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Quick-hit ability of Durant, Westbrook keeps Wiz on edge

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Quick-hit ability of Durant, Westbrook keeps Wiz on edge

If the Wizards take on the same disposition vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight that they've showed to their previous two opponents, they'll be concussed from the transition dunks from Russell Westbrook and three-pointers from Kevin Durant. 

The Thunder (4-3) can be merciless when they're in the open court. The Wizards (3-3), on a two-game losing streak with 50 turnovers combined, have been too generous.

"We know one thing, he's coming," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Westbrook, who is averaging 26.3 points for sixth in the NBA and a career-high 10.9 assists which is No. 1. "He's coming. If you're not ready he's going to run it up your back. He only plays one way. He plays hard. That team plays hard."

RELATED: Morning tip: Is it time for Wizards to play slower or just smarter?

It'll be a tough matchup for John Wall as Westbrook is one of the few point guards who can match up with him physically.

"You want to keep him in the half-court set as much as possible and live with him making contested jump shots," Wall said. "Kind of the same thing teams do to me."

Durant is second in scoring at 30.1 points to go with 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. The Thunder average 113.3 points, second only to the Golden State Warriors. 

Even with Durant missing 55 games last season with a broken foot, Westbrook led them to 45 wins as they just missed the postseason 

"That's a team with Westbrook and Durant and they've got bigs that run that will turn turnovers into points quickly," Wittman said. "When Durant went out I thought he carried the team and almost led them to the playoffs. ... He does what he has to do for his team to win."

While the Thunder have a new coach in Billy Donovan and they play less isolation basketball than they did under Scott Brooks, when a game is on the line they revert to old habits.

"You get to late in the game, you're going to see high pick-and-roll with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook," Wall said. "Iso basketball. It's nothing different."

They key remains the Wizards' turnover-prone backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal, who is questionable with a left shoulder contusion. They combined for 15 turnovers in 114-99 loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. In a 118-98 loss at the Boston Celtics on Friday, they had 10.

Said Wall if they have a repeat performance vs. Oklahoma City: "It can get ugly pretty quickly."

MORE WIZARDS: Wall yearns for Wizards to get Kevin Durant treatment in D.C.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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