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Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.

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NBA Rumors: Davis Bertans trade inquiries have reportedly gone nowhere as deadline nears

NBA Rumors: Davis Bertans trade inquiries have reportedly gone nowhere as deadline nears

There's been no shortage of teams who've expressed interest in Wizards forward Davis Bertans, but it appears many attempts to trade for the Latvian sharpshooter have been rebuffed by Washington's front office. 

According to Chris Mannix, several Davis Bertans trade inquiries have gone nowhere. In those conversations, executives told Mannix that the Wizards wouldn't even discuss a deal. 

Bertans is making $7 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Wizards have unlocked the sniper's full offensive potential after three seasons in San Antonio. He's averaging career-highs in minutes (29.2), points (15.3), rebounds (4.6), field goal attempts (11.4) and three-point attempts (8.7). 

Bertans' break out season has resulted in a number of contenders expressing interest in his services. Based on a report by Chase Hughes earlier this month, the Celtics, Sixers, Lakers and Nuggets have all emerged as potential suitors. 

 

The Wizards remain consistent on their intention to keep Bertans past the trade deadline even if that may mean losing him in free agency. While the Wizards may be in the midst of a rebuild this year, Bertans is a better fit for John Wall and Bradley Beal's contention window. 

The key with Bertans this summer is his bird rights. Bird rights allow a team to re-sign a player to any amount without using cap space. After the spending-spree that was the 2019 free agency period, there are about seven teams who could realistically create enough cap space to give Bertans the $12-15 million salary Berants is believed to fetch. The Hawks, Hornets, Cavs, Grizzlies, Knicks, Suns and Trail Blazers. 

Whoever has Bertans on their team at the end of the year will naturally be able to outbid any team on a contract offer since they won't have to use cap space to retain him. That's probably why Mannix believes the Wizards can get at least a first round pick for Bertans and why Tom Haberstroh thinks the Wizards' asking price might be too high to get a deal done. 

Contenders can get desperate at the deadline though, especially for the kind of shooting and bench scoring a player like Bertans can provide. If the Wizards are comfortable keeping Bertans and dealing with the uncertainty of free agency, they can sit back and wait for a team to offer everything they want and more. 

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Wizards vs. Hawks: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Wizards vs. Hawks: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head to Atlanta Sunday evening for their third straight road game, part of a four-game trip. All-Star hopeful Bradley Beal will go head-to-head with All-Star starter Trae Young in the backcourt.

Young and Beal are two of the NBA's most prolific scorers, with Young averaging nearly 30 points per game and Beal scoring at least 36 points in back-to-back games.

Washington is coming off a convincing win in Cleveland after dropping an overtime heartbreaker in Miami.

Can the Wizards win back-to-back road games against two of the league's worst teams? Tune in to find out.

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Altanta Hawks, Game 45

Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA

When: 6:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Hawks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Hawks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS TV SCHEDULE

5:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

5:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

6:00 PM: Wizards vs. Hawks (LIVE)

8:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

9:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Garrison Matthews (day-to-day, ankle), Rui Hachimura (OUT, groin), Moe Wagner (OUT, ankle)

Hawks: Trae Young (day-to-day, thigh), Alex Len (day-to-day, back), Chandler Parsons (OUT, concussion), Jabari Parker (day-to-day, shoulder)

WIZARDS vs. HAWKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (27.8ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.4 apg): Beal has caught fire in recent days, scoring 36, 38 and 29 points in his last three games as he makes his bid to be an All-Star for te second consecutive season.

Davis Bertans, F, Wizards (15.3ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.7 apg): Bertans has made at least four three-point field goals in back-to-back games, finding his stroke as he makes a case for the 3-point shooting contest.

Trae Young, PG, Hawks (29.2ppg, 4.7 rpg, 8.6 apg): Young was just named to his first All-Star Game as a starter, thanks to his incredible statline that jump off the page. He is one of just two players averaging more than 29 points and eight assists per game. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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