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NBA trade deadline strategy: Should Wizards take aggressive path?

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NBA trade deadline strategy: Should Wizards take aggressive path?

The Washington Wizards, broadly speaking, have three possible paths before Thursday's NBA trade deadline: Make a move, stand pat, punt away the season. It's time to examine each option starting with the notion that the Wizards should get aggressive.

Charles Barkley recently called the Wizards "mediocre" and "disappointing." Through 51 games, he's not wrong. After reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals in back-to-back seasons, Washington sits 10th in the East. Momentum never sticks around for long. Since matching their modest season-high winning streak of four games on Jan. 15, the Wizards are 4-9.

However, certain factors cannot be ignored. The Wizards have lost more games due to injury -- approximately 221 -- than any team in the league. At the All-Star break, Washington owns the toughest strength of schedule.

Yet, the playoffs remain in reach.  With 31 games remaining, more than any East playoff contender, the Wizards are three games back of Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff spot, and four behind No. 6 Indiana.

Then again, certain holes are evident. Even if healthy and with an easier schedule remaining, do the Wizards have enough?

On nights where John Wall isn't at his usual All-Star level, the Wizards struggle. Adding another scorer, creator capable of carrying the offense for stretches would help.

Washington's primary players at the 4 and 5 positions are over 30. At times, that's quite evident especially when facing younger and springier opposition.

The Wizards have kids on the perimeter, but it's the perimeter where the Wizards have struggled most defensively. If Stephen Curry doesn't make that 45-footer before the final buzzer in Sunday's All-Star game, both the East and the West would have finished with lower 3-point field percentages than Washington allows (38.7) in a game where nobody bothered playing defense.

Here's another factor: The East, at least after the top two teams, is rather wide open this season. Atlanta may break up the team this week. Chicago lost its last four before the break. Miami is one Hassan Whiteside implosion away from dropping back.

Cleveland looks like the best bet for an NBA Finals appearance. If Washington can finish or seventh or higher, no LeBron James in the opening round.

Second seed Toronto appears formidable, but we know what happened when these teams met last season.

Boston, currently No. 3 in the East, dominated Washington during the regular season. Let's see how the Celtics handle pressure that comes with being favored in a playoff series.

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Now, optimistic playoff talk for the Wizards is a bit outrageous considering what's transpired to date.

To avoid the Cavaliers and Raptors, the Wizards need something like a 21-10 finish for a shot at catching the Pacers, the current sixth seed.

But should they reach the postseason, who knows. Look at the magic conjured up in the last two years under "Playoff Randy" Wittman.

Small moves before the last two trade deadlines, acquiring Andre Miller and Ramon Sessions, certainly helped. Going bolder by say adding a stretch-4 like New Orleans' Ryan Anderson could be the missing piece this time.

Dealing any draft pick or valuable asset for an expiring contract like Anderson brings risk. So does staying pat with a roster that led to this 23-28 record.

It's also risky assuming better days are coming. Washington would enter next offseason with only 5-6 players under contract. That means more money to spend. Lots of other teams will be in similar scenarios. Dream away about the types of players that would crawl through broken glass for a shot at playing with a pass-first point guard like Wall. Of course, Mark Cuban will tell you pinning hopes in free agency doesn't always work.

That's one reason taking on long-term salary cannot be dismissed. Brooklyn's Thad Young is a 27-year-old power forward averaging 15 and 9 with a contract that pays him $25 million over the next two seasons. It's possible Phoenix's Markieff Morris and Orlando's Tobias Harris can be pried away. The extreme option is Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, but his hand injury makes it unclear how much the All-Star forward can help this season.

If Washington doesn't want to wait another season for Kevin Durant and is therefore open to taking on money, making a move for now and the future can work. If the Wizards truly want not just to reach the playoffs, but make noise once there, making a move may be the only move they can make.

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Hey Wizards - don't fall for this CJ McCollum crossover

Hey Wizards - don't fall for this CJ McCollum crossover

Here's an important thing for the Wizards to avoid when facing off against Portland on Monday night: This CJ McCollum crossover.

As seen in this video by our friends at NBC Sports Northwest, the Trail Blazers' player sent a Spurs defender flying - much to the delight of the Portland bench - with the move.

 

"It wasn't even one of my better crossovers," he said after his team's win. "Honestly, he just reacted."

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By the numbers: Bradley Beal on pace to become one of NBA history's best three-point shooters

By the numbers: Bradley Beal on pace to become one of NBA history's best three-point shooters

Bradley Beal topped Gilbert Arenas for first place in career three-pointers in Wizards/Bullets franchise history on Saturday night in the Wizards' loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Beal, only 25, has put himself in some good company over the years with his outside shooting. Here are some numbers to put it all in perspective.

By The Numbers: Bradley Beal's historic shooting numbers

2,208: Beal made his record-breaking, 869th three on his 2,208th attempt. It took Arenas 2,430 attempts to get there in a Wizards uniform. Arenas, however, reached the mark in 357 games compared to Beal's 408. Beal, now at 2,209, is second on the franchise list for career three-pointers attempted. Based on his career attempts averages, he should get there this season.

100: Beal has made at least 100 three-pointers in five straight seasons entering 2018-19. That is a franchise record. The longest such active streak is held by Jamal Crawford at 14. The longest streak in NBA history is held by Ray Allen at 17.

39.4: Beal's career three-point percentage. He is one of only five players ever to shoot at least 39 percent from beyond the arc while making two or more threes per game in their careers. The others are Kyle Korver, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Buddy Hield, who has only played in 164 games compared to Beal's 408.

223: Beal set the franchise record for three-pointers made in a single season back in 2016-17. He passed Arenas, who twice got to 205, in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

41: Beal also passed Arenas for the most games in franchise history with five or more three-pointers made. Arenas is in second with 40, while Trevor Ariza is in a distant third with 15. Otto Porter Jr., for comparison, has done it nine times. Beal's 41 games with five threes or more rank 18th among active players. Curry is way ahead of everyone else with 183.

37: Beal is one of just eight players ever to begin his career with six straight seasons of 37 percent or better from three. The other seven is mostly a who's who of three-point specialists like Curry, Thompson, Korver and J.J. Redick.

20: Shooting 37 percent or better from three while also scoring 20 points or more is rarer than you may think. Beal has done it twice in his career, same as LeBron James, Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard. Only 11 players have accomplished the feat more often. Dirk Nowitzki has done that in nine seasons, most all-time, while Kevin Durant is second with eight.

872: Speaking of Durant, this isn't a historic number, it's just an interesting coincidence. Since Beal entered the league before the 2012-13 season, he and Durant have been nearly identical as three-point shooters. Beal has made 870 threes, while Durant has knocked down 872. Beal has shot 39.4 percent, while Durant has hit 39.6 of them. Another guy who has been extremely similar to Beal is Danny Green, who now plays for the Raptors. He has hit 858 threes during that span at a 39.2 percent rate.

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