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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Jason Smith's season...

Player: Jason Smith

Position: Power forward/center

Age: 31

2016-17 stats: 74 G, 14.4 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 0.3 apg, 3.5 rpg, 0.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 52.9 FG%, 47.4 3P%, 68.6 FT%, 58.5 eFG%, 110 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Smith's first season in Washington didn't get off to a great start, much like the team as a whole. He was among several players struggling on the Wizards' bench early on, shooting just 36.7 percent from the field in 11.8 minutes a night through 16 games. Smith ultimately found his niche despite inconsistent minutes as a key player on the bench with Ian Mahinmi out most of the year due to injury.

Smith made his impact as an energy guy off the bench. At his best, he disrupted shots in the lane and spread the floor with an improving three-point shot. Smith hit two threes in October, November and December. From January on, Smith made 35 of them at a 46.7 percent clip. By March he was knocking down multiple threes per night on a regular basis.

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

Smith's emergence as a three-point threat was unexpected, as it happened in his Age 30 season. But it wasn't just luck and it didn't happen overnight. For years Smith practice threes and he had already developed into a solid midrange shooter. It was last year that his range extended beyond the three-point line.

Whether the Wizards can count on Smith to hit threes at a high rate this season is unclear, but that versatility is what could help him remain in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation. If Mahinmi can stay healthy, that will likely mean less minutes for Smith. But if Smith can spread the floor, he can be a nice complement to Mahinmi or Marcin Gortat as a stretch-4.

For as much continuity as there will be in the Wizards' starting lineup, their bench has many new faces. That group also includes Mahinmi, who played only 31 games last year. Smith have a full season in Brooks' system will help him hit the ground running this season in a second unit that will require an adjustment period.

Potential to improve: Chemistry with other bigs, free throw shooting, rim protection.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

Can Ian Mahinmi make a bigger impact in his second season?

Will Tim Frazier be the solution at backup point guard?

Jodie Meeks could make big impact off bench

Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

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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.

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