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NBA GM survey is a mixed bag for Wall, Wizards


NBA GM survey is a mixed bag for Wall, Wizards

Each year for the past several years NBA.com surveyed league general managers on a variety of topics ahead of the upcoming campaign. The 2015-16 version was released Tuesday and included a few Washington Wizards mentions -- and at least one notable omission.

The GMs responded to 49 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans and offseason moves. They were also not allowed to vote for their own players/teams. 

Starting with the big picture, the defending NBA Champions are not favorites for the 2016 title according to this group. 

Which team will win the 2016 NBA Finals
1. Cleveland -- 53.6% 
2. San Antonio -- 25.0% 
3. Golden State -- 17.9% 
4. Oklahoma City -- 3.6% 
Last year: San Antonio -- 46.2%

As for the Eastern Conference standings...

The Wizards finished fifth in each of the last two seasons so predicting a hat trick isn't a stretch. Essentially all the teams outside of the LeBron James-led Cavaliers have notable questions entering the season. That includes the Bulls, who switched from a defensive-minded head coach to the offensive creativity of Fred Hoiberg. For the Wizards, that means moving on from Paul Pierce and adjusting to more small ball lineups. Looks like a five-team race for the two-seed with the Hawks, Heat and Raptors also in the mix.

Bradley Beal, a logical candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player award, finished third on the list of players most likely to have a breakout season, behind only Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo. Otto Porter received one vote.

In perhaps the least surprising vote result of all, John Wall selected as fastest with the ball. The point guard garnered 53.4 percent of the votes with only Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (32.8) remotely visible in his rearview mirror. The pair tied for first last year. Non-roster player Ish Smith was one of four players also receiving votes. 

Now, here comes the aforementioned omission. 

Who is the best point guard in the NBA?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 55.2%
2. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 24.1% 
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 17.2% 
4. Mike Conley, Memphis -- 3.4%
Last year: Chris Paul -- 71.4%

Not listed of course, Wall. Those first three names are among the elite players in the league regardless of position, while Conley is often criminally underrated (though apparently not by at least one GM). It's no real knock that Wall didn't receive a single vote. Neither did Kyrie Irving.

Another potential slight.

Which player is the best passer?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers -- 71.4% 
2. LeBron James, Cleveland -- 10.7% 
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 7.1% 
Rajon Rondo, Sacramento -- 7.1% 
5. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota -- 3.6% 
Last year: Chris Paul -- 64.3%

Again, no Wall, who finished second in the NBA with 10.0 assists last season. Number of assists doesn't automatically mean great passer, but there is some correlation and certainly in this case. 

Anyway, always an interesting read. History suggests Wall will notice.

MORE WIZARDS: Will Jared Dudley debut for Wizards tonight against Heat?

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Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night


Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers 109-101 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Another loss: The Wizards just can't seem to put together a full, 48-minute performance, a collective effort good enough to beat a team that isn't among the worst in basketball. On Monday, they saw a Pacers team that despite missing Victor Oladipo is still very good, and they fell short of what could have been an epic comeback.

The Wizards stormed back from down 25 points, only to collapse in the final minute and get outscored 11-4 to close the game. The final result was another loss, their second straight. They are 11-16 on the year with the Boston Celtics up next on Wednesday.

The defeat spoiled another big night from Bradley Beal. He had 30 points, the fourth straight game he's dropped 27 or more. 

2. Otto went down: The Wizards found themselves in a tough situation on Monday with only nine available players after Otto Porter Jr. left in the first half with a right knee contusion. John Wall and Dwight Howard were already out, meaning the Wizards were down three starters. Markieff Morris then got into early foul trouble, giving head coach Scott Brooks a real dilemma.

Though Porter's injury doesn't seem serious, the Wizards can ill-afford losing anyone right now. It's worth a reminder that, as bad as the Wizards have started this season, they have done so with few injuries to blame.

3. Oubre came through: Not long after Porter went down, Kelly Oubre Jr. stepped in to fill the void. He had one of his best games of the season with 23 points, five rebounds, three steals, and a block.

Oubre shot poorly against the Cavs on Saturday, but overall he has been playing very well lately. This was the fourth straight game he's reached double figures and the third time in that stretch he's scored 19 or more.

In addition to scoring, Oubre did a lot of the things Brooks wants him to do. He drew an offensive foul, brought down two offensive rebounds and forced a few turnovers. Oubre's best attribute is his length and his ability to cause havoc defensively, especially off the ball. He came into this game sixth in the NBA in total deflections and second in deflections per 36 minutes.

4. Dekker debuted: The lack of options for Brooks detailed above and the lopsided score at least brought one positive and that was the debut of Dekker, who checked in with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter. 

Dekker actually played fairly well considering the circumstances and happened to help key a nice little run for the Wizards. Washington closed the third quarter on a 13-0 run once he came in. On one play during that stretch, Dekker got a steal and then finished with a dunk on the other end.

The run with Dekker on the floor extended to 19-0 in the fourth quarter and kept the Wizards within striking distance the rest of the game. Maybe Dekker was the missing piece all along.

5. Turner is good: For the second straight game, the Wizards had no answer for an opposing big man. Last game it was Tristan Thompson, this time it was Myles Turner. 

Turner had a huge first half on the defensive end and found his scoring groove in the second half. He had a monster stat-line of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The strategy for opposing teams at the moment appears to be to attack the Wizards in the middle, knowing they are just trying to make do with Thomas Bryant and a collection of small-ball fives. Teams may keep doing that until the Wizards stop them.


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Describing John Wall's injury: 'It feels like a piece of glass is in the bottom of your heel 24/7'

Describing John Wall's injury: 'It feels like a piece of glass is in the bottom of your heel 24/7'

John Wall, though he is with the team in Indianapolis, did not play Monday night against the Pacers as he continues to deal with bone spurs.

Bone spurs, also called plantar fasciitis, are formed when calcium deposits form on the underside of the heel bone and cause significant pain.

NBC Sports Washington Wizards analyst Drew Gooden, who played alongside Wall in D.C. from 2014-16 and has played with the same injury in the past, described what the injury feels like during Wizards Pregame Live.

“Let me tell you, that thing can either last for two weeks or for two years,” Gooden said. “And with his speed and how much impact he puts on his knees and on his feet, I mean you have to be precautious and really know what days to go hard and pick your days. So you have to monitor John Wall throughout this time of pain because heel spurs are nothing to play with.”

Wall played at less than 100 percent health on Saturday night against Cleveland and scored just one point in one of the worst outings of his career.

“Let’s just get down to it and let me tell you it feels like a piece of glass is in the bottom of your heel 24/7,” Gooden continued. “When you get out of bed, when you’re at practice, when you’re getting treatment, when you’re playing and after you play it gets worse. So, that’s a management type of injury that you have to be aware of on how much pressure you’re actually putting on that area.”

Wall is averaging 20.4 points and 8.3 assists per game in 25 games this season.