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Top Stories of the Week: Wizards begin All-Star Break, John Wall plans to graduate from Kentucky

This weekend in February will be the highest point of the Wizards’ 2018-19 season.

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal is playing the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. After that, it remains to be seen how much he will play given that the Wizards are not doing too well.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day on Thursday. It’s President’s Day Weekend and I hope you enjoy the long weekend if you get Monday off. In the NBA, it’s All-Star Break where Bradley Beal will represent the Wizards this Sunday. So let’s get to the top stories.

Wizards head to All-Star Break with mathematically dwindling playoff hopes. They want to sabotage their NBA Draft pick anyway.

For much of the past few weeks, the Wizards have been about two to three games behind the 8th seeded team in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Miami Heat have the 8th seed and the Wizards are 11th with a 24-34 record and are three games behind for that 9th seed. Washington has played 58 games this season and have 24 left to go.

If the Wizards are going to make the playoffs AND clinch their sixth straight .500 season with 41 wins, they will have to win 17 of those games. At this point, it’s hard to see the Wizards do that.

Oddly enough, the Wizards also are in for a Top-10 NBA Draft pick this season if they miss the playoffs. Assuming the season ended today and the Draft Lottery stays in its present order, the Wizards would pick seventh in the draft.

Washington would only have a very small chance of landing the top overall pick. The play who may be the top pick is Duke freshman Zion Williamson if he declares (which he almost definitely will). But Ian Mahinmi and John Wall will be paid nearly half of the salary cap to play very little if at all in the 2019-20 season. If this team wants to have any chance of being competitive while being at a financial disadvantage, then the draft is the only way to accelerate their rebuilding process.

Rook6980 wrote a FanPost earlier this week on how he would improve the team through the NBA Draft and Free Agency. I strongly encourage you to read it.

Finally, Bradley Beal is at NBA All-Star Weekend festivities this weekend!

The “Wizards Rejects” find greener pastures outside of Washington’s gridlock

The Wizards traded several players in the last few weeks, and everyone who’s moved out of Washington seems to enjoy being outside of the politics, whether it’s on the court, off of it or in nearby Capitol Hill.

Otto Porter, Bulls - Porter scored a career-high 37 points in his fourth game with Chicago. Sure, the Bulls are nowhere close to contending themselves. But they will almost definitely finish with a higher draft pick than the Wizards. And besides, the deep dish pizza tastes better than a jumbo slice in Adams Morgan.

Anyway, Porter is averaging 22.5 points per game while serving as a mentor to guys like Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine. If Porter keeps this up while the Bulls’ younger players continue to improve, they’ll be back in the playoff race sooner than most think.

Austin Rivers, Rockets - Rivers was supposed to be Tomas Satoransky’s latest nemesis because Scott Brooks and Ernie Grunfeld seem to like screwing with him for the hell of it. But he was traded to the Suns and was waived upon arrival.

Rivers then signed with the Rockets where he’s started 13 of 24 games in a backcourt alongside James Harden. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 3.2 assists per game and shooting a little more efficiently than in D.C.I think Rivers is pleased with how things are going too, since the Rockets are 33-24 and fifth in the Western Conference.

Kelly Oubre, Suns - Oubre is averaging 15.4 points a game for the Suns since he was traded there last fall for Trevor Ariza. In January, he averaged 16 points a game and he is coming off a 28 point performance against the Clippers last Wednesday.

I get it, the Suns are at the bottom of the Western Conference and have the NBA’s worst record. However, he’s in better position to get a payday so I don’t think he’ll mind in the short term.

Markieff Morris, Thunder - Morris signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being released from the New Orleans Pelicans. He definitely heard the vitriol from some commenters saying “Good riddance” when he left. Don’t be surprised to see Keef making an impact as #DeathRowOKC takes shape.

Marcin Gortat, free agent - The Clippers waived Gortat at the NBA Trade Deadline. But he is one of the top centers available in the “buyout market” and expressed interest coming to the Warriors. Golden State hasn’t ruled him out though they aren’ necessarily as “gung ho” on him.

Once upon a time, Wizards fans dreamed of a time when Gortat would be part of a frontcourt rotation with DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant. Instead, it may be Warriors fans who see this actually come to fruition. To be honest, I’m hoping that he does sign with Golden State and win a championship ring.

John Wall plans to graduate from Kentucky in a year

In today’s college basketball landscape, many of the top recruits leave after their freshman year to cash in on their NBA careers. You can’t blame them for doing so, and John Wall is no different. He left the Kentucky men’s basketball team after his freshman year as well.

But in the eight years since he left the college basketball court, Wall has attended classes anyway. Since he will not play for at least a calendar year, Wall has an opportunity to finish his bachelor’s degree. According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, he is close to graduating, which is definitely commendable.

There aren’t many “one-and-done” NBA players who go on to finish college for a number of reasons, so Wall’s situation is notable since he has kept up in his studies part-time over the years.

Wall wouldn’t be the first one-and-done player to ultimately graduate from college. Shareef Abdur-Rahim was a one-and-done player from the University of California, Berkeley where he entered the 1996 NBA Draft and had a successful 13-year career and was part of the 2000 gold medal-winning Olympic Team.

After retirement, he was an assistant coach and was on the King’s front office staff in 2012 when he graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree from Berkeley. His education didn’t stop there. Abdur-Rahim went on to the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and earned his MBA in 2016. Today, Abdur-Rahim is the President of the NBA G-League.

We’re not sure what Wall will do when his NBA career ends. But it’s clear that he does buck the perception of one-and-done players treating college like a pit stop as opposed to a stepping stone toward an academic achievement.

That’s all I have for the busy week. Enjoy the NBA All-Star Game and the rest of your weekends everyone!