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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Ja Morant

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Ja Morant

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Ja Morant

School: Murray State
Position: Point guard
Age: 19 (turns 20 in August)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 175
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: 44 in.

2018/19 stats: 24.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 10.0 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.8 bpg, 49.9 FG% (6.3/11.3), 36.3 3PT% (1.7/4.8), 81.3 FT%

Player comparison: Russell Westbrook/Dennis Smith Jr.

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 3rd, NBADraft.net 2nd, Bleacher Report 2nd, Sports Illustrated 2nd, Ringer 3rd

5 things to know:

1. Morant had a breakout season at Murray State, emerging as a mid-major diamond in the rough much like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum did before him. Morant was a consensus All-American and conference player of the year as a sophomore. This was one year after he earned no such accolades as a freshman.

2. He stands out first because of his athleticism. Morant jumps off the screen for his speed and quickness with the ball as well as his leaping ability. At 6-foot-3, he can play well above the rim and finish with power much like Russell Westbrook does at the NBA level. The question is whether he can do the same in the NBA, as he may measure in a few inches shorter than Westbrook. Also, he probably has to add some weight to finish through contact.

3. Morant also appears to have a rare ability to pass the ball. He was the first player to average double-digit assists in Division I college basketball since 1994-95. And he did that while playing with mid-major teammates. Many of his assists did not come easy. Morant is uniquely good at passing on the run and mid-air while leaping around the rim. He is likely to be an elite passer in the NBA.

4. One concern with him at this point is outside shooting. He improved year-over-year in college, but topped out at 36.3 percent this past season. Though he did so with volume (4.8 3PA/g), he will have to continue to improve to max out his potential as an NBA guard in today's game. Working in his favor is the fact he was an 81 percent free throw shooter in college. That suggests he has good feel for shooting the ball.

5. Like Zion Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick, Morant is from South Carolina. He and Williamson grew up less than two hours apart and were teammates on the same AAU team, the South Carolina Hornets, in 2014-15. The two split ways as Williamson became a super prospect, while Morant developed more slowly as a late bloomer.


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Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Rui Hachimura was a star in Vegas, earning All-NBA Summer League Second Team honors

Welcome to the Wizards Rui Hachimura.

In his first action as a Washington Wizard, the first-round draft pick brought home some hardware after being named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team.

Hachimura showed out in a Summer League that was headlined by which stars were not playing on the court. In his final contest against the Atlanta Hawks, Hachimura dominated the court.

Playing a total of three games in Las Vegas, he averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Those stats paired with a 2-1 record in the games he played garnered the Second Team honor. 

He was joined by Chris Boucher (Toronto), Jaxson Hayes (New Orleans), Anfernee Simons (Portland) and Lonie Walker IV (San Antonio) on the Second Team. 

The Gonzaga product is looking to become the best Japanese player to step onto an NBA basketball court and, although it is a small sample size, he showed some major potential in his limited action. 


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Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Mystics' Kristi Toliver named WNBA All-Star reserve for a second straight year

Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver is a WNBA All-Star once again. 

Toliver was named an All-Star reserve on Monday as selected by the league's coaches. She joins Elena Delle Donne, who was named a captain of one of the two teams, and head coach Mike Thibault as representatives from the Mystics. 

This selection gives Toliver, 5-7, the third honor of her career and the second with Washington. Last year en route to the franchise's first WNBA Finals appearance Toliver was named an All-Star. She also got the nod in 2013 when she played with the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Through 15 games, Toliver is averaging 12.1 points and is second in the league with 5.7 assists per game, which is also on pace for a career-high.

She is shooting at a career-best .497 clip and is looking as explosive as ever at 32-years-old. With her and Delle Donne, the Mystics are 9-6 and second in the Eastern Conference.

In the offseason, Toliver is also an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. Often she worked on the player development side of the staff and closely with Bradley Beal. 

Delle Donne will have the first choice of selection in the All-Star game draft. As a reserve, Toliver cannot be selected until after the starters are chosen.