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Wall's game must be on point for shot at making Team USA


Wall's game must be on point for shot at making Team USA

John Wall remains officially part of the USA National Team. That means he'll participate in next week's training camp in Las Vegas, which is all about getting a sense about who wants in for the 2016 RIo Olympics. 

Looking at the star-studded and deep roster, we get a sense that it won't be easy for the Washington Wizards All-Star point guard to make the team.

That applies to most of the 34 players expected in Vegas. By next summer, that group gets whittled down to 12. Feel free to pen in players like Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Kevin Durant assuming good health and a desire to play. Fingers crossed for all, but the games are a full year away and lots can happen over 300-something days. Don't forget, some of these guys will be just coming off franchise-altering free agency decisions (wink, wink).

Anyway, for our purposes, let's just focus on the point guards.

Seven are on the current roster (current is a key word, because additions and subtractions will happen before determining the final roster). That list includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Chris Paul; 2014 World Champions Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving; 2012 Olympian Russell Westbrook; Wall, Mike Conley and Michael Carter-Williams. 

Damian Lillard recently announced he would pass on showing in Vegas. Derrick Rose, a member of the 2014 squad, is not on the 2015 roster. James Harden handles the ball plenty, but he's not a point guard by positional definition. Neither is Wizards shooting threat Bradley Beal, who is also headed to Las Vegas.

Barring a change in roster construction -- and one that would make little tactical sense -- Team USA will have at least three point guards. 

2014 World Championships - Curry, Irving, Rose

2012 Olympics - Paul, Westbrook, Deron Williams

2008 Olympics - Jason Kidd, Paul, Williams

If Curry, the best perimeter shooter in the world, and Paul, the consummate floor leader, are willing and able, they're going for gold. Period, end of story.

That leaves Irving, Wall and Westbrook plus newbies Conley and Carter-Williams, who has zero percent chance of making the team. The other four, that's different. All have positive qualities.

Irving is the shooter and dynamic scorer who also played for Coach K in college.

Wall is the passer with blinding speed few in the world can match.

Westbrook is the athletic freak not intimidated by any scenario.

Conley is steady dual threat who likely signs a max contract with a team next summer.

It's possible Westbrook makes the team as a wing guard, but regardless, this won't be a slam dunk for any of the four, including Wall, who wasn't thrilled about being cut in 2014.

"You want to make every team you try out for," Wall told CSNwashington.com last summer. "When you don’t, it’s more motivation for me. Not even (against) just those (Team USA point guards), but the NBA, period. I guess I’m overlooked again. I guess have to prove myself one more time."

The now two-time All-Star did just that with a spectacular 2014-15 campaign. It will likely take another starry campaign and then some to overcome this impressive group -- and that Irving/Krzyzewski connection -- for a trip to Rio with Team USA.

MORE WIZARDS: Ranking offseasons in the East: No. 7, Magic

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Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area


Capital City Go-Go to hold open tryouts in search of local talent in D.C. area

The inaugural season of the Washington Wizards' G-League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, will bring a lot of new experiences for the D.C. area and that includes the process of open tryouts as they seek the best players in the community to fill out their final roster spots.

There will be an opportunity for the best basketball players in the region to showcase their talent in front of Go-Go executives. They don't know if there will be one or two tryouts, when or where they will be held, but the expectation is sometime in September. 

Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu is hoping for a big turnout.

"I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how many people and what kind of talent we can have coming out to those local tryouts. Once we got those dates, we’ll get them out to the community and hopefully we get a ton of guys coming out here to represent their area," he said.

"Whoever comes out, we’ll love it. The more the merrier. It might make our job harder to choose, but I’m okay with that. It’s an expansion team. We’re looking to put this team together and if we have 200 guys come out, that would be great. It just gives us more of an opportunity and a bigger pool to look through. I’m okay with a lot of guys coming out."

Tryouts are commonplace in the G-League, but the Go-Go expect to have an advantage based on their location. The D.C. area is a hotbed for basketball talent and over the years has produced many NBA players and Division 1 college stars.

Mensah-Bonsu can attest to that, having spent many years in the area. He was a star at George Washington University, was with the Wizards in training camp during his professional playing days and has since stuck around to make the city his home.

"The DMV area has a wealth of basketball talent," he said.

Go-Go head coach Jarell Christian is relatively new to the area, but he expects the tryouts to be productive for a G-League talent search. He has held open tryouts before when he was a member of the G-League staff in Oklahoma City. But this isn't Oklahoma City.

"The talent level in Oklahoma City is different than here in D.C., so I think we’ll be able to find some really good players, locally in those tryouts," Christian said.

Christian said that those who want to sign up will likely need to get in contact with members of the front office, either by themselves or with the help of an agent. He mentioned Mensah-Bonsu and also Scott Schroeder, their assistant GM.

Christian and the coaching staff will run them through drills and scrimmages to evaluate which players to keep. Once they see the basketball skills, they will put them through background checks and get testimonials, just like any other job.

"We just want to get a feel for what the players can do. Also, we’ve gotta get to know them and their character. If we do like a player, we’ve gotta make sure we call their references and they check out as being people that we want in our organization at the end of the day," Christian said.

The G-League allows each team to invite up to five players from their tryouts to participate in preseason training camp.

There are several stipulations when it comes to who can try out. Players have to be at least 18 years old and international prospects are often not allowed. The tryouts also generally require a registration fee. More information on the requirements for the Go-Go tryouts will be released once the dates are set.

Open tryouts for other teams around the G-League have produced some unique success stories. Guys who have gone on to make the NBA include Jonathan Simmons and David Nwaba. Perhaps the Go-Go will find the next diamond in the rough.

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Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

Jeff Green happy to reunite with head coach Scott Brooks on Wizards

The city of Washington, where he grew up near and was a star in college at Georgetown University, isn't the only factor that makes joining the Wizards familiar for Jeff Green. He is also reuniting with his former coach, Scott Brooks, who now leads the Wizards.

Long ago, Brooks was cutting his teeth on the sidelines while Green was finding his way on the court. When Green was a rookie on the Seattle Supersonics in 2007, Brooks was a 42-year-old assistant coach. The team moved to Oklahoma City the following year and by late November of 2008, Brooks was the head coach after P.J. Carlesimo was fired.

Brooks helped oversee Green's first four seasons as an NBA player and Green remembers those days well.

"He looked way better than he does now," Green joked.

Brooks, now 53, has a knack for taking playful shots at those he works with, whether that be players, fellow coaches or the media. Green is clearly on that level and feels comfortable ribbing his head coach, knowing he can both dish it out and take it.

All jokes aside, Green is still appreciative of the tutelage he received from Brooks back in the day.

"Scotty was my No. 1 guy, he’s always been, but when I first stepped foot on an NBA floor, he was there for me. He was a coach with Seattle when I first got into the league," Green said.

The NBA has taken Brooks and Green to very different places in the seven years since they split ways. Green left for the Celtics and has since played for the Grizzlies, Clippers, Magic and most recently the Cavaliers. Brooks stuck around with OKC through the 2014-15 season before he was let go. After taking a year off, he joined the Wizards.

Much has changed in Brooks and Green's lives. They have lost and gained jobs. Their families have grown. Now, they are back on the same team and Green is excited about it.

"We’ve been close and tight ever since. We never lost contact. So, I’m looking forward to being coached by him again. I know he’s going to put us all in great positions to succeed. We just have to do our part on the floor," Green said.

Green spoke with Brooks on the phone before deciding to sign with the Wizards as a free agent in July. His presence was one of the many reasons he felt Washington was a good fit.

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