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Morning tip: The case for Wizards bringing Beal off the bench


Morning tip: The case for Wizards bringing Beal off the bench

When Bradley Beal returns -- and that could be in a few weeks or longer (probably longer based on his injury history) -- the Wizards should strongly consider bringing him off the bench.

That might be a bitter pill to swallow for a player of his caliber when he is healthy. Beal is the Wizards' best scorer and warrants double- and triple-teams because opponents fear him getting hot. Next to John Wall, they make for one of the NBA's most lethal backcourts.

But it may be time to switch up and there are good reasons for it:

  • This is Beal's fourth consecutive season with a stress reaction in his lower right leg, on the small, non-weight-bearing bone (fibula). The dark spot that appeared on the MRI over the weekend is smaller than the previous three but this is troublesome. Beal will be under a minutes restriction when he returns and he'll be held to 30 minutes per game maximum based on previous limits place on him.

  • Coach Randy Wittman has been in this difficult position before, tasked with winning games and needing his best players out there in crunch time but having to pull Beal late because he has reached his limit after starting. This is particularly a problem when a game goes into overtime (and this has happened). Bringing him off the bench saves Beal for when the Wizards need him most and he'd be on the floor with Wall. Even if he's not playing well he commands so much attention that it opens the floor for everyone else when buckets are hardest to come by.

  • The Wizards are 3-2 with Garrett Temple in the starting lineup. Temple will get his share of wide-open looks and can hit threes and he has good chemistry with Wall. It puts more pressure on Wall offensively, but defensively Temple can cover more ground. If Otto Porter can shoot like he did with a career-high 28 points vs. Dallas, it allows Temple to do what he does best -- defend. The Wizards were 7-2 with Temple starting for Beal last season when he was out with a wrist fracture. If more offensive punch is needed, switch to Gary Neal. 

  • Beal is at his best when he's slicing and getting to the rim, not simply settling for jump shots. He had 21 assists in the three games that Wall missed in last season's playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged six free throw attempts, too. He can do even more of this when his minutes are controlled. In Beal's last seven games played, with the Wizards losing bodies left and right to injury, he logged 41, 42, 38, 38, 41, 40 and 39. His 36.5 minutes average was a career-high and three more than last season. 

  • If the Wizards are ever able to get healthy again with Nene (calf), Drew Gooden (calf) and especially Alan Anderson (ankle) who has yet to play a game, taking this path with Beal will be easier. He had his heart set on being an All-Star for the first time but that has to be put on hold. The Wizards need him at maximum efficiency to make another run at the playoffs and Beal needs to be healthy so he can prove he's a max player in time for free agency next summer. Maybe if the Wizards can get to the postseason again, after Beal has been preserved, he can go back to starter's minutes.

RELATED: OPEN THREAD: Is Bradley Beal worth max money?

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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 


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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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