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Morning tip: If cream rises to top, says Kelly Oubre, 'I'm the cream'


Morning tip: If cream rises to top, says Kelly Oubre, 'I'm the cream'

Recent history suggests that coach Randy Wittman will bring along a rookie like Kelly Oubre slowly, if for no reason other than to make the 19-year old earn his stripes before getting on the court with a veteran team such as the Wizards.

But the 6-7 small forward has been raising eyebrows since training camp opened Tuesday, showing a three-point stroke that was absent during Las Vegas summer league play and an exceptional defensive IQ. And based on how he's talking -- he doesn't spell it out but strongly implies it -- he thinks he'll be a Rookie of the Year candidate. 

"I have a chip on my shoulder even more now because throughout the whole process people were saying they questioned my work ethic so that's why they passed on me in the draft. The Washington Wizards got me and I'm going to make sure they got something that's going to be something serious," Oubre said in a 1-on-1 with CSN's Chris Miller during training camp this week. "I don't want anybody to question the things that I do or anything. Because I'm going to work, first and foremost. And I'm going to give it my all.

"I fell to 15 in the draft and I really took that hard. After the draft I came straight to D.C. and I was in the gym. That was just pure fire in my heart because I know there's not (14) guys better than me in my class at least. ... The cream rises to the top, and I'm the cream."

This means Oubre is certain that he's better than most of these guys: D'Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Kaminsky, Myles Turner, Devin Booker, etc.

The preseason starts next week and Oubre will have a chance to get plenty of action with injuries to small forwards Jared Dudley (lower back) and Alan Anderson (left ankle). 

"It's a lot to absorb and he's a smart kid," Wittman said after Friday's session at Verizon Center.

This isn't to imply that this season Oubre will leapfrog Otto Porter, a third-year forward who appears to be on another level himself, in the rotation. But long-term, Oubre could be a starter. 

The Wizards were able to trade up from 19th in June's draft to make a deal for Oubre, who left Kansas after one season. They weren't alone. Several other NBA teams were trying to move up to get Oubre, widely considered a lottery-pick talent who fell just outside of it because his statistics didn't shout elite. But everything else about him -- skill set, athleticism and attitude -- suggests just that.

While Oubre hasn't been bashful about how highly he regards himself, he hasn't had any issues fitting in. He seems to know when to tune it down and listen.

"You don't have time on the floor to stop and think. That's the main thing right now. His head is probably spinning a little bit and he can't get his words out," Wittman said. "He's working. It happens to all of them, John Wall, Bradley Beal, they've all been in that position.

"We've got to continue to encourage him. You don't want to slow it down. You want to take him off (the floor), let him think. To be able to play at this level you've got to be able to do it on the run."

The night Oubre was acquired, Kansas assistant coach Kurt Townsend talked to CSNmidatlantic.com at length about him. The most poignant of his comments was in reference to how Oubre, despite being a top five player coming out of high school, handled being benched early in the season: "Kelly handled it unbelievably. Just started working hard, started to listen and it ended up working out for him."

The Wizards are deep at his position but it's an 82-game season. The veterans like Dudley, Anderson and Drew Gooden need to be fresh and rested come the playoffs. Coupled with the new emphasis on a faster-paced offense and going to smaller lineups, the need for more athletic players could put Oubre in a position that didn't seem likely months ago. 

His first chance will come Tuesday in the preseason opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."