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Morning tip: John Wall should've been All-NBA 2nd team over Celtics' Isaiah Thomas

Morning tip: John Wall should've been All-NBA 2nd team over Celtics' Isaiah Thomas

Now that John Wall is finally All-NBA for the first time in his career, it's difficult to find any reason to complain about him being recognized among the top 15 players in the league. He made third team -- ahead of the likes of Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Goran Dragic  and Damian Lillard who have appeared before him-- but behind second-team selection Isaiah Thomas.

On the surface, it's splitting hairs. So what? At least Wall fulfilled one of his goals after a 49-win season and getting the Wizards to Game 7 of the conference semifinals.

But he'll surely find exta motivation because even though he has begun to earn more respect on a national scale, he won't feel it was enough after averaging career highs in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0) and field-goal accuracy (45.1%). 

There'll always be these kind of hot takes from those who spoke ill of him from Day One and then continaully move the goalposts to justify their initial flawed judgments. When you actually put Wall in the same breath as Kendall Marshall, who was so bad that the No. 13 draft pick was jettisoned after one year by the Phoenix Suns which is unheard of, you should give yourself 20 lashes every time you utter his name:

So to compensate for this, every time Wall doesn't lead his team to the NBA championship -- like 29 other starting point guards in the NBA -- he'll be ridiculed. It's the Colin Cowherd heads I win/tails you lose logic. Trolling under the guise of analysis.

Wall jumps on the scorer's table after hitting the Game 6 winner over the Boston Celtics and he's foolish. Thomas screams, "You can't f--- with a killer" after winning a regular season game over the Wizards and throws hand signs, what does that make him?

Like Wall, it's player who is caught up on emotion of the moment. It means or proves nothing. Thomas was fined for threatening to beat up a fan at Verizon Center after a playoff loss. What will that have to do with anything in analyzing him as a player? It this were Wall, of course, such an incident would be mentioned every single time and used to question his upbringing and character. 

Thomas' team was marginally better than Washington. They were better defensively as a team to hide Thomas' shortcomings. Their role players were better than a Wizards bench that produced five total points in Game 7. Boston didn't win the series because Thomas outplayed Wall. Kelly Olynyk turned into 2011 Dirk Nowitzki. That wasn't Wall's cover, but blame him for it all anyway. Usually the team that has a bench that scores 48 points will win. 

What should be ridiculed until the end of time is thinking Marshall, who couldn't stay in front of a stop sign on defense and obviously lacked NBA athleticism, was T.J. McConnell's peer much less Wall's (Sorry Kendall, though I really don't like the Tar Heels this isn't personal. I didn't invoke your name. You're just collateral damage).

I wasn't sure when Wall was taken No. 1 overall in 2010 if he could be this good. But I also had no first-hand knowledge of his work ethic. At that time, it was all about "if" he works hard, "if" he's committed, "if" he's coachable. That's true about a lot  of draft picks who aren't even legal drinking age when they turn pro. There's no way to project if a million dollars will make them work harder or relax.

I voted Wall for the second team on my official ballot. Thomas was my third-team selection. Both worked incredibly hard to get there because they were raw when they entered the league.

All-NBA is a regular-season award. That Thomas' Celtics eliminated the Wizards isn't relevant. The voting was submitted by the panel of 100 during the final week of the regular season. 

[RELATED: All-NBA great for Wall, his future in D.C., but he wants more]

Thomas averaged 28.9 points (almost six more than Wall), 5.9 assists (about five fewer), 0.9 steals (one fewer), shot 46.3% overall (one percent better) and 37.9% from three-point range (five percent better).

Thomas is better in some areas, but not as good in others. It's no slam-dunk that Thomas should be elevated above Wall unless team wins (53 vs. 49)  is the trump card. If that's your standard for All-NBA, then Anthony Davis shouldn't be first-team with 34 wins and Giannis Antetokounmpo shoulnd't be second team with 42 wins. There are players at their positions who didn't make All-NBA with far more victories.

When it's the fourth quarter and crunch time, what happens on the defensive end? Does Thomas stay on the floor? No. Brad Stevens will sub him in and out. 

Why? Because opposing coaches target him and Boston knows he's a major liability.

When a game starts, does Thomas defend Wall, Irving, Lowry, Paul, Lillard or any of the other elite point guards or is he hidden on weaker offensive players while Avery Bradley gets the lion's share of that workload?

Wall's individual defense has been hit and miss to start the season because he was coming off double knee surgery. In the playoffs, he was beaten by falling asleep off the ball in key moments and the Wizards just weren't as sharp at switching.

But at 6-4, there are shots that won't reach the rim because of him. The defense he played on Irving in their win in Cleveland and in their OT loss at home to the Cavs could never be duplicated by Thomas. Neither can the chasedown blocks.

It's no fault of Thomas that he's undersized at 5-9. How can anyone root against the Little Engine That Could? If you're grading on a curve there's a case for him being first team, but that's not what All-NBA is. 

This isn't 2015 when Irving was voted ahead of Wall, who missed All-NBA and was more deserving then, just because he played with LeBron James and was on the better team.  

Paul had a down season because of injuries, but he's as close to flawless as a point guard can get because he does everything well and his assist-to-turnover ratio is so impressive that it's downright sickening.

But if you look for reasons to downgrade Wall at every turn, and opine with a smugness that those who see Wall as a star are wrong, just look at the results for people who actually watch the league. I think he was one rung too low and still doesn't get the benefit of the doubt while others like Thomas will, but Wall was listed on 87 of the 100 ballots.

In a year where there was an obsession over triple-doubles of James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the banter over who is the MVP, how many double-doubles did Wall have in comparision to Thomas? 

He had 50. That's while defending better players, not being able to hide or rest to save himself for the fourth quarter and creating for others, too. That's not D.C. media favortism. It's the truth which is allergic to the hot take kings of the sports world.

That's 45 more double-doubles than Thomas. That's 20 double-doubles more than the four point guards -- Thomas, Lowry, Irving and Kemba Walker -- who made the East All-Star team this year combined.  

No matter what team he's chosen for All-NBA, Wall is the best point guard in the East. He's must-see TV. He's a star. How big of a star is up for debate but he's on the rise.

Even Kendall Marshall can see that.

[RELATED: Insider J. Michael reveals his official All-NBA ballot]

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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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