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Morning tip: 'Playoff' Bradley Beal born in Wizards' last series vs. Hawks

Morning tip: 'Playoff' Bradley Beal born in Wizards' last series vs. Hawks

The genesis of Bradley Beal's $128 million max contract, signed last summer, was May 5, 2015. That was Game 1 of the  Wizards' semifinal series with the Atlanta Hawks, who'll be their first-round playoff opponent starting Sunday.

This time, the Wizards are the higher seed. Then, the Hawks were the top seed in the East and pushed to the brink as Beal filled the void when John Wall went out with five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist.

Coach Scott Brooks rested Beal in the regular-season finale at the Miami Heat, so his last appearance came with 33 points in closing down The Palace of Auburn Hills. He displayed every weapon in his arsenal in beating the Detroit Pistons, from three-point shooting to breaking his man down off the dribble and finishing through traffic at the rim. Beal's havoc opened space for Markieff Morris to knock down clutch shots from three-point and mid-range too. 

It was playoff Beal, who also has been Washington's most consistent perimeter defender. 

“That’s what good players create ... helping our team score without scoring," Brooks said. "Brad has the ability to draw attention off his cuts, off his pindowns and I thought this season he’s really improved in that and it’s only going to get better.”

In those three games missed by Wall, before he returned for Games 5 and 6 vs the Hawks in that series, Beal averaged 23.6 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He also gave Kyle Korver, who was the engine that made the Hawks' motion offense go, absolute fits. 

MORE WIZ-HAWKS: Looking back at the last time the Wizards and Hawks meet in the NBA Playoffs

Marked mostly by Beal, Korver was held to 7.0 points per game and just 12-for-42 three-point shooting, or 28.5%. Korver had led the league by shooting 49.2% on the long ball in the regular season.

The Wizards were convinced that Beal was a max player and the only question was his ability to stay healthy after so many stops and starts in his first four seasons. This was the first time, however, that he didn't have a stress reaction in his lower right leg. 

The medical staff and methodolgy were revamped to better deal with injury issues for all of the players and other than an early-season thigh strain that cost Beal three games and a rolled ankle that kept him out for one game, he was able to stay on the court. Brooks made significant changes to cut the length of practices which helped prevent overuse injuries such as stress reactions, a precursor to a fracture in the bone.

The results: Beal set career-highs across the board with 77 of 82 games played, 23.1 points, 48.2% field-goal shooting, 3.5 assists and 82.5% free-throw shooting. And he did it while still shooting better than 40% from three-point range. 

Beal's overall shooting accuracy is 34th in the NBA, and just second-best among shooting guards. Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets, who attempted six fewer shots per game than Beal (11), is No. 1 at the position at 50.2%. 

Korver is long gone from Atlanta, but they have a host of three-point shooters who will command Beal's attention on the defensive end such as Tim Hardaway and Mike Dunleavy. 

If Beal could solve Korver, who played on a better team that also had Al Horford, he should be able to figure out this group. 

RELATED: What the Wizards will need to beat the Hawks

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round picks

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round picks

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Jonathan Williams, guard, VCU (6-0, 175)

Williams grew up in Richmond before playing college ball at VCU. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.7 assists as a senior.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League guard

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

Something that used to be a rare occurrence has now happened four years in a row.

The Phoenix Suns had the best odds of winning the NBA lottery, and they did, landing the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Over the last four years, the team with the NBA's worst record has landed that top spot each year. Before this stretch though, dating back to 1985, only four teams that had the worst record still won the lottery.

Nine teams have also jumped at least five spots to get to No. 1 during that period as well.

Now the order is set (until any trades of course) and teams have had a chance to check out many of the top players at the combine.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

There's also the very intriguing Luka Doncic, who most still believe won't go back to Real Madrid, even with him leaving the door open. 

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, and sitting at pick No. 15, they may just get one, although he brings a lot of mystery. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT