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Scott Brooks breaks down Wizards' woes beyond X's and O's

Scott Brooks breaks down Wizards' woes beyond X's and O's

The way the Wizards won against the Sacramento Kings caused enough concern for coach Scott Brooks. The decision made by John Wall to take a fallaway jump shot when he had a favorable one-on-one matchup with DeMarcus Cousins sent that game into overtime. 

Brooks has made a point to sit down with his backcourt players individually to discuss what has gone wrong.

"He's always an option. We wanted to make sure we got a shot," Brooks said of Bradley Beal, who had a team-high 31 points in that game. "John and I watched some film of the last three minutes of regulation and overtime. A lot of opportunities for him to attack. I thought he might've settled for that shot."

Fast forward two days to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The botched pick-and-roll between Wall and Markieff Morris led to a difficult pass back that was almost intercepted. The broken play almost worked out but Otto Porter's recovery of the ball and mid-range shot missed. Instead of 6-11, the Wizards would be no worse than 8-9 if they'd closed better in losing this game as well as the second game of the season at the Memphis Grizzlies.

Now the San Antonio Spurs, who handled them last week 112-100 at Verizon Center, are on tap for Friday (CSN, 8 p.m.). Like with Oklahoma City, Wall and Beal have never won a road game in San Antonio. 

"We didn't even talk about the game last night," Beal said after Thursday's practice session before describing what has plagued the Wizards at the end of games when it comes to execution. "We're too comforable, too lackadaisical. I think we got to get back to running our offense. ... I'm sick of hearing we played hard, we played well. We got to win them."

Brooks isn't as concerned about who takes shots when. He wants common-sense plays to be made. Wall is 0-for-16 in his career when taking the shot to win or tie a game with five seconds or less, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Beal is 1-for-4. As a whole, the Wizards are 6-for-47 during Wall's tenure of six-plus seasons. 

Some kind of change is needed to get a better result.

"It's definitley something to consider. It's a work in progress for me," Brooks said. "There's definitely going to be opportunities where Brad gets the last shot. With that type of situation I want guys to make the right play. A lot of criticsm for a lot of players throughout the history of the game, 'He doens't take the last shot.' ... 'He takes the last shot.' It's really making the right play. John has a history of doing that and I'm sure Brad will get those opportunities to make the right play. It's also five guys have to be in the right spots. We have to set good screens and deliver a pass if needed. Last-second shots are always about team. You have to trust the guy making the decision."

[RELATED: Wizards' problems late in games go deep]

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

At his final media availability of the 2017-18 season, John Wall highlighted specific types of players he wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, he pointed to an athletic big and bench scoring.

The Wizards ended up adding those things and more.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green to free agent deals, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. Howard is the athletic big and Rivers is the bench scorer Wall coveted.

Whether coincidental or not, Wall got his wish. And he's excited for the possibilities now that the Wizards appear to have shored up some weaknesses.

In his recent interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall offered thoughts on each key addition.

On Howard: "Even though he's older, he's still an athletic big and still has respect in this league. I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he's a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we're attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we're throwing lobs. Now, do you get more layups? Probably. Or, you get more wide open threes because guys are going to have to crack down on him. If you don't crack down on him, that's an automatic layup or a lob. I think that benefits us a lot. It's going to help. If you look at [Clint] Capela, DeAndre [Jordan] and those types of guys that are athletic, JaVale [McGee]. Even JaVale at times, being athletic and just getting to the paint. Guys are stepping up and you're throwing lobs to those guys. We have a person that can do that."

On Rivers: "I think it's going to be fun and interesting. Austin is someone who I've always watched since high school. He's a competitive guy. He definitely can score the ball. High volume shooter, once he gets it going, he's going. I think it just gives us that guy that we've never really had off the bench, that can create for himself and can create for his teammates at the two-guard position."

On Green: "Just being able to switch one through four, a guy that can post up if you put smaller guys on him. He can guard every position. He's athletic and can run the floor with us in transition. He does the little things that a lot of people don't notice."

On Brown: "He's very poised for his age. He doesn't try to force anything. The only thing I would tell him is just be more aggressive... and make mistakes. Try to make mistakes and improve your game to get better. It's going to be hard to find minutes and at practice at times with [Kelly Oubre, Jr.] and Otto [Porter, Jr.] and those guys being there."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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