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Morning tip: Wizards' vets say 'lot of work to do' for Wall, Beal


Morning tip: Wizards' vets say 'lot of work to do' for Wall, Beal

The very second that John Wall and Bradley Beal returned for the 2015-16 season with the Wizards, the inevitable questions about being the NBA's best backcourt.  And any backcourt worth its salt will give the same, predictable response like they did: "Yes." 

It'll cause mild controversy (it shouldn't) and make for good headlines and fodder as teams head into training camp. But even veteran teammates such as Drew Gooden and Jared Dudley understand there's more to it than lip service. It's about results. In the playoffs, Wall and Beal have helped the Wizards get farther than Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors two years in a row. And this past season, they dominated the matchup with a playoff sweep.

So the last hurdle is Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA championship. That might will take a lot more convincing.

“They have a lot of work to do to become the best," said Wizards forward Drew Gooden. "Are they up there? Yes. But to separate themselves, we got a lot of work to do.”

That means getting the Wizards past the second round of the playoffs. Beal could be in a contract year if he doesn't come to terms on an extension before Oct. 31. Unlike Wall, he has yet to make an All-Star Game or avoid injuries. If he wants the Wizards to show him the money, whether that's now or after the season when he becomes a restricted free agent, he has to take the biggest leap. As a point guard, Wall already is the best player at his position in the conference. Beal has yet to rise to that level as a shooting guard.

"Brad has to put in a season where he’s healthy. You want him to put in, if not 82, close to 75 games. Get him to that All-Star level," said Dudley, who is in his first seasons with the Wizards. "John has been a two-time All-Star. John is doing well. The question is does John want to be in top 15 or 20 or top 5, top 10. That’s a huge step for him to take. Bradley has gotten better with the ball. It seems he’s more assertive scoring. Our best scorer. Bradley has a bigger jump to make than John because of health and getting to the All-Star Game."

The Wizards had chances in each of the last two seasons to upset the No. 1 seed in the East in the second round. Last season, Wall broke his left hand and wrist to end their quest in six vs. the Atlanta Hawks. Still, there's no guarantee that even with Wall healthy that the Wizards would've gotten past the Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron James.

Dudley, who spent most of his career with the Phoenix Suns, knows about coming close. They pushed the eventual champion L.A. Lakers to six games in 2010.

“The good thing about them, they’re having chance after chance," Dudley said of Wall, in his sixth year and signed through 2019, and Beal who enters his fourth. "When I was in Phoenix, the team got broken up real fast. Amar’e (Stoudemire) signed with New York. You see the Spurs, people know the Spurs, ‘Hey you’re getting too old,' but the thing about the Spurs they have gotten old but their continuity and chemistry keep improving. In this day and age, it’s so tough to improve your continuity with free-agent signings, new people coming in here. They’ve had their core for a long time so they’ll keep improving. To get to the finals, you have to beat LeBron. That’s what it comes down to. It’s easier said than done."

That's all Wall and Beal have to do. Then the question of "Who's the No. 1 backcourt" becomes a more serious debate.


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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.