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One on one: Wait, are we sure Wall-Beal not NBA's best backcourt?


One on one: Wait, are we sure Wall-Beal not NBA's best backcourt?

With the intense NBA offseason cooling down, there is time for reflection on what the Washington Wizards accomplished and a chance to look at the road ahead. For the next couple of weeks, CSNwashington.com Insider J. Michael and Wizards correspondent Ben Standig will examine various issues and answer questions as the Wizards move toward the 2015-16 campaign.

If Wall and Beal play this coming regular season at the level they performed during the postseason, are they the best backcourt in the league?

J. Michael: Of course, but this is a big “if” and I’m not a big fan of hypotheticals. Though the playoffs are a bigger stage – and the Wall-Beal combo was the best backcourt in the first two rounds -- being the best overall is about the long game and not a small snapshot in time. Wall and Beal were dominant for 10 games. The other 82? Wall was spectacular until late January, when his sore ankles started to slow him down. Beal has yet to play a full season or make it without that stress injury in his lower right leg. His third season was sub-par considering the expectations. 

The NBA’s best is Steph Curry and Klay Thompson until proven otherwise. There are no “ifs.”  They’ve done it for an entire season and did well enough in the postseason to help the Golden State Warriors to a championship. That’ll be difficult to top because it will always be the tiebreaker in a conversation about where Wall and Beal stack up. But can they be as good? Yes. 

Ben Standig: No. No, no. No. Nope. No...But, yeah, maybe. 

The Golden State duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson hold the best backcourt distinction and not just because they won an NBA and World Championship over the last year. Riley's father is a ball handling savant, the best deep shooter on the planet and arguably number one in league history. Mychal Thompson's 6-foot-7 son set an NBA record this season with 37 points in one quarter and defends at a high level. They're the Gold-en standard.

Whether people realize it or not, they tend to put more weight into the regular season than the playoffs when discussing best of the best. Everyone who has ever argued for Tom Brady over Peyton Manning or dared question the greatness of LeBron James knows what I'm saying. That's the portion of the overall season that we live with longer. Individual performances perhaps standout more because legends and storylines have six months with which to bloom -- six months every year, that is. The playoffs are often viewed as a snapshot. If a new narrative emerges, harder to wrap head around how this could be. Plus, in the playoffs, individual buzz is also competing far more with the overall idea of team plus emotion of a do or die nature.

In the context of the regular season, there is no debate. Curry and Thompson trump Wall and Beal and every backcourt in the NBA. End of discussion. That's the perception anyone asked this question would answer. If we designed an experiment where one group only watched the playoffs, the Warriors tandem might still win, but the gap is much, much closer. That's because for the last two years, Beal played his best basketball when lights were brightest while Thompson went the other way.

Beal averaged 16.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the regular season over the last two seasons. In the playoffs during that span, 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. The 40% 3-point shooter during the regular season is a just tad lower (38.9%) during the playoffs.

Thompson's scoring average dipped two and three points respectively in each of the last two seasons. He sank over 40% of his 3-pointers in each of of his four NBA seasons. He didn't crack 39% over the last two postseasons.

It's not just stats, but also that Eye of the Tiger. Beal stepped up his game in the playoff series against the Hawks when Wall fractured his wrist. Sure, Thompson made all nine of his 3-point attempts during that 37-point quarter, he went 8 for 28 over the last four games of the NBA Finals. The debate over whether Curry or Andre Iguodola should have been named MVP overshadowed the fact that the Iguodola was no less than their second-best player in the finals. Thompson held that distinction during the regular season. Nobody thought so during much of June.

Part of the reason Beal's game showed improvement during the playoffs stemmed from the fact that his regular season was underwhelming. Thompson set his bar high. Both teams played 82 regular season games, but Thompson and the Warriors played two more playoff rounds than Beal and the Wizards this season. The lengthy wing's production helped make that so. Maybe Beal and Wall get the deer-in-headlights look in their first NBA Finals. 

Because Curry trumps all guards in the NBA until further notice, Thompson is an All-Star and the Warriors are reigning NBA champions, Golden State keeps the best backcourt title without discussion.  However, if, as has been the case for the last two years, Beal does his best work on the biggest stage next season, Wall remains an assist machine and Thompson performs under his level of expectations, perhaps the discussion changes.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall, Beal hang with other stars at USA practice; Durant talks FA

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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