Author: Kurt Helin

Bradley Beal, Kent Bazemore

Bradley Beal says himself, Wizards trying to reduce long two pointers

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Take a look below at Bradley Beal‘s shot chart — 28 percent of his attempts last season can be considered long two pointers. He shot 33.2 percent between 16 and 24 feet last season — already statistically the least efficient shot in basketball.

Also, notice all that green behind the three-point line.

Beal shot chart

It wasn’t just Beal — the Wizards as a team took the fifth most shots between 16-24 feet in the league and the fourth fewest threes per game. It’s why it felt like Randy Wittman was keeping the Wizards’ offense in the dark ages last season.

This season they are stepping into the light and Beal is going to lead the way, he told J. Michael of

“I did evaluate it after the season,” Beal said of the spots where he took so many shots in averaging 15.3 points. “Sat down, looked at film, looked at statistics on paper. It just made sense to eliminate those (long twos). Those are bad shots and as a team that’s what we’re doing now. We want to eliminate those long 2s as much as possible. Just be aware on the floor. It’s going to be hard to say we won’t shoot them because there are going to be times when we’re going to be open….

“I have been working on my stepback,” he said of offseason with Drew Hanlen, a strength and skills coach consultant. “I have been working on my 3s off the dribble this summer.”

This is another step in the Wizards trying to modernize their offense — you will see less of the Marcin Gortat and Nene big front line and more small ball with guys like Jared Dudley getting time at the four. That should space the floor and opening up driving lanes for John Wall. And they will look for threes — Wittman rightly says they are not going to pass up an open two for a contested three, but they have to take fewer long twos. It’s part of what held the offense back.

It’s also good to hear this from Beal, who if he can stay healthy is poised for a huge year. Just how good the Wizards are this season hinges on Beal and Wall taking a step forward together.

Former Suns center Neal Walk dead at 67

Neal Walk
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PHOENIX (AP) — Neal Walk, a tough center on the early Phoenix Suns teams after they drafted him No. 2 overall in 1969, has died at age 67.

The Suns confirmed his passing, calling him “an integral member” of the Suns in their formative years.

Walk had health problems over the years and his condition deteriorated in recent weeks. He underwent surgery 28 years ago to remove a tumor on his spine.

Phoenix drafted Walk after losing the coin flip with Milwaukee to draft Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor).

Walk averaged 20.2 points and 12.4 rebounds in the 1972-73 season. Charles Barkley is the only other Sun to top the 20-point, 10-rebound average.

Walk also played for the New Orleans Jazz and New York Knicks in his eight-year NBA career.

Paul George says he’s on board with Pacers’ new plan

Paul George

Paul George still doesn’t like playing the four — he’s not backing down from his opinion, reiterated after he had to go up against Anthony Davis in the Pacers’ preseason opener.

But after a “clarification” meeting with team president Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel, George now wants to be clear he’s on board with the team’s new direction.

Yes, those two positions seem at odds, but that’s what George said after Pacers’ practice Monday. From Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I mean, there was clarification on what we’re (doing) going forward,” George added later. “That’s what it was, just clarification.”

When asked if the “clarification” meant changes to his role, George said: “We’re going to still stick with it, see how it works.”

Then, when quizzed if he’s OK with that, George responded: “I’m a part of this team.”


The Pacers transitioning to a team that wants to play small and fast — their preseason game against the Pelicans had 109 possessions. That’s going to mean going small a lot and trying to force teams to match up with them, and in the modern NBA that is the right direction to move. Against much of the Eastern Conference it should work well, but against some teams and matchups — say MVP candidate Davis and the Pelicans — George will find himself in a very difficult spot.

George is not comfortable at the four yet, especially with the physical nature of trying to defend and box out some bigger, stronger guys. George has spent his entire career on the perimeter, it’s a tough transition. But he’s going to have a lot of success this season at the four if he can stay healthy and as he adjusts. He just has to fully buy in and do it.

The Pacers play the Pistons on Tuesday, a game where George will be matched up against Ersan Ilyasova. That’s a place George can have a little more success and feel better about this.