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John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have shared unfortunate parallel with injuries

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have shared unfortunate parallel with injuries

They starred as teammates at the University of Kentucky, were top-five draft picks in the same class and remain very close friends, and now John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins can relate in an unfortunate way. The two perennial All-Stars have seen their careers disrupted by major injuries basically on the exact same timeline.

Due to knee problems, a heel injury and a ruptured Achilles, Wall has played in only 73 games the past two seasons and could miss all of the 2019-20 campaign. Cousins has played in 78 games during that span because of a torn Achilles, a torn quad muscle and now a torn ACL, of which news broke on Thursday. Like Wall, Cousins could now miss all of next season.

Both Wall and Cousins have now had their Age 27 and 28 seasons decimated by injuries with a high likelihood the same happens in their Age 29 season. That is especially unfortunate when you look at the average peak of an NBA star.

Hoops Hype did a study last year on the prime age of NBA players, using the criteria of All-NBA selections. They found that the peak age for NBA stardom is 27.7 years. By that measure, both Wall and Cousins have been stripped of what should have been their best years.

For Wall and Cousins, it could make the difference between them being Hall of Famers someday. Wall was well on his way statistically before injuries took a major toll starting with the 2017-18 season and Cousins wasn't far behind. What they had done at their age and for their position ranked them among all-time greats.

Wall, for instance, is one of only four players in NBA history to average at least 19 points and nine assists per game with at least 500 games played. The other three are Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas.

Cousins' career numbers, 21.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, are similarly elite. He is one of only 12 players ever to average at least 21 and 10 in those categories (min. 500 games) and the other 11 are all Hall of Famers. The list is a who's who of the greatest big men of all-time like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Wall and Cousins could still get back on that track, but major injuries have put what once were superstar careers into question. Wall is known for his speed, yet now has to prove he still has it after one of the most devastating injuries an athlete can suffer. Cousins came back from an Achilles tear himself, but now has to deal with a torn ACL. Though the success rate of ACL recoveries is high these days, most who go through it aren't 6-foot-11 and 280 pounds.

The difference between Wall and Cousins, as many will note, is that Wall has a more secure financial future. He suffered these injuries after he signed a supermax contract worth $170 million over four years, a deal that doesn't start until this upcoming season. 

It is guaranteed money, so he is set. He has already made $108 million in his career and by the end of this contract will have brought in about $198 million in total.

Cousins, on the other hand, has missed out on tons of money by getting injured. He tore his Achilles just months before he was due to hit free agency for the first time. He could have signed a contract well north of $100 million, but after the injuries had to settle for $9 million in total across two years. 

At their peak, Wall and Cousins were both top-10 NBA players. But by the time they return to the NBA, they will come back having essentially lost three years of their prime. No matter how much money they have made, that is a shame.

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    Jordan McRae feels more comfortable ahead of Year 2 in Washington

    Jordan McRae feels more comfortable ahead of Year 2 in Washington

    WASHINGTON -- Wizards guard Jordan McRae made his way around the parish hall of St. Francis Xavier in Southeast Washington slowly, stopping to greet kids one-by-one and bending his 6-foot-7 frame down to take pictures and shake hands. He handed out bags of school supplies to underprivileged youth that said 'work hard, play hard.' He told them each "good luck in school."

    It was a day McRae got to do something he feels like he could have done more of last year. He was giving back to the D.C. community and helping out with a cause he believes in. Last season, when he played through the uncertainty of a two-way contract, he didn't have a real chance to lay down roots in the Washington area.

    But now back for a second year with the Wizards, and with an NBA contract and a possible rotation spot to seize, McRae feels a new sense of comfort in D.C. Though he has been in town for a year, now it is home.

    "Since being in the NBA, this is probably the best opportunity I've gotten," he told NBC Sports Washington.

    "Last year, it was tough. It was different from what I've been through before, just the unknown. Not knowing was the hardest part."

    McRae, 28, came to the Wizards last summer after rehabbing a shoulder injury and playing overseas. But he had two years of NBA experience under his belt, including a championship ring from the 2015-16 season with the Cavaliers.

    At the time, a two-way contract made sense for McRae. He had to prove he was healthy and needed a team to take a flier on him. The Wizards did, but they couldn't offer McRae much of an opportunity to play. They were entering another year with high expectations and had loaded up on veteran players in the offseason.

    Things, of course, didn't go as planned for the Wizards but McRae didn't exactly benefit from the turmoil and roster turnover. He spent much of his time in the G-League, appearing in more games with the Go-Go (31) than he did with the Wizards (27). 

    That was partly because late in the season McRae was close to maxing out the 45 days his two-way contract allowed him to spend at the NBA level. The Wizards had financial incentive to keep him in the G-League and in the final weeks of the season, when the two-way clock was no longer an issue, he suffered an Achilles strain that ended his season a few days early.

    McRae felt like he showed the Wizards what he is capable of in his relatively brief time on the floor, but is looking forward to a more extended opportunity this season. 

    "I'm a person who can play multiple spots. I can be on the court with Brad [Beal] or without Brad," McRae said. 

    "I'm just looking forward to it. The opportunity is there. This is what you work for all summer, this type of opportunity."

    There could be an opening for McRae at back-up shooting guard. The Wizards didn't address that position specifically this offseason like they did a year ago by trading for Austin Rivers. McRae may be their best option behind Beal.

    It also may be the ideal spot for McRae, whose best attribute is scoring. He led the G-League last season with 30.3 points per game and showed some flashes at the NBA level as well. He scored 20 points or more twice and dropped 15 points in eight minutes against the Cavs on Jan. 29 when the Wizards nearly stole a victory after the benches were emptied in a lopsided game.

    McRae can get buckets quickly. He can also play some point guard, which should come in handy this season as the Wizards play without All-Star John Wall for at least several months. They are also resting hopes on Isaiah Thomas as one of their top two point guards and he only played 12 games last season.

    The Wizards' roster is in transition and it may not yield many wins in the 2019-20 season. The Westgate sportsbook set their over/under at 28.5 wins. That is about 10 short of playoff contention, even in down years in the lesser Eastern Conference.

    It could work out well for McRae, though, as he could get much more playing time. He is excited about that possibility and also the style shift they hope to undergo as dictated by managing partner Ted Leonsis and general manager Tommy Sheppard.

    "We're gonna be young and obviously we have to change up our style," McRae said. "We want to be one of those teams where teams don't want to play, a team that you know they're diving for loose balls, playing hard and playing fast."

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    Two-time Wizard, three-time NBA champion announces retirement after 15 seasons

    Two-time Wizard, three-time NBA champion announces retirement after 15 seasons

    Former Wizards' guard Shaun Livingston announced his retirement from the NBA after 15 seasons on Friday morning.  

    The former Wizard shared the news via Twitter and Instagram posts. 

    Livingston expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play in the league. 

    “After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath. Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. “The injury” gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values, and faith were tested, and I persevered.” 

    View this post on Instagram

    After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath. Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. “The injury” gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values and faith were tested, and I persevered. To my pops that told me to “go get the big ball” I THANK YOU. To my Grandpa that always showed me there was more to life than basketball I THANK YOU. To my Uncles that helped raise me like I was one of their own, THANK YOU. To my wife and kids...the future IS BRIGHTER than our past, and I couldn’t see myself taking on this chapter without you. To all of my teammates, coaches, TRAINERS, staff, my journey is a collection of experiences, and those of you that helped me along the way, THANK YOU! To all the fans and anybody else that inspired me, supported me, cheered for me, or even said good words about me, THANK YOU. “The greatest gift we can give is service to others” #Raiseaglass 🍷

    A post shared by Shaun Livingston (@sdot1414) on

    Livingston entered the league right out of high school. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    In 2007, as a member of the Clippers, he suffered a horrific knee injury, one of the most grotesque in NBA history. He returned a year and a half later, as a member of the Miami Heat but played in just four games.

    He played for the Wizards on two separate occasions.

    The first was in 2010 when he joined the Wizards in February and played in 26 games, starting 18. He signed a two-year deal with the Charlotte Bobcats that offseason, playing in 72 games in 2010-11 before being traded that offseason to the Milwaukee Bucks. A year later, he was traded to the Houston Rockets, but was waived before the start of the 2012-2013 season.

    The second time was in November 2012, when the Wizards signed Livingston again, playing in 17 games and starting four before being waived in December of that year.

    Livingston made five straight NBA Finals appearances and won three championships with the Warriors (2014-2019). 

    Over 833 career games, Livingston averaged 6.3 points, 3 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game.  

    Wizards star, Bradley Beal shared his support for Livingston commenting “S Dot! It was a pleasure my guy!” 

    Congratulations to Livingston on a successful career and good luck on his future endeavors! 

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