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Wizards turn aggressive start into win over Rockets

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Wizards turn aggressive start into win over Rockets

Updated 9:10 AM ETLAS VEGAS Recapping the (mostly) highs and (charity strip shooting) low of the Wizards 76-70- win over the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League Saturday night.Jump-startAfter a lackluster opening against Atlanta on Friday, the Wizards played a thoroughly energetic first half against Houston, resulting in a 48-31 halftime lead. Tone setting came via early aggressive offensive action from Chris Singleton and Bradley Beal, who again led the Wizards in scoring with 14 points. Before the first half ended, all the main options had their moments. We had a lot more energy today. Energy level was good, Wizards summer league head coach Sam Cassell said. Our main guys forced the tempo, rebounded the ball well today, passed the ball a little better."Shelvin Mack scored all of his 11 points in the first half, Jan Vesely again found success with his perimeter shot and Tomas Satoransky threw down one of two monster dunks while putting together a substantially better performance compared to game one. The lead ballooned to 25 points in the fourth quarter and then tightened after Cassell pulled his primary options.Overall, I was impressed, Cassell said. I got a chance to give a lot of guys playing time. It got a little close down the stretch, but I was proud of the guys today.All-around BealLeading scorer aspect aside, the poised rookie demonstrated the breadth of his game including as rebounder, passer and thinker.Today, myself, I just let the game come to me, said Beal, who had four assists. They were helping a lot on my drives, so I just found the open guy and started kicking the ball. I really wasnt worrying about scoring too much, because everybody can score on this team, so I was really just trying to get my teammates the ball.The third quarter, which was also hisfinal quarter,proved a microcosm of his night. With his parents watching court side, Beal scored nine points in that span, including a baseline dunk and putback off one of his three offensive rebounds. He also doled out a pretty no-look feed to Garett Siler for a dunk and throughout showed a comfort level whenever tasked with running the offense. It always is because either I can score for myself or somebody else is open, they can knock down the shots, Beal said of being in playmaking mode. Its always fun to be in that position, to be able to create for yourself and to be able to create for your teammates as well."Beal split his two 3-point attempts and is 2 of 5 through two games. The one box score downer, a 5 for 10 performance at the free throw line, which left the 19-year-old shaking his head during the postgame media session. Of course, after sinking 9 of 10 against the Hawks, Beal has reached the charity stripe a robust 20 times in two games.Hes getting 10 free throws a night, Cassell noted. If he continues that, Im pretty sure our whole staff will be happy with that.Mack attackMacks point-guarding day against the Rockets started along the same largely ineffective path he took versus the Hawks before his scoring touch emerged. What got him started? With Beal acting as the distributor, Mack took on the role of finisher, which ignited an assertive streakin all facets.You have to take what the defense gives you," said the rising second-year guard. "They stop me, pass the ball. If they dont stop me, keep going until someone stops the ball. Just continue to play on and off the ball and be aggressive.(Shelvins) getting a feel for itGetting a feel for how to be a point guard, said Cassell, the former NBA floor general. It was well played basketball by Shelvin Mack today. He can make shots, he can play off the ball, he can play on the ball. Everything went well today.Frontcourt...Singleton scored 10 points and often served as the team's loudest on-court voice, but according to Cassell, hisbest work came on the defensive end against the Rockets array of first-round forwards. "Hes doing a hell of a job defensively, being in the right position off the ball. Hes our best help side defender right now," Cassell said.Like Beal, Singleton's struggled at the foul line (4 of 9). The Wizards shot 53.3 percent (16 of 30).After draining three perimeter shots against the Hawks, Vesely made both of outside attempts, 4 of 6 overall and finished with eight points. One of the misses, another dunk, his third of the summer league. And since you were wondering, only three personal fouls after picking up 10 on Friday.The duo combined for seven rebounds, but collectively the Wizards hammered the Rockets on the glass, finishing with a 42-31 advantage.EtcSatoransky scored 11 points of the bench with the highlights coming on a dribble-drive dunk in the open court and jamming home a perfectly thrown alley-oop pass from Steven GrayThe Wizards onlookers included Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Cartier Martin and Emeka OkaforRockets rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, the 12th overall pick, led all scored with 26 pointsReserves Jeff Brooks (nine rebounds), Garrett Siler and Gray each scored six points. Washington plays its third game in three days Sunday against the NBA Developmental League Al-Stars.

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Rui Hachimura is a 'late bloomer' in basketball, but the Washington Wizards like that

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USA Today Sports

Rui Hachimura is a 'late bloomer' in basketball, but the Washington Wizards like that

Rui Hachimura was introduced to the sport of basketball at 13 years old after spending his childhood on the baseball diamond, emulating Ichiro Suzuki, as many kids in Japan do. Just eight years later, Hachimura has charted his own path as the first Japanese-born lottery pick in the NBA after the Washington Wizards drafted him at No. 9 overall.

That trajectory is important to note when considering Hachimura's age. He is 21 years old, which is on the older side for an NBA draft prospect in the age of one-and-dones. But, you could say he's only eight in basketball years.

That's not a technical term used by NBA front office executives, but the fact Hachimura is a "late bloomer" was one of the biggest selling points for the Wizards. That's how interim team president Tommy Sheppard described him on several occasions the night of the draft and the day after. And even majority owner Ted Leonsis referenced it when asked about the pick in an interview with the Washington Times over the weekend.

While reason may suggest a younger player has higher upside, the Wizards are looking beyond simple age. In Hachimura, they believe they have a player who could benefit from not having the year-round strain of AAU basketball in his past.

"When you come to the game a little bit later, maybe you don't have some bad habits that you accumulate. You don't have a lot of extra miles," Sheppard said. 

"Those kinds of things resonate with us. You have to be healthy to play in the NBA, and there are so many players in this particular draft that for whatever reason, there are a lot of sad faces tonight because I think medical held a lot of people back. He has a clean bill of health, and that's exciting to us."

Sheppard could have been referencing any number of prospects who carried the label as an injury risk into draft night. With the ninth overall pick, the Wizards took Hachimura over Duke's Cam Reddish, who has several red flags, injuries among them. In the second round, they passed on Oregon's Bol Bol, who had a stress fracture in his foot, in favor of Admiral Schofield.

But health isn't the only potential benefit of picking up the game at a later age. Sheppard alluded to the development of bad habits. He thinks Hachimura is more of a blank canvas for the coaching staff and that could work in their favor long-term.

Sheppard made a comparison for Hachimura that was interesting for several reasons.

"With [Raptors forward] Pascal Siakam, you see what happens when guys come to the game a little late and what he was able to do. It's not the same, but if you ask me of someone who's story his reminds me of, it could remind you of something like that," Sheppard said.

Siakam's name was invoked over and over during the pre-draft process but more often to draw a parallel for Sekou Doumbouya of France. Sheppard was more so comparing the development track for Hachimura than the playing style, but it holds some weight.

There have been some famous cases of late bloomers in NBA history. Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan and Joel Embiid reportedly didn't start playing basketball until high school.

Duncan may be a good example of avoiding bad habits, as he is considered one of the most fundamentally sound players of all time. Olajuwon might be the most skilled big man in NBA history, and Embiid has a chance to become an all-time great.

What gives the Wizards hope that Hachimura will reach his potential and someday enjoy breakout success like Siakam has is his work ethic. The Wizards did deep background research on Hachimura, including through discussions with his college coach, Mark Few of Gonzaga.

They believe they found something in Hachimura that other teams may have overlooked.

"The things that you hope for and that you're optimistic about, they seem to be there. So, we're excited about that," Sheppard said. "It's really up to Rui and how bad do you want to be good?"

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How to watch the NBA Awards, where Bradley Beal is nominated for Community Assist

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USA TODAY Sports

How to watch the NBA Awards, where Bradley Beal is nominated for Community Assist

Despite the NBA world examining next season’s rookies and their potential in the days following the 2019 NBA Draft, we won’t know until Monday night who the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year is. 

Finally, the NBA Awards are here, and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is among this year’s nominees. Beal is one of 10 nominees for the 2018-19 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award, which celebrates players who have had an exceptional positive impact off the court. 

Working with Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, Beal’s off-the-court work included mentoring boys and young men specifically from D.C.’s Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. He made at least two visits to the all-male school this year, as NBA Cares explained:

Most notably, Bradley shadowed the principal for a day, participating in activities with his mentees, and gifted students with game tickets, basketball uniforms, toiletries and food for school’s pantry. Bradley later hosted the students to a private, advanced screening of CREED II, and led his mentees on a guided tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Joining Beal in the category are the following nominees: LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Pascal Siakam, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, Mike Conley, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton and Dwight Powell. The winner of the award will receive a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

Here’s everything you need to know about the NBA Awards, including how to watch. 

2019 NBA Awards

When: Monday, June 24, 2019
Where: Barker Hangar in Los Angeles
Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT

List of Top Awards and Nominees

NBA MVP

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden, Houston Rockets

Past NBA MVP Winners

2018: James Harden, Houston Rockets
2017: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
2016: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
2015: Steph Curry Golden State Warriors
2014: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Rookie of the Year 

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Luka, Dallas Maverickssssss
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Past NBA Rookie of the Year Winners

2018: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
2017: Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
2016: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
2014: Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Defensive Player of the Year 

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Past NBA Defensive Player of the Year Winners

2018: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
2017: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors 
2016: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2015: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
2014: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

NBA Sixth Man Award 

Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

NBA Most Improved Player

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

NBA Coach of the Year

Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Malone, Denver Nuggets
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award

Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Jared Dudley, Brooklyn Nets
Channing Frye, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers
Garrett Temple, LA Clippers
Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers

NBA Sportsmanship Award

Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Al Horford, Boston Celtics
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

Lifetime Achievement Award

Larry Bird
Magic Johnson

Sager Strong Award

Robin Roberts

NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

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