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Wizards-Hawks instant analysis


Wizards-Hawks instant analysis

LAS VEGAS -- Here are some immediate postgame reactions following the Wizards102-82 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in their Las Vegas Summer League opener... Yeah, not exactly a banner start for the Wizards even in a situation where wins and losses are not the primary concern. Washington trailed by eight points after the first quarter, 15 at halftime as by as many as29 points in the second half against a Hawks squad not brimming with notable NBA names. In his first game wearing a Wizards jersey, Beal led in scoring with22 points, 14 coming before halftime. Chris Singleton ramped up his production aftera slow start to finish with 20 while Jan Vesely had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Collectively the Wizards committed 19 turnovers. Vanderbilt sharpshooter and first-round pick John Jenkins and forward Keith Benson led the Hawks with 19 points. Atlanta took advantage of those Washington turnovers and defensive lapses to shoot54 percent from the field.Not sure anything done in a summer league game could equal or exceed expectations, but Beal displayed plenty on both ends of the court,especially in the first half. Offensively, the off-ball guard demonstrated poise and maturity that isthe basis for his subtle game. Not a forcer of the action,Bealdashed and darted his way to findingopen space, sinking 4 of 6 attempts early. In the second half, the shots did not fall (2 of 8) and but the same strengths remained and regardless the 19-year-old impressed coach Sam Cassell by keeping his emotions in check.Defensively Bealdisplayed solid individual technique and team understanding, even if Jenkins got the best of his former SEC foe from deep, making 4-of-5 from beyond the arc compared to Beal's 1 of 3. In a bizarro world performance, the most impressive aspect of Vesely's game was his perimeter shot. Flashing his improved form, Vesely did his best Dirk Nowitzki impression in the first half, knocking down his first three looks from 15 feet and beyond.Still a rough time from the free throw line and a second half jumper got stuck between the rim and backboard, but an obvious improvement. Oddly, the bulk of the above-the-rim forwards first two misses came on dunk attempts. However the rest of Vesely's outing was rather suspect. Pick and roll situations on both ends of the court remain a work in progress.Being aggressive defensively is one thing. Committing silly fouls is another and Vesely had several among his 10 fouls. Yes, even with higher amount of fouls per player he still fouled out. During the first half Singleton looked like the disjointed player we saw often last season, but he turned up the aggressiveness after halftime, driving to the basket with greater regularity and effectiveness. He finished 7 of 13 from the field with eight rebounds and four steals. There are parts of Shelvin Macks game I continue to like, notably his defensive presence and mental focus. However, in terms of running an NBA offense, the rising second-year guards effort did little to stop me from thinking the Wizards still need to add a true point guard this offseason. Mack struggled with double teams and getting all the way to the rim even after getting past an overly aggressive defender. The good news on Tomas Satoransky, his feel for the game is obvious. The bad news, at elast against theHawks, is thatwas he slow in transitioning an idea into execution. Bringing the ball up he turned the ball over on consecutive possessions in the second quarter and committed xx turnovers overall

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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 


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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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