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Wizards eyeballing a shooter?

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Wizards eyeballing a shooter?

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.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?