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Morning tip: How serious are All-Star chances for Wall, Beal?

Morning tip: How serious are All-Star chances for Wall, Beal?

It's never too early to speculate on who is All-Star worthy and who isn't, but despite the Wizards' record John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing at a level that makes both worthy of being in the conversation.

The duo combined for 50 points in Friday's 122-108 rout of the Detroit Pistons. Beal has been a solid defender all season while Wall, who started out shaky, has improved in the last few weeks since losing weight coming off two knee surgeries. 

The Wizards (11-14) have won four of five games and have appeared to steady themselves after a 3-9 start to the season when they bled points. 

But Wall and Beal, the latter of whom signed $128 million max contract this past summer, have delivered and with All-Star voting about to kick into full gear both have a chance to make it together for the first time. Wall is a three-time All-Star in his seventh season. Beal hasn't made it in his fifth season.

"Just being aggressive," said Beal, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the second quarter when the Wizards had 38 points to take a double-digit halftime lead. "That's just been my mind-set the whole year. Just continue to grow and get better each game."

Beal set his career-high with 42 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns. He set his career-high for assists with nine in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Wall set a career-high with 52 points in a loss to the Orlando Magic. He had his 14th double-double against Detroit. 

Their averages are career-highs (Wall 24.5 points, Beal 21.8) and if they can get the Wizards over .500 before the calendar year is over, Wall and Beal are strong candidates to be added as reserves by the league's coaches if they're not voted in as starters by fan voting.

[RELATED: Wizards players, Brooks remember Craig Sager]

After all, coaches know how important it is to limit both to have a chance to beat the Wizards. Wall and Beal face double-teams and blitz coverages all of the time to take the ball out of their hands. If they make the right decisions, it leads to high-percentage looks as they can make other players around them better. And of course, the players around them off the bench have been less than spectacular which is why they've logged heavier-than-expected minutes. 

Now, those players are better and the results have been more positive. The play of Wall and Beal hasn't waned. They've only gotten better. 

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy lamented his team's inability to do anything with them. They held teams to the second-fewest points per game entering Friday at 95.7. The Wizards scored 27 above that. They were at 95 after just three quarters.

"We couldn't handle their guards at all," said Van Gundy, who has a pretty good defensive stopper in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard. "I mean, just John Wall was great. Beal was great. We couldn't handle them at all. They were getting wherever they wanted on the floor and then making plays. The other guys shot the ball well, too, but those two guys just destroyed us."

Impress a few more coaches like this and their chances of going to New Orleans for the Feb. 17-19 showcase increase.

The path for Beal is less complex. The competition at his position isn't as deep (Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan) compared to Wall at point guard (Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker). 

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Pistons]

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Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Not only are the Washington Wizards dominating the NBA 2K simulation, but they are also doing it against some tough competition. 

With a 70-61 win over the Toronto Raptors, Washington has now won seven of nine simulations. Other victories have come against the likes of the Bucks, Lakers and 76ers. In the 2K world, the Wizards are consistently beating the best.

In the latest win, the formula remained the same as past simulations. Behind another big night from Rui Hachimura (21 points) and some added scoring from Bradley Beal (12 points), the Wizards offense was able to put up enough to get past Toronto. Timely runs in the second half and some stingy defense left the Raptors with no chance to mount a comeback as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards win.

Rui keeps on rolling 

There has been no stopping the Wizards rookie in 2K as of late. With 21 points, he now has back-to-back 20-point performances. The first-round pick of Washington in 2019 has been doing it on both ends of the floor, sparking big plays with blocks and finishing at the rim.

Hachimura also stepped behind the line and showed some range on Tuesday, hitting a smooth-looking three-pointer.

It's been a great 2K run for Hachimura overall as of late, as he also took down Donovan Mitchell in the first round of the 2K Player Tournament.

Strong finish

Though the Wizards played well throughout, it was a dominant stretch toward the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth that sealed the win.

A 16-6 run to close the third coupled with a 16-3 run early in the fourth gave Washington a comfortable lead. After taking a 42-41 lead in the third, the Raptors would never lead again.


Dominant inside, efficient outside

Similar to other simulations, the Wizards once again did a lot of their scoring inside the paint. Washington outscored the Raptors 46-32 in the paint, finishing at the rim in multiple ways consistently. 

Thomas Bryant was once again a beast down low, throwing down dunks and recording a team-high 16 rebounds in addition to 10 points to complete a double-double.

Though the real NBA has become a three-point heavy game, it hasn't quite translated to 2K. The Wizards only attempted eight shots from behind the arc on the night, a number that could sometimes come from just a few possessions in a real game. Even more peculiar, Davis Bertans didn't register a single three-point attempt. 

Yet, the Wizards made the most of the attempts, going 4-from-8 from three. Of course, Bradley Beal was in the mix.

Run for the (simulation) playoffs?

In the 2K universe, the Wizards entered Tuesday just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth spot in the East. With a win, the virtual team may have inched even closer to the playoffs. 

Simulation-wise, Washington could not have asked for a better stretch of play.

The 2K Wizards will be back in action Friday at 7 p.m. ET against the Rockets. 

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Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

By the time Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA subsequently suspended the 2019-20 season, a number of teams who'd played Utah leading up to the suspension had to self-quarantine as a precaution. 

One of them was the Washington Wizards.

They suffered a 10-point loss to the Jazz 12 days before Gobert tested positive, so they urged their players to self-quarantine for several days. Fortunately for the Wizards, no player ended up tested positive for the virus.

Washington's second-year wing joined Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast and gave a window into what his reaction was to the fact he had played the Jazz leading up to Gobert's positive test. 

"I wasn't touching [Gobert]," Brown said with a laugh. "I didn't go in for no layups or anything like that. But all jokes aside though, it was one of those things that was scary because I didn't know really what to expect coming out of it."

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Heading into the league's suspension, Brown was enjoying a strong season where he showed a lot of improvement from his rookie year. He was averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on much better shooting splits (45.3% FG, 34.5% 3P in 19-20 vs. 41.5% FG, 31.9% 3P in 18-19). 

Brown seemed to have much more success coming off the bench with a unit in which he had more ball-handling opportunities. We'll see if he can continue to grow when basketball returns, though the 20-year-old is forced to focus on the challenges that come with isolation. 

"It definitely is a lot easier being with my family and being in my own space and being able to make decisions for myself," Brown said. "Being in D.C. was kind of hard because I didn't have anybody else there besides my dog, living by myself in quarantine. I feel like it's those people that are struggling with the quarantine stuff being isolated by themselves because you don't really know what to do."

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