Wizards

Quick Links

Should Bradley Beal have been an All-Star over Carmelo Anthony?

Should Bradley Beal have been an All-Star over Carmelo Anthony?

Every decision isn't a snub nor is every missed call a robbery. Carmelo Anthony was selected to his 10th All-Star Game -- ahead of Bradley Beal -- for reasons that have nothing to do with merit.

In fact, the All-Star Game itself isn't all about merit. It's a popularity contest with fans who vote and it also factors into the decisons rendered by the commissioner on who to send to New Orleans this weekend. Beal finished 14th in fan voting among guards, eighth in the media vote and eighth in the players' vote. He was behind Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Avery Bradley, the latter of whom hasn't played since Jan. 7.

It's a fans' showcase. Beal and Al Horford of the Boston Celtics were more deserving to replace the injured Kevin Love. They play on two of the top three teams in the East that were awarded just one All-Star in John Wall and Isaiah Thomas as reserves.

[RELATED: NBA All-Star Game 2017: Russell Westbrook, John Wall headline list of reserves]

The league's coaches made the decision with their vote to select four point guards behind starter Kyrie Irving. Kyle Lowry and Kemba Walker also made the cut. 

There were too many guards, and based on where the Charlotte Hornets are in the standings now -- 12th place and eight games under .500 -- Walker would've been my choice as the odd man out. 

Beal has had an exceptional season at 22.3 points, 3.7 assists and 47.2% shooting, all career highs, going into tonight's finale before the All-Star break at the Indiana Pacers. He's also shooting 40% from three-point range and likely to surpass his career-high of 41%.

But when Anthony Davis couldn't play in 2015, Dirk Nowitzki was chosen to replace him. That wasn't a merit-based selection. That was out of respect for his 13th and likely final appearance, though his team was significantly better than Anthony's.

All-Star weekend is about so much more than a game, or the skills competition and three-point contest. Players have more obligations off the court than can be quantified. They do them for the NBA and their own sponsored events. 

[RELATED: NBA All-Star 2017: Dunk contest, 3-point, skills challenge fields announced]

It's a lot of autograph signings and meeting and greeting. Even players who are injured but able to travel are required by the league to attend if they were selected to participate. 

Those fans won't care about the record of the Knicks this season, or the dysfunction surrounding their president Phil Jackson and owner James Dolan. Anthony has been a good soldier in staying above that fray and commissioner Adam Silver probably factored that in rewarding him, too. A flagship franchise of the NBA needed it more.

Beal wanted to be in New Orleans for Sunday's game, though he did turn down a three-point contest invite. He'll downplay it, but he was willing to scrap his current plans to pack a bag to join his backcourt mate on the big stage.

Though Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will have a say before this season is over, Wall and Beal are the best backcourt in the East. They are getting the respect that they feel that they deserve but it doesn't always come at the speed that you want it.

Beal has been a better player than Anthony, a far more efficient scorer than Anthony, a much better passer and defender than Anthony and is more deserving than Anthony to be an All-Star in every way possible if this was all about merit and accomplishment this season.

The fans, players and media had a chance to show Beal more respect early in the All-Star voting process and failed miserably as he was comfortably outdistanced by some far inferior guards.

Maybe if he was given more credit there, he'd have been higher on the comissioner's radar. Injury-replacement picks are at his discretion and fairness has nothing to do with it. And it was more than a two-man race for Love's vacated spot.

Beal isn't a frontcourt player and he doesn't play in New York. And not enough league-wide fans, media or fellow players cared enough to recognize him until now and it's too late. Those are the reasons he's not an All-Star.

[RELATED: Former Wizards player slams NBA for choosing Melo over Beal for ASG]

Quick Links

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!