VCU hosts Wizards training camp
By: Ben Malakoff
The Washington Wizards took more strides to becoming an elite NBA team last year. Led by star point guard John Wall, the Wizards finished 49 and 33 and in fourth place in the Eastern conference. Wall continued to show why he is called the best point guard in the east by averaging 23.1 point and 10.7 assists per game. He also stepped up his defensive presence by averaging 2 steals a game. Wall was met in the backcourt by an often overlooked teammate, Bradley Beal. Beal average 23.1 points per game and 1.1 steals a game as well. This dynamic backcourt brought the Wizards all the way to the second round of the playoffs, where they were beat in game 7 by Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics. Although it was another second round exit for Washington, it was a very encouraging season for many fans to see that the Wizards could potentially match up with some of the best teams in the NBA. The Washington Wizards would now look to the offseason to improve their roster.
The Wizards offseason included some lesser known moves like trading the 52nd round pick to the Pelicans for Tim Frazier or signing Jodie Meeks, Mike Scott, and Donald Sloan for more veteran presences on the roster. Next some big moves started to happen. First the Wizards let go of Bogdanovic who they traded for half way through the year from the Nets. This was mainly to free up cap space for what was to come. The Wizards decided to resign Otto Porter Jr, who had a career year the year before, to a four years, 106.5 million deal. Otto was fourth in the league in three point shooting percentage making him the team’s sharpshooter. The biggest move for the Wizards this offseason was resigning their best player, John Wall. Wall, who was on all-NBA third team, had a career year in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. This is the offseason Washington needed to not only keep the players they need around, but making sure seasoned veterans with plenty of experience are on the roster.
The Wizards superstars had a lot to say about what was happening this offseason at their training camp that took place at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. Players are coming together to form NBA “super teams”. For example, Dwyane Wade now coming together and teaming up with Lebron James and Isaiah Thomas. John Wall posted an Instagram picture tagging Beal that was later deleted. The post could be best summarized with the last line. “We all we got”. This is best defined as loyalty to each other. The temptations of leaving his roots was not appealing to Wall. The only thing he cares about is staying loyal to Beal and to the Wizards. I asked Bradley Beal at the wizards training camp that if he feels the same way about loyalty being the most important quality in a teammate. He responded with how he thought that it is the most important aspect and you need to have the same respect for everyone on the team. He also mentioned that he builds of the respect he and John have for eachother and strengthens their relationship every season.
I talked to John Wall a bit about if being called an MVP candidate puts an extra pressure on him throughout the year. He said it does not because these are already the type of goals he has set for himself. These are the expectations he has for his season. He expects another record breaking year and to go further in the playoffs than in past years. If the wizards expect to do this, it will be because of their key offseason moves and staying loyal to their core players.