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NBA All-Star Game won't feature Wall as starter for East


NBA All-Star Game won't feature Wall as starter for East

It's official that John Wall will not be a starter for the second year in a row at the NBA All-Star Game, with Dwyane Wade and the surprise Kyle Lowry getting the nod for the East in the popular vote among fans, the league announced Thursday night.

Wall, however, will be a strong candidate to be voted as a reserve by coaches. Lowry eclipsed Kyrie Irving in the final voting that closed on Monday to take the starting spot by roughly 66,000 votes. Lowry plays for the Toronto Raptors, the host city for All-Star weekend on Feb. 14, and his backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan is likely to make the cut as a reserve.

If Lowry hadn't been named a starter, Wall would've had to compete with Lowry and DeRozan when history shows the host city (see Anthony Davis' first selection in New Orleans). Now it's likely Wall or Irving, who has played in just 14 games after a knee injury delayed the start to his season, for a spot. 

Unlike fan voting, coaches tend to reward accomplishment and what a player means to his team in weighing the candidates. Irving plays with LeBron James. Wall has 23 double-doubles which is by far the leader in the East among guards despite not having Bradley Beal and a host of others for most of the season. 

Now onto the starters for the East: Lowry, Wade (Heat), James (Cavs), Paul George (Pacers) and Carmelo Anthony (Knicks).

East reserves in contention: Wall, Irving, DeRozan, Jimmy Butler (Bulls), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Isaiah Thomas (Celtics), Paul Millsap (Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Heat), Chris Bosh (Heat).

The West starters: Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Steph Curry (Warriors), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder) and Kawhi Leonard.

West reserves in contention: Draymond Green (Warriors), Chris Paul (Clippers), Damian Lillard (Blazers), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Klay Thompson (Warriors), James Harden (Rockets), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs), Marc Gasol (Grizzlies), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings).

The reserves will be formally announced next Thursday.

Here's the final tally for both conferences:

Eastern Conference

1             LeBron James (Cle) 1,089,206
2             Paul George (Ind) 711,595
3             Carmelo Anthony (NY) 567,348
4             Pau Gasol (Chi) 566,988
5             Andre Drummond (Det) 515,296
6             Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 473,579
7             Chris Bosh (Mia) 351,420
8             Kevin Love (Cle) 332,685
9             Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 301,362
10           Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 84,617
11           Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 73,079
12           Joakim Noah (Chi) 48,509
13           DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 46,044
14           Marcin Gortat (Was) 43,496
15           Paul Millsap (Atl) 41,654

1             Dwyane Wade (Mia) 941,466
2             Kyle Lowry (Tor) 646,441
3             Kyrie Irving (Cle) 580,651
4             Jimmy Butler (Chi) 564,637
5             DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 444,868
6             John Wall (Was) 368,686
7             Derrick Rose (Chi) 302,389
8             Jeremy Lin (Cha) 195,920
9             Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 153,642
10           Reggie Jackson (Det) 76,688

Western Conference

1             Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,891,614
2             Kevin Durant (OKC) 980,787
3             Kawhi Leonard (SA) 782,339
4             Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 768,112
5             Draymond Green (GS) 726,616
6             Blake Griffin (LAC) 651,860
7             Enes Kanter (OKC) 534,499
8             Tim Duncan (SA) 431,087
9             Anthony Davis (NO) 400,688
10           DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 364,270
11           DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 269,427
12           LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 268,003
13           Dwight Howard (Hou) 219,761
14           Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 173,317
15           Harrison Barnes (GS) 155,289

1             Stephen Curry (GS) 1,604,325
2             Russell Westbrook (OKC) 772,009
3             Chris Paul (LAC) 624,334
4             Klay Thompson (GS) 555,513
5             James Harden (Hou) 430,777
6             Manu Ginobili (SA) 226,289
7             Rajon Rondo (Sac) 200,518
8             Tony Parker (SA) 195,472
9             Andre Iguodala (GS) 181,142
10           Damian Lillard (Por) 158,360

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards' midseason report: Reasons for optimism

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s season...

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 22

2017-18 salary: $2.1 million

2017-18 stats: 81 G, 27.5 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 40.3 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 106 ORtg, 109 DRtg

Best game: 3/21 at Spurs - 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 9-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PT

Season review: The first half of Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s 2017-18 season went very differently than the second half. Through 46 games to begin the year, Oubre shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the perimeter. Oubre then shot just 34.9 percent from the field and 27.4 percent from three in his last 35 games to close the regular season. That included a stretch from March 25 through April 5 in which he shot 2-for-35 from long range and 23-for-77 (29.9%) overall in seven games.

As his head coach described, Oubre had a tale of two seasons. By mid-January it appeared to be a breakout year, as he was scoring consistently and shooting at a high percentage. He was even limiting his mistakes on defense. Then, his shot went away and Oubre could never quite regain it.

All in all, Oubre's season represented a step forward. He proved he could be a top-six player in a playoff rotation and had extended stretches of success he can draw confidence from in the future.

Now Oubre enters his biggest offseason yet as a basketball player. He has just one year left on his rookie scale contract and will be in line for a considerable raise if he keeps developing. If Oubre takes even a slight step forward, he will make big money in his next contract. If he takes a major leap forward, like Otto Porter did when he was in the same position in 2016-17, he could earn way more money than the Wizards can afford as currently constructed.

That dynamic gives the Wizards a decision to make this summer on Oubre's future. He has significant trade value at this point, given his upside and his contract. He is due to make just $3.2 million next season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If they don't see a long-term future for him in Washington, trading him this offseason should not be ruled out.

It figures to be a busy summer for the Wizards and when it comes to Oubre there are a lot of factors in play. If they want financial flexibility, another option would be to deal Porter or another frontcourt starter and roll with Oubre as a less expensive option. Though his season was inconsistent, Oubre has shown enough to warrant consideration as a starter.

Regardless of what the Wizards decide, Oubre himself is in good shape. If he keeps getting better, he will earn a nice deal whether it's in Washington or somewhere else. He just needs to find consistency on both ends of the floor. 

He can do that on offense by tightening up his ball-handling and improving his ability to get to the rim. That would allow him to circumnavigate the type of shooting struggles that held him back late in the year.

Defensively, he has all the natural ability needed to be an elite player. He just needs to limit the gambles he takes that turn into blown assignments or unnecessary fouls.

Potential to improve: Consistency, efficiency, ball-handling


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