Wizards

Quick Links

Now that Kobe Bryant has issued the challenge, what would it take for John Wall to earn first team all-defense?

usatsi_9215606.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Now that Kobe Bryant has issued the challenge, what would it take for John Wall to earn first team all-defense?

John Wall's eager acceptance of Kobe Bryant's challenge for him to make first team all-defense likely means more than just a fun exchange for fans on Twitter. There have been many signs this offseason suggesting Wall is on a mission to get much better on the defensive end.

There was this tweet by Wall when the NBA's all-defensive teams were announced for the 2016-17 season and he wasn't listed.

Quote tweeting somebody with 'LOL' is Wall's favorite way to disagree with something and we know he loves to draw motivation from perceived snubs, whether that be postseason accolades, national TV games for the Wizards or his NBA 2K rating.

[RELATED: PODCAST - BREAKING DOWN THE KYRIE TRADE]

Even before Kobe put the all-defense goal out there, Wall was drawing similar buzz for this video from James Harden's charity game. Showcase games generally do not feature tight defense, yet Wall was locking up Harden and Chris Paul, two of the best guards in the NBA, on multiple possessions, clearly taking each 1-on-1 matchup seriously:

Head coach Scott Brooks even mentioned defense as a key area Wall can improve on this coming season during the press conference to announce Wall's new supermax contract earlier this month.

So, what would Wall have to do to earn first team all-defense and make the Black Mamba look brilliant in hindsight? It certainly won't be easy to join what is an exclusive club. Only two guards in the entire league make first team all-defense.

Bryant, by the way, made first team all-defense nine times, tying Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton and Michael Jordan for tops in NBA history. Bryant's 12 times making all-defense (including three second team selections) are tied for second-best all-time behind only Tim Duncan, who was picked 15 times.

[RELATED: WALL WORKS OUT WITH LEBRON, TWITTER OVERREACTS]

It's extremely rare to put up numbers like that and the Wizards' franchise is a prime example. Wall has one all-defensive team selection under his belt, as he made second team in 2014-15, but that was just the second time since 1985-86 when Manute Bol was second team all-defense that a Washington player has earned the honor. Besides Wall, only Larry Hughes in 2004-05 earned all-defense in a Wizards uniform.

The year Wall made all-defense he posted the best defensive rating (102) of his career. In the two years since that number has risen to 104 and 108. The Wizards as a team were fifth-best in defensive rating and 10th-best in opponents points per game in 2014-15. This past year they were 20th and 21st in those categories.

In order for Wall to get back into the mix for all-defense, both he and the Wizards as a team will likely have to improve those defensive numbers. Wall already has other defensive stats working in his favor. He led the NBA in total steals (157) this past season and was fourth among guards in blocks (49). One of those ahead of him was Giannis Antetokounmpo.

[RELATED: PODCAST - GORTAT TALKS ABOUT HIS SUMMER]

To get first team all-defense, Wall will need to beat out some very good perimeter defenders. Chris Paul, for one, has made the first team as a guard for six straight years. Unless he falls off this season, that doesn't leave a lot of room for other guards. Wall has to either snag that second spot or outdo Paul, one of the best defensive guards in NBA history.

The second spot next to Paul has included several other names in recent years. Patrick Beverley, who was traded for Paul this summer, was first team for 2016-17. Avery Bradley, who was traded from the Celtics to the Pistons this offseason, got that honor the year before. Tony Allen was first team all-defense the season before that. Allen, interestingly enough, has made the second team in each of the last two seasons, but is now 35 and still looking for a contract as a free agent this summer. 

Wall himself does have one major thing working in his favor in his quest to make all-defense and maybe even the first team. This offseason he is fully healthy for the first time in a while and one year after he was rehabbing from two knee surgeries. That has allowed Wall to apply extra focus to conditioning, which is crucial for defense, especially late in games.

Wall has been a second team all-defensive player before. Now he appears intent on taking the next step.

[RELATED: BROOKS KNOWS RE-SIGNING STARS ISN'T EASY]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES

Quick Links

Annual NBA Rookie Survey: Who will win Rookie of the Year?

younghawks.jpg
USA Today Sports

Annual NBA Rookie Survey: Who will win Rookie of the Year?

The annual NBA Rookie Survey is always a way for us to take an early peek into how rookies feel about their peers (competition?).

Last year's class certainly lived up to the hype, with Ben SImmons winning Rookie of the Year, but Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum definitely made strong cases for themselves as well.

This years class was dominated early by big men. Could it be the year we look back on as the class that brought the big man back to the NBA?

Possibly. 

NBA.com again talked down the rookie class at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot at the New York Knicks' practice facility. This year's group (36) answered seven questions about their class, as well as a few about the current player they most admire and what they're expecting as they make the jump to the NBA.

Here's how they ended up voting:

Who will be the 2018-19 Kia Rookie of the Year?

1. DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix -- 18%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 18%

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 9%
    Kevin Knox, New York -- 9%

5. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 6%
    Devonte' Graham, Charlotte -- 6%
    Michael Porter Jr., Denver -- 6%
    Trae Young, Atlanta -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento; Troy Brown Jr., Washington; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Harry Giles, Sacramento; Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis; Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio

LAST YEAR: Dennis Smith 26%

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago -- 13%

2. Kevin Knox, New York -- 10%
    Jerome Robinson, LA Clippers -- 10%

3. DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix -- 7%
    Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 7%
    Mikal Bridges, Phoenix -- 7%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 7%
    Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio -- 7%

Others receiving votes: Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento; Miles Bridges, Charlotte; Troy Brown Jr., Washington; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers; Devonte' Graham, Charlotte; Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Trae Young, Atlanta

LAST YEAR: Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum -- 18%

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?

1. Keita Bates-Diop (48), Minnesota -- 13%

2. Michael Porter Jr. (14), Denver -- 10%
    Lonnie Walker IV (18), San Antonio -- 10%

4. Jalen Brunson (33), Dallas -- 6%
    Gary Trent Jr. (37), Portland -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Grayson Allen (21), Utah; Mohamed Bamba (6), Orlando; Miles Bridges (12), Charlotte; Bruce Brown (42), Detroit; Jevon Carter (32), Memphis; Hamidou Diallo (45), Oklahoma City; Donte DiVincenzo (17), Milwaukee; Luka Doncic (3), Dallas; Jacob Evans (28), Golden State; Devonte' Graham (34), Charlotte; De'Anthony Melton (46), Houston; Svi Mykhailiuk (47), L.A. Lakers; Jerome Robinson (13), LA Clippers; Mitchell Robinson (36), New York; Mo Wagner (25), L.A. Lakers; Robert Williams III (27), Boston; Trae Young (5), Atlanta

LAST YEAR: Donovan Mitchell -- 19%

Which rookie is the most athletic?

1. Zhaire Smith, Philadelphia -- 24%

2. Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City -- 15%
    Josh Okogie, Minnesota -- 15%
    Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio -- 15%

5. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento -- 6%
    Miles Bridges, Charlotte -- 6%

Others receiving votes: DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix; Mikal Bridges, Phoenix; Bruce Brown, Detroit; Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Collin Sexton, Cleveland; Robert Williams III, Boston

LAST YEAR: Dennis Smith Jr. -- 44%

Which rookie is the best shooter?

1. Trae Young, Atlanta -- 47%

2. Kevin Huerter, Atlanta -- 13%
    Svi Mykhailiuk, L.A. Lakers -- 13%

4. Gary Trent Jr., Portland -- 9%

5. Grayson Allen, Utah -- 6%
    Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Aaron Holiday, Indiana; Kevin Knox, New York

LAST YEAR: Luke Kennard -- 49%

Which rookie is the best defender?

1. Jevon Carter, Memphis -- 29%

2. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 14%

3. Josh Okogie, Minnesota -- 11%

4. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix -- 9%

5. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 6%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 6%

Others receiving votes: DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix; Bruce Brown, Detroit; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Melvin Frazier Jr., Orlando; Mitchell Robinson, New York; Omari Spellman, Atlanta; Gary Trent Jr., Portland; Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio

LAST YEAR: Josh Jackson -- 26%

Which rookie is the best playmaker?

1. Trae Young, Atlanta -- 35%

2. Jalen Brunson, Dallas -- 15%

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 9%
    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 9%
    Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 9%

6. Troy Brown Jr., Washington -- 6%
    Aaron Holiday, Indiana -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Devonte' Graham, Charlotte; De'Anthony Melton, Houston; Michael Porter Jr., Denver; Jerome Robinson, LA Clippers

LAST YEAR: Lonzo Ball -- 72%

What will be the biggest adjustment for you, playing in the NBA?

1. Speed or pace of the game -- 31%

2. Schedule/Length of season -- 24%

3. Physicality (size and strength of opponents) -- 19%

4. Travel -- 10%

5. Lifestyle/Time management -- 8%

Also receiving votes: Conditioning, Playing NBA defense, Not having the ball as much

LAST YEAR: Physicality (size and strength of opponents) -- 37%

What is the most important skill you need to develop?

1. Ball-handling -- 19%
    Shooting -- 19%

3. Defense -- 14%

4. Playmaking/Reading the defense -- 11%

5. Everything -- 8%

6. Motor/Work ethic -- 6%
    Strength -- 6%
    Time management -- 6%

Also receiving votes: Basketball IQ, Communication, Confidence, Leadership

Who is your favorite player in the league?

1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 29%

2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 9%
    Kevin Durant, Golden State -- 9%

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 6%
    Chris Paul, Houston -- 6%
    Dwyane Wade -- 6%
    Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City -- 6%

Others receiving votes: Kobe Bryant; DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State; Anthony Davis, New Orleans; Paul George, Oklahoma City; James Harden, Houston; Jrue & Justin Holiday, New Orleans/Chicago; Kyrie Irving, Boston; Jusuf Nurkic, Portland; John Wall, Washington; Nick Young,

LAST YEAR: LeBron James -- 31%

Quick Links

NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

paul-george-thunder-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

NBA offseason grades: Thunder stood out in Northwest Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Northwest Division...

Portland Trail Blazers, C+

2017-18 finish: 49-33, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Seth Curry, G Nik Stauskas, G Anfernee Simons, G Gary Trent, Jr.
Out: F Ed Davis, G Pat Connaughton, G Shabazz Napier

The Blazers are about as cash-strapped as anyone out there, so they had very little room to work with in free agency. They made some minor moves but nothing of real note. They had a solid draft, but picked Simons who is a long-term project. And they had to let some decent players go in free agency. The best thing that happened to the Blazers this summer was re-signing Jusuf Nurkic. Other than that, it was a pretty mediocre offseason for Portland.

Oklahoma City Thunder, A

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Dennis Schroeder, C Nerlens Noel, G Hamidou Diallo
Out: F Carmelo Anthony

GM Sam Presti deserves high praise for another strong offseason. Most of the acclaim comes from the Thunder re-signing Paul George despite the assumption of many he would leave in free agency. But OKC also snagged Noel on a cheap deal, adding more athleticism and depth behind center Steven Adams. And they got Schroeder back in the deal for Anthony when they could have shed his salary for nothing in return. They also added three second round picks, including Diallo who looked good in the Summer League. It's hard to imagine the Thunder doing better than they did, given the financial resources they were working with.

Utah Jazz, B

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 2nd round of playoffs
In: G Grayson Allen, F Tyler Cavanaugh
Out: F Jonas Jerebko

The Jazz get most of their points from re-signing players like Dante Exum, Raul Neto and Derrick Favors. Though the price tag for Favors is a little high, they did a nice job of bringing the band back together, knowing they have an opportunity to get better this season simply by having Rudy Gobert stay healthy. The Allen pick has potential to work out very well for them. He looked good in the Summer League and should complement Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio well at the guard position. All in all, there was nothing flashy for the Jazz but they made some solid, smart decisions.

Minnesota Timberwolves, C

2017-18 finish: 47-35, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Anthony Tolliver, G Josh Okogie, F Keita Bates-Diop
Out: F Nemanja Bjelica

The Wolves have enough salary committed to where they could only do so much this summer. Tolliver is a nice pickup and should add shooting to their frontcourt. Bates-Diop gives them nice value as a second round pick. It would have been nice to see the Wolves change something via trade, but they have reason to believe they can get better if Karl-Anthony Towns continues to ascend and Andrew Wiggins reclaims his form as a scorer.

Denver Nuggets, B+

2017-18 finish: 46-36, missed playoffs
In: G Isaiah Thomas, F Michael Porter, Jr. 
Out: F Wilson Chandler, G Devin Harris

The Nuggets had a solid offseason just as they get ready to make a big leap forward as a franchise. They re-signed Nikola Jokic to a long-term deal, added Thomas on a low-risk contract and took a chance on Porter in the draft. They lost Chandler in a salary dump, but have the tools to win 50-plus games next season. Thomas could be a big difference maker if healthy and Porter gives them another building block for the future. If he can get past his back injury, he will fit in nicely with their young core.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE OFFSEASON GRADES

SOUTHEAST DIVISION: WIZARDS, HEAT, MAGIC, HORNETS, HAWKS

ATLANTIC DIVISION: SIXERS, CELTICS, RAPTORS, KNICKS, NETS

CENTRAL DIVISION: CAVS, BULLS, PACERS, BUCKS, PISTONS

MORE WIZARDS NEWS