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Wizards can learn from how Celtics targeted Jayson Tatum pre-draft

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Wizards can learn from how Celtics targeted Jayson Tatum pre-draft

Even before the 2017 NBA Draft, Jayson Tatum knew he was going to be a Boston Celtic.

“The Celtics were always going to pick me,” Tatum said in August of 2017, two months after Boston had traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick (plus a conditional future first-round pick) with which they selected Tatum.

“We think there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at three is the same player we would have taken at one,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said at the time.

The Sixers used the No. 1 pick on Markelle Fultz, who had been linked to Boston before the draft. But Tatum knew differently.

“Philly thought Boston was going to pick Markelle, so Philly traded the pick and gave Boston a pick for next year,” he said. “So Boston was like, ‘Well, we can still get the player we want, a next year’s pick, and then we can get the player we wanted for less money.’ So Boston still got all that they wanted, and Philly had to give up something.”

Boston, which hosts the Wizards Friday night at TD Garden, has certainly got all that it wanted from Tatum, and possibly more. After his All-Rookie campaign in 2017-18, during which he helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 2018-19. At 20 years old, he’s a key contributor on one of the best teams in the conference, starting every game for Boston so far this season.

The Wizards have just one of their own first-round draft picks since 2013 still on the roster: Troy Brown Jr., Washington’s 2018 selection. The Wizards could not only use an injection of youth like the one Tatum brought Boston, but also a player similar to Tatum after trading Otto Porter before the trade deadline: a wing scorer with the ability to create their own offense.

With John Wall set to miss the rest of this season and the majority of next year with a ruptured Achilles, the Wizards need another dynamic playmaker on the perimeter alongside Bradley Beal who can get their own shot. Tatum does this in spades for the Celtics, scoring in a variety of ways. Porter showed flashes of this skillset during this time in D.C., but did not attack with aggression on a consistent basis.

If they're searching for a Tatum clone, the Wizards can start by looking at the current crop of freshmen phenoms at Duke, where Tatum starred in 2016-17. The Blue Devils have not one, but two slashers with NBA star potential: RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. Barrett is the more polished scorer, leading the ACC with 23.3 points per game, but Reddish is (at least hypothetically) the better outside shooter and athlete, with a wingspan over seven feet long.

Either player could help the Wizards from the get-go next season, but it could take some luck to get them: both are expected to be off the board after the fourth pick, and Washington currently has less than a nine percent chance to land a top-four pick per Tankathon.com. Those odds could certainly improve, however, if Washington continues to fall in the standings.

For another wing option with tremendous upside, the Wizards could look 10 miles down the road from Duke to Chapel Hill and Tar Heels forward Nassir Little. The problem with Little is he, unlike Tatum, has not lived up to the hype in his freshman year at UNC. However, he undoubtedly possesses many of the tools which Tatum has, too: good athleticism, aggression and the ability to score multiple ways. 

This not to say any of these players will turn into Jayson Tatum. But if the Wizards feel as good about Barrett, Reddish or Little as the Celtics did Tatum, they should follow Boston’s example and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the player they want.

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Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant’s resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness: He’s now, officially, a Hall of Famer.

And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any.

Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said -- as if there was going to be any doubt -- that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.

Bryant's death has been part of a jarring start of the year for basketball: Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died on Jan. 1, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash in late January, and the NBA shut down March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the U.S.

“Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate," Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. “But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him."

Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Colangelo said.

Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He also was part of Boston's 2008 NBA title.

“This is the culmination," Garnett said. “All those hours ... this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called ‘Hall of Famer' is everything."

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.

For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”

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How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

Sunday night was supposed to feature another exciting Wizard’s game against the Indiana Pacers. However, because the NBA season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, games are not being played as planned. 

Although fans can’t tune into Wizards games in a traditional sense, just like everything else in the world right now, there is a virtual alternative. The Wizards vs. Pacers game will still go on as planned but will be an NBA 2K20 video game simulation. 

This format allows fans to watch a broadcast of the video game where the computer has control. Additionally, the game will feature commentary from NBC Sports Washington’s Wizards experts.

The Wizards fun continues after the game ends, as there is a replay of a game against the Bucks from earlier this season when Bradley Beal hit 55 points in his second of back-to-back 50-points games.

Here's everything you need to join the Wizards action on Sunday night. 

When: 

Sunday, April 5 at 7 PM ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule

07:00 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (P)

08:00 PM: NBA Classics: Milwaukee Bucks @ Wizards (R)

10:30 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (R)

11:30 PM: NBA Classics: Brooklyn Nets @ Wizards (R)

Starting lineups

Wizards: TBD
Pacers: TBD

If you miss the NBA basketball season like all do, tune into NBC Sports Washington on Sunday night to experience the best alternative to a live game. 

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