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Should Wizards have fouled LeBron James to prevent game-tying 3?

Should Wizards have fouled LeBron James to prevent game-tying 3?

The basic question has to be answered after a game like Monday's, when LeBron James buried a turnaround, falling-out-of-bounds three-pointer to send the Cleveland Cavaliers into overtime with the Wizards, is why not foul? Ask 100 different coaches and depending on the day or their most recent expereience the answer will change. 

Kevin Love inbounded the ball over Markieff Morris standing a few feet off the baseline and launched it over the 6-10 forward for a perfect catch by James. He drained it over Bradley Beal, who he's at least 3-4 inches taller than, to tie the score at 120 to force the extra period. 

The Cavs would win 140-135. But here are the issues to consider: When James caught the ball, he was inside the three-point arc. An immediate grasp and foul by Beal would've only resulted in a tie score if James had sank the shot while under wraps and made the foul shot.

Should Morris have been up closer on Love to create a more difficult? If Brooks had a chance to do it all over again, would he?

"We discussed that. At that moment he was catching an off-balance three that's tough," Brooks said about fouling to prevent the tying shot. "Guys are so good now with the long pass like that. They can catch and shoot at the same time they catch the ball. It's nobody's fault. You just witnessed a very good player make an incredible shot."

Beal couldn't foul before the ball was inbounded because it would result in free throws and the ball for Cleveland. In hindsight, he thought he should've done so.

Even the best of coaches have their decisions called into question when the result goes against them. In the 2013 NBA Finals and up 95-92, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled Tim Duncan off the court and it led to an offensive rebound for the Miami Heat. Chris Bosh grabbed it from Boris Diaw, Duncan's replacement, and kicked it out to Ray Allen for a three-pointer that forced overtime in Game 6. 

The Heat would go on to win the series that the Spurs could've closed out that night. Popovich tried to match Miami's five smalls lineup by making the switch but didn't compensate for Bosh being re-inserted on the final possession.

Of course when you're playing poker with "play" money, the decision on whether or not to go all-in is so much easier. If Beal should foul (and I still think he should've), consider the Love-to-James inbound was a bang-bang play. It has to be an instant and definitive decision. If there is any hesitation, he can't commit to it. That's a lot of procesing of thought in a short time frame and the percentages say James probably misses that shot 9 out of 10 times. 

James was 6 of 8 from three in the game and Love shot 6-for-10 from deep. Kyle Korver made 4 of 8. Even though Kyrie Irving shot just 2-for-7, he's known for making the impossible shots possible. Threes are Channing Frye's speciality and he was 1-for-3. Anyone else on Clevleand's roster, they can have that shot. 

This, however, was the one time James makes it.  If the Wizards are in a similar position later on in the season, will they change up?

The right answer depends on the day and the personnel on the floor – for both teams. If you subscribe to the theory that James gets "superstar" calls, that makes it even more complex. 

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

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