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Wizards' Bradley Beal snubbed from All-NBA, doesn't qualify for supermax contract

Wizards' Bradley Beal snubbed from All-NBA, doesn't qualify for supermax contract

Despite setting statistical career-highs across the board and earning many votes from the media, Wizards guard Bradley Beal fell short of making All-NBA, the league announced on Thursday.

Beal, 25, put together a brilliant season despite his team's disappointing 32-50 record. He averaged 25.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three. 

But voting members of the media saw others as more worthy of the honor.

The six guards chosen for All-NBA over Bradley Beal were:
- Stephen Curry, Warriors
- James Harden, Rockets
- Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
- Kyrie Irving, Celtics
- Russell Westbrook, Thunder
- Kemba Walker, Hornets

Walker essentially got the final spot over Beal.

Beal was one of just six players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He was the only one of the six who did not make an All-NBA team.



This is bittersweet news for the Wizards. Though Beal earning All-NBA would be an accomplishment worth celebrating, him not making it saves them a good deal of money and probably some headaches as well.

Beal would have qualified for a designated veteran player extension, also known as a supermax contract. He would have been in line to earn roughly $194 million over four years in a contract starting with the 2021-22 season at 35 percent of the salary cap.

With John Wall already signed to a supermax contract, that would have put the Wizards in a precarious financial position. But now the Wizards will not have to worry about that problem, at least for now.

Beal could always make All-NBA next season and these questions would be revisited. Also, with two years left on his contract, next summer could get interesting as he will be one year away from free agency.

But Thursday's news is good for anyone hoping to see Beal continue playing in a Washington uniform. This certainly increases his chances of sticking around for at least one more year, though the team's new president - whenever they are hired - may have other ideas.

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Unsung LaToya Sanders’ two-way play has Mystics one game away from WNBA Finals

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Unsung LaToya Sanders’ two-way play has Mystics one game away from WNBA Finals

On a stacked Mystics team, LaToya Sanders knows her role. 

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound wisp of a center is asked to guard far bigger opponents throughout the season and still complement her teammates on the offensive end. It’s a lot to deal with. She does so without complaint. 

Sanders, the most unheralded of Washington’s five starters, did it all on Thursday night in a 103-91 WNBA semifinal win over the Las Vegas Aces at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

She finished with 17 points on a night when WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne (14 points, 5 of 15 shooting) struggled given her lofty standards. Sanders also played the kind of defense that left coach Mike Thibault insisting she should have been named WNBA first or second-team All-Defense. 

“My job is probably the easiest on the team,” Sanders laughed. “My job is basically to hit wide-open jumpers and lay-ups. Pretty sure I can do those two things.”

Indeed, she was efficient hitting 7 of 10 shots and all three free throws. Sanders also had to guard Vegas’ 6-8 center Liz Cambage, a big ask given their size difference. Cambage did have 23 points and 10 rebounds, but she only took 11 shots. 

Sanders and her teammates tried to make it as hard as possible for the Aces to get the ball inside for easy baskets in their two wins this week. Washington won Game 1 of the series 97-95 on Tuesday, a game that left Cambage visibly frustrated. She also earned a technical foul in Thursday’s game on a rough play underneath the Vegas basket.  

“When you’re LaToya Sanders and you’re 6-3 and you’re relying on your long arms to guard people, she takes a beating every night,” Thibault said. “She guards Camabge and [Phoenix Mercury center Brittney] Griner and [Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia] Fowles and all those people. And every night she wins a lot of those battles.”

But the really unsung part of Sanders’ game is her mid-range jumper. Thursday she was on when some of her higher-profile teammates like Delle Donne didn’t quite have their shot dropping. 

Sanders had six points in the third quarter as the two teams battled back and forth in a tight game and that set the stage for the decisive run that tilted the game toward the Mystics. She also had a hot start to the night with two baskets in the first quarter. 

“[Sanders is] a really good player. She's just on a team with so many other good players that she doesn't get as many shots,” Vegas guard Kelsey Plum said. “But she plays her role as good as anyone in the league. She's a vet. She rebounds the crap out of the ball. I just think that she does a great job for them. Everyone made us pay."

Thibault referenced a rebound Sanders grabbed in traffic to stifle a Vegas possession when they were trying to get the lead under 10 points in the fourth quarter. Instead, Washington was able to work the clock at the offensive end and score a knockout blow. It’s the little things that matter most when a team is pushing for a championship. The Mystics are one step closer. 

“Cambage is a talent, she’s a big girl,” Sanders said. “I just do what I can to try to make it difficult for her, but she’s going to hit some buckets here and there. I try to dish it out, but not take it.”  

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On off shooting night, Elena Delle Donne shows why she's MVP in Mystics' Game 2 win

On off shooting night, Elena Delle Donne shows why she's MVP in Mystics' Game 2 win

WASHINGTON -- Most nights for Mystics superstar Elena Delle Donne call for her to score. Some nights require her to do just about everything else.

In Washington's Game 2 win on Thursday night, Delle Donne was the focal point of the Aces' defense, to the point where double teams were common and open shots were rare. She managed 15 attempts, but only made five of them and topped out at 14 points, well south of her regular season average (19.5). 

So, Delle Donne adjusted and, with coincidental timing, did exactly what she described just hours before the game during her acceptance speech for the 2019 WNBA MVP award. Earlier, she explained how seven years of WNBA experience have instilled the importance of making her teammates better, how that ultimately is the separator from winning in the playoffs and going home early.

Thursday put that theory into practice. Delle Donne overcame her off shooting night with 10 rebounds, two blocks and countless plays where she created shooting opportunities.

Delle Donne is known for her scoring. She holds a 20.3-point average for her career and this season became the first WNBA player ever to post a 50-40-90 shooting season.

How she played in Game 2 may have been unfamiliar for some that were watching, but not for those in the Mystics locker room.

"That's the Elena Delle Donne that's the MVP," head coach Mike Thibault said. "This game kind of epitomized it because she didn't have a good shooting game and yet people are running to double-team her and she's finding someone else. She gets double-figure rebounds, she comes up with a big blocked shot down the stretch. Those other things are things nobody ever things about with her."

"I think that’s what makes Delle the MVP is because she doesn’t force anything," guard Kristi Tolliver said. "She’s able to just be herself stay unselfish – we have a very unselfish team."

Thibault revealed that as the game went on, he purposefully drew up plays to use Delle Donne as a decoy just to get shots for Emma Meesseman, who had a game-high 30 points, and others. Delle Donne had no qualms with it, either, as she watched five of her teammates reach double-figures.

"That's what this team is about. On any night, someone can step up and take over," Delle Donne said.

That attitude can spread on a team. If the best player is giving herself up for a greater cause, others have no excuse not to do the same. 

As guard Natasha Cloud described, Delle Donne is so versatile that a bad shooting game doesn't fit the traditional definition of an 'off night.'

"I wouldn't say that she was off, I would just say that she missed some shots. But even on this type of night, she's a player that you have to commit to, that you have to respect," Cloud said. "You have to respect her shot and you have to respect the player that she is, especially on the offensive end."

Stopping Delle Donne and the three-point shot were the main areas of emphasis for the Aces on defense, and technically their strategy worked. Delle Donne didn't light up the scoreboard and the Mystics attempted only seven threes in the first half after taking 28 in Game 1.

But they didn't account for how Delle Donne would adjust. That left a sense of bewilderment in the Aces' locker room as they processed a game that has them one loss away from elimination.

"I thought we did a decent job on her," Aces star A'Ja Wilson told NBC Sports Washington. "But we've still gotta get back to the drawing board."

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