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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Pistons

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Pistons

After having no identity in the first part of the season, the Wizards appear to have found one. They played their most disciplined game of the season Friday, committing just five turnovers and followed the lead of John Wall and Bradley Beal in a 122-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in front of 15,573 at Verizon Center.

They were the first opponent to score more than 100 points on Detroit in eight games. The Pistons were allowing just 95.7 points per game, second fewest in the NBA, but the Wizards reached 95 after three quarters.

John Wall (29 points, 11 assists, three steals) led the way with Beal (25 points, four assists) in support. Marcin Gortat (12 points, 14 rebounds, four assists) continued to get the better of his matchup with Andre Drummond as the Wizards won for the sixth time in eight games of the series.

Markieff Morris (11 points, four assists), Otto Porter (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists), Marcus Thornton (11 points) were the other players to reach double figures.

The Wizards (11-14) have won four of their last five games and will have a chance to have their first three-game winning streak of the season when they face the L.A. Clippers on Sunday.

Detroit (14-14) was led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (24 points), Jon Leuer (17 points), Tobias Harris (14 points), Drummond (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Reggie Jackson (14 points).

--Through three quarters, the Wizards had just one turnover and ended up with six. Their previous low this year was nine. Last year, it was six and in 2014-15 season it was five. Coming into the game, the Pistons committed the fewest in the league (12). They only had nine in this game. The miscues came into play when mostly reserves occupied the floor late.

--Even off made baskets, Wall kept pace into the game. He drew Jackson’s fourth foul at 7:03 of the third. Aron Baynes picked up his fourth on Wall’s drive into traffic with 2.6 seconds left. Baynes had three fouls in just four minutes of the first half alone. Wall went to the foul line 12 times. He made nine.

--Morris started out well after missing the last game with a sore right foot. He had three assists in a matter of minutes, but he also picked up two quick fouls to park himself on the bench. Early foul trouble off reach-ins has been a bad habit all season. But he was a force in the third quarter on both ends, including stuffing his brother’s drive on a fast break with a block, to get the Wizards ahead by as many as 18 points at that point. He only needed to play 18 minutes while Kelly Oubre played starter's minutes off the bench with 34.

--Wall contested three shots on help, an indication of his multiple efforts, to prevent baskets. One was on Caldwell-Pope who’d made his two previous three-point shots. The other was on Harris as he had a clean run to the rim for a dunk that back-rimmed as a result of Wall’s challenge.

--Jason Smith had another good start off the bench, but he left at 7:21 of the second quarter with a strained right hamstring, walked to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench. He was 2-for-2 in five minutes and has found his groove offensively. Instead of running screen action with Thornton, Smith ran it with Beal who automatically gets trapped. That opens the look for Smith when he pops mid-range because all of the attention that Beal draws. Thornton doesn’t command such a scheme which minimizes Smith’s ability in that situation. Despite his injury, coach Scott Brooks didn’t go to Andrew Nicholson much until the game was out of reach in the fourth.

--Tomas Satoransky had registered six DNP-CDs (did not play coach’s decision) but played five minutes in the first half. He didn’t take a shot but he took the floor at the three spot – not as a point guard – initially as he was used as a playmaker/extra ball-handler. Satoransky had two assists. He shifted to point guard when Trey Burke left the floor and Beal returned.

--Beal’s first three-point shot, which came at the 4:07 of the second quarter for a 53-42 lead, gave him his 500th of his career. Only two players have reached that benchmark in franchise history, Antwan Jamison and Gilbert Arenas.

--The bench, led by Thornton, had 30 points. Oubre (seven points, six rebounds) went back to his reserve role and played a major part in the Pistons' starting forwards shooting a combined 6-for-24 from the field.


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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.


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A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM after he served in the role on an interim basis since April 2. 

Let's take a look back at the moves which earned Sheppard the long-term GM job:

April 2: The Wizards fire GM Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard takes over the role on an interim basis. 

June 20: The Wizards select Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Later in the evening, Washington acquires Jonathan Simmons and the draft rights to Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was placed on waivers on July 7.

July 5: The Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round draft pick as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

July 6: The Wizards trade Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles and acquire Davis Bertans from the Spurs in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and San Antonio, sending the draft rights of Aaron White to the Nets. 

July 7: The Wizards re-sign center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal and trade guard Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls for a 2020 second-round pick.

July 9: The Wizards sign guard Ish Smith to a two-year deal.

July 10: The Wizards sign guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.