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Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks


Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks

John Wall and the Wizards know too many turnovers put a strain on their offense against the Hawks this season. Facing Atlanta in the playoffs with a right shoulder strain is just something the point guard knows he must deal with starting with Game 1 on Sunday.

Wall and the Wizards headed to Atlanta Saturday afternoon after wrapping up one final practice at the Verizon Center. Washington hasn't played since finishing off a 4-0 series sweep against the Toronto Raptors with a rousing 125-96 victory last Sunday. That's given the team time to tighten up their game, prep for the top-seeded Hawks and rest. Wall suffered a shoulder injury during the opening game against the Raptors. Not that his performance suffered. The All-Star averaged 19.6 points and 14.0 assists over the final three games.

"It's all right. It (will) be all right," Wall said of his right shoulder. "I have a little strain in it and it's something I have to deal with, but you make no excuses when you're in the playoffs."

The Wizards were direct when discussing their turnover woes against the Hawks this season. Washington averaged 17.5 turnovers in the four games compared to 10.8 for Atlanta.

"Doesn’t matter if we’re playing Atlanta or Toronto or whoever, that’s not a good number for us to have," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The big thing in this series is to get shots. That’s what our mentality’s got to be, to get a shot every time down the floor."

Getting up shots starts with the point guard and Wall struggled maintaining possession against the Hawks. He committed a whopping 6.8 turnovers per game. That's three more than his regular season average and the most for Wall against any team this season. Typically matched up directly against fellow All-Star guard Jeff Teague, Wall had games with seven, eight and 10 (in a win) turnovers against Atlanta this season. 

"They're just great with their hands," he said of the Hawks defenders. "You have to make simple reads against them in pick-and-roll situations. When you get into the paint, they're all using their hands to swipe down on the ball."

The turnovers don't just take away shot attempts for Washington, but also fuels Atlanta's offensive push, leading to open 3-point looks. The Hawks attempted 26.2 shots from beyond the arc during the regular season and ranked second with a 38 percent clip.

"They feed off their defense to get them going in transition," Wall noted. "That's when they find (Kyle) Korver and DeMarre) Carroll and all those guys to make open shots."

The Wizards still had stretches with too many turnovers against the Raptors, but so much else worked it didn't matter. Washington harassed Toronto's perimeter threats defensively and drained plenty of shots from deep with Wall spearheading the effort on both ends of the court.

"I think we're just playing more confident," Wall said about whether the Wizards are a different team compared to the one the Hawks handled. "I think whenever we play defense and we're not turning the ball over a lot, contest shots, rebound the ball as a group, I think we're a tough team."

[MORE WIZARDS: Playoff preview: Wizards-Hawks matchup set]

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

Kelly Oubre Jr. takes his style very seriously, perhaps to a point even further than the most fashionable of NBA players. He wants to be a figure in the industry someday as a designer of his own shoes and clothing line.

So when he approached the process of brokering a new shoe contract, he took into consideration factors that went well beyond the average player and outside of the mainstream. He wanted more than a basketball shoe. He wanted a lifestyle brand and a partnership that wasn't solely about basketball.

Oubre left Adidas to sign a new mutli-year deal this week with Nike and Converse. He will wear Nike shoes in the meantime, until a concept made by Converse is ready for game action. Then, he will become the only NBA player to wear the brand on the floor.

"Everyone knows me and I'm a different individual," he said. "Converse is reinventing themselves in the basketball world. I will be the only athlete this year flying the flag. I'm very excited to be able to represent."

Converse has a history in the game of basketball, of course. Before Nike and Adidas took over, Converse was the dominant brand for most of the 20th century, up until the 1980s. Their Chuck Taylor All Stars maintain a legacy today in the casual shoe market.

The deep basketball history of Converse appealed to Oubre.

"It's old school. It started with basketball, then it went to the rock stage, then it went to people wearing them without any thought to what the foundation of the brand was," he said.

Oubre said there is no release date yet for the new-age Converse basketball shoe. He expects to have some input on the design of future shoes and said it's part of why he chose them.

Oubre plans to begin his own clothing line at some point with the working title of 'Dope Soul.' He told NBC Sports Washington on Friday that it is "coming soon," but couldn't provide any further details. 

Oubre had restrictions under his previous contract with Adidas and had been looking forward to finding a new deal that would allow for such things. It sounds like he may be afforded that freedom.

For now, with Converse, Oubre is excited to chart a new path with an unconventional company.

"You can't really define Converse because we've done everything and we're about to take over the world," he said.