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John Wall and Bradley Beal call out teammates in all too familiar way

John Wall and Bradley Beal call out teammates in all too familiar way

After five games, this season is not only looking a lot like last year. It's sounding like it, too.

After a bad loss against the Kings, John Wall and Bradley Beal questioned the commitment of their teammates to the collective goals of the team. All of it sounded very familiar.

It was after they lost a winnable game to a less-talented opponent. That happened many times last season. And, quite often, Wall and Beal explained the problem as guys focusing too much on themselves and their own individual stats.

One year later, it's happening again.

"Everyone has their own agenda," Wall said (see video above). "We've got guys that are worrying about not getting shots and where the ball is going on the offensive end. We shouldn't worry about that. No matter if you're missing or making shots, you gotta be able to compete on the other end. If you can't do it on both ends of the floor, then you don't need to be playing."

"We suck right now," Beal added. "I feel like sometimes we have our own agendas on the floor. We complain about shots or complain about playing time; whatever it may be. We're worried about the wrong s***."

Last year, when Wall and Beal said these things, there were many assumed culprits. But year-over-year changes to the roster allow for some deductive reasoning.

Marcin Gortat is gone. So are bench players like Jodie Meeks, Mike Scott and Tim Frazier.

The main holdovers, excluding Wall and Beal, are Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ian Mahinmi and Tomas Satoransky. Certainly they could be referring to new additions like Austin Rivers or Jeff Green, but if Wall and Beal are saying many of the same things they said last year, it likely comes down to a combination of those aforementioned names.

On Friday night, Porter certainly stood out on the box score. He played only 21 minutes and scored five points on six shots. For what seems like years now there has been a narrative that Porter needs to get more shots.

Whether Porter expressed that himself or not, the team seems tired of talking about his shot totals. Wall even said as much last week, remarking "this is the last time I will talk about Otto Porter shooting threes."

Porter had a dreadful game against the Kings, no matter how you spin it. Usually, he can help out in other ways like rebounding or on defense. But on Friday, head coach Scott Brooks opted to play Oubre instead of Porter for much of the second half.

Morris is praised by his coach and teammates for not complaining about his share of shots. Unless those are empty platitudes, it has to be something else for him. If they are referring to Morris, it could be his costly turnover in the closing seconds, or the fact his frontcourt counterparts had huge nights offensively. It could be about his defense and rebounding.

Power forward Nemanja Bjelica had 26 points and 12 rebounds and center Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Morris and others did little to stop them.

Oubre had a strong game offensively, but made key errors on the other end. He had a bad turnover himself with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter.

Satoransky only played 11 minutes and took two shots. Mahinmi seems unlikely because getting shots isn't really his thing.

Wall and Beal may even own up to some of their criticism themselves, as they have done so in the past. But the real question is how they can stop all of it, knowing the problem just won't go away.

Wall said they have tried very recently to hash it out as a group. It's just not working.

"[During team meetings] everybody is just listening. It's either me, Brad, Jeff [Green] or one of the veteran guys. They just kind of listen. It's like, when are you going to put it all together? We talk about it like every game so far. It's a veteran team and it's like we go back to the same thing," he said.



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John Wall era 'incomplete'? Why the Wizards owner Ted Leonsis still believes in team's original plan

John Wall era 'incomplete'? Why the Wizards owner Ted Leonsis still believes in team's original plan

Ten years ago this month, Ted Leonsis completed his acquisition of a majority stake in the Washington Wizards. Not long after the deal was finalized, he met with then team president Ernie Grunfeld.

Leonsis had a plan he wanted Grunfeld to follow and it started with the draft. He had already experienced some success building through the draft with his Capitals of the NHL and presented Grunfeld with some research he had done on the construction of NBA champions. He looked back decades and came away with the belief the best teams are built by drafting players.

When Leonsis and Grunfeld met, the team had recently won the draft lottery to obtain the first overall pick. They were set to draft John Wall and begin the process of building the team from the ground up the way Leonsis wanted it built.

So, now that 10 years have passed, has the plan worked as well as Leonsis had hoped?

"I thought at the time we were executing a very good strategy of drafting and retaining and keeping our young players together as a core. John was the first pick, Brad [Beal] was third, Otto [Porter Jr.] was third. That seemed to be working," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. 

"For the most part, it was the right strategy. Injuries have played a very, very big role in the ultimate state of the team. And we've lived and learned and we've made much bigger investments in our health and wellness programs and training and the like. So, the strategy and the plan is incomplete."

Several parts of Leonsis' take there may jump out. One is the fact he maintains confidence in the original plan, though with language to suggest it requires some flexibility. He also added this, for context:

"I'm still convinced that's the best way to build in the NBA. There are only so many good free agents willing to leave that team and go to another team and put that team over the edge. So, we did the right thing."

To be fair, there is no singular way to find success in the NBA. And in the decade since Leonsis took over the Wizards, the league has become much more transient with star players moving from place to place. That has led to success stories like the Toronto Raptors, who won a title last summer by trading a longtime face of the franchise, DeMar DeRozan, for one year with Kawhi Leonard.

The other part of Leonsis' quote that may stand out is the word "incomplete." In our conversation, Leonsis used it three times to describe the state of the Wizards. There are a few reasons he gave, one being health.

"You can't grade us because we get an incomplete because of the amount of injuries that we had," he said.

Wall is the poster child of that, of course. After making the All-Star team five times in his first eight seasons, his career since has been decimated by injuries.


Wall played in only half of the Wizards' games in 2017-18, missed 50 last year and has yet to play this season. His injuries have ranged from knee problems to a heel issue to a ruptured Achilles.

The Wizards have also had injuries crop up at the most inopportune of times. Like, when Wall broke five bones in his wrist and hand during the second round of their 2015 playoff series against the Hawks. If he stayed healthy, the Wizards may have gone on to the conference finals, a place the franchise hasn't been since 1979.

But Leonsis can also emphasize that the Wall era is "incomplete" because it is indeed not complete. He's still here and so is Beal. They are the core building blocks the Wizards managed to find as they searched for cornerstones in the draft. And both players are signed long-term and committed to seeing the plan through.

Where the Wizards go from here will depend on many different factors, Wall's health being one of them. But Leonsis seems confident in the potential of his team and their current track, as well as Wall and Beal as a pair despite what some might say is enough evidence their partnership has run its course.

"I think they both, and I know they have communicated about this, realize that winning will define who they are and what their legacy is way more than their individual stats or their contract dollars. So, that comes with maturity. The 10 years have gone fast and I think that humbles people positively that nothing is given to you and that it's a blur how fast it goes," Leonsis said.

Leonsis, in fact, says he has had direct conversations with Wall about how he should approach the next chapter of his career. Wall has already made five All-Star teams has earned guaranteed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is only one thing left to truly gain, Leonsis believes.

"My conversations with him early which have continued was the importance of maintaining who you want to model your game after," Leonsis said.

"Who do you admire? Who are the winners? I think John has had in the last two years injury upon injury upon injury, but time to self-reflect. When we gave John the supermax deal, the conversation that I've had with him - and we have a very respectful relationship - it was you don't have to worry about your personal stats. It's now time to turn all of your attention to team success."

That may give hope to those who have argued Wall will need to change his playing style. It has come from the top down that essentially he no longer needs to average 20 points and 10 assists. More important than anything else, he needs to win.

Leonsis remains assured Wall and Beal can ultimately break the Wizards through and do so together. He referenced the continued storylines about their relationship.

"John and Brad are way closer and more respectful of each other than people understand or give credit to," Leonsis said.

It may not be en vogue these days for star players to stick together for the long haul. But there are examples of how continuity has paid off for teams, even if it at times has not worked out for the Wizards.

One instance was covered in the recent ESPN documentary 'The Last Dance.' The Utah Jazz with Karl Malone and John Stockton lost in the first or second round of the playoffs six straight years, and eight years total as a franchise, before finally reaching the conference finals for the first time. Malone was 28 and Stockton was 29.

Malone was 33 and Stockton was 34 before they finally reached the NBA Finals as a duo. They would make it two consecutive years, only to lose to Michael Jordan's Bulls. If it weren't for arguably the best player and team of all-time, they may have won a ring.

Now, Malone and Stockton are two of the 30 or so best players of all-time. Wall and Beal have a long way to go to get there, but if they were to even reach the conference finals, it would be the most success the Wizards franchise has achieved in over 40 years.

In order for it to actually work as Leonsis still contends it can, Wall will need to be healthy. He is expected to return at the start of the 2020-21 season, whenever that can take place. By the time he plays in the NBA again, at least 20 months will have passed since he last appeared in a game.

Wall is coming back from a serious injury, one that could affect his mobility at a position where speed is essential. And his play is directly tied to a massive number crowding the team's salary cap.

But there lies another reason why Leonsis believes the Wizards deserve a grade of 'incomplete.' He thinks the last version we saw of Wall was a shell of his peak years.

"I'm very much looking forward to John Wall's return because I think physically he will be in a much different place. He has spoken about the pain that he had been in with his bone spurs. John once showed me a bone spur, one of the bone spurs that they took out of his heel. I will be sincere with you, I had never seen something like that. I couldn't imagine what that felt like," Leonsis said.

"There are times where John has been isolated on social media where 'look, he's not playing defense, he's not getting back.' And then you would talk to John and he would say 'I feel like there are razor blades in my feet when I'm running backwards. It's gotten to the point where I can't do it, I'm hurting the team now.'"

There is also the element of Beal being a much better player now than he was the last time he played with Wall, and certainly compared to the player Beal was when Wall was last healthy, which he says was the 2016-17 season. Beal had yet to become an All-Star and, according to him, wasn't even close to what he is today.

"I do think John will come back healthy. I think we've done this together; doctors, organization and coaches with John and when he comes back with Brad, that maturity, that seasoning but also that health will be a very positive next part of his career," Leonsis said.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.


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2020 NBA Draft: Anthony Edwards, far and away, leads the best shooting guard prospects

2020 NBA Draft: Anthony Edwards, far and away, leads the best shooting guard prospects

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is a look at the five best point guard prospects in this year's class and how they would fit with the Wizards with analysis from NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes and Tyler Byrum...

1. Anthony Edwards

Team: Georgia
Age: 18
Height: 6-5
Weight: 225
Wingspan: 6-9

2019/20 stats: 32 G, 19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 40.2 FG% (6.3/15.8), 29.4 3PT% (2.3/7.7), 77.2 FT%

Player comparison: Victor Oladipo, Donovan Mitchell

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 1st, Sports Illustrated 1st, Ringer 1st, NBADraft.net 1st, Bleacher Report 1st

Fit with Wizards: As a guard that could instantly be thrust into an NBA rotation, the Washington Wizards would not necessarily be the best fit for Edwards. He would still be behind John Wall and Bradley Beal in the lineup and likely only see the court with that duo in a small lineup. However, if the ping-pong balls bounce the way of Washington or somehow he inexplicably falls to the Wizards, they have to take him. 

Of the entire class, is he the best prospect. Not only does he have a high floor, but his upside could have him as a potential franchise player further down the road.

Defensively, he would be a nice addition to their perimeter coverage and would be another big transition threat. Edwards' high motor and physique make him essentially a brick wall for guards to find an opening. 

Scott Brooks' up-tempo offense fits with Edwards' game. And the most enticing element is that Edwards is fine being off the ball. That's exactly what Washington would need with Wall, Beal, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura needing their offensive touches. Edwards would keep defenders honest and draw plenty of attention on every drive in the post. Positionally, he rebounds well and could fill in some gaps on the boards, but he wouldn't address the full team issue. - Byrum


2. Tyrese Maxey

Team: Kentucky
Age: 19
Height: 6-3
Weight: 198
Wingspan: 6-6

2019/20 stats: 31 G, 34.5 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 42.7 FG% (4.8/11.3), 29.2 3PT% (1.1/3.6), 83.3 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Lowry, less-accurate Tyler Herro

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 12th, Sports Illustrated 10th, Ringer 8th, NBADraft.net 21st, Bleacher Report 13th

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards have to assume they already have their version of Maxey in Bradley Beal and Troy Brown Jr. Playmaking off-the-ball guards who also have a background as facilitators. There are much bigger areas of need for the team, especially in the post, finding a long-term back-up point guard and wing depth. 

None of those holes would be where Maxey would fit on the team. Still, a team can never have too many competent ballhandlers that can score.

Maxey would just add another piece to where Washington already has a strength.

He would be an improvement for the Wizards' defensive efforts. Maxey has a high basketball IQ that makes him a phenomenal off-ball defender. However, he is limited in how he cannot guard well enough outside of the guard position. 

Like many of the other top-end lottery prospects, he could likely contribute from day one and make the roster for the new season. Assuming Beal and John Wall are relied on in the same capacity from Scott Brooks though, Maxey would be buried down the depth chart. A lot of his offensive upside is dependent on his touches because his numbers don't exactly jump off the page. Washington would likely want him to shore up his shooting motion as well before giving him meaningful minutes.

If the Wizards are picking ninth or higher, there really doesn't appear to be a scenario where they take the Kentucky SG. There are just too many other immediate needs that can be addressed. - Byrum



3. RJ Hampton

Team: New Zealand Breakers
Age: 19
Height: 6-5
Weight: 185
Wingspan: 6-7

2019/20 stats: 15 G, 20.6 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.3 bpg, 40.7 FG% (3.3/8.2), 29.5 3PT% (0.9/2.9), 67.9 FT%

Player comparison: Dante Exum, O.J. Mayo

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 13th, Sports Illustrated 14th, Ringer 12th, NBADraft.net 17th, Bleacher Report 12th

Fit with Wizards: Hampton is one of the several point/ combo guards whose talent level has them scattered around the first round. Hampton is not among the top tier of guards in this year's class but does offer a mid-round option for a team to take a chance on a playmaker that already has shooting fundamentals. 

Of course, the Wizards are not in need of a two-guard whose role would just be limited to Bradley Beal's backup. Hampton does not have the positional flexibility to fill into other roles and is too small to space the court with John Wall and Beal at the same time. 

Likely he is a depth piece, which is not what Washington needs with their first-round pick. Even from a preparedness level, Hampton might need a year or two to fully develop into his frame and to improve his shooting numbers.

Given his inaccuracies, his hip injury and limited NBL success, drafting Hampton does not appear to be a smart move for the Wizards with the uncertainty on how he will project out. 

That is not to say Hampton cannot be a successful pro. The Nuggets took a similar chance on Michael Porter Jr., who was coming off a back injury when he was drafted in 2018, and is now a formidable bench piece of their team. Both Porter and Hampton saw marginal success and tough injuries in the year before the draft. They also are highly regarded high school prospects that are well known among the scouting community. 

Hampton may not be a quick answer for the upcoming season. However, the Wizards could see him becoming a key bench piece in the future. -Byrum


4. Jahmi'us Ramsey

Team: Texas Tech
Age: 18 (turns 19 in June)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 195
Wingspan: 6-6

2019/20 stats: 27 G, 31.2 mpg, 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 44.2 FG% (5.5/12.4), 42.6 3PT% (2.2/5.2), 64.1 FT%

Player comparison: Sam Dekker, less explosive Donovan Mitchell

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 20th, Sports Illustrated 22nd, Ringer 18th, NBADraft.net 24th, Bleacher Report N/A

Fit with Wizards: Some see Ramsey filling into a variety of roles for a team, as a point guard, shooting guard or a smaller wing. This could be encouraging for the Wizards wanting to invest in a player that possesses versatility and is still young enough to mold into a system.

The depth of the guard/ wing combination is slowly growing for Washington. The team has added Troy Brown Jr., Jerome Robinson, Ish Smith and Isaac Bonga over the past couple of seasons. Ramsey would be on the smaller end of that depth chart but provide shooting and solid positional defense. Even in his first year, he would push for minutes against that group. 

What makes him more enticing than perhaps other prospect options around his draft stock is his 3-point ability. Every team needs a bench perimeter option to provide a spark, as he would be unlikely to be in a small lineup alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

His youth will allow the Wizards to get younger as well as the team only has two rostered players under 22. And while Ramsey is young he is a more than capable defender. He can generate new possessions off of steals and even blocked shots against his matchups. 

Ramsey would be a part of a development plan for Washington and could be an integral piece when it comes to building their future.  - Byrum


5. Josh Green

Team: Arizona
Age: 19 (turns 20 in November)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 6-10

2019/20 stats: 30 G, 30.9 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 42.4 FG% (4.1/9.6), 36.1 3PT% (1.0/2.8), 78.0 FT%

Player comparison: Kelly Oubre Jr.

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 24th, Sports Illustrated 24th, Ringer 19th, NBADraft.net 19th, Bleacher Report 20th

Fit with Wizards: As with many mid-first-round prospects, Green could slide into a roster as a 3-point shooting wing with a strong defensive game. Both fill needs on either side of the court for Washington. 

Wizards fans will be quite familiar with Green's skill set as it matches former Washington Wizard Kelly Oubre Jr. He naturally gravitates away from the perimeter, though, and often finds himself open in the post, leading to several opportunities at the rim. Backdoor cuts and slashes are a huge element of his game.

As a player that knows his role within a system, that could fit into the culture that general manager Tommy Shepard is trying to build. Rui Hachimura is another example of a player that plays within his means and can compliment other stars on the court. The multiple layers of his game make him a more valuable offensive commodity overall than other prospects around his level.

Of course, Washington would need Green to take more threes than he did with Arizona. His role would be more one-dimensional. With John Wall, Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura, the Wizards have plenty of players that will occupy the paint and need space to get to the basket. The second unit could be where that element fits his game. 

Green would go well in Washington - and checks off some boxes for the front office - but there are other players in the mid-to-late first round that are a better plug and play options.  - Byrum


Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.