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Wizards' loss to Mavs was a reminder Bradley Beal needs some scoring help

Wizards' loss to Mavs was a reminder Bradley Beal needs some scoring help

What is one of the most pressing questions for the new-look Washington Wizards was not answered on Wednesday night in their 108-100 season-opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks. We know Bradley Beal can both score and create his own shot, but who is the second scoring option with John Wall out long-term due to injury?

The Wizards have athleticism, they have outside shooters, they have speed; there are some elements that could collectively create a decent NBA offense. But the drop-off from Beal in the shot creation department is significant and it's one of the reasons why they lost a game in which they trailed by as many as 23.

Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura each had 14 points, second only to Beal's team-high 19, but they were mostly on plays set up by others. And Bryant only attempted nine shots. He is one of the best players in the NBA at shot selection, as he set a franchise record last season for effective field goal percentage, but on this revamped Wizards roster he has to be more involved and more aggressive looking for his shots, even if they aren't perfect opportunities.

The lack of offensive help for Beal manifested itself in two ways for the Wizards. One is that he struggled to counter a Mavericks defense that overloaded on him. He shot just 7-for-25 (28%) from the field and 1-for-11 (9.1%) from three. It was the fewest made threes for Beal in his career in games with at least 10 attempts.

The other way the lack of a second scoring option translated was in turnovers. The Wizards had 17, including six in the first quarter alone.

Granted, Dallas is a good defensive team. They were above average last season, ranking 13th in points allowed, and that was without Kristaps Porzingis who now adds over two blocks per game on average to the mix. 

But some of the numbers the Mavs forced from the Wizards were just plain ugly. Washington shot 11-for-41 (26.8%) from three, the second-fewest makes in franchise history on at least 40 attempts. They weren't much better from the field, either, shooting just 39.8 percent overall. 

It is not easy to win while shooting under 40 percent. For some context, they went 10-22 last season when they fell under the 40-mark.

The Wizards, to be fair, are dealing with a litany of injuries even beyond Wall's extended absence. They could have used C.J. Miles, Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. in this one. WIth them available, guys like rookie Admiral Schofield, who had zero points in 16 minutes, would be lower on the depth chart.

Thomas, in particular, could help tremendously as he has traditionally been able to both score and create for others. But he played on 12 games last season and hasn't been a very productive player for two years now. It's hard to count on him being the savior until he comes out and proves he can make a significant impact.

Regardless, there will be better days for the Wizards' offense. They want to shoot lots of threes and will probably have plenty of nights where they get hot from long range.

Guys will also come back from injuries and help the cause. And Beal is so good that on many nights, he will be able to get his points no matter who they are playing.

But they will also play some defenses that are much better than the Mavs. Someone is going to have to step up and take some pressure off Beal, one way or another.


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Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Wizards District Gaming takes JBM with No.1 pick in 2020 NBA 2K League Draft

Sixty eight gamers' lives changed on Saturday night. 

One of those very lucky individuals was Jack Mascone, who was selected by Wizards District Gaming with the No.1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft. 

Wizards’ managing partner Ted Leonsis had a special message for the point guard from New York, who joins the Monumental Sports & Entertainment family. 

“On behalf of the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go we’d like to welcome JBM to the Monumental basketball family. Congratulations on your hard work paying off. We’re excited to have you run the District with us,” Leonsis said.

Wizards District Gaming also drafted small forward Justin Howell in the second round, No. 30 overall, small forward Antonio Newman, No. 37, and utility Brandon Richardson at No. 51 in the third round. 


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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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