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One way each young Wizards player can improve in the NBA's restart

One way each young Wizards player can improve in the NBA's restart

The roughly 4 1/2 months off between games this season due to the coronavirus is about the same length of a usual NBA offseason. That means players could return improved, perhaps especially the youngest players, as they generally make the biggest leaps over the summer.

The rules of the average offseason, though, may not apply. Not everyone had the resources to train like they normally would. Some didn't even have baskets to shoot on.

The Wizards, however, happen to have a lot of young players. In fact, their roster in Orlando will closely resemble the one they fielded last summer in Las Vegas at the Summer League. 

With that in mind, here is one area to watch for each of the Wizards' young players for potential improvement...

Rui Hachimura: Fourth-quarter scoring

One of the main storylines of Hachimura's rookie season so far has been the discrepancy between how he starts and finishes games. Hachimura has a tendency to come out hot, then finish cold. Despite averaging 13.4 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting, he averages only 1.9 points on 32.7 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.

With Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans out, Hachimura will have no choice but to play a larger role during crunch time. Maybe that can lead to more success. Surely, it has been a point of emphasis for him during the break.

Troy Brown Jr.: Assertiveness with ball

Beal and Bertans are leaving behind an average of 34.2 field goal attempts combined for the Wizards to essentially redistribute. That means a host of their remaining players will have to take a lot more shots. It could create an opportunity for Brown to take on much more responsibility and, in turn, be a lot more aggressive.

Brown, a 2018 first-round pick, only averages 8.3 shots per game this season. Expect that number to go way up in the final eight games of the season. The hope for the Wizards would be that he can be more assertive and in doing so build more confidence going into next year.

Thomas Bryant: Mobility on defense

Bryant said agility was a big focus of his during quarantine, specifically with the defensive end in mind. He knows he needs to be quicker on his feet to be able to guard his position in today's NBA where guards play above the rim and big men can play the perimeter. 

Bryant may never be a big-time rim-protector, but he can become a more serviceable defensive anchor if he works on positioning and anticipation. He needs to limit wasted movements with split-seconds often making the difference between an altered shot and a converted play. 


Moe Wagner: Defending without fouling

Wagner has been an effective defender at times this season, but he has a real problem staying out of foul trouble. In fact, he is sixth in the NBA in personal fouls per-36 minutes and averages 3.6 fouls in just 19.1 minutes per game.

Beal and Bertans do not play Wagner's position, but he still figures to get more minutes with them out. And he may play more than he otherwise would if the Wizards go all-in on player development in Orlando. They have more reason to see him than they do Ian Mahinmi at this point, given Wagner is part of their future. Racking up fouls is okay if you are the barely-used back-up big man, but not if you are a mainstay in the rotation. 

Jerome Robinson: Efficiency

Robinson has been a nice surprise for the Wizards on defense in particular, but that alone won't guarantee him a long career in the NBA. He needs to shoot better than the 34.7 field goal and 29.8 field goal and three-point percentages he has posted so far this season. Both numbers are down from his rookie year.

It is unclear whether Robinson had a hoop to shoot on during the break. But maybe getting more minutes and shots with Beal out will help him find a rhythm. He won't have to operate in a tight window of playing time and that could set him free in some regards.

Garrison Mathews: Scoring at other levels

It is not easy to carry a 59.8 effective field goal percentage while shooting just 42.9 percent from the field. The way you do that, as Mathews has this season, is by getting most of your points from threes. Mathews shoots a strong 41.3 percent from the perimeter on 2.6 attempts per game.


But to take the next step as a player, and to potentially make his three-point shot even more effective, Mathews will need to diversify his game a bit. The word will get out that he can shoot from three, if it hasn't already. He will need to be a threat in other areas. Look for Mathews to drive to the rim more often as he aims to add versatility.

Isaac Bonga: Ball-handling

Bonga remains a raw offensive player at just 20 years old, though he does have some solid efficiency numbers in a small sample size. The way for him to take the next step offensively would be to have a tighter handle, which would allow him to use his length more around the rim.

Bonga's best moments offensively this season have come on the fastbreak. He is a solid finisher with touch around the rim. But those opportunities don't come often, as they usually need to be set up by a pass. A better handle would give Bonga the chance to create his own offense.

Admiral Schofield: Consistency

With Bertans out of the picture, the Wizards expect Schofield, a rookie second-round pick, to get more playing time. He has spent the majority of this season in the G-League with the Capital City Go-Go. Schofield has only played in 27 NBA games this season so far, averaging 10.9 minutes in those appearances.

In order to command a larger role, he will need to show consistency, which is often difficult for young players. The Wizards drafted him for his defense and his three-point shooting, so those are two areas to watch. Defensively, he needs to prove he can guard taller players as an undersized forward. And it would help if he can make more than 29.8 percent of his threes after hitting on 41.8 percent (4.8 3PA/g) his final year in school.

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John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

It's hard to imagine a better way to work out than how John Wall enjoyed his regimen Wednesday. 

Wall posted a video on Instagram doing pushups on a BOSU ball while his son, Ace looked on. All he wanted from his dad was a hug, though. 

It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Wall continues to work toward the 2020-21 season and his much-anticipated return to the floor after missing all of the 2019-20 campaign recovering from Achilles surgery. 


In his absence Bradley Beal became one of the most consistent and prolific scorers in the NBA, the Wizards found a gem in sharpshooter Davis Bertans and saw key developments from young players such as Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. 

Wall will return to a much different Washington team next season than the one he was forced to leave midway through the 2018-19 season. From all accounts, he looks ready to give them the boost necessary to become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference. 


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Celtics resting all of their best players offers Wizards good chance for first win in final bubble game

Celtics resting all of their best players offers Wizards good chance for first win in final bubble game

It has been five months since the Wizards last won a game and it could be another four months until they have another chance. They enter Thursday's season finale against the Boston Celtics (12 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington) having lost all 10 of their games in the NBA's restart bubble, though technically only seven of them count.

That leaves Thursday's game with some relatively high stakes. The Wizards are trying to avoid leaving Disney World winless.

The good news is that the Boston Celtics see nothing to play for, so they are resting basically all of their best players. Their injury report reads like a starting lineup.

Out are Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis. Brown, Hayward and Smart are listed as out due to rest. The others have minor injuries. 

That could create an opening for the Wizards, who have yet to take advantage of the few breaks offered by their seeding game schedule. They lost to the Suns back before Phoenix became the surprise team of the bubble. They also lost to the Brooklyn Nets with most of their roster missing and then again to the Pacers who were without Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

On Tuesday, they fell to the Bucks who were missing Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton and saw Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected in the first half. The Wizards' lack of winning experience due to their very young roster has proven too much to overcome.


Maybe that will change on Thursday as the Wizards sense their final opportunity for a win before they get on a flight and head back to Washington to begin their offseason. They will see a Celtics team whose top remaining scorer is Enes Kanter, who averages 8.1 points per game.

Boston is one of the best teams in the NBA when healthy. They have the third-best record in the East and rank top-four in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

And they still have one of their most valuable assets: head coach Brad Stevens. He happened to get a contract extension on Wednesday.

The odds might actually be in the Wizards' favor despite the fact they are missing Bradley Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans. We'll see if they can take advantage.

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