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After Semifinals loss, Kara Lawson sees Wizards being Eastern Conference Finals contenders

After Semifinals loss, Kara Lawson sees Wizards being Eastern Conference Finals contenders

The Wizards are ready to get past a painful Game 7 Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Celtics and make a run for the Eastern Conference Finals. 

With a solid core of Bradley Beal, John Wall and Otto Porter, that Wizards have the right pieces to make that happen.

RELATED: CSN TO BROADCAST 75 WIZARDS GAMES

One person who thinks they can be real contenders in 2017-2018 is CSN's newest Wizards primary analyst, Kara Lawson

"For a basketabll fan in general, that was just some of the great, great basketball of the playoffs last year," Lawson said on the Sports Junkies Thursday morning.

"It's been talked about a lot. I know the front office had tried to address it in the offseason but the lack of depth in a seven game series is what really hurt them, I thought last year. You have to have a group of guys that can come in and really help change the game and just give [John] Wall and [Bradley] Beal and [Otto]Porter and those guys a blow, so I thought that hurt them down the stretch, particullary in Game 7."

"I think also being able to have some guys that can knock down shots off the bench as well, being able to have some balance, some offensive balance, because it was so heavy towards that starting group."

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But with offseason changes all over the NBA, Lawson feels the Wizards can be real contenders for the Eastern Conference Finals. 

She threw around names like Mike Scott, Jason Smith, Tim Fraizer, Jodie Meeks, Tomas Satoransky and Ian Mahinmi as players who will be able to take a load off of the Wizards' core offensive players.

"I'm excited. This is going to be a fun season. You guys are from here, growing up there were some lean years, you know, for the Bullets/Wizards. Now you have a team that's going to be able to compete for the Eastern Conference Finals championship. I think that's exciting."

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

The play of Kelly Oubre, Jr. over the past calendar year had made the Wizards picking up his contract option an increasingly easy decision. On Saturday, they opted to keep him for the fourth year of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 season, and did so with a week to spare before the deadline.

Oubre, 21, has emerged as a key contributor for a Wizards team with expectations of a deep playoff run. He is still finding his trule role in the NBA, but with his youth and potential, and the fact he's still on a rookie deal, Oubre has a unique place on their roster.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have already emerged as stars. Otto Porter still has room to get much better, but has already arrived and earned a max contract. Oubre, though already established in their rotation, has plenty of room to grow.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, doubled his minutes last season to 20.3 per game under head coach Scott Brooks with averages of 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. He earned Brooks' trust mainly on the defensive end with his versatility and high motor.

Consistency is where Oubre needs to improve, but through two games this season he appears to have taken another step. Oubre added two inches to his vertical leap over the summer despite rehabbing from platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. He also gained some muscle, allowing him to make strides as a rebounder. Oubre has 15 rebounds through two games and said it's specific focus of his.

[RELATED: WALL TALKS LONZO AND LAVAR BALL]

The Wizards are a good enough offensive team currently to where Oubre can focus on defense and rebounding. But his growing confidence on offense has been evident so far this year and especially in the preseason. He has worked on dribbling with his right hand and the result is more aggression attacking the rim. Though still not a polished product, Oubre is taking small steps to emerge as a more dangerous scoring threat.

The Wizards will have another decision to make on Oubre this time next year. One day before the 2018-19 regular season begins, they will have to choose whether to hand Oubre a rookie scale contract extension. They weren't able to beat that deadline with Porter and the next summer he received a $106.5 million max deal after hitting the market as a restricted free agent. 

Oubre at this very moment wouldn't command that type of money in free agency, but the same was said about Porter at this point in his career. Porter was able to improve significantly in his fourth season.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said this summer that he would love to have Oubre force the issue with his performance on the court.

"He's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do," Leonsis said. 

It's early in the season, but Oubre may be on his way towards making the Wizards ponder his long-term future.

The Washington Post first reported Oubre's contract option getting picked up.

[RELATED: WALL EXPLAINS WOLF SEASON]

 

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley made a point to embarrass Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the latter's NBA debut. After dominating him on the court, Beverley said he had to "set the tone." 

On Wednesday, Wizards point guard John Wall will get a crack at Ball when Washington plays the Lakers at the Staples Center. Wall knows why Beverley went after Ball like that, but says he doesn't blame Ball himself.

"I think his dad put him in a situation where guys are going to target him," Wall said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast, referencing LaVar Ball. "Lonzo is one of those kids that is very talented. He's been a good player for years, he just don't say much. I think his dad does all the talking for him."

Ball, 19, was the second overall pick in this June's NBA Draft. He had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Clippers on Wednesday, but bounced back for 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Suns on Friday. 

Wall thinks Ball will be fine as long as he can keep up his production on the court to back up his dad's trash-talking.

"He's a great kid from what I've seen on the outside looking in," Wall said. "A lot of people in this league are going to take it personally. It's not the son's fault. He went back and had a better game [vs. the Suns]. That's all he's gotta do is go out there and play. He's not gonna do any talking anyways. If he gets killed or don't get killed or kills somebody, he's not going to be the guy talking."

Wall is as competitive as they come and will give Ball a tough challenge on Wednesday night, but it doesn't sound like he plans to pull a Beverley and overtly embarrass him.

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

[RELATED: WALL SAYS HE'S THE BEST SHOT-BLOCKING PG EVER]