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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' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

Wizards fans will know a lot more about 2018 second round pick Issuf Sanon once he takes the floor next month in the Las Vegas Summer League, but for now the 18-year-old point guard remains a bit of a mystery.

There are limited highlights on YouTube and stats available to evaluate him. Most who have an opinion on the player are operating on little information. 

For now, what we have are some video compilations and quotes from the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld described Sanon on Thursday night and says he's a player who could someday play both guard positions at the NBA level.

"[He’s a] very talented point guard, combo guard who is very athletic and he has real good upside," Grunfeld said. "Very athletic [and] very talented. [He] makes plays, he has a nice shot and he’s playing very tough competition.”

Grunfeld mentioned Sanon's athleticism many times. The Wizards saw Sanon at the NBA's international combine and love his combination of size and speed. He is 6-foot-4 and 1/2 and noticeably faster than those he competes against in the Premier A Slovenian League. 

Grunfeld likened Sanon's size and speed to Tomas Satoransky, a point guard currently on the Wizards' roster.

"He's a good ball-hander, very competitive and a lot like Tomas. We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”," Grunfeld said.

The highlights available of Sanon show a guy who clearly stands out above his competition. He has a knack for getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. There are also many clips of him blocking shots, sometimes in the post and often from behind on the fastbreak.

NBA.com has an interesting breakdown of Sanon's most recent season in the Slovenian league from an advanced stats perspective. They applauded his defense and the numbers suggest he puts that unique athleticism to use on the defensive end of the floor.

Had a remarkable year defensively for his age. Gets in a stance and competes to help make up for his lack of experience. Pressures the ball with quick hands, but lacks a degree of anticipation to stay in front of elite athletes. Still figuring out how to handle ball screens without overthinking things, but held his own anyways for the most part. Allowed only 0.471 points per Isolation possession [92nd percentile]. A bit foul prone, but forces turnovers at an impressive rate. Has a good work ethic defensively which should serve him well as he gains experience.

Sports Illustrated raved about Sanon's motor on the court and his hard-nosed approach, two things that would seem to bode well combined with his explosive athleticism:

Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.

Sanon spoke with Wizards reporters soon after he was drafted on Thursday night and said Russell Westbrook is a guy he models his game after. He plays at a much lower level of professional basketball, but there are similarities with Westbrook in Sanon's size and knack for scoring at the rim.

The stats only tell so much of the story, as he was going up against lower competition. It is worth noting, however, that his shooting percentage was low pretty much across the board. In 22 games during the 2017-18 season, Sanon shot 29.3 percent from three and 40 percent from the free throw line.

The Wizards have realistic expectations for Sanon, knowing it could take years before he even plays in the NBA. Many second round picks never make it at all.

Grunfeld pointed to Satoransky's career path as a possible timeline for Sanon, meaning the Wizards may not bring him over until he's in his 20s. He won't be able to help at backup point guard right away, but someday perhaps he can put his athleticism to use and actually help the Wizards.


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