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What we learned from Wizards' Summer League, despite them going winless

What we learned from Wizards' Summer League, despite them going winless

No, the Wizards going winless in the 2017 NBA Summer League does not mean anything in the big picture. Though the passion is appreciated, those tweeting criticism about coaching decisions (that actually happened) should take a breath and settle down. Fidget spinners are said to be therapeutic. Maybe buy one of those.

Despite the losses, there was plenty to learn from the Wizards' five games. Here are some thoughts and observations...

Devin Robinson has legitimate, NBA-level athleticism

Robinson's addition to the Summer League roster added intrigue because his potential is obvious. He is 6-8 with a 7-1 wingspan and a 41-inch vertical leap. It turns out the Wizards had bigger plans for him, as they signed the Florida forward to a two-way contract, meaning he will have one of their 17 roster spots heading into next season. Robinson didn't have the best Summer League overall (3.4 ppg, 18.2 FG%), but he did show flashes in a small sample size. This putback slam in Friday's loss to the Timberwolves was a direct reminder of why the Wizards think this guy can turn into something some day:

[RELATED: Hannibal's road to Summer League as unusual as it gets]

Marcus Keene can definitely score

Keene proved in Las Vegas that his scoring ability is not just limited to the mid-major college level. It took him a few games, but Keene found his rhythm and left with a 11.3 points per game average on 50 percent shooting from the field. A 5-9 guard, Keene led the NCAA in scoring last season at Central Michigan with 30 points per game. He went undrafted, but felt this was the time to leave school after his junior year in part because of Isaiah Thomas' success this past season for the Celtics. After his performance in Vegas, don't be surprised if Keene draws interest from somebody on a two-way deal.

Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac got better

We didn't see much of Ochefu or Mac at the NBA level this past season, as they were stuck on the end of the Wizards' bench for most of the year. But both clearly benefitted from having that year under their belt in this year's Summer League. Both played confidently and aggressively and looked like NBA players should when going up against lesser competition. For Ochefu, it was apparent in his play around the rim. There were several times where he flashed polish in the post. For Mac, it was his motor and speed on the fastbreak. He was blowing past people even with a bum ankle.

[RELATED: 5 things to know about new Wizards forward Michael Young]

Chris McCullough remains raw, but intriguing

McCullough got plenty of shots in this year's Summer League as a focal point of the Wizards' offense. He took 48 field goal attempts, but shot just 29.2 percent. Of his 14 makes, many of them were powerful dunks that provided some of the best highlights of the Wizards' five games. But beyond dunking, McCullough was still limited on that end of the floor. If he is going to play his way into the Wizards' rotation this upcoming season, he will have to earn Scott Brooks' trust on defense. His 5.6 rebounds per game in 22.2 minutes were solid. McCullough has the athleticism to play at the NBA level, but he has to find his niche. Once he finds a way to use his size and leaping ability to protect the rim, he could make a nice career for himself.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Will John Wall sign the deal?]


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John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

John Wall and Wizards' partnership is a display of commitment rarely seen

No player has defined the Washington Wizards organization since they rebranded 20 years ago quite like John Wall, a superstar point guard who has developed from a first overall pick into a perennial All-Star and pillar of playoff success. Wall has etched a unique legacy within the franchise's history in just seven NBA seasons. Now he has ensured them of at least six more.

It's the yearly terms that stand out most in Wall's new contract with the Wizards, a four-year extension worth $170 million. Four years does not sound long, but that will take Wall through at least the majority, if not all, of his prime. He will enter his Age 27 season this fall, but with two years left on his current deal Wall's new contract will keep him in Washington through 2023. He will be 32 by the time it expires.

If Wall complets those 13 seasons with the Wizards, barring a trade or something unforeseen, he will have played as long for one team as Wes Unseld (Bullets), Larry Bird (Celtics), Kevin McHale (Celtics), Magic Johnson (Lakers) and Isaiah Thomas (Pistons). Dwyane Wade spent 13 seasons with the Heat before leaving. Michael Jordan played 13 in Chicago. 

Among active players, only Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs, 19 years), Tony Parker (Spurs, 16), Manu Ginobli (Spurs, 15) and Udonis Haslem (Heat, 14) have been with one team longer than 13 years.

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

Only Unseld has spent more than nine seasons with the Wizards/Bullets franchise. Wall is two years away from matching the six players tied for second with nine seasons including Phil Chenier, Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes. Those guys were all Bullets. Wall is a Wizard through and through.

Evaluating this partnership from Wall's perspective is interesting. Naturally, the Wizards would be willing to retain him for the longhaul. He is one of the best players in the NBA and has the off-court comportment any team would covet as the face of their franchise. But for Wall to make this commitment is a rare display of loyalty in an age where NBA superstars jump teams like never before.

Loyalty may not be the perfect word, as ultimately Wall will make much more money in Washington than he could elsewhere. But his devotion to the city of Washington and finishing what he started with a franchise that has experienced many lean years for decades is nearly unparalleled in this day and age. 

Think about it. How many players in today's NBA more define the franchise they play for, not just in contemporary terms but in the team's history? Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, Paul George left Indiana, Gordon Hayward left Utah and Chris Paul left the Clippers, all within the last 13 months. Meanwhile, Wall has never wavered publicly about his commitment to the Wizards.

[RELATED: Is Washington a basketball destination now?]

Wall's firm allegiance to the Wizards has helped the team hold up a point majority owner Ted Leonsis made during Wednesday's press conference to announce Otto Porter's own max contract, that he prefers "no drama" in contract negotiations. He boasted how there was no drama in Wall's first max deal signed back in 2013, nor was there any with Bradley Beal last summer or Porter this year. Now, with Wall's second contract, the Wizards have been able to get these deals done without any sort of realistic doubt for fans about their favorite players leaving. That is no small feat.

That is of course in great contrast with many NBA superstars between Dwight Howard's days in Orlando, Paul's time in New Orleans, Carmelo Anthony's tenure in both Denver and New York, LeBron James in both of his stints in Cleveland, etc. Some of those players left, some didn't. But all had drama that lasted for years and weighed heavily on everyone involved.

Wizards fans, on the other hand, had no serious fear of seeing Wall go. That is an unusual sense of security in most places but even more so in the city of Washington. Between Kirk Cousins and Bryce Harper, the thought of losing a franchise cornerstone is a very real thing for D.C. fans. Cousins and Harper have done nothing wrong and they shouldn't be faulted for playing their hand in what is ultimately a cutthroat business, but it's hard not to notice how Wall has gone out of his way to make D.C. his home, embracing the city in every sense.

Keeping great players and the longevity of stardom is something even more foreign to those who have rooted for the Bullets and Wizards over the last few decades. It's not that they haven't acquired superstars, they just haven't been able to keep them.

Chris Webber could end up in the Hall of Fame someday, but Washington traded him at the beginning of his prime. Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace all became stars after leaving D.C. and helped win a championship for the Detroit Pistons. Gilbert Arenas was a sensation, but his tenure was brief and ultimately catastrophic. 

Wall's career in Washington has already gone much differently than those. And because of his new contract, fans can dream about the future knowing he will be a part of it.

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

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John Wall agrees to four-year extension with Wizards

John Wall agrees to four-year extension with Wizards

The Washington Wizards' long-term future is now a lot clearer, as superstar point guard John Wall agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $170 million. David Aldridge first reported the news.

Wall, 26, re-ups with the Wizards through the 2022-23 season. By the time it expires he will be 32 years old, meaning the Wizards have locked him up for the majority if not all of his prime.

Wall was able to earn the dollar amount he did in part because of his selection to third team All-NBA for the 2016-17 season. Under the recently installed collective bargaining agreement, honors like All-NBA and Defensive Player of the Year allow players to earn more money on contract extensions.

The Wizards drafted Wall first overall in 2010 out of the University of Kentucky. In his seven NBA seasons since, Wall has blossomed into one of the NBA's best players with career averages of 18.8 points, 9.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. He has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons and is a one-time All-Defensive team selection.

[RELATED: John Wall to get huge honor from University of Kentucky]

By signing Wall to four more years, the Wizards have locked up their three core players, including Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, through the 2019-20 season. Like Beal and Wall, Porter is under contract through the following season, but he could choose to leave in free agency through a player option. Porter signed his new contract on July 13, a four-year max deal worth $106.5 million.

Wall had the best season of his career in 2016-17, averaging 23.1 poitns, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He was a driving force behind the Wizards' best season as a franchise since the 1970s. Not since 1979 had they won 49 games, their division or reached the seventh game of the second round of the playoffs.

Now with Wall, Beal and Porter locked up for the foreseeable future, the Wizards can continue to build on an era that has already seen three appearances in the postseason's second round. It all began with Wall getting drafted in 2010 and now it is ensured he will get to finish what he and the Wizards have started.

[RELATED: Who is the best player in Wizards/Bullets history?]