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By the numbers: Efficient Wizards turn over series

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By the numbers: Efficient Wizards turn over series

Examining the numbers from the Washington Wizards' 104-98 road win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of their best-of-7 series

Defense

  • The Hawks scored 37 points in the first quarter, the most by any opponent against the Wizards this season. Atlanta had just 35 in the entire second half.

  • The Hawks  opened the second half with a Kyle Korver basket, but things went downhill from there. Atlanta shot 25 percent from the field after halftime, its worst shooting half in any game this season. 

  • Though the Wizards guarded, this might be a case where a team simply missed shots. Atlanta attempted 98 field goal attempts overall. According to NBA.com, 53 were "uncontested," which is defined as taken without a defender within 3.5 feet. Of those 53 attempts, the Hawks made 15 (28.3 percent). Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Kyle Korver finished 3 of 21 on uncontested shots.

  • DeMarre Carroll dominated the first half with 21 points thanks to a 5 of 6 start from beyond the arc. With Otto Porter and Paul Pierce taking turns defending on him, Carroll missed his final three 3-point attempts and scored three points in the second half.

  • Washington faced an All-Star point guard for the second straight series. After limiting Kyle Lowry's offense in the first round, the Wizards did the same to Jeff Teague in Game 1. Teague finished 4 of 14 from the field, shooting 2 of 7 in each half. John Wall's effort on both ends of the court was impressive especially considering he banged his left wrist while bracing himself on a fall in the first half.

Valuing possession

  • Limiting turnovers was the primary discussion point during Saturday's media session before the team flew to Atlanta. The Wizards committed only eight in Game 1.

  • Wall finished with two turnovers after averaging a whopping 6.8 during the four games in the regular season.

Backcourt ballers

  • With an assertive style and willingness to drive into a sea of defenders Bradley Beal worked his way to attempting 10 free throws, making eight. The 10 attempts matched his regular season-high. Beal 10 of 11 in the Game 4 win over Toronto, meaning he's 18 of 21 over his last two games. He took 19 during the opening 12 games of the season after returning from a left wrist fracture.

  • Wall recorded 13 assists in Game 1, running his total over the last four games to 55. That's the third-best four game span for the point guard during his career. He had 59 in two separate four-game stretches during the 2014-15 regular season. Wall is averaging 12.6 assists in the postseason and 12.9 over his last 11 games dating back to March 29.

Helping out

  • With Nene struggling (zero points), Drew Gooden admirably stepped up with 12 points, five rebounds and two 3-pointers in 14 minutes. Washington improved to 16-3 this season when Gooden makes a three. Using Pierce as a stretch-four receives the headlines, but Gooden provides a similar spread-the-court shooter at the power forward slot.

  • Otto Porter finished with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double in the NBA. The small forward made 2 of 5 from beyond the arc and is 7 of 15 during the postseason.

Big picture

  • Facing Atlanta and Toronto, Washington is now 5-0 in the playoffs. The Wizards went 1-6 against those teams during the regular season and the lone win came late in the campaign against the Hawks when Atlanta rested all of its starters.

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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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