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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

The Wizards have two players sidelined at the moment and both happen to play the same position. Markieff Morris was already out following the sports hernia surgery he had in September, then Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder defending a dunk attempt by Joel Embiid in the regular season opener on Wednesday night.

This has put head coach Scott Brooks in a tough predicament. He's trying to acclimate new players into his rotation, but now has no choice but to get creative. Smith is considered questionable for Friday night and is likely going to be limited, regardless when he returns.

If Smith misses time or is not 100 percent, the onus will fall mostly on third-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. with Mike Scott behind him. Oubre is not a power forward, but is versatile enough to co-exist with Otto Porter alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards utilized that lineup last season at times and relied on it heavily once Smith departed Wednesday night's game. Porter could be looked as the four in that group, but he and Oubre are essentially interchangable on defense.

Oubre, 21, came through with 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals against the Sixers. He knocked down three three-pointers and shot 5-of-10 from the field overall.

"I'm ready. I've worked for this moment. The season is here, so it's time to put the work to the test," Oubre said. "I feel very confident. I feel very relaxed. This is Year 3, so I'm excited for all the opportunities that may come."

[RELATED: OUBRE THREW DOWN A CRAZY DUNK VS. SIXERS]

Those eight rebounds stand out, in particular. Oubre averaged 3.3 rebounds last season, his second year in the NBA, in 20.3 minutes. Oubre had 14 in one of their preseason games and has clearly put extra focus on that part of his game.

One reporter (me) asked Oubre about his 'seven' rebounds in the opener and Oubre issued a quick correction, showing exactly how much attention he's paying to the stat.

"I had eight in the opener, but yeah," he said. "It's a big emphasis because that's what we need. We need guys to go in there and rebound, push the break and keep up the pace. That's the style of play that we're looking for, to play fast and play tough. Crashing the boards is something that I need to do to help the team."

Brooks sees a lot of potential in Oubre's ability on the glass. 

"I look at rebounding as a stat that Kelly can really be consistent with. He has the size, the strength, the length and the athleticism and the toughness to get in there and get some rebounds. I think you should be able to see [eight] every night. It's one of the things we talked about to improve defensively. We have to be a better defensive team," Brooks said.

The Wizards miss a lot more than rebounding if Morris and Smith aren't in the picture, of course. But Oubre's development in that area could be important in the Wizards' effort to compensate for two key injuries at the same position.

[RELATED: GORTAT PLAYED WITH A HEAVY HEART VS. SIXERS]

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

It started as an offseason hashtag. After Wednesday night's win over the Sixers, it was legitimized with a postgame quote.

John Wall wants everyone to know that it's Wolf Season and, according to another favorite hashtag of his, nobody is safe.

Wall brought it up himself on Wednesday when asked about dunking all over the Sixers. When asked what Wolf Season means, he replied: "Just keep watching."

Wall used the hashtag #wolfseason all summer long in photos on Instagram. He also used the phrase #wolfwall:

It's reminiscent of the Wolf of Wall St. He also referenced "Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode" on Instragram and the music video for 'Thriller' very famously had Jackson turn into a wolf:

Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode spilling sauce everywhere I go !! #WallWay #5Deep #BYB #WolfWall

A post shared by johnwall (@johnwall) on

Whatever Wall means by it, the rest of the NBA might want to take notice.

[RELATED: PODCAST - MCCULLOUGH EXPLAINS HIS NICKNAME]

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Wizards vs. Pistons: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Pistons: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Andre Drummond, Avery Bradley and the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Wizards HangTime)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Smith may not play

The Wizards may be down not one but two power forwards, as Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder in Wednesday night's opener while filling in for Markieff Morris, who is already out rehabbing from sports hernia surgery. Losing Smith will put extra stress on head coach Scott Brooks, who is already trying to form rotations with a bench full of new faces.

If Smith can't go, which seems likely, the Wizards will start Kelly Oubre, Jr. at the three and push Otto Porter to the four. That lineup itself should have no serious drop-off from the one with Smith. But the domino effect will be interesting. Who plays the three in the second unit? Brooks will probably have to go small with three guards, stagger the minutes of his starters to compensate or turn to someone like Tomas Satoransky, Carrick Felix or Chris McCullough for some playing time after all three were DNPs in the opener.

[RELATED: WAIT...WHAT'S 'WOLF SEASON?']

A familiar foe

Wizards fans rejoiced when the Celtics shipped Avery Bradley to the Pistons, knowing he would not be able to guard John Wall and Bradley Beal if the Wizards see Boston again in the playoffs this season. But he's still in the Eastern Conference and because of that will see the Wizards plenty. Bradley is flat-out one of the best defenders in the NBA and one of the only players who can give Wall fits. He's got the size to guard both Wall and Beal and is as tough as they come.

Bradley will provide a strong test for both Wall and Beal, who each appear to have improved this offseason based on the limited action we've seen so far. Wall is in better shape than he was last year and Beal's confidence handling the ball and running sets continues to grow. They are up for any challenge and Bradley certainly presents one.

[RELATED: HOW MAHINMI LOST WEIGHT, WHY HE LOVES D.C.]

Harris and Drummond

The Wizards' frontcourt injuries won't make it any easier to stop what is one of the better big men combos in the Eastern Conference. Tobias Harris is a well-rounded power forward who can stretch the floor with a solid three-point shot. He puts up similar numbers to Morris, but blew up in the Pistons' first game on Wednesday against the Bobcats. Harris dropped 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three, to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. Last year he averaged 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in three games against Washington.

Drummond remains one of the best rebounders in basketball. He's a walking double-double, but did have a tough time against the Wizards last season. Washington held him to 8.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, modest for him, and he shot just 40 percent in three matchups. 

[RELATED: KELLY OUBRE CAN SEE WHY DURANT MADE A FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT]