workload.  READ

Wings: In this era of NBA basketball, there is no such thing as too much wing depth. After adding Troy Brown Jr. in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Wizards could look to add to their arsenal. READ

Big Men: Bobby Portis and Thomas Bryant are free agents. Jabari Parker may not be back in D.C. next season. The Wizards could opt for some help down low. READ

2019 NBA Draft Prospect Profiles:

Zion Williamson, F, Duke: The freshman sensation may be the most talked about prospect heading into the draft since LeBron James. Profile.

Ja Morant, G, Murray State:
The mid-major star broke onto the scene in his sophomore campaign, and the Memphis Grizzlies look to be sold.  Profile.

R.J. Barrett, G, Duke:
The Canadian swingman was the presumed No. 1 pick for a long stretch prior to Williamson’s arrival, and is slotted to go in the top four. Profile.

DeAndre Hunter, F, Virginia: After a strong showing in the NCAA Title Game, Hunter has a lot of buzz going in his favor. Profile.

Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt:
The biggest wild card of the 2019 Draft, Garland has been gaining a lot of traction ahead of the big night. Profile.

Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech:
An impressive 2019 season and Final Four run has propelled Culver into a lottery prospect. Profile.

Coby White, G, North Carolina:
Breaking Michael Jordan's freshman records at UNC, White is near the top of most big boards. Profile.

P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky:
Don't call him a one-and-done from Kentucky. Washington raised his stock with a second year in college. Profile.

Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga:
Hachimura was one of the best players in the NCAA last season, but evaluators see flaws in his game. Profile.

Cam Reddish, F, Duke:
Reddish took a backseat behind Williamson and Barrett at Duke, how much will it cost him? Profile.

Jaxon Hayes, F, Texas: 
He's considered the best center of this draft class. Profile.

Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland:
You're not going to find a better rebounder in the draft than Fernando. Profile.

Bol Bol, C, Oregon:
The Oregon star dazzled when he was on the court, but that wasn’t often. Profile.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech:
The Hokies’ star is ready to contribute from the get-go. Profile.

Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky:
One of the many Wildcats projected to go in the first round, Johnson has a very high upside. Profile.

Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga:
The tip transfer last season in Spokane, Clarke provides a lot to like as a prospect.  Profile.

KZ Okpala, F, Stanford:
The Cardinal looks to be one of the more NBA-ready prospects in this class. Profile.

Romeo Langford, G, Indiana:
The Hoosiers missed the tournament in March, and Langford’s draft stock may have taken a hit as a result. Profile.

Sekou Doumbouya, F, France: 
The French forward has a lot of suitors and will surely be one of the first international players off the board. Profile.

Kevin Porter Jr., G, Southern California:
A major wild card, Porter showed flashes at USC of a bona fide star, but couldn’t stay on the floorProfile.

Grant Williams, F, Tennessee:
After a solid career in Knoxville, Williams will look to elevate his game at the biggest level. Profile.

Wizards Pre-Draft Workouts:

There were not many players expected to go around the ninth pick that worked out for the Wizards. However, there are several prospects expected to go in the later rounds, or perhaps would not be drafted at all.

-Coby White, G, North Carolina
-Nassir Little, F, North Carolina
-Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
-Brandon Better, G, Southern Utah
-Joe Cremo, G, Villanova
-Jon Davis, G, Charlotte
-Malik Dunbar, F, Auburn
-Paul Eboua, F, Africa
-Kaleb Johnson, F, Georgetown
-Aubrey Dawkins, G/F, UCF
-Jordan Caroline, F, Nevada
-Justin Robinson, G, Virginia Tech
-Kavell Bigby-Williams, F, LSU
-Elijah Thomas, F, Clemson
-William McDowell-White, G, Australia
-Bryce Brown, G, Auburn
-Jessie Govan, C, Georgetown
-Frank Howard, G, Syracuse
-Anthony Lee, G, Kutztown 
Myles Stephens, G, Princeton
-Harry Froling, C, Australia
-Shizz Alston, G, Temple
-Shannon Bogues, G, Stephen F. Austin
-Jamall Gregory, G, Jacksonville State
-Trey Mourning, F, Georgetown
-Ed Polite Jr., F, Radford
-Trey Porter, Forward, Nevada
-Corey Davis, G, Houston
-Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA
-Lyle Hexom, F, Peru State
-Jonathan Kasibabu, C, Fairfield
-V.J. King, F, Louisville

MORE NBA NEWS:

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'The Basketball Tournament' 2019: meet the TBT field, bracket and local DMV stars

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The Basketball Tournament

'The Basketball Tournament' 2019: meet the TBT field, bracket and local DMV stars

Whether you're thrilled or disappointed about the Wizards' first pick, July 19th should give you hoops to look forward to. 

It's "The Basketball Tournament."  A field of 64 teams comprised of has-beens, what-could-of-beens and international players will vie for a $2 million winner-take-all prize. The bracket has eight regions, with each region's top seed being "capable of drawing loud, passionate, sizeable fan bases," per TBT's website.

The remaining 56 teams were chosen from the application pool. 

One of those host regions is Richmond, Va., joining Syracuse, NY, Greensboro, NC, Lexington, Ky., Memphis, Tenn., Wichita, Kan., Columbus, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Games begin Friday, July 19th, with Greensboro, Lexington, Memphis and Columbus playing to completion through Sunday. The remaining four regions will do the same the following weekend, setting up an eight-team quarterfinal round at Wintrust Arena in Chicago (Ill.) beginning August 1st. The championship will be held Tuesday, August 6th at Wintrust. Team Overseas Elite has won the last four titles, amassing $7 million in total winnings. 

All regional games can be streamed via ESPN3. Quarterfinal games will air on ESPNU, ESPN or ESPN2, and the semifinals and finals will all be on ESPN. 

Here are some notable teams and players with DMV ties that you can watch close to home:

Richmond Regional:

No. 2 Ram Nation (VCU alumni):

  • Bradford Burgess, Coach (VCU)
  • Chris Evans (VCU)
  • Javonte Green (VCU
  • JeQuan Lewis (VCU)
  • Eric Maynor (VCU, Wizards) 
  • Brandon Rozzell (VCU)
  • B.A. Walker (VCU)
  • Reggie Williams (VMI)

 

No. 3 Green Machine (George Mason alumni): 

  • Bryon Allen (GMU) 
  • Lamar Butler (GMU)
  • Folarin Campbell (GMU)
  • Erik Copes (GMU)
  • Corey Edwards (GMU)
  • Austin Freedman (Georgetown)
  • Mike Morrison (GMU)
  • Ryan Pearson (GMU)
  • Isaiah Tate (DeMatha, GMU)
  • Will Thomas (Mount St. Joe's, GMU)

 

No. 5 Seven City Royalty (Old Dominion alumni)

  • Nik Biberaj (ODU)
  • Aaron Bacote (ODU)
  • Jordan Baker (ODU)
  • Trey Freeman (ODU)
  • Randy Haynes (ODU)
  • Keenan Palmore (ODU)
  • Richard Ross (ODU)
  • Brandon Stith (ODU)

 

No. 6 The Web (Richmond Alumni)

  • Terry Allen (Richmond)
  • Darien Brothers (Richmond)
  • TJ Cline (Richmond)
  • Darrius GarrettJahron Giddings 
  • LG Gill (Maryland)
  • David Gonalvez (Richmond)
  • Justin Harper (Richmond)
  • Shawndre' Jones (Richmond)

 

No. 7 Team DRC:

  • Joseph Katuka (GWU)

 

Other notable participants: 

Jordan Adams, PG – Sons of Westwood (Oak Hill) 

Michael Anderson, PF – Boo Williams (VCU)

Ray Barbosa, SG – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

Earl Barron, PG – Bluff City (Wizards)

Julius Brooks, PF – Showtime (Loyola Univeristy at Maryland)

Demarcus Cousins, GM – Loyalty is Love (It's Demarcus Cousins)

Will Darley, PF – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

Juan Dixon, Coach – Team Hines (Maryland, Wizards PG)

Jourdan Grant*, PG – Hilltop Dawgs (Archbishop Spalding, UMBC)

Megan Gustafson, SF – Iowa United (First active women's pro player to participate) 

Brian Hodges, Coach – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

Dru Joyce III, PG, and Romeo Travis, PF – Mid-American Unity (HS teammates of Lebron James, starred in the 2008 documentary "More than a Game")

Eric Mann, C – Primetime Players (VMI)

Charles Mann Jr, PG - Showtime (Son of former Redskins' DE Charles Mann)

KJ Maura*, PG – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC) 

Du'Vaughn Maxwell, SF – Boo Williams (Hampton)

Jeff McInnis, Asst. Coach – Primetime Players (Wizards)

James Michael McAdoo, PF – Eberlin Drive (2x Virginia's Mr. Basketball, USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year in 2009)

Toure Murry, SG – Aftershocks (Wizards)

Chase Plummer, SF – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

Bobby Portis, C – Team Arkansas (Wizards)

Sam Schweitz, C – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

Joe Sherburne, SF – Hilltop Dawgs (UMBC)

DJ Strawberry, PG – Fort Hood Wounded Warriors (Maryland)

* – orchestrated the first-ever 16 v. 1 seed upset