Wizards

Quick Links

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George highlight stars to watch in Clippers-Wizards

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George highlight stars to watch in Clippers-Wizards

The Wizards had their first go at a Los Angeles-based team in the Staples Center this weekend when they faced the Lakers on Friday night, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis took no prisoners in a 125-103 thrashing of Washington.

They’ll have another chance Sunday against a Clippers team that’s won seven of its last eight games and boasts the third-best record in the Western Conference. Both Los Angeles teams were the talk of the offseason after making high-profile additions that solidified their statuses as championship contenders.

Meanwhile, the Wizards re-signed Bradley Beal to an extension but are in rebuild mode during their first year under General Manager Tommy Shepherd. That hasn’t made them any less exciting to watch, though. Washington is among the highest-scoring teams in the NBA while also owning the league’s worst defensive rating (114.8), setting the stage for a high-scoring affair.

Tip-off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington, with Wizards Pregame Live kicking things off at 10 p.m.

Here are the Clippers’ biggest stars to watch when the two are in action Sunday night.

Kawhi Leonard

The Clippers announced they were ready to contend for a title in perhaps the biggest way possible: signing the prized free agent of the offseason to a max contract. Kawhi Leonard, fresh off winning the NBA Finals with the Toronto Raptors, returned to his home state of California to help the Clippers reach the conference finals and beyond for the first time in franchise history.

Leonard has played 14 games this season, averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest. His shooting percentage is down from last season, particularly behind the arc. After shooting 37.1% from 3-point range last season, Leonard is down to 30.1% this year. But given his status as one of the best players in the world, there’s still plenty of reason to expect a big game out of him on any given night.

Paul George

Somehow, the Clippers found a way to shock the world even more than they did in acquiring Leonard when they traded for Paul George, setting up Los Angeles with one of the most prolific one-two punches in the league. George, a terrific defender who was considered an outside MVP candidate last season, came over from the Oklahoma City Thunder one offseason after signing a four-year extension.

George underwent offseason shoulder surgery and didn’t make his season debut until Nov. 14. In the nine games since, he’s posted 22.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 3.9 APG. He’s been particularly effective from the charity stripe, where he’s shooting at a 93.5% clip on free throws. When paired with Leonard on the floor, George and the Clippers are 4-1.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Scott Brooks has a simple reason for why Bradley Beal should be an All-Star

Scott Brooks has a simple reason for why Bradley Beal should be an All-Star

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal was not picked as a starter for next month's NBA All-Star Game through a voting process that included fans, the media and fellow players. Now it is up to NBA head coaches, who select the seven reserves for each conference.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is not allowed to vote for his own player, but believes Beal has a good chance to be picked based on one simple reason. He can tell how much opposing coaches respect Beal each and every night the Wizards play a game.

"Brad's an All-Star. I know that because every night I get to see it. Every night I get to see the defensive schemes against him. He gets double-teamed I want to say every game. That tells me that coaches feel the same way," Brooks said.

Brooks doesn't lobby other coaches to vote for his players, but said others have tried to persuade him in the past. He will "respectfully listen," he says, but believes it is important to do his own research and make his own choices.

"We all take pride in our choice," Brooks said. "It's an elite group and it's hard to get in."

Though Beal isn't a starter, he has a good case for being a reserve. This season he is averaging 28.1 points (third in East), 6.3 assists (10th in East) and 4.5 rebounds per game. 

If Beal doesn't make the All-Star team, it will likely be blamed on the Wizards' record. They are 15-30 and some of his competitors could get credit for being on better teams.

Brooks, though, believes other coaches should consider the circumstances Beal has been in. He says he takes that stuff into account with his own vote.

"There's a lot of factors that go in," Brooks explained. "It's situations. Guys that are on teams that are not playing well... are they not playing well because of him or are they not playing well because they have a lot of young guys, or because they're injured? A lot of players are injured. We've had a lot of injuries this year."

Beal has been an All-Star each of the past two years. We will find out on Thursday if he is in for the third time.

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.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

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.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: