Wizards

Quick Links

Wall named to Team USA select team

662512.jpg

Wall named to Team USA select team

The good news: John Wall is reportedly joining Team USA as a member of the select team that will scrimmage against the 2012 men's basketball Olympic squad this summer.

The interesting angle: This opportunity gives the Wizards speedy point guard a potential leg up on making the 2016 Olympic team.

The potential international buzz kill: Notable basketball decision-makers are looking at a 23-and-under roster format for future Olympic games.

Before we look ahead, let's focus on the present - and the present that comes with the invitation, which multiple outlets have reported. Instead of spending a second straight summer time playing in loosey-goosey charity games, Wall should be battling the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook during intense scrimmages.

Actually there was no fear of another summer fun circuit - "Nah, Im cool on that, " Wall said the day after the season finale win over the Heat. "Im done. Its just workouts. I aint having none, that was just because of the lockout it was too much time."

Earlier that week, I asked Wall if he was going to attend any NBA playoff games in person and which point guards the maturing floor leader would study during the off-season. Seeing as he intended on doing the bi-coastal thing between D.C. and Los Angeles, Wall said he would hope to catch Paul and the Clippers in addition to the Lakers, who could face Westbrook and the Thunder in the second round.

Now Wall might get some hands-on lessons from those All-Stars.

Even with Derrick Rose's knee injury taking him out of the Olympic mix - big men Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Lamar Odom are also not expected to join the team's training camp - Team USA is still flush with point guard options. Unless Paul, Williams and Westbrook opt out or are injured before the London games, that trio will run the offense.

Team USA will train in Las Vegas July 6-11. After an exhibition against the Dominican Republic on July 12, the U.S. team will move operations to Washington for two days worth of practices before hosting Brazil in an exhibition game on July 16.

But what about future U.S editions?

Click here for more on Ben's look at Wall's Olympic chances. Also Ben imagines a 23-and-under team for the London games

Quick Links

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

dwight_injury.jpg
NBCSW

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: