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Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre: 'I feel like I'm at square one again'


Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre: 'I feel like I'm at square one again'

Whether or not rookie Kelly Oubre is ready, Alan Anderson's second left ankle surgery that has him out indefinitely will thrust him into at least spot duty for the Wizards when the regular season opens Oct. 28. The 19-year-old admits the experience so far has been humbling though he's not deterred.

"I told one of the coaches earlier today I feel like I'm at square one again," Oubre said after Thursday's practice. "You start playing basketball, you get real good, you're one of the top in the nation, you get to the NBA and no matter where you're drafted at you're back to the bottom. You're a rookie. You don't really know much."

He'll play his third preseason game Friday, when the Wizards play at the Philadelphia 76ers. It'll be the teams' second meeting, with the Wizards winning the opener at Verizon Center. Oubre had a right ankle sprain that kept him out of that one and has had to catch up. 

"Whether it's drills, whether it's the game speed, there are different things. At this point and time we add things from a defensive philosophy as well as offensive," coach Randy Wittman said. "It's a lot coming at a kid like that so we'll see. ... He'll pick things up."

Jared Dudley returned to practice this week but he's not ready to play. Even when he returns, Wittman plans to use him more as the "stretch" power forward. That leaves Oubre as the only natural small forward behind starter Otto Porter. Martell Webster (right hip strain) still is unable to practice.

Oubre is 1-for-10 in two preseason games. He missed an easy transition dunk last weekend that typified his struggles. Even simple tasks are proving more challenging than he thought.

"He's tense. He says he is," Bradley Beal, who started as a 19-year-old for the Wizards in 2012, said. "He said, 'I'm out here feeling nervous.' He's putting a little to much pressure on himself.

"It's a growing process. He has to learn his first year he's not going to be an MVP, he's not going to be an All-Star. He has to realize that everything is a step to each level. Me and John (Wall) have been through the same thing. He's going to realize he's going to continue to learn. ... He's already ahead of the game. He's super athletic. He's smart. ... He's going to be good."

The risks and gambles that Oubre could take in high school and during his one year at Kansas can't happen in the NBA. He'll leave his teammates exposed. 

"It's different defenses because it's better competition. You make one mistake, if you're not in one spot at the right time it's a dunk or it's a game-winning shot," Oubre said. "(Defense) is kind of more important, it's kind of more amped up, and its' kind of better competition with guys that know where they're supposed to be onthe court so you have to know it as well.

"Throughout high school, throughout college that's how I got away with stuff because I'm long. I could just get an easy steal because a guy's not as good as me or something like that. Now I'm at the bottom of the barrel pretty much on my knowledge of the game. I now have to be smart and hone in on the fundamentals."

Oubre's cockiness nor youth has posed any problems with fitting in with such a veteran roster. When the Wizards held training camp at Towson University, Nene made him carry his Xbox case. The book on him from the staff at Kansas was that he accepts coaching and criticism well. He doesn't pout or take it personal. He works harder and gets better.

"I'm the only rookie on the team as of right now. I'm just trying to listen to the guys and feed off their energy because they help me out a lot,' said Oubre, referring to Beal, Wall and Otto Porter who have been the most recent players to go through first-season struggles. "A lot of the guys in there, they have families and kids so I just try to stay quiet. I hear a lot of slick remarks about me being young but they don't treat me like a rookie."

[RELATED: Who will be the Paul Pierce of Wizards' locker room?]

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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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