The New Big Three Is Here

Chris Lingebach
September 24, 2018 - 5:20 pm
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Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, Bradley Beal and John Wall were all present as the new-look Wizards were introduced at media day on Monday.

Gathered inside the pristine new MedStar Wizards Performance Center, where 106.7 The Fan contributor Chris Miles was on the scene, the 2018-19 Wizards took team and roster photos and conducted interviews, making their first impressions to the outside world.

It was the first glimpse at the (new) big three.

John Wall has his bulletin board material for the season.

The 28-year-old took a huge dip in ESPN's annual player rankings, dropping from the 15th best player in the NBA entering last season, all the way down to No. 32. Devin Booker ranks 31st.

"I'm fine with it. I'm cool with flying under the radar," Wall said. "I did it my whole career, basically."

Unprompted, Wall then brought up the rankings: "People are always doubting me, like being ranked the 32nd best player in the league. It's all motivation for me and motivation for our team, so if they keep us under the radar, we're fine with that. We're going to go out there and play the game and see what happens at the end."

A storyline that some may have overlooked in the offseason is the long-simmering rivalry between new Wizards teammates, Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers, which predates their time in the NBA, or even in college. As teenagers on the Boo Williams AAU circuit, the two competed early and were compared often.

Beal ultimately ended up at Florida and Rivers at Duke. Both were first-round picks in 2012 – Beal went third overall to the Wizards, and Rivers 10th overall to New Orleans.

Asked if that rivalry carried over to the NBA, Beal said, "Initially, it was. I'm not even going to sit here and front, because, it's like, we grew up that way. We grew up with the mindset of 'we're foes.' It wasn't necessarily just us doing it, it's kind of how the media put it and hyped it, and how the guys in our class hyped it."

"You know, we both played the two coming out of 2011," Beal said. "At one point, we both were committed to Florida. One website had me first; one website had him first; so we've always had this little mini rivalry for the longest (time). After, like, Boo Williams, that first game, I had 37 and he had 30. It was a tough battle."

"It's crazy to be teammates now," Beal said. "I never thought it would ever happen in our life. But I feel like that's somebody who I've always looked up to to push me every day, and I'm pretty sure I'm the same way for him, so I think that's a great feeling to be able to finally put all that behind us and be teammates."

Kelly Oubre, who, at just 22, is already entering his fourth NBA season, tells 106.7 The Fan he still aspired "to be one of the best to play the game." Oubre played a career-high 27.5 minutes per game in 2017-18 – averaging 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds, while shooting .403 from the field 34.1 percent from three-point range – a 7.2-minute jump from his sophomore season in 2016-17.

"I want to be one of the best to play the game," Oubre said. "So therefore I always set the bar pretty high for myself. My whole career, I do not see myself coming off the bench, so therefore I'm continuing to put the work in and get better every day, and the Lord's gonna bless me with what I deserve."

Ian Mahinmi, 31, is entering his third season with the Wizards. With the offseason addition of veteran Dwight Howard, Mahinmi says they have "one of the best one-two punches in the league at the center position."

"We have depth. We have probably one of the best one-two punches in the league at the center position," he said. "We're all vets and we all know our game, and our bodies and we've been through a lot, so this is a very exciting time. We look forward to creating a good chemistry and seeing where that can go."

This is shooting guard Jordan McRae – who signed a two-way contract to play for the Wizards and their new G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go – doing a better job than our cameraman.

And this is our cameraman doing a worse job than Jordan McRae.

Let's pause briefly to discuss Netflix original series "Ozark."

Photos. Photos. And more photos.

The wizards open the regular season at home against Miami on Thursday, Oct. 18.

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