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Wizards preseason half recap, statistically speaking

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Wizards preseason half recap, statistically speaking

Seeing as the Wizards are halfway through their preseason slate, thought it would be a good time to check out how the team looks, statistically speaking. Today, the backcourt...

Bradley Beal: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 43.5 FG pct, 35.7 3ptFG pct, 83.3 FT pct, 0.75 tpg, 27.5 mpg

- The rookie leads Washington in scoring and is tied with Trevor Ariza for the team lead in steals (1.25). Preseason or not, less than one turnover per game for a 19-year-old newbie (or any active scorer) is rather impressive. Beal's 3-point clip is up from the 33.9 percent he shot at Florida despite having to launch from a greater distance. The 6-foot-4 guard is also showing the same willingness to grab rebounds as he did with the Gators and has more offensive rebounds (five) than the taller Ariza or Martell Webster. Though you wonder if the Wizards would want to throw the first rounder into the starting lineup fire right away - especially without John Wall in the lineup - Beal continues to impress in every situation, including Monday's matchup against perennial All-Star Joe Johnson.

Jordan Crawford: 12.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 37.3 FG pct, 25.0 3ptFG pct, 88.9 FT pct, 2.75 tpg, 24.0 mpg

- Playing around three minutes less per game so far compared to last year, Crawford's scoring is down slightly from the 14.7 he averaged last season, but his assists are up a touch - as are his turnovers. Never a strong percentage shooter, Crawford's accuracy from the field is also down - including from beyond the arc where he made only 28.9 percent of his tries last year. Playing as part of the Wizards starting unit that struggled mightily especially during the first two games didn't help. Crawford's shown steadier form when coming off the bench and paired with Shelvin Mack in the backcourt.

A.J. Price: 7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 37.5 FG pct, 30.0 3ptFG pct, 70 FT pct, 2.0 tpg, 16.5 mpg

- These numbers reflect what you see in Price's game: eh. The third-year guard is solid and largely steady, but doesn't stand out in any one area. On some level that makes the variance for his future playing time hardest to gauge. If the Wizards frontcourt is intact by opening night, then Price's competent game arguably makes the most sense as Washington's starter. If more offense is required, then Pargo (a better 3-point shooter) or Mack (a better scorer, finisher) could move ahead of Price in the rotation.

Shelvin Mack: 5.8 ppg, 1.5, rpg, 3.8 apg, 50.0 FG pct, 50.0 3ptFG pct, 50.0 FT pct, 0.75 tpg, 17.0 mpg

- That's no typo, Mack is making exactly half of his shots from all angles (he's only taken four 3's and two free throws), which is a marked improvement from the 40 percent he shot last year from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. His ability to make shots in traffic, floaters or otherwise, has been apparent. The Wizards assist leader to date, Mack's also looked more aggressive, confident as a distributor, a trait he rarely displayed during the Las Vegas Summer League. Perhaps no player has seen their stock rise more during the preseason, though that's not to say Mack will start or even be on the second unit (or for that matter, make the roster, though it seems likely he sticks around unless a numbers crunch elsewhere on the roster forces the Wizards hand). Still, Randy Wittman has confidence in Mack and that goes a long way.

Jannero Pargo: 5.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 33.3 FG pct, 20.0 3ptFG pct, 50.0 FT pct, 4.33 tpg, 19.0 mpg

- Added to the roster following word of John Wall's injury, the 33-year-old Pargo brought experience and perimeter shooting to a backcourt that lacked both. Though his offensive inclinations are evident, that hasn't translated into the kind of numbers the Wizards desire. Pargo has committed the most turnovers (13) on the roster despite playing one less game than most. The 3-point shooting speaks for itself, though his 35.4 career percentage from distance says more. There are reasons why Pargo maintains a spot in the NBA; his confidence is evident and in the right situation can be a real weapon. There are reasons why Pargo has bounced around the league during his career; not always knowing how to temper his offensive exuberance comes to mind. At a basic level the turnovers must come way down or the Wizards might as well go young and let their kids learn from their mistakes.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.

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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.

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