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Wizards 2018-19 roster outlook: John Wall aims to bounce back from injury-plagued year

Wizards 2018-19 roster outlook: John Wall aims to bounce back from injury-plagued year

With training camp starting later this month, we at NBC Sports are previewing the season for each player on the Wizards' roster.

The success of the Washington Wizards in 2018-19 begins and ends with John Wall. His efficiency, productive and health all set the tone for the team's upward, or downward, trajectory.


Player: John Wall

Position: Point guard

Age: 27 (turns 28 on Sept. 6)

2018-19 salary: $19.2 million

2017-18 stats: 41 G, 34.4 mpg, 19.4 ppg, 9.6 apg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg, 42.0 FG%, 37.1 3P%, 72.6 FT%, 46.6 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2018-19 storyline: Wall's 2017-18 season was one of, if not the most frustrating year of his NBA career. He missed exactly half of the season due to a left knee injury and in many of the 41 games he did play, he wasn't himself. 

The Wizards ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs, which was a first for Wall. And on top of all that, there were some off-court disagreements that made for a tough and forgettable year.

Wall is always motivated to prove people wrong and that will undoubtedly be a part of his thinking throughout the 2018-19 season. With plenty of recency bias in professional sports, right now he probably feels underrated by the way many are characterizing him in the media. The fact he brought up not being considered a top-5 point guard earlier this summer is a good indication of that. 

If Wall is healthy, he will almost certainly have a better year than he did this past season and, if that's the case, the Wizards will likely be much better. But beyond the obvious, there are several parts of Wall's game to watch as he enters his ninth NBA campaign.

Most interesting will be his on-court relationship with Dwight Howard. Though Howard is 32 and not the dominant force he once was, he is the most athletic and gifted big man Wall has played with. The potential for them to thrive as a duo in the pick-and-roll and in transition is enticing. 

But there will need to be sacrifices made by both sides. There may be fewer shots to go around and Howard will have to buy in to being Wall's table-setter, committing to screens and being content if the ball doesn't swing his way.

Howard should also provide more rim protection than Wall is used to. That will help Wall's cause manning the perimeter, knowing he has some help behind him.

For Wall individually, improving his efficiency will be key. Though Wall shot a career-high 37.1 percent from three, his field goal percentage sunk to its lowest mark since his rookie year. Wall's efficiency numbers should go up if he is healthy as his speed creates easy looks around the rim.

In the big picture for the Wizards, this is an important season as it pertains to Wall. It is the final year of his first max contract extension. This season he will make $19.2 million, but next year his salary will skyrocket to $37.8 million. 

Wall has said it himself that this is the most talented team he has been a part of. If he can stay healthy, the potential is there for him and the Wizards to re-install themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Potential to improve: Availability, efficiency, rebounding


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‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

Capital City Go-Go

‘Grateful for the opportunity’ A tale of the second Capital City Go-Go open tryouts

The Washington Wizards G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, held their second open local player tryouts at the Entertainment and Sports Arena Saturday morning in Southeast D.C.

Over 100 hopefuls filed into the arena with plans to impress Go-Go General Manager, Pop Mensah-Bonsu, head coach Ryan Richman, and his staff. 

Although each player in attendance has a unique path that’s led them here, they all shared one simple, yet intricate goal:

One shot in the G League. 

Adam Stanford, a prospect from California, traveled on a red eye to make the tryout on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

“My plane left at midnight from LAX, I had a two-hour layover in Denver, made it to Reagan National at five, checked into my hotel at six, took an hour nap and then Ubered here for tryouts,”  he said. 

“If I made this team it’d be big. Not just for me but for everyone who knows what I’ve been through from college to now.” 

Stanford is a 6-foot-4 wing from Campbellsville University, where he averaged 7 points, 5 rebounds, and was an academic All-American. 

Even with his positive outlook on the process, and an impressive showing Saturday morning, Stanford’s name wasn’t called for a follow-up workout later in the afternoon. 

The harsh reality that your chances are extremely slim to make a G League roster from an open tryout can be a tough pill to swallow, but as a guy who’s been on the opposite end of the chopping block, Mensah-Bonsu had an immense amount of respect for those who showed up to compete Saturday.

“Personally it’s tough because I never wanted to be that guy to read out the numbers of those who did make the team, and skip over those who didn’t,” Mensah-Bonsu said, “it’s heartbreaking. We always anticipate what the DMV has to offer in terms of the wealth of talent in this area.

"I was pleasantly surprised because we ended up selecting 15 guys to stick around for the afternoon portion, but going into this we were only planning to pick five.” 

Those who made the cut won’t be announced until a later date, which leaves the larger point of how those who were passed on respond?

The all-time leading scorer in Peach Sun Belt Conference history, Detrek Browning, was in attendance Saturday and put on a show. His combination of quickness, deep range shooting ability, and a knack for loose balls/putbacks captured the attention of every media member in attendance. 

However, his name wasn’t called for the next round of tryouts. 

Still, in a state of shock, he delivered words of encouragement not just for his self, but others to turn to after a similar letdown. 

“I for sure thought I was going to get a place here, but you just gotta focus and move on,” Browning said. “I quit my job in June to focus on basketball and it’s been paying off. I’ve seen my game increase exponentially.

“I did my best and that’s what matters,” he added. “I appreciate them not picking me up, it’s just going to make me work even harder.”




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Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Most MVP award winners thank coaches, parents and anyone who helped them become great. Elena Delle Donne is not most people.

The Washington Mystic's superstar forward had a lot to be thankful for after receiving the second MVP honors of her career, creating a long list on Twitter. Some injury-preventing accessory manufacturers made their way high up on her list.

Delle Donne became the first woman player to shoot 50/40/90 splits over the course of an entire WNBA season this year, but she was perhaps more grateful for the apparrel that allowed her to stay on the court: her knee brace and face mask. 

The Delaware native often deflects praise onto her teammates and coaches when receiving accolades, but when EDD's knee is being held together by her bulky brace and her nose is feeling protected after a fracture earlier in the season, they definitely deserve the thanks. 

She had a gruesome knee scare in a Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the playoffs last season, and even missed some early season games this year in recovery. Still, Delle Donne wouldn't let her knee keep her out of action, as her 31 regular season starts were the most games she's played since 2015. It's been evident she's had an edge all season to help her Washington Mystics get back to the Finals, and this time finish the job. 

Delle Donne's face mask has also been somewhat of a fashion trend in recent weeks with star athletes around the District. Wizards all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal along with Redskins runing back Derrius Guice, all wore the face masks in solidarity when they came to support the Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

Despite Delle Donne's nose having been fully recovered, she's kept the face mask on during games for style and reassurance. Considering these ailments, it's impressive Delle Donne's shooting touch not only hasn't been affected, but instead has improved. 

After a Game 2 win over the Las Vegas Aces, Delle Donne and Co. have the opportunity to make their season mantra come true and #RunItBack to a second straight WNBA Finals appearance.