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Wizards play it safe, but probably smart with Tommy Sheppard at helm in 2019 draft

Wizards play it safe, but probably smart with Tommy Sheppard at helm in 2019 draft

WASHINGTON -- For the first time in 16 years, a new team president ran the draft for the Washington Wizards on Thursday night. Technically, it marked the start of a new era, no matter the fact they still have yet to name a long-term replacement for Ernie Grunfeld.

This time interim president Tommy Sheppard was in charge. And this draft shared the first glimpse into his roster-building philosophy with his first two significant moves on the job.

His first was to take forward Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga with the ninth overall pick. His second was to trade back into the second round, sending cash considerations to the Sixers for the 42nd pick and veteran Jonathan Simmons. The Wizards then used that pick to select bruising forward Admiral Schofield of Tennessee.

None of the moves represented much risk. In fact, both players were taken when boom-or-bust, household names were on the board. They took Hachimura over Cam Reddish of Duke and Schofield over Oregon's Bol Bol, who was stunningly still available in the middle of the second round. Both decisions may offer second-guessing from Wizards fans for years to come.

Some might say Sheppard played it safe with both selections. Some could theorize that was a product of his interim tag, that his uncertain future led to caution.

Or, those moves could be seen as bold in their own way. Drafting Reddish and Bol would have won the press conference on Friday. Instead, he went with players who represent a culture the Wizards are trying to build.

Hachimura is an intelligent, high-motor player. Though he isn't known for his defense, he can be counted on to play team basketball on both ends. He has the type of approach to the game you want most of your roster comprised of.

Schofield, on the other hand, is known for his defense. At 6-6 and 240 pounds, he is built like a football player. In fact, his brother and two of his cousins played in the NFL and his uncle played college ball at Clemson. He will add toughness and an edge to their defense.

Buying back into the second round alone was a departure from how the Wizards have operated in the past. They sold their second-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2017. This time, they paid to get one. 

Both players will likely contribute right away. Hachimura is 21 and has an NBA-ready offensive game. Schofield is 22, played four years in college and has a physical frame that will help him blend in quickly.

Neither, though, may turn into an All-Star someday. Hachimura's ceiling is questionable given he's not a high-flying, above-the-rim player and he's not particularly young.

He may top out as a good, but not great starter. But it seems like a safe bet he will not be a bust. Of the best options when the Wizards were on the board, he seemed to offer the most guarantees.

Though Hachimura should be able to make a more instant impact, he is in some ways cut from the same mold as Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards' 2018 first round pick. Neither will wow with their measurables or highlight reels. But both have all the tools to carve out long and solid NBA careers.

Clearly, the Wizards now have a type. These guys are the opposite of your JaVale McGee, Nick Young variety. They are smart and practical, like a mid-size sedan that gets good gas mileage. They are the Volkswagen Passat of NBA prospects.

Time will tell if they passed on a Bentley or Ferrari.

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Local teams, stars congratulate Elena Delle Donne on historic second WNBA MVP award

Local teams, stars congratulate Elena Delle Donne on historic second WNBA MVP award

Elena Delle Donne is, once again, the Most Valuable Player in the WNBA.

She's the first player in WNBA history to earn the honor with two different teams.

"I am extremely proud of this honor, but we still have work ahead of us and we’re all focused playing our hardest to bring a championship to Washington," Delle Donne said in a release.

After the announcement of Delle Donne's historic achievement, her teammates and the greater D.C. sports community showered her with praise all over social media.

Delle Donne and the Mystics will take on the Las Vegas Aces in Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

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Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne has done it again.

For the second time in her career, the Washington Mystics' star has been named the WNBA MVP, Monumental Sports announced Thursday.

Delle Donne is the first WNBA player to earn the prestigious award with two teams, her 2015 honor while with the Chicago Sky.

“I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and our wonderful fans--I have the greatest teammates in the world, our coaches have put us in a position to succeed by forming this awesome unit and the energy of our fans has given us the best home-court atmosphere in the league,” Delle Donne said in the statement.

“Everyone has had a part in this, especially my wife and family, and it took a lot of hard work and focus from all of us together to get to this point.  I am extremely proud of this honor, but we still have work ahead of us and we’re all focused playing our hardest to bring a championship to Washington.”

During her 2019 season with the Mystics, Delle Donne averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists, securing her spot on the All-Star team for the sixth time. Her most unbelievable feat, however, was becoming the first WNBA player to join the prestigious 50/40/90 club.

Delle Donne earned 51.5 percent from the field, 43.03 percent from beyond the arc and an incredible 97.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Malcolm Brogdon are the only players in the history of the NBA to accomplish that feat.

The Mystics look for another win Thursday night en route to a Championship against the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals at 8:30 p.m.

You can watch the game on ESPN 2.

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