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Wizards anxiously await first breakout game from Bradley Beal

Wizards anxiously await first breakout game from Bradley Beal

The start of the season hasn't been exactly what Bradley Beal was anticipating, coming off a summer in which the Wizards made him a $128 million max player. His team is 0-3 going into tonight vs. the Atlanta Hawks (CSN, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

Beal is shooting 38.1% from the field, 28.6% from three for 14 points, 2.3 assists and 1.3 rebounds. He's only getting up 14 shots per game which has to be about six fewer than he should take as the best shooter on the team.

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"My job is to try to get him as many easy shots as possible," point guard John Wall said, looking back at Wednesday's 113-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors and ahead to their next home game. "A couple times he turned down some shots to make extra passes. I’m used to him taking those kind of shots. I told him to be aggressive. Most of the time me and him are probably going to take 20 shots a game. For us both to be successful, we both have to be aggressive. Also when teams are double teaming us or trying to collapse on us we have to make the right reads and right plays. I think he’s been able to do that. He’s missing a couple of easy shots that he’s used to making. What kind of helps with that is getting to the free throw line and getting easy baskets."

Beal is only taking three free throws per game. When the Wizards lost the season-opener in Atlanta, the excuse for Beal's performance was obvious: He was in foul trouble. But he hasn't been able to shake free long enough to get his shot. And when Beal does get the ball against elite defenders such as Atlanta's Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha, he has to work incredibly hard to find open space.

What are teams doing?

  •  The Wizards screen heavily for Beal, but defenses are switching 1-4. As a result, Beal isn't getting the real estate.

What can Beal do?

  • Attack dribble immediately when any big switches onto him. He showed it in a preseason game vs. the New York Knicks. Kristaps Porzingis ended up in that position and got the blow by for the and-1 (15 seconds into this highlight package). 

What is Beal not doing?

  • Go back to the fourth quarter of the last game. He's mostly stationary and not always making himself available and in one instance he passed up a short corner three to Markieff Morris, who isn't as good a shooter, for a deeper one at a tougher angle.

What can coach Scott Brooks do? 

  • It's a good idea to get the best shooter on the team into some flex action. Set cross screens, ideally with another shooter (Otto Porter, maybe?), on the weak side of the floor and have Beal pop to the top of a pindown to create room and generate more mismatches. In the opener with the Hawks, Beal set just one screen and that was on an out-of-bounds play and it freed Andrew Nicholson for a layup. In the pivotal fourth vs. Toronto, Beal didn't set any. His pre-catch activity needs to be higher. The best shooters in the league (Kyle Korver of the Hawks is one) do this a lot. 

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Otto Porter, Jr. wants to be more like Klay Thompson on offense and Kawhi Leonard on defense

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USA Today Sports Images

Otto Porter, Jr. wants to be more like Klay Thompson on offense and Kawhi Leonard on defense

Otto Porter, Jr. has heard it from coaches and teammates for over a year now, that they want him to shoot the ball more often.

He is the team's most efficient player and the more he shoots, many believe the better off the Wizards will be.

Porter took that idea, and his general quest to be a better player, in a new direction this offseason.

He specifically wants to take after Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Kawhi Leonard of the Raptors.

If Thompson can get his while playing with Curry and Durant, Porter should be able to do the same with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Thompson has averaged 16 field goal attempts or more in the past four years while running with other superstars, while Porter topped out at a career-high 11.5 shots per game last season.

"That's definitely going to be a goal of mine, just to be ultra-aggressive. I think it's best for the team and best for me to put out that effort and be more involved and kind of be like Klay Thompson and take my shots. I'm very confident in that. I'm going to instill that in every game," Porter said.

As for Leonard, Porter hopes to take after him on the defensive end. Leonard, who was traded from the Spurs to the Raptors in July, has won two defensive player of the year awards and he's only 27 years old.

Also a small forward, Porter believes he can model parts of his defensive game after Leonard.

"I watched tons of film," Porter said of his regimen this summer. "I'm learning how to guard on-ball; take my angles and be able to master that. I studied Kawhi Leonard a lot, and the angles he takes. He's very strategic with how his movements are. He never seems tired. I was able to get in [better] shape this summer. There are a lot of games, so I wanted to be in the best shape possible."

Porter has proven he can shoot at a high percentage. Now, he wants to put up volume numbers like Thompson.

Porter has proven a solid team defender. Now, he wants to become a dominant on-ball force like Leonard.

Both of those things should be good news to the Wizards.

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Wizards' rookie Troy Brown Jr. handled his first media day like a veteran

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards' rookie Troy Brown Jr. handled his first media day like a veteran

Washington Wizards first-round draft pick Troy Brown Jr. is as mild-mannered as it comes. 

The 19-year-old did and said all the right things Monday at his first NBA media day inside the brand new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights. 

He made his way through a jam-packed media day with a certain charisma, swagger and composure as if he'd been doing it for years. 

The Las Vegas, Nev. native, who left the University of Oregon basketball program after a year, was drafted No. 15 overall by the Wizards in June. 

Brown Jr. was candid as far as what these last few months have been like for him personally. 

"It was overwhelming at one point but then I kind of brushed over it quick and knew I had more work to do." 

The rookie joins a team that underperformed a season ago finishing with a record of 43-39 and fell to the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in the First Round of the playoffs. But this year's squad has a new supporting cast. 

Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers and Jeff Green each bring something different to the Wizards. Elite rim protecting, rebounding, second-unit scoring, defending and most importantly...the depth this team so desperately needs. 

Brown Jr. was no stranger to last year's results and clearly did his homework. 

"I feel like guys are a little more locked in [this year] and everybody is just here with one goal. I feel like this season should go pretty well." 

Summer League proved just how 'locked in' Brown Jr. himself seems to be. In three of the five games from Vegas, the versatile forward notched 20 points or more including one double-double. 

He understands he's competing for minutes on a team that is already stacked offensively. 

"I've always had to kind of pick my role depending on whether it's USA basketball or if I was playing up when I was younger, so I kind of knew what to do in those aspects and that's where my versatility comes in for me personally," said Brown Jr. "For me, whatever I can do to get on that court and show that we're a 50-win team will personally make me feel good." 

His versatility was on full display in the fifth and final Summer League contest where he lit up the box score notching 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting with six rebounds and three steals. 

When the five-time 'Wall-Star' and team floor general sings your praises at media day, you have to feel good heading into your rookie season. 

Brown Jr. and the Wizards open preseason play Oct. 1 against the Knicks at 7 p.m. 

 

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