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Morning tip: Best quarterback in D.C.? That's John Wall


Morning tip: Best quarterback in D.C.? That's John Wall

When John Wall first came into the NBA as a No. 1 overall pick in 2010, a frequent -- and fair -- criticism is that he didn't see the floor the way a point guard needed to be successful and that he was too reliant on speed. 

Unlike the quarterbacks who play football in D.C. who continually have issues with reading the game, that's past history with the current "quarterback" of the Wizards. 

While Bradley Beal buried the game-winning three-point shot in Wednesday's 102-99 comeback win vs. the San Antonio Spurs, Wall not only made his season-high 13th assist but had a hand in setting the table before they left the bench during the timeout with seven seconds left.

"He does do that," said Jared Dudley, in his first season in Washington, of Wall grabbing the greaseboard and diagramming plays he prefers to run during a timeout. "It's offensively and defensively. ... We let him control what we should do. Do you want to switch, do you not want to switch? He likes to take the best guys, especially towards the end of the game, because he's our best on-ball defender. He's our quarterback out there offensively and defensively."

Wall anticipated the switch that the Spurs would make when Beal slipped a screen on Danny Green and popped to the right wing. A big man, LaMarcus Aldridge, had no chance of covering Beal as he jabbed stepped and knocked down the winner. Wall told Beal the moment the switch took place he might get the ball early and to be ready.

"They are reading it the right way. They both live for the big moments," Dudley said of the backcourt which scored 22 of the Wizards' 36 points in the fourth quarter. "They want to take the shots as they should. What we have to do is when they're getting doubled and tripled, space the floor, hitting shots. I had one. I missed one. It'll open up the floor for them even more, especially Brad. He's so aggressive. It's such a good thing. We need that. if he makes  a couple plays making people better it's only going to help us. We need to start getting, instead of good shots, get great shots especially the fourth quarter.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall, Beal vault into NBA's top 5 in 4th-quarter scoring

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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener


Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.


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John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich.