Rui Hachimura

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Southeast Notes: Okeke, Wizards, Heat, Vucevic

Magic rookie Chuma Okeke has been earning rave reviews from his veteran teammates, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. Okeke, the No. 16 pick out of Auburn in 2019, missed all of the 2019/20 season as he rehabilitated from a torn left ACL. Fifteen games into his pro career this year, the 22-year-old has already endeared himself to the rest of the club.

“I love Chuma,” Magic shooting guard Evan Fournier said. “I like the player, but I just like the person even more, because he does the right things and he has the right mindset.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards have clawed their way back towards a respectable record thanks to five consecutive wins. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports unpacks how the ascent of second-year forward Rui Hachimura and the club’s hot streak can be traced to a decisive team meeting. The Wizards hope to extend their winning streak to six games tonight as they play the Clippers. Team leaders Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal reviewed their expectations of their teammates’ roles with the players themselves. “Everybody had to talk about it. Everybody started talking and I mentioned, I said ‘I can guard one through five,'” Hachimura said. Since then, he has taken his versatile defense to another level.
  • The Heat are doubling the allowed fan capacity for their home court, AmericanAirlines Arena, from 1,5000 fans to 3,000 people starting with a game tomorrow against the Raptors, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.
  • Magic center Nikola Vučević has been named to his second All-Star team. Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores the steps Vučević took to improve his play this season and become the absolute fulcrum of an injury-depleted 13-19 Orlando club. “He’s an elite decision-maker,” head coach Steve Clifford raved. “He shoots when he should shoot. He passes when he should pass. And he makes his teammates better just by the very nature of how he plays.”

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Bertans, Winston, Hachimura, Avdija

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks doesn’t think the All-Star Game should be played this season, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. The league and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to hold it in Atlanta next month.

“I saw (LeBron James‘) thoughts on it. I agree. I’m upset,” Brooks said. “I love Atlanta, but I don’t want to go. I’ve been to two All-Star Games…and I don’t want to go. I agree with him.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Davis Bertans re-signed with the club for five years and $80MM in November, but his 3-point stroke has been off this season. Katz breaks down Bertans’ struggles in an in-depth Athletic story. Bertans is shooting 33.1% from long range after making 42% of his attempts the past two seasons and it appears he still doesn’t have his legs under him, according to Katz.
  • Rookie guard Cassius Winston has been transferred to the Erie BayHawks to play in the G League season in Orlando, the team tweets. Washington’s G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, is not participating in the event. The second-round pick out of Michigan State has appeared in six NBA games and will receive much-needed playing time in Orlando.
  • Prior to Washington’s 27-point loss to Miami on Friday, second-year forward Rui Hachimura and rookie forward Deni Avdija appeared to be trending in the right direction after the team’s COVID-19 pause, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes.

Trio Of Wizards Returning From COVID-19 Protocols

A triumvirate of Wizards big men in Dāvis Bertāns, Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner have cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will be joining their teammates in a battle with the Hawks tomorrow, per Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Bertāns, Hachiumura and Wagner represent crucial additions to Washington’s frontcourt rotation, especially given the absence of injured starting center Thomas Bryant, who tore his left ACL and is out of commission for the rest of the season. With Bryant out, second-year starting power forward Hachimura, the No. 9 pick in the 2019 draft, becomes the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.6 PPG.

Bertāns will add much-needed outside shooting for the Wizards. The team expected him to be a key contributor when it re-signed him to a lucrative five-year, $80MM contract during the 2020 offseason. Bertāns is averaging 36.0% from long range on 7.8 attempts per night this season.

Katz notes that Wizards rookie forward Deni Avdija, reserve small forward Troy Brown Jr. and backup point guard Ish Smith are still in the league’s coronavirus health and safety protocols and will be unavailable for the immediate future. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington adds that Avdija, Brown, and Smith will need to log practice minutes once they clear protocols before a return to game action.

The depleted Wizards saw several games postponed for 13 days after the club was unable to field eight healthy players. At 3-11, the team currently holds the worst record in the NBA by percentage.

Beal Acknowledges Frustration As Wizards’ Slide Continues

Wizards star Bradley Beal scored 47 points on Wednesday, but it wasn’t nearly enough to topple the Pelicans, who won by a score of 124-106. The Wizards’ record dropped to an NBA-worst 3-11, and the outcome made Beal the first player in NBA history to lose 10 consecutive games in which he scored 40 or more points (Twitter link).

Asked after the game if he’s frustrated by how things are going for the team as of late, Beal replied rhetorically, “Is the sky blue?” (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).

When trade speculation about Beal was beginning to heat up in 2019, the All-Star guard quieted it by signing a two-year, $72MM contract extension to remain in Washington through at least 2021/22. However, the team has a 28-58 (.326) record across parts of two seasons since then, which aren’t exactly the results Beal was hoping for.

“It’s tough,” Beal said, per Youngmisuk. “I am not going to sit here and be naive. … We want to win, and I want to win. This is why I stayed. I want to win. I figured this is the place I can get it done. It’s tough. Last year was what it was. We had a lot of guys out. John (Wall) was out. It was just a rotten year. COVID hit.

“This year it’s the same thing. Like in a mini-bubble outside the bubble. No fans, no nothing, no practice time. It’s been tough.”

The Wizards have had some bad injury luck this year. Starting center Thomas Bryant suffered a season-ending ACL tear, while newly-acquired point guard Russell Westbrook – who sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Wednesday – has also been limited by health issues, including a quad injury.

Additionally, Washington has been hit harder this year by the coronavirus pandemic than perhaps any other NBA team. Seven of the Wizards’ players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 since the 2020/21 season began.

While Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, and Moritz Wagner all remained sidelined due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said last night that he thinks there’s a “great chance” the club will get a few of those players back soon, perhaps as early as Friday (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).

Those reinforcements could help stabilize the Wizards’ rotation, and with 58 of 72 games still to play, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Beal said on Wednesday that the group’s confidence level remains high (link via Katz), while Brooks expressed hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and stressed that Beal’s desire to win is “critical to our future success” (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).

Still, it’s safe to assume teams around the league will continue to monitor the situation in Washington in the coming weeks or months. For now, Beal’s frustration hasn’t risen to the point where he’s seeking a change of scenery, but he’d instantly become the NBA’s most sought-after trade target if he’s made available at any point this season.

NBA Postpones Friday’s Wizards/Bucks Game

The game between the Wizards and Bucks that was scheduled to be played on Friday in Milwaukee has been postponed, the NBA announced tonight (Twitter link).

It’s the sixth consecutive postponement for the Wizards, who haven’t played since January 11. The team was cleared to return to the court to practice on Wednesday, but remains significantly shorthanded.

Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, and Moritz Wagner are out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, while Thomas Bryant (ACL) and Russell Westbrook (quad) are sidelined due to injuries, leaving just eight available players on the roster (Twitter link).

According to the NBA’s announcement, the game is being postponed due to the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing affecting players on the roster, and the club’s lengthy layoff from practicing.

As Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote earlier tonight, Bradley Beal and the Wizards had been planning to lobby for a postponement of Friday’s game, since they felt that potentially playing with the league-mandated minimum of eight players after not practicing for the last week would result in a high risk of injury for the active players.

The next game on Washington’s schedule is Sunday in San Antonio. The hope is that the Wizards will have enough available players – and enough practice time between now and then – to be ready to play that game.

The NBA has now postponed 17 contests this season. The full list is here.

Wizards Cancel Practice As Two Players Enter Health And Safety Protocols

3:33pm: Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner are the two Wizards affected by the NBA’s health and safety protocols and are currently listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Utah, as Fred Katz of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).


9:35am: The Wizards have had two players enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols related to COVID-19, according to the team, which announced this morning (via Twitter) that it has canceled today’s scheduled practice due to “an abundance of caution.”

It’s not clear which two Wizards players are affected or whether they’ll require a quarantine period. The NBA has been cagey about providing many specifics related to its health and safety protocols, but those protocols apply to players who return a positive or inconclusive COVID-19 test, as well as those who may have had close contact with someone who tested positive.

This marks the fifth straight day that a Wizards player or a player on their previous opponent entered the health and safety protocols, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). The Wizards’ opponents from Friday (Boston) and Saturday (Miami) are each missing several players due to the coronavirus protocols. Washington played the Suns on Monday night.

For now, there’s no indication that the Wizards’ Wednesday game against Utah is in jeopardy, but we’ll have to wait for additional updates on the two players in the protocols and see if any other players join them.

Southeast Notes: Lopez, Pasecniks, Crowder, Hawks Crowds, Bogdanovic

Veteran Robin Lopez has moved into the Wizards’ starting lineup due to the season-ending loss of center Thomas Bryant but the rotation will be flexible, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Moritz Wagner will get some opportunities and power forward Rui Hachimura could man the middle in small-ball sets. The Wizards also have Anzejs Pasecniks on the roster.

“It’s going to definitely be by committee,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a good reason why the Wizards should take a closer look at Pasecniks, Hughes writes in a separate story. His $1,517,981 contract becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster past January 31. A 2017 first-round pick, the 7’2” Pasecniks could help a defense that has been lacking in the early portion of the season, Hughes adds.
  • It has become more perplexing that the Heat didn’t make a strong push to re-sign Jae Crowder, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. They made Crowder a large, one-year offer in order to protect their cap space this summer but the forward chose more long-term security by inking a three-year, $29.2MM contract with the Suns. The Heat have cycled through Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk in the power forward rotation and could have enjoyed more stability with Crowder, Winderman adds.
  • The Hawks have pushed back the targeted return of ticketed fans at State Farm Arena to January 26 due to COVID-19 concerns, according to a team press release. The Hawks will open at 10% capacity (approximately 1,700 tickets) before gradually increasing throughout the season, pending adequate conditions.
  • A medical expert interviewed by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner estimates that Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss 4-6 weeks due to the avulsion fracture in his right knee, assuming surgery isn’t required. In Bogdanovic’s absence, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish will assume bigger roles, Kirscher adds.

Southeast Notes: Bonga, Dunn, Bogdanovic, Herro, Robinson

Wizards forward Isaac Bonga got benched on Thursday after starting the first four games and coach Scott Brooks said it was simply a numbers game, Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington writes. With Rui Hachimura returning from an eye injury and reclaiming his usual spot in the lineup, Brooks had to choose between Bonga and Troy Brown as the backup. He chose Brown. “We’re trying to find minutes for Troy (Brown Jr.) and Bonga, and (Thursday) it was Troy, but who knows who it will be (Friday) night,” Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said he had promising reports regarding guard Kris Dunn‘s arthroscopic right ankle surgery on Tuesday, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dunn is wearing a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The former Bull has yet to make his Atlanta debut. “It sounds as if everything went well, as well as the surgery can go, and he’s staying here at the hotel,” Pierce said. “But he’s post-op and laying low.”
  • Hawks free agent acquisition Bogdan Bogdanovic has averaged 15.3 PPG on 42.9% shooting from deep but Pierce says his value goes beyond perimeter shooting, Spencer writes in a separate story. “He hasn’t had any bad games,” Pierce said. “Bad games aren’t ‘make or miss.’ He’s taking those shots, I’ll live with them…. I trust his work. I’ve been praising the fact that he’s probably our hardest post-practice worker.”
  • Would the combination of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson be enough to satisfy the Rockets in a potential deal with the Heat for James Harden? Not even close, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Houston wants “significantly more than that” for Harden, sources inform Jackson.

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Beal, Westbrook

The Wizards announced on December 21 that forward Rui Hachimura would be sidelined for approximately three weeks due to an eye issue (bi-lateral epidemic keratoconjunctivitis). However, he’s set to easily beat that recovery timeline.

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters today that Hachimura will play on Thursday night vs. Chicago, as Ava Wallace of The Washington Post tweets. The second-year forward is expected to see about 20 minutes of action, Brooks added (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).

While Hachimura isn’t exactly a star-caliber difference-maker, the Wizards will welcome any reinforcements they can get, given their slow start. Washington is tied for the NBA’s worst record at 0-4 so far.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Bradley Beal‘s frustration was evident after Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, as he left without speaking to the media, a rarity for the Wizards star, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Beal explained to reporters today that he was watching film and said he doesn’t intend to let his frustrations carry over (link via Fred Katz). Still, it’s worth keeping a close eye on Beal this season, especially if the Wizards keep losing — if his commitment to the team wavers, there will be plenty of rival clubs ready to inquire on his availability.
  • Here’s more from Beal on the energy in the Wizards’ locker room following the 0-4 start:Nobody’s mad at their teammate or hates the next man. It’s not that type of emotion or feeling. I feel like everybody’s pissed off, I feel like that’s a good thing (Twitter link via Ava Wallace).
  • The Wizards should make a stronger effort to surround Russell Westbrook with more three-point shooters during his minutes, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who notes that Westbrook has played some of his minutes alongside three non-shooters.
  • In case you missed it, the Wizards picked up their 2021/22 options on Hachimura and Troy Brown, but opted to pass on their options for Jerome Robinson and Moritz Wagner.