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What we know about Wizards, and what we don't know yet

What we know about Wizards, and what we don't know yet

The record is 10-14, so the Wizards haven't turned any corners or solidified anything about their 2016-17 season. After their 109-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets, a quality opponent in the Southeast division, these are some conclusions that can be drawn:

-- John Wall and Bradley Beal are having All-Star caliber seasons. Hardly anyone is talking about it because of the record, but both are setting new individual marks. Aside from having a career-high 42 points earlier in the season, Beal had a career-high nine assists Wednesday and has been a consistently good defensively. Wall had a career-high 52 points this season and 13th double-double. His ability to score off the ball has skyrocketed just as Beal's playmaking ability has gone to another level. And both are getting to the foul line more.

-- The Wizards can defend if they want to commit to doing it. If Wall and Beal extend and compete on that end, particularly with Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter, they can cover a lot of ground because they're long and athletic. If dribble pentration is minmized into the paint will determine whether they can sustain.

-- Maybe the most criticized of all the starters, Marcin Gortat has had his best season in Washington. He's maintaining a double-double average while defending his position well 1 vs. 1. Where he gets into a tough spot is on help rotations with the guards which appears to be more about communication than effort or IQ. Gortat didn't have a good game against Brook Lopez in a win over the Brooklyn Nets, but he defended the best offensive center in the league (DeMarcus Cousins) extremely well without help. It took Cousins 34 shots to get 36 points. When Gortat is forced into help situations too often, there will be breakdowns. But he can defend his own position better than the average NBA center. 

-- The lack of playing time held back Kelly Oubre as a rookie, but now that he's getting it he has proven why the Wizards traded up in 2015 to get him in the first round. He fell one pick outside the lottery but was widely considered a lottery pick talent. The 6-7 frame, 7-2 wingspan and defensive IQ are difficult to beat. When every player on this roster went to majority Ted Leonsis and said Oubre was held back by then-coach Randy Wittman they weren't lying. The Oubre that opponents are seeing on the court is the same guy they've faced every day in practice and he has emerged as the team's best one-on-one defender already. 

--  Until Ian Mahinmi gets back on the court evaulating what moves can or possibly be made is difficult. That's because the Wizards don't know how those pieces fit yet and they'll have to get them playing well to have any value in the market. When Mahinmi returns, rookie center Daniel Ochefu likely gets shipped to the Delaware 87ers of the D-League to get some game action. He has stayed active most nights this season becaue the bench is thin at his position and he could be needed in case of an emergency such as an in-game injuy or ejection.

-- The guard play off the bench is suspect, but after a terrible start Trey Burke has stabilized himself and is more effective if he plays more off ball or looks for his shot quickly when on it. The more decisive Burke is, and the earlier he can get his shot in the clock, the better he can score. After losing his spot to Tomas Satoransky he has gotten it back for now. But Marcus Thornton remains hard to gauge behind Beal. He's either hot or cold with rarely any in-between.

-- Andrew Nicholson is a spot-minute player off the bench and that appears to be his ceiling. Jason Smith will get more time when Mahinmi returns.

-- Smith is valuable when he pops mid-range off the screen-roll action. When he tries to dive all the way to the basket or stretch out to the three-point line, it all goes awry. Defenses won't guard, be fooled or respect that. Mid-range is his wheelhouse.

-- Coach Scott Brooks has kept a level head even after some trying times and that's becoming reflected in the identity of his team. Brooks doesn't go overboard with his emotions and keeps his players in check when they start to stray outside the lines. 

-- The true rookies (meaning, not Satoransky) will get their chances later rather than sooner. Sheldon McClellan and Danuel House have competed in the D-League already. Brooks wants them to get the reps there. He played McClellan more than he wanted to earlier this season because of injuries and minutes restrictions to his starting backcourt. As long as the Wizards stay in the playoff picture, it's difficult to see them getting significant chances outside of injuries or a teammate completely falling off the cliff . All three, includingg Ochefu, went undrafted for a reason. They needed development and Brooks doesn't believe they're there yet. 

[RELATED: Weighty issue: Wall trimmed down at Brooks' urging]

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Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 140-111 on Friday night on the road. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. In case anyone was wondering how the Wizards would respond to Bradley Beal's strong comments about the team's culture, the answer is not well.

The Wizards barely put up a fight against the Toronto Raptors in a lopsided loss. They lost by 29 and trailed by as many as 33.

One reason was they committed 28 turnovers. They also allowed the Raptors to make 22 threes. That's the third-most allowed in one game by the Wizards in franchise history.

This was the Wizards' 41st game of the season. With a 13-28 record, they are on pace to win 26 games.

2. The Wizards didn't just lose this game, they may have lost backup shooting guard Jordan McRae for an extended period of time.

McRae stepped on a shoe at midcourt and rolled his left ankle. He immediately went down in obvious pain and had to be carried off the floor and into the locker room. 

It was reminiscent of the ankle injury Garrison Mathews suffered nearly two weeks ago. That one fortunately did not result in a fracture or ligament damage. He just had a bad ankle sprain.

Just like Mathews, McRae suffered his injury at a time when he was playing well and really coming into his own. Tough timing.

3. There weren't many positives for the Wizards in this one, but Isaac Bonga certainly was one. The second-year wing dropped a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a steal. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end.

Bonga shot 6-for-9 from the field and hit two threes. His continued development as a scorer has been impressive to watch this season.

4. Davis Bertans is such a good shooter that when he releases the ball, it is expected to go in. Even rarer, it seems, he misses two in a row.

Every once in a while, once in a blue moon, he has a legitimate off-shooting night. Friday was one of those nights. Bertans had 12 points and shot 3-for-11 from three.

Per usual of late, Bertans wasn't exactly open due to his place on the scouting report but he got decent looks. Many of his threes clanged off the front of the rim. 

Maybe he had tired legs. Whatever it was, the Latvian Laser didn't have it like he usually does.

5. The Isaiah Thomas experience has not been good as of late. The Wizards point guard at another bad game, this time with eight points in 16 minutes.

He just looked off; sluggish and making mental mistakes. That included two turnovers in the first quarter when he passed the ball as the shot clock expired.

Those decisions were inexcusable and in his last 10 games, Thomas has averaged 8.5 points while shooting 34.4 percent. He has not been the same guy since coming back from his calf injury in mid-December. But it's been more than physical. His head hasn't seemed to be in the game like it was earlier this season.

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Bradley Beal records an impressive four-point play against the Raptors

Bradley Beal records an impressive four-point play against the Raptors

Bradley Beal emphasized the Wizards' need to start winning games and changing the culture after the team's 115-106 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night. Two nights later, Washington responded with an opening half riddled with turnovers, which led to a deficit that grew to as high as 24 points before halftime.

In the third quarter, the Wizards began to make a charge, highlighted by Beal's four-point play after draining a three while drawing contact.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka closed out too aggressively on Beal and landed on the guard's foot. The officials assessed a flagrant one foul to Ibaka for not allowing space to land, and Beal converted the ensuing free throw. 

Beal's four-point play cut the Wizards' deficit to 77-64 and was the start of an 8-0 run that cut the Raptors' lead to single-digits at 77-68.

But Toronto answered back quickly, reeling off an 8-0 spurt of its own to build the lead back up and pull away for a commanding 140-111 win. Beal finished with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. 

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