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Morning tip: Breaking down Bradley Beal's chances to sneak onto All-Star team

Morning tip: Breaking down Bradley Beal's chances to sneak onto All-Star team

The injury to Kevin Love has created an opening for the All-Star Game in the East, and Bradley Beal is likely on the short list that commissioner Adam Silver will choose from for a replacement for the Feb. 19 showcase in New Orleans.

Beal is on the third-place team in the conference that has only one All-Star in John Wall. He's averaging career highs in points (22.3), assists (3.7) and overall field-goal shooting (47.2%). A recent surge in three-point shooting has Beal at 40%, just one full point shy of another career-high. 

"He's well-deserving to be an All-Star," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It's definitely going to happen soon. But how knows? ... I don't like to politick for him but I think his game basically  says he's right there and the way we've been playing the last two-and-a-half months says he's right  there. But if he's not he will be there soon."

Beal turned down an invitation to participate in the three-point shootout on Saturday because he didn't make the cut for the team, preferring to rest instead.

When the reserves were announced, the coaches selected four point guards: Wall, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas and Kemba Walker. The only shooting  guard on the team is DeMar DeRozan.

Love, however, is a post player and if Silver wants to balance the guard-heavy roster that would knock Beal out of the running. 

A case can be made for Boston Celtics center/forward Al Horford though his numbers don't compare (14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds). He's the second-best player on the second-best team in the East. Andre Drummond has the stats with 14.7 points and 13.9 rebounds as a center but the Detroit Pistons are four games under .500. Hassan Whiteside even has better digits for the Miami Heat (16.7 points, 14.7 rebounds) but the center's team is eight games under .500.

Although Carmelo Anthony hasn't had an All-Star season and is on the putrid New York Knicks, there's a respect factor that goes into the decision by a commissioner. Anthony, who is a nine-time All-Star, has 23.2 points and 6.1 rebounds on a team 10 games under .500.

Love's first All-Star selection came as a then-commisioner David Stern's pick in 2011 when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves to replace the injured Yao Ming in the West.

In 2012, Rajon Rondo was named as the replacement for an injured Joe Johnson while still a member of the Boston Celtics..

In 2013, Stern picked Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez to replace the injured Rondo.

In 2014, Anthony Davis, who plays for the host New Orleans Pelicans, made his first All-Star Game when Stern chose him to fill in for the injured Kobe Bryant. 

There were four replacement players in 2015 in Silver's first year at the helm: DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings replaced Bryant (injured) for his first selection; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard replaced the injured Blake Griffin; Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks made his only appearance in place of Dwyane Wade; and Davis couldn't play so Dirk Nowtizki of the Dallas Mavericks was chosen.

Last year, Al Horford, then of the Hawks, subbed in for Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol, then with the Chicago Bulls, was Jimmy Butler's replacement.

So what does all of this mean for Beal? Sometimes veterans get the nod out of respect (see Nowtizki in 2015) over a younger player who has had a better season. And just because a post player can't compete, it doesn't mean another post player will be selected instead (see Davis for Bryant, Cousisn for Bryant, Lillard for Griffin or Lopez for Rondo).

The Wizards (33-21) have one more game Thursday before the All-Star break and a decision should be made by, or before, then. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Schedule heats up

The Wizards really needed that one on Friday night. Though the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, aren't an easy out, the Wizards wanted to fully take advantage of a soft spot of their schedule. It's tough to lose to the Nets when you consider the road ahead.

The Wizards play seven straight games against teams at .500 or better. That includes a road game against the Raptors, who are tied for the league's best record. They also see the Rockets, the Pelicans twice and play at the Sixers. It all begins Sunday against the Blazers, who are tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA.


Most of the Wizards' games this season have been lopsided one way or the other, and usually in the direction they would not prefer. But they have played a few close games and their most entertaining one happened to come against this same Blazers team.

The Wizards and Blazers went to overtime on Oct. 22 in Portland. The Wizards forced the extra period thanks to a three by Bradley Beal, and they won thanks to Otto Porter Jr. blocking Damian Lillard's shot in the closing seconds. 

The Wizards and Blazers have played some classics in recent years. Markieff Morris beat them with a game-winning three two years ago and last season Beal dropped 50 at the Moda Center. The matchup between both teams' star guards seems to bring the best out in everyone.

Howard vs. Nurkic

Much of the focus in this matchup is always on John Wall and Beal vs. Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there will be a lot of action in the paint with Dwight Howard going up against Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the game and Nurkic, who pulls in 10.7 per game, is a big reason why. Nurkic also averages 15.5 points.

Howard is coming off his best game as a Wizard. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night. He was hurt when the teams first met in Portland.

Both are bruisers around the rim who don't stretch the floor with outside shots. It should be a physical battle on Sunday night.

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."