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Wizards' hope 'Man with a 1,000 moves' keeps stretching his game

Wizards' hope 'Man with a 1,000 moves' keeps stretching his game

In the Greater Washington area, finding a viable NBA stretch-4 option has been as elusive as no rush hour traffic on the Beltway or a deep postseason run by one of the four major sports franchises. Don't look now but it's possible the Wizards have a solution.

By solution we mean a player capable of:

  • Knocking down open 3-pointers off feeds from a driving and dishing John Wall 
  • Rebounding with gusto
  • Defending opposing big men inside or perimeter threats outside.

In recent seasons the likes of Jared Dudley, Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden provided some of these elements, but were liabilities elsewhere. 

Based on his preseason and training camp work, Andrew Nicholson might be that solution.

He's intriguing out there," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Nicholson with an intonation that infers he truly believes what he's saying and not just using words to form a sentence. "He has a unique game."

Brooks spoke shortly after Nicholson scored 11 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and sank 3 of 5 from beyond the arc last Thursday in a preseason romp over Philadelphia. When presented with the concept of the free agent addition filling this big man need, Wall nodded as he simply answered, "Him."

Two nights later, the 6-foot-9, 250-pounder led Washington with 19 points against Sacramento. Nicholson, who backs up Markieff Morris, hit 7 of 13 shots including 2 of 4 3-pointers.

"[He's] been a great pickup," Brooks continued. "First of all, he's a great teammate. Guys really enjoy watching him play. He has a low post game. He's a man of 1,000 moves. Has big hands. He has good touch with either hand around the basket. He's unique in the fact that most 3-point shooters can't score down low and most low post scorers can't shoot 3's. He can do a little bit of both."

That versatility is the key. Dudley was among the top 3-point shooters in the NBA last season, but the Wizards were a mess on the boards with the undersized option. The Morris acquisition fueled a rebounding surge. He can also defend bigs and has the foot quickness needed to roam the perimeter, but isn't a knockdown shooter. 

Nicholson made a career-high 36 percent of his 3's last season with Orlando. If Morris (32.3% career) has a similar surge, look out.

"It's something  I tell our guys. You've got to put your time in every day. You can't just expect to make shots in the game. You have to work on your game," Brooks said. "That's a part of a lot of the guys' game, the 3-point shot. It helps our spacing. It just helps everything about our game offensively."

Then again, it's not just sinking 3-pointers for the power forward options, which include veteran Jason Smith.

"Those guys bringing are bringing the physicality, " Wall said. "Knowing how to rebound, to knockdown shots, but also make the right plays."

If Nicholson can keep up this multi-faceted game, it won't be a stretch suggesting the Wizards will have made the right play by signing the man with a 1,000 moves. 

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Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Wizards take down another contender with win over Raptors in NBA 2K simulation

Not only are the Washington Wizards dominating the NBA 2K simulation, but they are also doing it against some tough competition. 

With a 70-61 win over the Toronto Raptors, Washington has now won seven of nine simulations. Other victories have come against the likes of the Bucks, Lakers and 76ers. In the 2K world, the Wizards are consistently beating the best.

In the latest win, the formula remained the same as past simulations. Behind another big night from Rui Hachimura (21 points) and some added scoring from Bradley Beal (12 points), the Wizards offense was able to put up enough to get past Toronto. Timely runs in the second half and some stingy defense left the Raptors with no chance to mount a comeback as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards win.

Rui keeps on rolling 

There has been no stopping the Wizards rookie in 2K as of late. With 21 points, he now has back-to-back 20-point performances. The first-round pick of Washington in 2019 has been doing it on both ends of the floor, sparking big plays with blocks and finishing at the rim.

Hachimura also stepped behind the line and showed some range on Tuesday, hitting a smooth-looking three-pointer.

It's been a great 2K run for Hachimura overall as of late, as he also took down Donovan Mitchell in the first round of the 2K Player Tournament.

Strong finish

Though the Wizards played well throughout, it was a dominant stretch toward the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth that sealed the win.

A 16-6 run to close the third coupled with a 16-3 run early in the fourth gave Washington a comfortable lead. After taking a 42-41 lead in the third, the Raptors would never lead again.


Dominant inside, efficient outside

Similar to other simulations, the Wizards once again did a lot of their scoring inside the paint. Washington outscored the Raptors 46-32 in the paint, finishing at the rim in multiple ways consistently. 

Thomas Bryant was once again a beast down low, throwing down dunks and recording a team-high 16 rebounds in addition to 10 points to complete a double-double.

Though the real NBA has become a three-point heavy game, it hasn't quite translated to 2K. The Wizards only attempted eight shots from behind the arc on the night, a number that could sometimes come from just a few possessions in a real game. Even more peculiar, Davis Bertans didn't register a single three-point attempt. 

Yet, the Wizards made the most of the attempts, going 4-from-8 from three. Of course, Bradley Beal was in the mix.

Run for the (simulation) playoffs?

In the 2K universe, the Wizards entered Tuesday just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth spot in the East. With a win, the virtual team may have inched even closer to the playoffs. 

Simulation-wise, Washington could not have asked for a better stretch of play.

The 2K Wizards will be back in action Friday at 7 p.m. ET against the Rockets. 

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Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

Wizards' Troy Brown Jr. says it was scary hearing Rudy Gobert contracted coronavirus

By the time Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA subsequently suspended the 2019-20 season, a number of teams who'd played Utah leading up to the suspension had to self-quarantine as a precaution. 

One of them was the Washington Wizards.

They suffered a 10-point loss to the Jazz 12 days before Gobert tested positive, so they urged their players to self-quarantine for several days. Fortunately for the Wizards, no player ended up tested positive for the virus.

Washington's second-year wing joined Chris Miller on the Wizards Talk Podcast and gave a window into what his reaction was to the fact he had played the Jazz leading up to Gobert's positive test. 

"I wasn't touching [Gobert]," Brown said with a laugh. "I didn't go in for no layups or anything like that. But all jokes aside though, it was one of those things that was scary because I didn't know really what to expect coming out of it."

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Heading into the league's suspension, Brown was enjoying a strong season where he showed a lot of improvement from his rookie year. He was averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on much better shooting splits (45.3% FG, 34.5% 3P in 19-20 vs. 41.5% FG, 31.9% 3P in 18-19). 

Brown seemed to have much more success coming off the bench with a unit in which he had more ball-handling opportunities. We'll see if he can continue to grow when basketball returns, though the 20-year-old is forced to focus on the challenges that come with isolation. 

"It definitely is a lot easier being with my family and being in my own space and being able to make decisions for myself," Brown said. "Being in D.C. was kind of hard because I didn't have anybody else there besides my dog, living by myself in quarantine. I feel like it's those people that are struggling with the quarantine stuff being isolated by themselves because you don't really know what to do."

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