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NBA GMs pick Wizards for playoffs but overlook John Wall

NBA GMs pick Wizards for playoffs but overlook John Wall

The results from the annual survey of 30 NBA general managers are in, and while they picked the Wizards to be a playoff team under first-year coach Scott Brooks they didn't list John Wall among the top four point guards or give votes to any other players on the roster in any category.

The Wizards tied for seventh place in the survey with the Charlotte Hornets. Exactly 3.3% picked them to finish as high as third place despite having a roster that has been retooled after a 41-41 season.

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Despite all of the changes made by the Chicago Bulls in acquiring Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, they're picked to finish out of the top eight playoff spots in ninth place. Predictably, the Cleveland Cavaliers are No.1, followed by the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. The team that made the postseason last year but is out based on the GMs? The Miami Heat. That makes sense as they've lost Wade and Chris Bosh. 

In the West, 96.7% picked the Golden State Warriors to finish first -- compared to 51.7% picking them in 2015-16 -- followed by the San Antonio Spurs, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. 

Wall, the Wizards' three-time All-Star, didn't finish in the top four choices for best at his position, with 63.3% for Steph Curry (Warriors), 20% had Chris Paul (Clippers), 10% for Russell Westbrook (Thunder) and 6.7% went with Kyrie Irving (Cavs). And Wall (40%) came in second to Westbrook (46.7%) for player fastest with the ball.

Though Wall has been among the top distributors in the league, and that includes "hockey" assists, the last few years he didn't even register in the voting for best passer. Paul, James and Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves), Rondo and even Ben Simmons, a rookie who has yet to play an NBA game, received all of those votes.

GMs weren't allowed to vote for their teams or personnel. A sample of the results:

  • 96.7% said that the Cavs and Warriors will meet in the NBA Finals for the third year in a row.
  • 83.3% tabbed the Warriors has having "best overall offseason moves" largely because of Kevin Durant. And 80% determined that Durant is the one-player acquisition that will make the biggest impact. The next closest was 13.3% for Al Horford (Celtics), who came close to signing with the Wizards.
  • 83.3% still call Gregg Popovich (Spurs) the best head coach, and the often-overlooked-but-worthy Rick Carlisle (Mavs) is next at 13.3% followed by Brad Stevens (Celtics) with 3.3%.
  • 76.8% called LeBron James the best small forward for the 11th year in a row while 63.3% deemed Steph Curry (Warriors) as the best point guard, 56.7% had James Harden (Rockets) as best shooting guard, 29% had Anthony Davis (Pelicans) as the best power forward and 33.3% went with DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) as the best center.
  • 75% said the opposing player who forces coaches to make the most adjustments is James while two-time MVP Curry was at just 21.4%
  • 70% chose Ben Simmons (Sixers) as the rookie who will be the best player in five years.
  • 69% picked the Warriors to win the NBA title for the second time in three years
  • 66.7% identified Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) as the league's best defender
  • 63.3% name coach Steve Kerr (Warriors) for running the best offense, followed by 16.7% for Popovich and 6.7% for Carlisle and Mike D'Antoni (Rockets). 
  • 60% say Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) runs the best defensive schemes and also 78.3% believe he will make the biggest impact of new/relocated coaches.
  • 56.7% said the Timberwolves are the most improved team, followed by 23.3% for the Jazz and 10% for the N.Y. Knicks. 
  • 50% believe the Spurs are the best defensive team in the league, followed by 13.3% for the Celtics and 10% each for the Cavs, Warriors and Jazz. 
  • 48.3% chose Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves) as the NBA player they'd sign today if they were starting a franchise while 20.7% opted for Durant and 17.2% for James. A year ago, the injury-prone Davis was the runaway choice at 86.2%.
  • 46.7% said James, who has won the league MVP four times, would win it for the regular season this year, followed by 23.3% for  Westbrook, 10% each for Curry and Harden and 6.7% for Durant. Despite getting older, James garnered more votes than he did a year ago from the GMs (39.3%). 
  • 46.7% predict that Kris Dunn (Timberwolves) will be Rookie of the Year.
  • 46.7% rolled with Jamal Crawford (Clippers) as the bench player who makes the biggest impact when he enters the game.
  • 41.4% said Carlisle is the head coach who makes the best in-game adjustments, with 31% siding with Popovich and 13.8% for Stevens. 
  • 31% believe that Devin Booker (Suns) is most likely to have a breakout season.
  • 27.6% called Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) the best international player in the league, followed by 24.1% for last year's first-place selection, Marc Gasol (Grizzlies), and 22.4% for Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs). 
  • 27.6% went with Chris Paul (Clippers) as active player who will make the best head coach, with 10.3% going with Ronnie Price (Thunder) and former Wizards forward Jared Dudley (Suns). 
  • 24.1% felt that George Hill (Jazz) is the most underrated player acquisition of the offseason. 
  • 23.3% went with Dejounte Murray (Spurs) as the rookie who was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the draft (29th), 16.7% chose No. 5 pick Dunn and 13.3% settled on 38th pick Patrick McCaw (Warriors). 
  • 23.3% selected Tony Allen (Grizzlies) as the toughest player, followed by 16.7% for Leonard and 13.3% for Westbrook. 

More Wizards: JOHN WALL SCHOOLS KELLY OUBRE ON IN-GAME ETIQUETTE: DON'T APOLOGIZE

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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

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NBCSW

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

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John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

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