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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: John Wall

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Wizards 2018-19 end of season grades: John Wall

Now that the dust has settled for the 2018-19 Wizards season, it's time to review the roster and hand out individual grades...

Who: John Wall, point guard

Age: 28

2018-19 stats: 32 G, 34.5 mpg, 20.7 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.9 bpg, 3.8 tov, 44.4 FG%, 30.2 3P% (1.6/5.3), 49.0 eFG%, 69.7 FT% (3.8/5.5), 104 ortg, 114 drtg

2018-19 salary: $19.2M

Best game: 12/16 vs. Lakers - 40 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 16-27 FG (59.3%), 4-8 3PT, +25

Grade: C+

Season review: This past season was for many reasons one to forget for John Wall, who came into it with high hopes to put an injury-shortened 2017-18 campaign behind him. It will be remembered most for how it ended, with two surgeries on his left heel, the second to repair a ruptured left Achilles which he suffered thanks to a fall in his home. He also dealt with a series of life-changing events off the court that probably affected his job performance and, if that is the case, understandably.

So, it may be easy to forget that he actually did play 32 games and wasn't determined done for the year until about halfway through the Wizards' schedule. Even when he was available and mostly healthy, the results were not what he would prefer.

A quick glance at the numbers would suggest otherwise. Wall still managed to put up stats that in a normal year would merit All-Star consideration. But the Wizards went 11-21 in the games he played and had a net rating that was 5.3 points better when he was off the floor.

It went beyond the numbers, though. Social media can highlight players' worst moments like never before and Wall had several videos go viral of him standing around, watching plays transpire.

There was also the incident in November when Wall was fined for shouting an expletive at head coach Scott Brooks during practice. Though he owned up to it and it vowed to be better, the saga played out in public and helped define the Wizards' dysfunction.

Wall now looks ahead to a lengthy recovery from Achilles surgery with an uncertain future. The one certainty is that he will be making a lot of money, as he holds a guaranteed supermax contract that kicks in starting next season. He will make about $37.8 million in 2019-20 despite the likelihood he misses at least 50 games.

The injury is serious enough that Wall, who turns 29 in September, will probably have to adjust his game. He has long feasted on defenses by simply being faster than his opponents. The ruptured Achilles could affect his mobility and particularly early on when he returns and has to get up to game speed.

Wall may have to become a different player long-term. If he can't get to the rim as often, that could mean sacrificing shots to become even more of a pass-first point guard. The good news is that he is one of the most gifted distributors in the NBA and has the height to pass over defenders without needing to get by them to be effective.

It has been said for many years now that a more consistent outside shot would suit Wall well. He probably needs to be at least what he was two seasons ago when he shot 37.1 percent from three on 4.1 attempts per game.

The oft-made and wishful comparison to Jason Kidd's career arc could provide hope. Kidd is 10th all-time in three-pointers made but he didn't shoot above 37 percent from three until he was 34 years old. From Age 21 through 33, he shot 33.3 percent from the perimeter on 3.9 attempts. In his last six seasons, Wall has hit 33.5 percent of his threes on 3.8 attempts.

What could work in the Wizards' favor as they look ahead to Wall's four-year, $170 million contract is his acute obsession with proving people wrong. It may provide the necessary motivation for him to overcome the odds and justify his contract to some degree. 

But long before Wall is back on the floor, the Wizards will have a major decision to make that will affect his future. With a top-10 pick in the June 20 draft, they could choose a point guard.

Wall has already said he would be "fine" with the Wizards taking a player at his position, but added that guy would be his back-up once he returned. If they take Coby White from North Carolina, that sounds feasible. But if they get lucky in the May 14 draft lottery and select Ja Morant from Murray State, that could ultimately prove delusional.

The next calendar year will be an important one for Wall, even if he is on the sidelines rehabbing for most of it. The Wizards can only hope the future is brighter than his recent past.

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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.

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A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM after he served in the role on an interim basis since April 2. 

Let's take a look back at the moves which earned Sheppard the long-term GM job:

April 2: The Wizards fire GM Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard takes over the role on an interim basis. 

June 20: The Wizards select Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Later in the evening, Washington acquires Jonathan Simmons and the draft rights to Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was placed on waivers on July 7.

July 5: The Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round draft pick as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

July 6: The Wizards trade Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles and acquire Davis Bertans from the Spurs in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and San Antonio, sending the draft rights of Aaron White to the Nets. 

July 7: The Wizards re-sign center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal and trade guard Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls for a 2020 second-round pick.

July 9: The Wizards sign guard Ish Smith to a two-year deal.

July 10: The Wizards sign guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal. 

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