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Bradley Beal's childhood idol Dwyane Wade thinks he could be one of the next great guards

Bradley Beal's childhood idol Dwyane Wade thinks he could be one of the next great guards

CHARLOTTE -- The 2019 NBA All-Star Game will be the final one for Dwyane Wade, who is months away from riding off into the prismatic Miami sunset as one of the greatest players in the league’s history. He will go down as one of the best shooting guards of all-time, ranked somewhere behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

With Wade gearing up for his exit, the logical question is who is next? Who will carry on the legacy of great shooting guards?

When Wade entered the league in 2003, Bryant was the top two in the game. When Bryant debuted in 1996, Jordan was just a few years from calling it a career.

The answer to who’s next after Wade may have shared the stage at Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday at All-Star media day, but deciding who is complicated. The best choices either aren’t seen solely as shooting guards, or they haven’t accomplished enough to be considered the heir apparent.

James Harden certainly comes to mind first. The 2017-18 NBA MVP is clearly on his way to all-time greatness. But he plays more point guard than Wade, Jordan or Bryant ever did.

After Harden, there is a group of twos that should be in the mix. Klay Thompson of the Warriors is establishing a Hall of Fame career. Victor Oladipo was All-NBA and All-Defense last season. And Devin Booker of the Suns is just scratching the surface of his potential.

Then, there’s Bradley Beal of the Wizards. Beal wears No. 3 in part because he idolized Wade growing up. He is now a two-time All-Star and has some similarities to Wade in his game and his athletic build.

Wade was asked about the next generation of great shooting guards at media day and made an interesting point. He believes we will all know in due time who will take the mantle because that’s how the game has played out for generations.

“You don’t pass the torch, guys take the torch. Like, Kobe didn’t pass the torch to me. Ray Allen didn’t pass the torch to me,” Wade said.

“I’m not passing no torch to James or to Brad, they’re taking the torch. Them guys are unbelievable players.”

Beal, 25, is having a season that compares statistically to some of Wade’s NBA prime. Beal is averaging 25.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

From age 23 through 30, Wade put up 26.2 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Wade, though, had some years mixed in that are on a level Beal has yet to reach. He averaged 27 points or more three times, six assists or more six times and regularly averaged more than a steal and a block per game.

That’s not to mention Wade’s playoff numbers and the fact he won three NBA titles. Beal said it himself at media day, that he has “a long way to go.”

But Beal is on the short-list of best shooting guards in today’s game. And maybe he can be the one, or one of the players to someday inspire a new generation.

Wade, 37, has been around long enough to see the cycle of NBA history play out and knows guys like Beal, Harden, Oladipo, Thompson and Booker have a responsibility to follow the same lead others set for him.

“There is a bar that is set when you come in [to the league] and you try to reach that bar and hopefully get over it and set another standard and set another bar,” Wade said.

“Those guys do the same thing, they jump over it. That’s how our game continues to get great and continues to get better, so no passing no torch. They’re taking it.”

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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has been all smiles in public when discussing his rehab from Achilles surgery. He has even remarked how smoothly this recovery has gone compared to others he's underwent in the past.

But his road back from a ruptured left Achilles has not been entirely free of obstacles. He revealed to NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast recently that he dealt with an infection that delayed him getting out of his walking boot.

That was already weeks after he first had surgery to remove bone spurs from his heel in January. He had a series of infections following that procedure, one of which helped doctors discover his Achilles had torn during a fall in his home.

Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him.

"I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'"

What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity.

"I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don't want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating," he said.

Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards' practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights.

After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court.

"Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that's a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I'm in a great space where it's fun," he said. 

"I'm able to do what I'm able to do, even if I'm not playing at a high speed and running up and down, I'm able to shoot and do ball-handling. That's what I love to do."

Wall continues to make progress, now nine months removed from the Achilles surgery he had on Feb. 12. He is likely to be out at least three more months, and he could miss all of the 2019-20 season.

At some point, Wall may get restless, but he continues to preach patience towards his return. When asked by Chris Miller if he will start bothering the coaches soon to play, he said he's just happy to be back on the court in practice.

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