Quick Links

State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record, Otto's always moving

Top storylines

Can they get above .500? - After beating the Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, the Wizards find themselves at the .500 mark (18-18) for the second time this season. Last time they got here, at 16-16, they promptly lost two straight games. But those were on the road, where the Wizards have had major trouble this season. This next stretch in their schedule will offer plenty of games at the Verizon Center for them to rack up some Ws. 

Four of the Wizards' next five games are in Washington, where they are an impressive 14-6. And two of those games are against teams well below the .500 mark, the Sixers and Blazers. Securing a winning record would be a nice short-term goal for the Wizards and they are likely to reach it soon. They are 16-10 since beginning the season 2-8. That 16-10 mark is a 51-win pace over the course of a full season and it's not that small of a small sample size.

RELATED: Beal proving he is the opposite of soft

The Wizards' first opportunity will come against the Bulls on Tuesday night in Washington. If they win, they will go above .500 for the first time since Nov. 24, 2015 when they were 6-5.

Easier to score 50? - Sports Illustrated unearthed an amazing stat last week following Jimmy Butler's ' 52-point masterpiece against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 2. Butler was already the eighth different player to hit the 50-mark this season, tying the record for most in one NBA season with the 1989-90 campaign and last year. Considering there are three-plus more months of the NBA regular season left to play, that's very noteworthy.

Basically, there has been a huge increase in 50-point games in recent years. One of those performances this season was by John Wall, who had 52 himself on Dec. 6. Wall and others on the Wizards were asked this past week if they think it's easier now to score 50 points than it was in the past. The opinions varied:

Wall: "Might be so. There's more spacing out there. There's more spacing, there's a lot more fouls called and flagrant fouls, technical fouls; all of that's called that wasn't called back in that era. It was a lot more tough to get to the basket with hand-checking and all of that. I don't think those bigs back then would let us get to the basket so easy and score layups."

Bradley Beal: “I disagree. But at the same time I do agree because our eras were different. Foul calls were different. Guys shooting 20 free throws these days vs. however many they shoot back in the day. Guys are putting up, 50 you got to respect it.”

Scott Brooks: “I would probably say I disagree because it’s hard to score 50 points in a pickup game let alone an NBA game no matter what generation you’re playing in. Doesn’t happen often. The points have gone up. I think more teams are averaging more points this year than have in the last 25 years. It’s tough to score. Fifty points, that’s a number that’s not easy to get... There’s no question that [no hand-checking is] the biggest change. It was hard. You got these bigger point guards like Gary Payton, Derek Harper, hand-checking was part of the game. So you can basically where that point guard is going if they’re a bigger, stronger point guard. The rules are better now. It’s much more free-flowing. There’s so many more opportunities to drive and kick for threes. The three-point ball is exploding. There’s not a lot of guys that can score back to the basket. But I think if you’re growing up now days you walk in the gym you start shooting threes."

The other six besides Wall and Butler to drop 50 this year are Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Who will be the ninth, if there is one? Beal has scored 40 or more twice already this season, so he's certainly capable.

Beal, by the way, suggested he thinks Westbrook's 17 triple-doubles this season are more impressive than the 50-point games:

"I would say Russ, having that many triple-doubles that many times in a row and being able to play that hard and at an elite level, that is kind of impressive and amazing to me. Just being able to play hard every single time you're on the floor and have no injuries and no splinters, just jumping and flying on the floor. Those things are impressive, but those are numbers. Guys are going to put up numbers every night. This is the game of basketball. It's not the first time we've seen guys score 40, 50 and above. It's just a trend where there's a lot of them this year. That's just the flow of the game. Guys are getting better."

Otto's always moving - Otto Porter may not be as fastest guy or play the most minutes, but every time he's on the court he's active on both ends of the floor. On offense he's cutting towards and away from the basket, while on defense he's usually guarding a mobile swingman. The result of all that has Porter near the top of the NBA in distance traveled per game.

Porter covers an average of 2.47 miles per game, which is tops on the Wizards and 11th overall in basketball. Beal offered a theory as to why that is:

"Otto's always moving without the ball. That's just a tale of what he does for us and the type of player that he is. He doesn't move at a fast pace, but he moves comfortably and he moves well without the ball probably better than most of us on the team. It's tough logging those many miles and putting that stress on your body, but he handles it well. He plays the three and the four, so it's a little tough on him. But he accepts it."

Eastern Conference standings

Stat line of the week: Marcin Gortat 1/6 vs. T'Wolves - 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 9-for-9 FG

RELATED: VIDEO: Kid has meltdown during danceoff at Wizards game

Quote of the Week

"That's a little crazy to me. There's no way he should be that low. He averages a double-double. He's probably playing the best out of all the guards in the East."

- Beal on his teammate Wall placing 7th among guards in the East in NBA All-Star fan voting

Tweet (or Instagram) of the Week

Road ahead

Mon. - OFF
Tue. - 7 p.m. vs. Chicago Bulls (CSN)
Wed. - 8 p.m. at Boston Celtics (CSN)
Thu. - OFF
Fri. - OFF
Sat. - 8 p.m. vs. Philadelphia 76ers (CSN)
Sun. - OFF

RELATED: Oubre tries to pronounce Antetokounmpo, has trouble

Quick Links

Timeline to create Wizards' G-League team and practice facility becoming more clear

usatsi_8426358.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Timeline to create Wizards' G-League team and practice facility becoming more clear

The Wizards' G-League team will not play it's first game until the fall of 2018, but its creation process is well underway and later this year should be kicked into another gear.

For now, it's all about constructing the team's arena in Ward 8 of Southeast Washington. The G-League team will ultimately practice and play their games there and so will the WNBA's Mystics. The Wizards will use it as their practice facility.

It's a multipurpose project and, as majority owner Ted Leonsis explained, they have broken ground but have lots of work to do.

"The big issue is will the building be ready. We stood up Kettler [Capitals Iceplex], we did our deal in Hershey, we built the team all during the lockout. That really worked. The goal was to get the Wizards practice facility and arena built in Ward 8," he said. "They've broken ground. You should drive by there one day. There's a hole in the ground and they're building. My goal is to just have the thing stood up and have people go 'wow.' The community can feel great about itself. Maybe we can get some restaurants around there or a little shopping so that that area really fast starts to resemble [Chinatown]."

[RELATED: John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear]

Leonsis said he expects information about the new G-League team's name and branding will be released this fall. He mentioned three months, which would mean October.

Soon after that we could learn of staff additions. The G-League team will have a whole new staff from the front office to coaching to public relations. 

Team president Ernie Grunfeld expects some people to be added by the start of 2018.

"We're gonna have to put some additions on sometime this year just to get people ready so they know our system and they're in place so it's not going to be a shock to their system of what we're trying to do," he said. 

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

The Wizards will have two players on two-way contracts this season in Michael Young and Devin Robinson. They will spend the majority of their time in the G-League with the allowance of 45 days maximum at the NBA level. Grunfeld said the Wizards expect to use multiple G-League teams this season until they have their own. Last season they used several such as the Delaware 87ers and Northern Arizona Suns.

The G-League coaching staff will essentially be an extension of Wizards head coach Scott Brooks' group and he expects to work closely with the G-League team once it is fully assembled.

"I'm going to be able to go there quite a bit on off-days or off-nights. If they have a game, I can go there and vice versa, they can come here." he said. 

"It's another commitment from our ownership group. It's important to develop your own players. It's going to be nice to be in our own city so that we can integrate the G-League staff and the players with us. I had a situation in my other job, with the other team I was with, and you utilize it."

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

Quick Links

John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

With a four-year extension that runs through the 2022-23 season, the Wizards and John Wall have hitched their wagons for the longhaul. Wall has committed to playing in Washington through his Age 32 season. Now that he is firmly in place, the Wizards' future in terms of salaries and personnel is quite clear.

Wall, who turns 27 in September, will be there through 2023. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, who each turned 24 last month, are under contract through 2020-21 with Porter's final season including a player option.

The Wizards have almost $100 million committed for that 2020-21 season, meaning they are tightly locked in with Wall, Beal and Porter leading the charge. Center Ian Mahinmi is the only other Wizards player with a contract beyond 2018-19.

Washington is in a good spot given Wall, Beal and Porter are all young and still improving. They will reach their ceiling as a trio at some point, but even after winning 49 games and their division this past season, it doesn't seem like they are there quite yet. All three could conceivably make another significant leap. If any combination of them do, the Wizards' will be sitting pretty.

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

Wall is probably closer to reaching his peak than the other two given he is further along in his career and already a perennial All-Star and All-NBA selection. The question regarding him may be how his game will age over the course of this contract which now runs six more years.

Wall shared some insight into how he hopes his game develops over the next several years in an interview with NBATV during a Wizards' Summer League game. He mentioned improving his post-up game as a big guard and also his three-point shot. Wall pointed to Jason Kidd, who found new life later in his career as a consistent three-point shooter.

Following Kidd's lead is perfect for Wall. Kidd was a very similar point guard at Wall's age. At 6-4 and with incomparable speed, he overmatched many of his opponents with pure physical superiority. Like Wall, Kidd was a pass-first guard but could score plenty without being a major threat from three. 

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

But later in his career, Kidd developed an outside shot and it helped him play until he was 39. Kidd was still making All-Star teams as late as 36.

Wall just completed his Age 26 season and through seven years in the NBA he's shot 32.1 percent from three on 2.7 attempts per game. At the same age, Kidd had shot 32.7 percent from three on 3.2 attempts per game. That is almost identical.

Kidd actually didn't truly hit his stride from three until his mid-30s, once he wasn't the fastest anymore and he needed to expand his game. From age 34 through 39, Kidd shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc including over 40 percent in 2008-09 and 2009-10 at 35- and 36-years-old, respectively.

By the time Kidd was done, he was one of the top three-point shooters of all-time. He currently ranks eighth in NBA history with 1,988 career threes.

We don't know exactly how Wall's game will progress over the next few years. What we do know is that it will be in Washington and with Beal and Porter as his running mates.

[RELATED: Wizards are building something special in Eastern Conference]