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Wizards hire Sashi Brown as senior vice president in front office shakeup

Wizards hire Sashi Brown as senior vice president in front office shakeup

Though the Wizards pulled from within their organization to find a new general manager, the franchise is taking an outside-the-box approach to restructuring their front office. Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis looked all around sports in search for a high-level executive and it was in football where he found his man.

Sashi Brown, a former Cleveland Browns executive, now joins the Wizards as a senior vice president working with and in support of Tommy Sheppard, their senior vice president and general manager, NBC Sports Washington has learned. The two men will run separate groups under a new umbrella called Monumental Basketball.

The new vertical will include the Capital City Go-Go, Wizards District Gaming (the NBA 2K League franchise), the Mystics and a grassroots, local basketball program. Sheppard will oversee all of the pro teams, though the Mystics will have more autonomy under head coach and general manager Mike Thibault.

Brown will handle mostly strategic, big-picture duties. Sheppard will be the head personnel decision-maker and deal with players, agents and the coaching staff. Brown, though, will be part of the process in recruiting free agents and selling the Wizards' organization as a whole.

With Brown in the mix, the Wizards believe they can take the next step in investing in analytics, pro scouting and player development. There will be an acute focus on player wellness and personal development with a division led by former Georgetown University coach John Thompson III, a new hire, and Sashia Jones, who was promoted from the Wizards' marketing department.

The team is also adding an executive to its medical program. Daniel Medina, formerly of the Sixers and FC Barcelona, is coming on board to help with player health and training.

The Wizards will launch youth basketball initiatives, hoping to connect communities between the NBA, G-League, high schools and local leagues. Part of the thinking is the potential long-term benefits when the NBA Draft expands to include high school players. Wizards and Bullets alumni will be involved with those efforts.

Despite the fact Brown comes from the NFL, the Wizards' new dual front office structure is not uncommon in sports. Leonsis' Capitals operate in a similar way with Dick Patrick as team president and Brian MacLellan as senior VP and GM. They are setting it up so Sheppard focuses on basketball and others handle the rest. 

The Wizards' front office will now more closely resemble that of the Clippers and Raptors, which have larger staffs with specialized titles. There will be front office additions announced at a later date as the Wizards beef up their scouting and analytics departments. Leonsis envisions more communication between the front office and ownership within this new dynamic.

Brown, 43, worked in the Browns' organization from 2013 until he was dismissed in 2017. He joined them after working for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A Harvard Law grad, Brown will also provide the Wizards legal expertise. The Capitals have a similar situation with Don Fishman, one of their assistant general managers.

Brown leaves a complicated legacy behind in the NFL. He oversaw an aggressive rebuild by the Browns, one where they tanked to accumulate as many draft picks as possible, not unlike the Sixers did in 'The Process' with Sam Hinkie in charge. 

Like Hinkie, Brown was fired before that process began to bear fruit. Now the Browns are seen as a team on the rise under new leadership and how much credit Brown should receive has been up for debate. 

Brown helped lay the groundwork for the Browns. Now he will try to do the same for the Wizards.


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Wizards may have found Thomas Bryant 2.0 in Moe Wagner, another steal from the Lakers

Wizards may have found Thomas Bryant 2.0 in Moe Wagner, another steal from the Lakers

Moe Wagner has openly expressed his desire to follow the trajectory of Thomas Bryant, whom he has reunited with as a teammate now in Washington after they previously overlapped in Los Angeles.

He is a big man who can stretch the floor and plays with loads of energy. And he was a Lakers castoff now hoping to find his NBA niche in a Wizards uniform.

Through 10 games in Washington, Wagner is ahead of schedule. What he did on Friday night in Minnesota was something Bryant didn't do until months into last season, and technically it was much rarer than that.

Wagner became the first player to put up 30 points and 15 rebounds off the bench since Yao Ming in 2002 and the first in Wizards/Bullets franchise history since Cliff Robinson in 1985. No NBA player had ever dropped 30 points with 15 boards and hit four threes off the bench before in NBA history.

Wagner did this, mind you, against Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the best centers in the league. And Wagner did it all in only 25 minutes as he battled through foul trouble to make 13-of-15 shots overall and shoot a perfect 4-for-4 from three. 

He had his moments on the defensive end as well. While Towns lit up the Wizards for 25 points in the first half and for 36 in the game, 19 of those came in the second quarter when Wagner had to take a seat because of his fouls. 

Wagner's defensive style isn't pretty. Without the length or instincts to block shots, he has to scrap his way to getting stops. He uses his fouls and has a knack for drawing them.

Wagner took three charges in Friday's game and now has 10 on the season, which leads the NBA. Last year, Bradley Beal and Jeff Green led the Wizards with 12 for the entire year.

Charges generally aren't utilized in the NBA because they are very difficult to achieve. Last season, the Dallas Mavericks led the entire league with 0.84 per game. Though Wagner is averaging one per game himself this year, that pace will be difficult to sustain. Last season, Ersan Ilyasove led the league with 0.73 charges drawn per game and DeMarcus Cousins was No. 1 with 0.5 per game the year before. 

But there are players for whom charges are a defensive weapon. Ilyasova and Cousins are always near the top of the league in the category and so is Blake Griffin. Shane Battier might be the most famous charge-taker of all-time. Maybe Wagner can be next.

Taking charges, though, are just one of the ways Wagner is using his energy and effort to affect games for the Wizards. After Wednesday's win over the Timberwolves, he is second on the Wizards in deflections, second in contested shots and second in screen assists; all hustle stats. And his net rating is best on the team and fourth-highest in the NBA. 

Wagner is so far proving to be a diamond in the rough, just like Bryant was last year. Keep in mind the Wizards got him in a salary-dump trade from the Lakers that also gave them Isaac Bonga and a second-round pick. All the Wizards gave up was cash considerations, which they used to be famous for coveting.

All of this makes it fair to wonder if the Wizards can do it again. They got Bryant from the Lakers and then Wagner.

So, who is the back-up center currently on L.A. they can poach next summer?

Well, technically that would be either Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee, so maybe not. But the Wizards already fooled the Lakers once and it looks like they did it again.

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Bradley Beal passes Gilbert Arenas and John Wall for most 40-point, 10-assist games in team history

Bradley Beal passes Gilbert Arenas and John Wall for most 40-point, 10-assist games in team history

Bradley Beal led the Wizards to their third win of the season Friday night with a brilliant 44-point, 10-assist performance against the Timberwolves. 

It was the third time in his career scoring 40 points and dishing out 10 assists, which is now a Wizards franchise record. Beal passed Gilbert Arenas (2) and John Wall (2) to become the outright leader in this high-profile category.

The other two instances where Beal went 40-and-10 were last season against Toronto (43 points, 15 assists) and in 2018 at the Suns (40 points, 15 assists). 

This wasn't the only impressive statistical feat Beal accomplished on Friday. He recorded his third 40-point game of the season while shooting over 60 percent, something only four other players have done so far in 2019-20.

Beal is now averaging 29.7 points, 6.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds on the year. He's clearly on his way to another All-Star game selection, and if he keeps up this level of production he'll earn himself his first All-NBA selection and perhaps a place in the MVP discussion. 

Even though the Wizards are in the midst of a rebuild and have had their fair share of frustrating moments, but at this point, Beal is must-see television.