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Another tough loss has Bradley Beal thinking the Wizards need a culture change

Another tough loss has Bradley Beal thinking the Wizards need a culture change

Bradley Beal was uncharacteristically down following the Wizards' 115-106 loss to the Bulls Wednesday night.

With the loss, Washington dropped to 13-27 on the year, so losing isn't exactly new to this group. As the leader of the team, Beal has regularly answered for each performance, and up to this point hasn't shown signs of frustration to anyone besides certain referees. 

But after this particular game, he was short with answers and spoke at a noticeably low tone.

"I don't like losing, I'm sorry," Beal said. "Especially winnable games."

Beal's second game back from a leg injury marked the second straight time the Wizards gave up a backbreaking second-half run to their opponent. On Sunday they blew a 15-point lead to a Jazz team without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, and on Wednesday it was a 22-6 spurt led by Zach LaVine. 

The Wizards weren't expected to be a playoff team with John Wall out most of the season. They play hard and have been fun to watch, the wins just haven't always been there, which is why Beal made mention of a needed culture change moving forward. 

"I would hope it does," he said when asked if the losing builds up. "I don't like losing so it's going to keep blowing up for me... Until we start winning and changing our culture."

What exactly would that culture change entail?

"Winning games," he said. "Get that winning attitude and winning habits."

Beal wasn't talking about locker room drama or on-court issues that the team suffered through last season. By all accounts, the Wizards seemingly enjoy playing together and that environment has led to several young players taking promising steps forward in their development. 

However, for an All-Star in his prime like Beal, winning is the most important thing. While he knows what he signed up for with the extension this offseason, it's not easy playing on a team dwelling at the bottom of the standings. 

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Report: John Wall, Bradley Beal consistently in team meetings despite being outside NBA bubble

Report: John Wall, Bradley Beal consistently in team meetings despite being outside NBA bubble

As the Wizards continue through the rest of their NBA restart schedule without their three best players, Bradley Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans' presence are still felt within the team. 

According to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, the Wizards set up live streaming links to practices and meetings for players and staff not with them in the bubble. Wall and Beal have been watching practices daily and are still participating in team meetings. Bertans has also been active during these team events.

Haynes' story also includes that if Beal misses a practice or meeting, he'll FaceTime Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard to catch up on what he missed. And as we know, when Beal isn't helping his teammates before and after games, he's coaching them on Twitter during.

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Wizards fans have to feel good learning that their team's franchise players are still plugged in even though they aren't playing. It'd be hard to blame them if Wall and Beal took a back seat and focused solely on their preparation for next season. 

But these are two veterans who understand the importance of a supporting cast and what developing young players can do for a franchise's championship window. They're making themselves available and visible so that when this team faces adversity next season, it'll be easier for all the players to come together. 

Washington's playoff hopes are slim as they trail the Nets by 7.5 games for the eighth seed with five games left, but there's no doubt everyone involved is using their time in Orlando productively. 

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Wizards' young player development in Orlando could also help in potential offseason trades

Wizards' young player development in Orlando could also help in potential offseason trades

Though one particular Wizards reporter (me) has been walking around in a tin foil hat clamoring about how the adjusted draft lottery rule could create a very uniquely unlucky situation for the team, the positives of Washington being included in the NBA's restart should ultimately outweigh the negatives. As we have seen so far, it is a gift in the way of player development. They have a roster full of young players gaining experience they would otherwise not receive.

But it goes well beyond just those players getting some extra seasoning before they return next year to a team that will expect to make the playoffs with John Wall in the fold. You could also view it as them being showcased for potential trades.

After all, Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis and general manager Tommy Sheppard do not plan on the roster revamp they began last summer to take long. They want it to be ready in just a few months to boost Wall and Bradley Beal as they reunite in hopes of finding more success as a duo than they have ever had before.

Leonsis even said, if you recall, "why can't this be quick?" Well, the most surefire way to do that is not likely going to be in the draft, though they should have another prime selection this year. Young players take time. And it probably won't be in free agency, either, given they have limited salary cap room and it is a relatively thin class of players.

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No, the most likely way for the Wizards to vault forward quickly is with a trade. And that's what brings us back to the team's inclusion in Orlando.

The Wizards' young players aren't just auditioning for roles on the team next year. They are developing as potential trade assets, as other teams will now have more film to evaluate while determining who to request in a possible deal.

That process is about to be taken up a notch on Wednesday as the Wizards' schedule turns more difficult. They will see the Sixers (4 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), who have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Philly has a loaded team with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson as the headliners.

After that, the Wizards' road will stay tough until the very end with match-ups against the Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks and Celtics on tap. Over the course of the next week-plus, guys like Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jerome Robinson will get to play heavy minutes against some of the league's best players and teams. And if they hold their own, it will speak volumes about their long-term potential, whether it is realized hear or elsewhere.

(I'm hesitant to include Rui Hachimura in this dicussion because last time I did, Japanese media thought I reported he would be traded. It was technically an international incident. On related note, I think the 10 nicest people I've ever met in my life are Japanese reporters assigned to cover Hachimura and the Wizards. Just amazingly generous people.)

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Whenever a team goes young like the Wizards have over the past 13 or so months, trades have to be considered in the long-term, especially if the goal is to win sooner than later. That's how the Lakers got Anthony Davis and the Clippers got Paul George last summer. This is not to say the Wizards are gearing up for that level of a blockbuster, but the point stands.

Playing the lottery, which is in extreme cases known as tanking, is all about stockpiling assets that can turn into other, more substantial things. The Wizards have been doing that in their own right over the past calendar year.

As for which player could become available for them to trade for, or who would be shipped out, is difficult to determine at this point. The NBA offseason is crazy and unpredictable and the tea leaves are a bit harder to read right now than they usually are.

We don't know which star or stars could be the next ones dealt. But if their young players keep coming along, the Wizards will continue to improve their chances of being ready to strike.

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