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Robinson, Bryant and McRae likely to form core of Capital City Go-Go

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Capital City Go-Go

Robinson, Bryant and McRae likely to form core of Capital City Go-Go

With training camp starting later this month, we at NBC Sports are previewing the season for each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we look at three players who may spend a lot of time in the G-League: Devin Robinson, Thomas Bryant and Jordan McRae.

 

Player: SF Devin Robinson

Age: 23

2018-19 salary: Two-way contract

2017-18 stats: 1 G, 13.0 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 33.3FG%, 00.0 3P%, 00.0 FT%, 33.3 eFG%, 103 ORtg, 102 DRtg

2018-19 storyline: Devin Robinson was part of the very first year of NBA two-way contracts, as the Wizards signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida last summer. Now he enters year two hoping to make more of an impact than he did as a rookie. Robinson appeared in just one game last season for the Wizards.

In the Las Vegas Summer League this July, Robinson shined and displayed development in all parts of his game. He flashed some polish to go along with his obvious and rare athletic traits. The question now is whether he is ready to get a more extended look at the NBA level, or if he will have to get used to leading the Capital City Go-Go each and every night.

Wizards executives and coaches will acknowledge that Robinson was impressive in Summer League, but they only put so much stock into performances in Las Vegas. Though he may have raised his stock significantly among fans, that’s not going to be the basis of their evaluation. They want to see him gain muscle, develop more as a ball-handler and continue to adapt to his new shooting mechanics, which they installed this past season to raise his release point.

If the Wizards’ roster was constructed more like it was last year, Robinson would have a clearer path to getting minutes. But this year, they have added depth in their frontcourt and it’s hard to see Robinson passing rookie Troy Brown, Jr. at small forward, where the Wizards are deeper than at any other position.

The safest expectation for Robinson this season is to make a lot of noise for the G-League team and be promoted as their star player.

Potential to improve: Gain weight, ball-handling, rebounding

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Player: C Thomas Bryant

Age: 21

2018-19 salary: $1.4 million

2017-18 stats: 15 G, 4.8 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 38.1 FG%, 10.0 3P%, 55.6 FT%, 40.5 eFG%, 100 ORtg, 108 DRtg 

2018-19 storyline: Amid all the hype for their trade for Austin Rivers and their signing of Dwight Howard and Jeff Green, the Wizards made a minor move on the second day of free agency by claiming Thomas Bryant off waivers from the L.A. Lakers. He was a second round pick just last summer out of Indiana University, where he attended as a highly prized recruit.

Bryant’s career at Indiana didn’t live up to expectations and he only played 15 games for the Lakers, but the long-term potential is enticing. The Wizards basically acquired a project who could convey as a diamond in the rough someday down the road.

Bryant did have some success last year in the G-League, as he was named first-team all-league and to the rookie team. He averaged 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot 36.4 percent from three for the South Bay Lakers. That latter is a particularly good sign for a guy who measures in at 6-foot-10.

Like Robinson, Bryant will probably spend much of his time in the G-League once Go-Go training camp begins. He is a raw talent on the outside of the rotation looking in. The Wizards have Howard and Ian Mahinmi set at center with Jason Smith behind them. They can also opt to go small and use guys like Markieff Morris at the five spot.

Bryant should thrive at the G-League level and could set himself up for a more important role the following season. There is also the potential for an opportunity to come from injury. If either Howard or Mahinmi goes down, Bryant could get the call-up.

Regardless, the fact the Wizards can afford someone like Bryant the playing time to continue developing at the G-League level is a huge bonus. The Wizards believe they can get their young players to log at least 1,000 to 1,400 minutes this season between the two leagues. Bryant can hit that mark if he stays healthy, strictly by being a key cog for the Go-Go.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, rebounding, finishing at rim

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Player: SG Jordan McRae

Age: 27

2018-19 salary: Two-way contract

2017-18 stats: (didn’t play in NBA)

2018-19 storyline: The toughest guy to set expectations for on the Wizards’ 2018-19 roster has to be Jordan McRae and the answer could be to not expect much at all when it comes to the NBA level. He will likely be with the team until G-League training camp starts, as the two-way contract clock doesn’t begin until then. But the path to playing time for McRae does not appear to be there as of now.

McRae is a shooting guard and the Wizards are pretty set at the position. They have an All-Star in Bradley Beal and an unusually capable backup in Rivers. Plus, Brown can play some at the two and then there’s Jodie Meeks, who will certainly be motivated to bounce back this year with free agency on the horizon.

That said, McRae is a bit older than the typical two-way player, so he’s not a long-term project. And he also had two years of NBA experience to draw from, including time with the NBA champion 2016 Cavaliers.

Beyond those facts, helping McRae’s cause are two things. One is that he has shot well from three in the NBA with a 38.4 career percentage. The other is that he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan despite standing 6-foot-6. If injuries pave the way and the Wizards are looking for length and athleticism, he could fit the bill.

The most likely scenario for McRae is a lot of time with the Go-Go. He was a G-League All-Star for the 2015-16 season and is the type of veteran who could help usher along the Wizards’ young prospects.

Potential to improve: Forcing turnovers, field goal percentage, rebounding

 

 

2018-19 WIZARDS ROSTER OUTLOOK:

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Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

A conference call between NBA general managers and commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday revealed a divide as to how the GMs think the league should proceed if able to finish the 2019-20 season, according to a report by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

GMs were given a survey, the results of which were revealed on the call, and according to the report, they were split on several things:

  • Half the general managers voted to skip the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs

  • More than half voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16, regardless of conference

  • About 75 percent voted in favor of a play-in tournament for bubble teams to determine the final playoff seeds; the other 25 percent voted in favor of a World Cup-style group stage

The play-in tournament was reported as a potential option by ESPN on Wednesday. Labeled as a “playoffs plus” format, it would allow teams just outside of the playoff picture like the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings -- all separated by just 1.5 games -- a way to play themselves into the playoffs if the regular season is in fact canceled. 

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The Wizards, currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, weren’t mentioned in the report, but it did say 20-24 teams would be included. This would likely include Washington.

According to O’Connor, teams with top seeds like the East-leading Bucks and West-leading Lakers favor the play-in option over a group stage, likely because they get an easier matchup against lower-seeded teams and a less difficult path to a title. And because teams will always vote in their own best interest, the survey isn’t an indication of what will ultimately happen.

“There was zero commitment to any one plan,” one of the GMs told O’Connor. “But it was a call to gather more information.”

On Friday, Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats to resume the season, a potential timeline for return, and more. But nothing is expected to be determined on that call either.

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Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks always has nice things to say about Bradley Beal, his star shooting guard. But on Thursday night's 'Wizards Greatest Hits' broadcast on NBC Sports Washington, he took it up a notch with his praise.

While speaking with host Chris Miller as they watched back the Wizards' Jan. 2019 win over the Knicks in London, Brooks shared some very high compliments of Beal.

"He is really one of the best players in the league," Brooks said. "All-around, not only at guard, he is one of the best players in the league. His game has improved so much over the past three years. He's getting better every year."

As they watched the fourth quarter of that Wizards-Knicks game, Brooks went on about how Beal can flip a switch during crunch time and how sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation between them.

"There are times where I need him to take over a game. I just say 'Brad, it's time,'" Brooks said.

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The best line from Brooks may have been when Beal not making the 2019-20 All-Star team came up. Brooks' coaching peers vote on the reserves and they famously left Beal out, which made for some history combined with his scoring average at the time.

Brooks wants to know from other NBA coaches: "If you don't think he's an All-Star, then why are you double-teaming every single time we play?"

If you get an answer to that question, Scott, be sure to let us know.

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