The buzz word around the Washington Wizards the past few weeks has been shooter. That's what the Wizards need in this year's NBA draft, which takes place on Thursday. After picking up two more forwards via trade last week in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, it would be shocking if the Wizards with the third overall pick took a player other than a guard or small forward who could score the basketball.
That's why two names stick out as possible choices for the Wizards -- Florida's guard Bradley Beal or North Carolina swingman Harrison Barnes.
The 6'-4" Beal averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds a game in his only season at Florida. Beal, who turns 19 on draft day, really came on late in the season, boosting his stock with a 20-point effort against eventual champion Kentucky in the SEC tournament. Beal is a fluid shooting guard who, coming out of high school, was known for his range but struggled to shoot just 33 percent from beyond the arc at Florida. But in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, Beal hit three's at a much better 46 percent clip.
The 6'-8" Barnes has been on the NBA scouts radar since he was a senior in high school and was the nation's 1 recruit before he headed to North Carolina. Barnes was a hotter commodity a year ago after his freshman season but opted to stay in school, and his stock took a hit as he had a solid but not spectacular sophomore campaign, averaging 17 points a game. Barnes can come off screens and hit the jumper but struggled with creating his own shot off the dribble.
It's no secret the Wizards; coming off a 20-46 record, need help offensively. They were the 23rd rank offense out of 30 this last NBA season, averaging 93 points a game, and they were the third worst three-point shooting team at 32 percent.
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld will have the final say on who the Wizards pick on Thursday and the heavy odds are it will be Beal or Barnes.
In their second victory against the Chicago Sky this season, Elena Delle Donne dominated once again.
In 33 minutes of play, the star forward racked up 22 points, seven rebounds and 9 of 15 field goals against her former team. She led the Mystics in points and rebounds.
Tianna Hawkins brought a spark off the bench, tallying 15 points, four rebounds, six of ten field goals and a +11 differential in just 18 minutes of play.
The Mystics won all four games on this road trip, tying their season-high win streak from earlier this season. Washington is now 8-3 as they head home to host the Connecticut Sun, who just snapped a seven-game win streak.
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Just a few weeks ago, the Masai Ujiri-to-D.C. movement was gaining steam quickly. Just moments after Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors began celebrating their NBA Championship, reports began to swirl that the Wizards were prepared to aggressively pursue the GM.
Sources told NBC Sports Washington that there could be the possibility of a sort of mega-deal that went beyond just giving him control of the Wizards. But Wizards owner Ted Leonsis denied earlier this month that the team had reached out, saying that "we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."
And on Tuesday, Uriji seemed to make it official that he will stay in Toronto.
"I love it here, my family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadians. You want to win more, for me," Ujiri said on Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference.
"Yeah, I can continue to address teams wanting me and all those things. That's a blessing in life," Ujiri said. "For me the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy, and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person. This place has made me grow as a person."
"I identify with this place and I love it. So in my mind, I'm here."
On paper, Ujiri and the Wizards looked to be a good match. Washington could offer him money and control, while also allowing him to work with his "Basketball without Borders" program in D.C.
As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh explained recently, the Raptors late-season championship run could have messed up the timing and situation that could have lured Ujiri to a new team.
The Wizards made it through the NBA Draft without a new GM, but as July and free agency approach, the search may continue to ramp up.
The answer is still out there, it just may not be Masai Ujiri anymore.
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