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This story from Bradley Beal will get you excited for Rui Hachimura's rookie year

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This story from Bradley Beal will get you excited for Rui Hachimura's rookie year

WASHINGTON -- Even though he does two separate media scrums every time he addresses reporters, one in English and then one in Japanese, Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura is a man of few words.

As he looked ahead to his first NBA game - Wednesday at the Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington) - in which he will be in the starting lineup, he didn't say much more than he is "excited." He said his mother is expected to be in attendance, but he won't be nervous.

So if Hachimura won't say much about himself, perhaps a story from Bradley Beal will suffice. The Wizards' All-Star shooting guard shared his first impressions of Hachimura, the Wizards' 2019 first round pick, in an interview with NBC Sports Washington.

When asked which player had impressed him the most, Beal said "Rui," but it didn't start out that way. Beal said he was skeptical when Hachimura first showed up at the Wizards' practice facility ahead of the preseason for informal workouts.

"I didn't really watch Rui much in the Summer League. I didn't watch much of him when he was playing in the World Cup games," Beal said. "I was like 'what are we raving about?'"

But then Beal, who prides himself on his work ethic and practicing and playing even when the training staff tells him to take a break, showed up one September day to the Medstar Performance Center in Southeast D.C.

"Sure enough, he comes in the gym and he's the first one in here," Beal said. "He's working out and he's getting his weights in. When he's on the floor, he's working out and he's in a sweat. Then, he steps on the floor to play pick-up and it's like 'damn, what can't he do?'"

Beal said Hachimura scrimmaged with his new Wizards teammates for three straight days and was making shots from all over the court. He showed the versatility that made him a star at Gonzaga University with strong finishes at the rim, deft midrange jumpers and a confident three-point stroke.

"I like a lot of what I see out of him," Beal said. "I love the fact he doesn't necessarily have a position. We can mold him into what we want him to be."

There was one play in particular that caught Beal's eye. A shot bounced off the rim and Hachimura snatched it out of the air with one hand, casually turning to dribble up the floor. It wasn't a normal rebound where he went up and scooped the ball like most players would. He palmed it with ease, as as if it were an orange.

"I didn't know he could do that. I didn't know his hands were that big," Beal said in amazement. "From that moment, I was like 'he's going to be a problem.'"

It didn't take long for Hachimura to wow one of the NBA's best players. Now it's time for the rest of the league to find out what he can do.

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By the numbers: the areas the Wizards struggle the most on defense

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By the numbers: the areas the Wizards struggle the most on defense

The Washington Wizards are playing a unique brand of basketball. Despite their 3-8 record, they boast the second-highest offensive rating (113.2) in basketball, meaning they score more efficiently per 100 possessions than any other team. Yet, at the same time, they have the 29th-ranked defensive rating (115.2) and are allowing more points than anyone else (120.1/g).

It truly is a special combination. According to Basketball Reference, only one team in NBA history has ever held offensive and defensive ratings aboe 113 for an entire season, the 1981-82 Denver Nuggets. Those Nuggets actually won 46 games and made the playoffs.

So far the Wizards' defense has not been good enough to win, hence the 3-8 record. So, what exactly has been ailing their defense? Quite a bit, of course. You don't sink that low with one or two minor weaknessess.

Here is a look at their biggest problem areas on the defensive end...

Three-pointers

Three-point shooting is important these days, in case you haven't heard, and the Wizards have not been very good at defending the perimeter. The Wizards allow the fourth-highest percentage from three (37.1) and 12.6 made threes per game. This includes shots from true long distance. The Wizards are 29th in opponent shots made from 25 to 29 feet (9.5/g) and in percentage from that range (38.1).

Rebounding

This is a familiar problem for the Wizards, as they had the same issue last year. This time they are 26th in total rebounding, 28th in defensive rebounding and 29th in opponent offensive rebound percentage. That has led to the fourth-most second chance points allowed.

Rebounding just isn't the Wizards' forte at this point. Thomas Bryant leads them with nine boards per game and behind him are Moe Wagner (5.6/g) and Rui Hachimura (5.5). Troy Brown Jr. (5.3) and Bradley Beal (4.7) rebound well for their positions, but all in all it hasn't been enough.

Transition

The rebounding numbers have contributed to some rough moments on the fastbreak. Though it has cooled down a bit, the Wizards are still 15th in the NBA in opponent fastbreak points per game (13.3). Before this past weekend, they were near the bottom of the league in the category and it was enough for several players to point it out independently in interviews with the media.

Point guard

Any time a team struggles as badly as the Wizards have on defense, many are at fault. They aren't guarding the perimeter or protecting the rim. They are also giving up the most field goals made within 15 to 19 feet, so even the midrange is a blindspot for them.

But Isaiah Thomas has certainly stood out and not for good reasons. He is already undersized and now he is in a defensive structure that isn't build to compensate for his shortcomings. Maybe in Boston he could just divert players into traps, but the Wizards do not offer that type of backend security.

Add it all up and the Wizards are allowing 15.4 more points per 100 possessions with Thomas on the court than when he's off of it. 

Fouls

The best defensive teams can defend without fouling and the Wizards are not one of those teams. They are allowing teams to shoot the ninth-most free throws per game (25.8) and as a result, are giving up the sixth-most points at the free throw line (20.7/g).

Wagner is the headliner. He is third in the NBA with 7.5 fouls per 36 minutes. Jordan McRae is not far behind with 6.2 fouls per-36.

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Wizards vs. Spurs Game 12: TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Spurs Game 12: TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Wizards host the Spurs Wednesday at Capital One Arena with both teams looking to get back into the win column.

Scott Brooks' squad was unable to grab the victory on the road in Orlando Sunday as the Wizards (3-8) fell to Magic, 125-121. Bradley Beal put up 34 points and eight assists in the effort but that was not enough. C.J. Miles and Davis Bertans contributed 21 and 15, respectively.

The Spurs fell to the Mavericks on Monday night, 117-110. The Spurs have now lost eight of their last nine games and are sitting at 5-9 in the Western Conference. DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 36 in the losing effort. 

In their last matchup on Oct. 26, the Spurs came out on top of D.C. with a 124-122 victory. 

Here is everything you need to know: 

SPURS @ WIZARDS HOW TO WATCH

What: San Antonio Spurs @ Washington Wizards, Game 12

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Wednesday, November 20 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Spurs @ Wizards will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Spurs @ Wizards on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

SPURS @ WIZARDS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE) [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

7:00: Spurs @ Wizards (LIVE) [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE) [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE) [NBC Sports Washington Plus]

SPURS @ WIZARDS INJURY REPORT:

Spurs: Dejounte Murray (Day-to-day, illness)

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain)

SPURS @ WIZARDS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (30.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 6.9 apg): Over Beal's last three games, the star shooting guard is averaging 40.7 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds.

Rui Hachimura, PF, Wizards (13.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.7 apg): Hachimura struggled against the Magic, shooting 3-for-7 in the losing effort. 

DeMar DeRozan, SG, Spurs (19.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.8 apg): DeRozan's season-high 36 points was not enough to put the Spurs ahead of the Mavericks on Monday night. Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. 

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