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What the Wizards should look for with a third big man

What the Wizards should look for with a third big man

The Wizards start off with a solid and potentially formidable interior tandem with Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. For now when it comes to big men, that's it, that's the list. 

As Washington looks to fill out the rest of its roster, two, three or four players with the ability to play the four or five will come on board. It's who's becomes that third big, or rather the first one off the bench, that's most interesting.

The pairing of Gortat and Nene helped lead the Wizards to consecutive playoff berths. However, that power-packed combo became too old school late in the second of those seasons and were eventually split up. Kris Humphries began 2015-16 as the starting power forward, but that proved too much of a stretch. Jared Dudley took over and provided a modern look with his 3-point touch, but Washington often lost the battle of the boards with that undersized look. 

The acquisition of Morris before the NBA trade deadline finally gave the Wizards an athletic presence at power forward who can battle inside. Though hardly a quinessential stretch-4, the 6-foot-10 forward is capable enough from beyond the arc to make defenses keep tabs, That also means he can play without crowding the paint for Gortat while giving the Wizards a rebounding presence.

This third big man, should have similar qualities. Not in that he must mirror Morris' game, though another athletic type works for team likely looking to run when possible. 

If nothing else, have the abilty to play different roles. Most of all, have the ability to play with Gortat and Morris.

Toronto center Bismack Biyombo became a playoff sensation during the Eastern Conference finals for his energetic rebounding and dogged rim protection. His free agent price tag went through the roof.

Whether the Wizards can afford the cost or not, he's not the answer. Biyombo can play. He can't just play away from the basket, whch means he can't play with Gortat. All that means spending big bucks on two centers whose individual minutes won't be maxed and whose talents are undercut if paired with other isn't the ideal plan.

That's not the case with say Ersan Ilyasova, who is expected to become a free agent when Orlando declines its team option for the purposes of maximizing cap space. The 6-foot-10 forward would provide John Wall with a floor spacer (career 37% 3-pointers) and Gortat with a viable tag-team option. Ilyasova can score and rebound. He's not a shot blocking threat, but he's tough. So is Morris, who can slide to a stretch-5 role with Ilyasova on the court.

Ilyasova isn't a top tier free agent. Neither is Mirza Teletovic, but they can fill (most of) the holes without an insane cost, though nobody is quite sure what that really means heading into a wild off-season. Washington must add nine players total assuming it retains restricted free agent Bradley Beal.

The Wizards still need a true center behind Gortat. Maybe that's Nene, though getting a younger option behind the veteran Gortat works best. Maybe that's a raw big man still learning the ropes. Perhaps someone from the incoming draft class.

Washington will add a few giants capable of playing the four or five or both. Finding a talented option capable of playing with Morris and Gortat is key, especially if big bucks are involved.

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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