Bradley Beal named NBA All-Star Game starter for first time

The National Basketball Association announced tonight that Wizards guard Bradley Beal has been voted to start in the NBA All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. Beal tallied 3,485,051 fan votes, the most among guards in the Eastern Conference, and finished first among guards in the media and player voting. He will be making his third career All-Star appearance and his first career start.

“It is truly an honor to be selected to start in the All-Star game for the first time in my career,” said Beal. “I want to thank the fans, media and players for selecting me to represent the Wizards organization during the All-Star festivities in Atlanta. I also want to thank my teammates, coaches, the entire organization, and our fans who are still supporting us through this unprecedented season.”

Beal currently leads the NBA in scoring with a career-high average of 32.8 points per game to go along with a career-high 5.2 rebounds per game. He is also averaging 4.7 assists per game while shooting .473 from the field. He tallied a career-high and franchise tying high of 60 points on January 6 at Philadelphia.

The nine-year pro has posted 16 games of 30+ points, which ranks second in the league, and is tied for the league lead with three games of 40+ points. Beal began the season with a 17-game streak of 25+ points, which surpassed Michael Jordan’s streak in 1988-89, and ranks as the fifth-longest in league history and the longest streak to start a season since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger. He has scored 786 points in the team’s first 24 games, which marks the most points scored through a player’s first 24 games in franchise history.

Beal joins the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving as Eastern Conference starters. Fans, players, and media determined the starters for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, with fans accounting for 50% of the vote while the players and media accounted for 25% each.

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Kevin Durant who are the NBA All-Star Game starters who led their respective conferences in fan votes during NBA All-Star Voting 2021 presented by AT&T, will serve as team captains for the Team LeBron vs. Team Durant matchup and draft the rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. TNT will air the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft on Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET.

And via the Washington Post:

Beal was named an all-star starter for the first time in his career Thursday, becoming the first Wizards player to earn a starting nod since John Wall in 2015. Beal will make his third career all-star appearance when the league holds the showcase in Atlanta on March 7 — he was named as a reserve in 2018 and 2019, one of seven players from each conference as voted by coaches, before being left out completely in 2020…

Beal’s continual growth in his ninth year in the league is part of what makes him such a fascination among fans and a headache among opposing coaches.

The guard’s scoring numbers have been on an upward trend for four straight seasons. Through 24 games this year, Beal is averaging a league-best 32.8 points — a career high — as well as 4.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds.

In his position as franchise cornerstone, he has made the extraordinary look routine. Beal had at least 25 points in each of his first 17 games this season, a stretch that eclipsed Michael Jordan’s record for the longest such streak to start a campaign since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. In January, Beal dropped 60 points in Philadelphia to tie the Wizards’ single-game franchise scoring record Gilbert Arenas set in 2006.

Even though All-Star weekend will be condensed into one day I’m very glad it’s happening. And Beal probably is, too.

No Bradley Beal for Wizards Friday against the Knicks

The Wizards will be without their star shooting guard tomorrow against the Knicks, as Bradley Beal will be out for rest purposes. Via the Washington Post:

Beal, who leads the league with 32.8 points per game and leads the Wizards with 35.3 minutes per game, will miss his first contest in more than a month. He missed Washington’s 128-124 loss to Miami on Jan. 9 because of the league’s coronavirus protocols, but the guard has not missed a game for rest all season.

The timing is understandable: The Wizards (6-16) are in the midst of a 16-game stretch in 27 days this month because of rescheduling in the wake of the team’s two-week coronavirus pause in January. After Friday, Washington faces the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets back-to-back on Sunday and Monday before playing the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The team then leaves on a West Coast trip with four games in six days.

A fun season-long thing to watch will be chemistry development between Beal and new backcourt-mate Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal struggle in Wizards loss to Heat

Friday in Miami, the Heat defended home court, beating the Wizards in convincing fashion, 122-95. The Wizards starting lineup, including their star-studdled backcourt brought little to the table. Via the Washington Post:

Beal’s rare off night made the loss feel even more miserable as the Wizards fell to 5-14 and bungled their shot at notching back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. The guard, who leads the league in scoring and had the most all-star fan votes of any Eastern Conference guard by a healthy margin when the league released its first voting totals Thursday, had his lowest scoring game since he had seven points on Dec. 23, 2018.

He matched that tally Friday, scoring seven points while missing 13 of his 14 shots from the floor, including missing six of seven from beyond the arc. His deep ball in the third quarter was his lone field goal and the game marked the first one this year he failed to score at least 25 points, ending his record-breaking streak.

Without Beal to prop up the team and with Russell Westbrook offering a mediocre 13 points in his stead, Washington had next to no chance at matching Heat center Bam Adebayo and his supporting cast. Kendrick Nunn had a game-high 25 points, but it was Adebayo’s 21-point performance — including an astounding 11-for-11 from the free throw line in the first quarter — that got the Heat up and running with a new rotation Coach Erik Spoelstra debuted Friday, in part to contend with Westbrook.

A bright spot for the Wizards was recent new addition Alex Lex. Coming off the bench, the center shot 7 of 12 to lead the team in scoring with 18 points and five blocks in 24 minutes.

Wizards welcome some key players back, but lose to Hawks

Russell Westbrook returned to action for the Wizards, but didn’t last the full game. Via the Washington Times:

The grin across Rajon Rondo’s face was almost as large as the Atlanta Hawks’ lead.

As Russell Westbrook was ejected from the Wizards’ 116-100 loss to the Hawks, Rondo celebrated the moment by waving goodbye to the Wizards guard. Moments earlier, Rondo egged Westbrook on with a slight forearm to the chest on a boxout — leading a furious Westbrook to shove the 34-year-old guard and earn his second technical.

Despite getting three players back from coronavirus-related absences, the Wizards were blown out Friday as they fell to 3-12, the worst record in the league.

Washington drew six technicals in what was a frustrating night for the Wizards. Center Robin Lopez was also thrown out, drawing two technicals back-to-back from the bench for arguing a delay of game call in the second quarter.

Trae Young’s offense was in full effect in the win, with the Hawks guard putting up 41 points. Also for Atlanta, forward John Collins had 17 points and eight rebounds, while center Clint Capela had a double-double: 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Although the Wizard lost, this was a step in the right direction in the health department as the team welcomed Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans and Moe Wagner back to action.

Bradley Beal scores 47 points in Wizards loss to Pelicans

It’s been a rough time lately for Bradley Beal and a Wizards team that is missing a lot of key players. Yesterday’s did-not-play list included Russell Westbrook, among others. The latest struggle saw them lose 124-106 to the Pelicans last night. Via the Washington Post:

Beal more than made up for a sluggish first quarter by scoring 24 in the third quarter alone, finishing with 47 points on 17-for-37 shooting. Lopez added 14.

“We know we’re a lot better than what our record is showing, and we can’t feed into that,” Beal said. “We can’t think that’s the type of team we are — granted, reality is reality. But we also believe that we’re better than that, we’re shorthanded, we haven’t played in two weeks. We’re still getting back. It’s no excuse, 100 percent . . . but we can’t feed into being 3-11.”

Despite Beal’s effort, he couldn’t make up for a roster missing six key contributors — Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner. Brooks is not sure when they will get out of league protocols and rejoin the team, but all six players are now back on court and working out.

Jordan Bell, signed last week to a 10-day contract, started to give the Wizards more size against Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. But the 6-foot-8 forward could only do so much — Bell had a team-high 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Beal scored 47. The rest of the Wizards starting lineup yesterday scored 25.

The Pelicans continued to get monster performances from their pair of starting forwards. Brandon Ingram shot 12/19 and hit 7/12 threes for 32 points, six rebounds and eight assists, while Zion Williamson shot 12/16 for 32 points.

Wizards sign Alex Len and Jordan Bell

The Washington Wizards today signed free agent center Alex Len and free agent forward Jordan Bell.

Len (7-0, 250) has averaged 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting .512 from the field in 474 career games (185 starts) over eight seasons with Phoenix, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toronto. He appeared in seven games this season for the Raptors.

A native of Antratsit, Ukraine, Len averaged 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 55 games during the 2019-20 season with the Hawks and Kings. He averaged a career-high 11.1 points in 77 games for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2018-19 season.

Len played two seasons locally at the University of Maryland (2011-13) before being selected fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Bell (6-8, 216) was acquired by the Capital City Go-Go prior to the suspension of the NBA G League season in March before being signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in June. He has played in 154 games (16 starts) in his three-year NBA career with Golden State, Minnesota and Memphis, averaging 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Bell was originally selected with the 38th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Oregon by Chicago before being traded to Golden State on draft night.

Wizards will reportedly sign center Alex Len

The Wizards are in serious need of some help up front, and are set to do something about it. Via the Washington Post:

The Washington Wizards resolved at least one of their major headaches Friday and bolstered a thin frontcourt by reaching a deal with former Maryland center Alex Len.

Len, a 27-year-old whom Toronto released Tuesday, will sign a one-year minimum deal with the Wizards, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The 7-footer gives Washington much-needed depth at center after the team lost starter Thomas Bryant for the season after a partial ACL tear earlier this month.

The Wizards are just 3-8 this season and haven’t played since Monday, January 11 because of coronavirus contact tracing safety reasons.

Wizards vs. Bucks game scheduled for January 22, 2021 is postponed

The NBA game scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2021 between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.

The game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing for other players on their roster, and the length of time preceding the game during which the team was unable to practice.

Wizards vs. Hornets game scheduled for January 20, 2021 is postponed

The NBA game scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 20 between the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.

Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards, the team will not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the scheduled game against the Hornets.

G League: Capital City Go-Go promote Amber Nichols to general manager

The Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards’ NBA G League affiliate, announced today that Amber Nichols has been promoted to general manager, becoming the second female general manager in G League history. She will accompany the team’s flex-affiliate players (who will play with the Erie BayHawks) at the NBA G League single site in Orlando this season.

“The Go-Go has been a major part of our development strategy for both players and staff over the past two seasons and the plans we’ve made for this season allow us to continue down that path,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “Amber’s skills, experience and personality have earned her this promotion and with her overseeing our involvement in the bubble, we have the utmost confidence that our players will thrive in a unique and unprecedented situation.”

Nichols has been with the Go-Go since the team’s inception, starting as director of basketball operations during the team’s inaugural season before being promoted to assistant general manager of operations last season. She has managed all logistics for the Go-Go over the last two seasons, as well as working closely with the Wizards front office during NBA and NBA G League drafts and scouting events.

“I’m honored that the organization has given me this responsibility and I plan to do everything possible to make sure our players continue to grow and develop within the framework of our system,” said Nichols. “We have all worked together across the organization during the pandemic to find ways to improve despite difficult circumstances and I look forward to this opportunity to continue doing so.”

Nichols has also been instrumental with player engagement activities and events through her first two years with the team, engaging the players in educational seminars, financial awareness sessions and speaker series with former NBA personalities. She spent a season as a basketball operations analyst for the NBA G League in 2017-18 where she oversaw logistics for all League events and also helped with the selection of players for the NBA G League Elite Mini Camp and NBA G League Player Invitational through research and talent evaluation. Nichols played four years of college basketball at the University of Richmond, where she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology, before continuing her education at the University of Georgia, where she received her master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sport management and policy.

Jordan Bell, Yoeli Childs, Caleb Homesley and Marlon Taylor will be the Go-Go’s flex-affiliate players who will participate with the BayHawks in Orlando.