The Wizards brought in another group of draft prospects on Thursday, most notably Florida guardBradley Beal and Georgetown forwardHollis Thompson. Ive previously written about Beal and how the freshman wing guard with a strong perimeter game could be the ideal selection with the third overall pick for a team lacking outside shooters. His textbook form was on display during the portion of the approximately two-hour session made available to the media. I think I did pretty good actually, said Beal after his first individual team workout. I wasnt too nervous. I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was, but overall I think a pretty good job, showcased a lot of things I was capable of doing.Beal, 18, - he turns 19 on June 28 the day of the NBA Draft will visit with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. The Bobcats pick second, the Cavaliers fourth.Known for his shooting touch, the 6-foot-4 Beal (sorry, 6 4.75) said he wanted to display his offensive versatility.Basically I can create off the dribble, Beal said. We did a lot of drills where we had to dribble the ball and pull up and shoot jumpers, so I think I did a pretty good job of that. Thats what I wanted to showcase the most.Tasked with serving as a de-facto small forward in Floridas three-guard lineup, Beal averaged a healthy 6.7 rebounds last season.I believe I can probably rebound when I want to, Beal said. Florida Coach Billy Donovan constantly got on my butt about that too. I just took it upon myself to be able to do it, and I just took that responsibility to step up and start rebounding.Beals overall 3-point shooting percentage last season was 33 percent, below expectations for the player considered the premier perimeter shooter in the 2011 class. Over his final five games, starting with Kentucky in the SEC Tournament and including four NCAA Tournament games, Beal sank 12 of 26 attempts (46.1 percent) from beyond the arc and 58.5 percent from all angles. What changed? Basically just having fun, Beal said. That and getting a talking to by Donovan. Focusing on rebounding spurred his offense and the freshman carried the Gators offense for stretches during the NCAAs.If Beal is the pick, that means keeping with Wizards speedy point guard John Wall. No problem says the player who just completed a season in Floridas up-tempo system.I would love it. He loves to play fast. Thats the style of play I want to play.Even if Beal is the third overall pick and joins Wall and Jordan Crawford in the backcourt, he is not assuming the starting off-guard spot is his.Im the type of guy that wants to earn everything, Beal said. I want to earn every bit of it. I dont want anything given to me. Im just going to come here and work hard if the Wizards choose me.Beals maturity popped during the presser. Poised and articulate his responses to media questions dripped with sincerity. This was no Tim Robbins in Bull Durham reciting pre-rehearsed lines. Thoughtful with his answers is probably a better way to say it.Seeing as he entered college with a host of accolades, Beal was asked if he anticipated leaving college after one season regardless.It was the closing stretch, honestly. During the year, I knew for a fact I wasnt coming out. I was like man, Im not even ready. Then toward the end of the year, I really stepped up a lot, started playing the way I knew how I was capable of playing.Thompson joined Beal and Gramblings Quincy Roberts in the workout on the Wizards practice court, just steps away from where Georgetowns all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage played for the Hoyas. The 6-foot-8 forward received some advance warning on the Wizards workout.His former Georgetown teammate Jason Clark particpated in Tuesday's session.Thompson also talks regularly with Hoyas center Henry Sims, another draft prospect.We kind of shoot messages back and forth about what workouts weve been to, Thompson said. How its going, like whats the toughest drill youve done. Stuff like that.In one elbow-to-elbow shooting drill, referred to as the 7-drill, Thompson started a minute or so after Beal on the opposite end of the court. Not a race, but after draining shot after shot, he finished first. The Wizards announced Friday's workout group: Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Duke guard Austin Rivers (Duke), Washington swingman Terrence Ross (Wash) and Tomas Satoransky from the Czech Republic. Kidd-Gilchirst is a projected top-5 pick while Rivers and Ross could go in the top half of the first round.
Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.
Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.
Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:
Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.
There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.
If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.
If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.
One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.
On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.
Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller talked all things NBA Draft.
They gave their picks for the best options for the Wizards, the safest and riskiest prospects, plus what they expect the team to do. Texas A&M big man Robert Williams also joined the show in a 1-on-1 interview.
You can listen to the episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!
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