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Dwight Howard signing with Wizards is proof of John Wall's power as a recruiter

Dwight Howard signing with Wizards is proof of John Wall's power as a recruiter

When Dwight Howard was given the floor to offer opening comments at his introductory press conference this week, he made a point to thank his new teammate, John Wall. The reason why, as Howard expounded on later, is that Wall was a pivotal reason for why Howard signed with Washington.

It wasn't just about their potential fit on the court. Wall helped bring Howard to D.C. and Howard wanted to make that clear.

"Shoutout to John for reaching out to me and asking me about joining this team," Howard said.

Howard, in fact, hadn't really thought about the Wizards much at all when he began contemplating his next step as he proccessed a trade by the Hornets and a looming buyout by the Nets. It was while he was considering his options that he received a message on Instagram from Wall.

"No lie, when I saw the message on Instagram, I really got so happy. I was like 'John just DM'd me, oh man this is crazy!' After that, I really just started to put on my thinking cap," Howard said. "I just thought about all the possibilities. I was like 'man, this could be the best spot for me.'"

If there is one thing clear about the Wizards' offseason so far, particularly their two biggest free agent signings in Howard and Jeff Green, it's that recruitment by NBA stars definitely works. It has been effective for other teams, most notably Draymond Green's recruitment of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, and now it has led to success for the Wizards.

Wall, interestingly enough, has been averse to free agent recruiting in the past. He has said on numerous occasions that he isn't a fan of doing it.

He even said it this past April in his exit interview with the media following the 2017-18 season.

"I think people understand what they'll get if they come here. They've seen our team. They kind of know what it is," he said.

Wall decided to change his tune and the results are undeniable. Howard admitted that it didn't even take much convincing.

"He just said 'do you want to come to D.C.?' It wasn't too much to be said. After he said that, I was like 'bro, I'm with it.' That conversation was like a confirmation for me," Howard said. "Him reaching out, I've never had a guy like John Wall as a point guard, so why lose that opportunity?"

Team president Ernie Grunfeld was surely appreciative of Wall's role in landing Howard. There are strict tampering rules for league executives for when and how they can contact free agents. Wall was able to have a conversation with Howard just player-to-player.

"We always talk to our players and who is available and who can help our team," Grunfeld said. "We realized it was a good opportunity for us to get [an athletic big man]. John did his part in it and he was very happy about it."

Howard liked the thought of playing with Wall and appreciated his communication so much that he says it helped sway him from signing with the Warriors. Golden State ended up doing well for themselves by signing DeMarcus Cousins, but they did reach out to Howard.

Howard, though, liked Wall's pitch better.

"Golden State called and I thought about them. But once John sent me that message, I was like, man. I couldn't tell him at first, but I was like 'man, I'm going to be a Wizard.' That was my mindset," he said.

Perhaps this experience will have an effect in the future on how Wall and the Wizards approach free agency, knowing this method worked out quite well for them.

Tyler Byrum contributed to this report


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Bradley Beal's recent scoring surge has him in the company of all-timers

Bradley Beal's recent scoring surge has him in the company of all-timers

The wins haven't been there for the Wizards, but over the last 15 games, Bradley Beal has played the best basketball of his career. 

He has the second-longest streak of 25-point games (15) this season, recently set a new career-high for 30-point games in a season (25) and just dropped 50 points on back-to-back nights. The last player to do that? Kobe Bryant

Beal is averaging 36.7 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds to go along with 49.5/36.4/86.2 shooting splits. He didn't make the All-Star game, but Beal is making a serious push for an All-NBA selection at the end of the season. 

But just how impressive is it? How does Beal's recent surge stack up against the best players in the NBA this season and former greats of the game?

At this point in the season, only two players have averaged as many points as Beal in a 15-game stretch: James Harden and Damian Lillard, two of the best high-usage scorers in the league. 

Let's forget about averages for a moment. Over the 15-game span in question, Beal has scored a total of 550 points, the highest total in franchise history since Walt Bellamy in 1963-64. Bellamy owns the top four totals in Wizards history, so Beal's stretch comes in at fifth. To be in the same sentence as a Hall-of-Famer, though? Huge accomplishment.

Changing gears, it's time to talk about these 50-pieces Beal is growing accustomed to lately. Entering Wednesday night's game with Brooklyn, Beal's coming off two straight 50-point games. If he were to get 50 again, he'd be in the company of some all-timers. 

Last five players to score 50 points in three straight games

Kobe Bryant: 4 (2007)
Michael Jordan: 3 (1987)
Wilt Chamberlain: 3 (1963)
Elgin Baylor: 3 (1962)
Wilt Chamberlain: 3 (1962)

If Beal is going to get to three-straight games of 50-plus points, he'll probably have to have a few more monster fourth quarters. He already put up a 22-point fourth quarter on Monday against Milwaukee and a 21-point fourth against Chicago on Sunday.

His explosion against the Bucks marks the fourth-highest scoring fourth quarter in the NBA this season. Zach LaVine, Jordan Clarkson and Coby White are the only players with more believe it or not. 

To put it in context with Wizards history, the 22-point fourth ranks as the fourth-highest scoring quarter for a Wizard since 1998, and if we're talking about the highest-scoring fourth quarters in Wizards history, Beal would own the top three. 

Beal has shown no signs of slowing down in this ruthless revenge tour he's putting opposing defenses through since he was snubbed from the All-Star game. It'd be nice for the Wizards to get a few more wins as they push for the last playoff spot in the East, but for now, Washington fans can sit back and enjoy the show. 

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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Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

It is only natural when a player has a big game, like scoring 50 points, to wonder if they can do it again. Bradley Beal actually did that this week, scoring 55 points against the Bucks just one night after dropping 53 on the Bulls.

Now he goes into Wednesday night with a chance to do something no one has done since Kobe Bryant in 2007: score 50 points in three consecutive games. Only four players have ever gone for 50-plus in three straight: Bryant, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.

Beal, of course, has technically scored 53-plus in two straight games. If he were to somehow do that a third time, he would be only the second player to accomplish the feat. Chamberlain is the other.

Basically, if Beal were to go off for 50 or more again, it would put him in extremely rare company, even rarer than the group he joined on Monday night. So, expectations should definitely be set accordingly.

That said, Beal happens to have some recent success against the team he will face on Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets. Beal has scored 30-plus in his last three meetings with them, shooting 53.7 percent from the field along the way. The Wizards won two of those three games. 

Earlier this month, Beal went off for 34 points with six rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Brooklyn. He has their number.

The Nets, though, are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They boast the seventh-best defensive rating (107.9), are fourth in opponent field goal percentage (44.1) and ninth in three-point percentage (34.5).

And those numbers are while playing a lot of games with Kyrie Irving. Though Irving is one of the most gifted offensive players in the league, there is reason to believe Brooklyn could get better defensively now that he is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Can Beal keep it rolling? Watch at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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.