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Morning tip: Wall assists Trey Burke in Wizards' turnaround

Morning tip: Wall assists Trey Burke in Wizards' turnaround

The last time the Wizards were in Atlanta, it was Oct. 27 and they were a confused bunch. None was more out of sorts than backup point guard Trey Burke.

A game that was close and could've been a victory turned into a 114-99 loss and got the season started on the wrong foot. When they met the Hawks at Verizon Center the following week, Burke had lost his spot to Tomas Satoranksy and the Wizards would begin 2-8.

While the play of John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the starters has been stellar, Burke has come around as a suitable ballhandler for the second unit which is why they're now 25-20.

"I've talked to him a lot," Wall said. "That's like my little brother. Just trying to help him out in every aspect of the game. Knowing he started off well in Utah then went downhill his last couple of years. Just trying to build his confidence back up. He works out with me. He's a different point guard than I am."

[RELATED: Bradley Beal still feels 'salty' every time Wizards come to play Hawks]

Burke has gone from being unsure of himself and running the offense, so much so that after the opener teammates spoke of not understanding his play-calls at Phillips Arena either because it was too loud or he didn't have a firm grasp of the plays himself . 

Now Burke not only is shooting the ball better, he's creating and running the pick-and-roll superbly with Markieff Morris who is beginning the second quarter with the reserves. 

Burke shoots 51%  in the Wizards' wins. When they lose, he's at 40.5%. In the Wizards' last three games, all wins, he's 9-for-13 shooting with nine assists vs. two turnovers. 

Coach Scott Brooks has gone away from his team running so much high pick-and-rolls early in possessions and instead has gotten more motion and off-ball action first. If they don't get a good look out of it, they'll flow into high or side pick-and-rolls run by Wall, Beal or Burke when the defense is more than likely on its heels trying to catch up off their switches.

Burke has flourished finding his own shot that way, and with moving the ball for someone else to get theirs. And in their last two games against their heated rival Boston Celtics, Burke held his own when having to defend Isaiah Thomas. 

"He's an aggressive scorer," Wall said. "When his shot is going, that makes him play a lot better."

Burke's season-high of 27 points came on Dec. 27 in a blowout of the low-rung Brooklyn Nets. Easily his best performance could be in the 12 minutes he played against a much better team in the Charlotte Hornets, making all three shots and getting four assists earlier this week.

The biggest difference in Burke comes when he plays at home, where the Wizards have won 14 in a row, compared to on the road. He shoots 51.7% from three at Verizon Center. That dips to 33.3%.

[RELATED: Wizards' Bradley Beal an NBA All-Star snub]

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Wizards-Pacers will be DeMatha High School reunion with Victor Oladipo and Jerian Grant

Wizards-Pacers will be DeMatha High School reunion with Victor Oladipo and Jerian Grant

DeMatha High School head coach Mike Jones can still remember the conversations between Victor Oladipo and Jerian Grant when they were underclassmen, some of those discussions which were in passing, that they didn't even know he heard.

Long before they became NBA first round picks, the two were best friends. They would sit in the locker room in Hyattsville, MD and marvel over what it would be like to someday make it to the league.

"They used to talk about playing in the NBA, they used to talk about making it. They used to talk about playing against each other," Jones told NBC Sports Washington.

On Monday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington, Grant and Oladipo's teams will square off in the NBA's campus in Orlando. Grant now plays for his hometown Wizards, the team his father also played for, while Oladipo is in his third year with the Indiana Pacers.

"To be able to see their dreams come true, it's incredibly rewarding because I know they did everything they were supposed to do to make that happen," Jones said.

As Jones can attest, both Grant and Oladipo did not take the path many first round picks did. Both arrived at DeMatha without any hype. They had to start out on the freshman team and work their way up to varsity. And they did it the hard way.

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They would show up early in the morning before school to work out at what is known as the 'Breakfast Club.' The rules are simple. You show up dressed and ready to go by six in the morning or else you aren't allowed in the gym.

Grant would travel from 30 minutes away and Oladipo from 45 minutes out. Grant would set his alarm and walk into his mother's room and bounce on the bed to wake her up. 

"He woke his mom up, he woke his ride up to take him to the gym. It wasn't the other way around. That's love for the game," Jones said.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM WIZARDS LOSS TO NETS

Once they arrived at school, the gym would be opened by David Adkins, who is now an assistant coach for the Wizards and will be sitting on the bench on Monday. Adkins cut his teeth in the high school ranks, but now leads an expansive player development program for an NBA team.

Those early morning workouts helped Grant and Oladipo rise through DeMatha's vaunted basketball system, which has produced many stars at all levels of the game. Monday's NBA slate also features other alums from the school like Jerami Grant of the Nuggets, Jerian's brother, and Quinn Cook of the Lakers.

But just having the talent and going to DeMatha isn't enough to make it to the sport's highest level. It takes a level of determination not everyone has.

Grant and Oladipo each went the extra mile to go from unheralded high school players to big-time college stars to NBA first round picks. They have become testimonials for Jones to cite to the young players he coaches today.

"It makes it easier for someone to listen to you, but let's be honest, kids are funny. You can say the No. 1 pick in the draft [Markelle Fultz] didn't play varsity until he was a junior, the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft [Oladipo] didn't start on varsity until his senior year," Jones said. 

"I can throw those stories out to an eighth grader and he's looking at me like 'yeah, that's cool but I'm ready to play varsity today.' It probably doesn't help as much on the front end, but during the process it helps because when a young man doesn't have immediate success, we can point to those guys."

For those who are willing to put in the time, Grant and Oladipo represent shining examples of what hard work can lead to. Jones believes their success is validation for his program and also the basketball talent in the D.C. area as a whole.

But Jones knows that for this particular duo it also represents something on a more personal level.

"Just their friendship, their partnerhood, their bond together; I've never seen anything like it," Jones said. "I'm so proud to have been able to watch them up close."

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John Wall looks as good as ever in Instagram workout video

John Wall looks as good as ever in Instagram workout video

Two losses to open up the NBA restart for the Wizards is not great. What is great, however, is a recent workout video from John Wall.

Wall is not in Orlando with Washington as he recovers from an Achilles injury, but if this training video posted to his Instagram is any indication, he's looking as healthy and dangerous as ever.

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Just Wait On It...🤫👌🏾‼️

A post shared by johnwall (@johnwall) on

The dribble moves, spin and 360-dunk are about as impressive as it gets. Wall looks to have no problem making explosive cuts and jumps on the court, something he's made a habit of doing on a nightly basis throughout his career. 

But, in case you were wondering how Wall's shooting is going, he made sure to nail a three at both corners to show off his range. The new and improved John Wall is here and he's ready to hurt defenders inside the paint and on the perimeter.

RELATED: BROOKS SAYS WALL COULD BE BETTER THAN EVER WHEN HE RETURNS

This video is just the latest signal of Wall's progression following the injury, and it wouldn't be wrong to watch it on repeat as a way to hold yourself over until he's back on the court for game action down the line. While it's been a long road to recovery, the point guard looks ready to once again set the league on fire and help the Wizards climb back into contention.

As he said in his caption, "Just Wait On It."

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