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Remember when John Wall didn't get a single vote among GMs for best passers in the NBA?

Remember when John Wall didn't get a single vote among GMs for best passers in the NBA?

The praise being heaped on John Wall now that the Wizards are in the playoffs for the third time in four years is deserved. But it reeks of overcompensation in some circles.

Before the regular season began, a survey of the league’s 30 general managers ranked players in all sorts of categories, including best passers. The results of the survey suggested one of two things: 29 other GMs aren’t very smart or they didn’t actually vote, instead farming out the responsibility for their votes to someone else on their staff.

(Yes, this happens in polls that are far more serious than a preseason NBA poll. In USA TODAY’s coaches’ polls for college football and basketball, for instance, the actual coaches don’t always do the voting. A lot of assistants do it and sometimes they’re not even assistant coaches.)


Chris Paul, LeBron James, Ricky Rubio, Rajon Rondo and even Ben Simmons, a rookie who’d never played an NBA game (and missed the entire season with injury) got votes. Wall somehow didn’t (his own GM, Ernie Grunfeld, wasn't allowed to vote for him).

Of course, he took exception to the survey, and for good reason. Wall was among the leaders in assists in 2015-16 when he averaged 10.2 and averaged a career-high 10.7 assists per game for second-best in the league this season. He didn't suddenly become a good passer. 

In Game 4 against the Celtics, he pulled off one of the sickest assists in the postseason to Marcin Gortat.
The omission is a bit embarrassing, but 29 other teams — not even the Sacramento Kings — aren't that clueless. Leaving Wall out among the top passers is like forgetting to vote for Steph Curry among shooters.

It's more of an indication of brand recognition, though you'd think NBA personnel would know better that to gloss over Wall in such a manner. He doesn't get the respect that his talent should demand. Wall and the Wizards might be able to change that for good if they get past Boston and into the conference finals for the first time in four decades.


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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?