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Wizards weighing their options with Markieff Morris set to miss start of regular season

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Wizards weighing their options with Markieff Morris set to miss start of regular season

Last season, as the Wizards did things as a franchise they hadn't accomplished since the 1970s, they enjoyed near perfect health with their starting lineup. This year, with still weeks to go before the season begins, that will not be the case.

Starting power forward Markieff Morris is set for a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks following the sports hernia surgery he had on Friday. That means he will miss somewhere between two weeks of the regular season or a month. Either way, that's a longer absence than any Wizards starter had last season.

The Wizards will have to adjust and the good thing is that they have time on their side. Head coach Scott Brooks doesn't have to adjust on the fly in the middle of the season. He can spend all of training camp and the preseason tinkering with his lineups to prepare for life without Morris, one of the team's most underrated players on the court and a unifying personality off of it.

"It's not the ideal situation to have one of your starting players out for an extended period of time due to surgery, but that's part of the game. You have to have that next-man-up mentality, which we have," Brooks said.

The timing of Morris' surgery is unfortunate, but there were a lot of factors in play. Morris didn't start feeling discomfort until about a month ago and in recent weeks he has been dealing with the birth of his first child and a legal case in Phoenix. The Wizards had to work around all of those things to get him under the knife.

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Brooks remains confident the Wizards can make do without Morris because he likes the options left on his roster.

"We have versatility and we have depth. We can go in many different directions. We can go small. We can throw Kelly [Oubre] in there. We can throw Jason [Smith] in there. Mike Scott we can put in there. There's a lot of players that we can throw into the mix," Brooks said.

Based on how Brooks described it, don't be surprised if Otto Porter also gets an extended look at power forward. The Wizards found success last season with small-ball lineups playing Porter and Oubre together and that could be the play with Morris out.

"Otto definitely has the ability to play four. It's such a smaller league. In the 80s or 90s, Otto at the four probably wouldn't be the decision. But now with all the shooting fours in the league, I think he can play that position," Brooks said.

Porter, 24, is fine with that scenario. 

"I've played a lot of minutes at the position with Keef. It's a position I've played before and I think I can definitely step up and fulfill that role until he gets back. But we have guys here. Mike Scott, he can step in as a veteran guy that can come in and play the four with me also. We can go small. Coach Brooks is going to definitely evaluated the situation and put us in the best situation moving forward," Porter said.

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The question then becomes how many minutes the Wizards can rely on Porter early in the season, knowing they don't want to rush Morris back and knowing how important Porter is to their chances further down the road. He is one of their best outside shooters, rebounds well and is a versatile defender.

Under the direction of a new training staff, the Wizards closely monitored the workload of each player from games to practices to shootarounds last season. They want to keep Porter fresh and will sacrifice when needed to do so.

Getting by without Morris won't be easy on several fronts. He is valuable as a basketball player, but also as an enforcer on the court. Starting center Marcin Gortat thinks that's what the Wizards will miss about Morris as much as anything.

"He is a tough guy. We all love when he gets those technical fouls because he's pushing people, hitting people and talking to the refs. Sometimes you need that. We're going to miss that. We're definitely going to miss that," Gortat said.

Morris was not with the Wizards at media day on Monday and it's not clear when he join the team. He has a long road back, but the Wizards feel good about their options to replace him while he recovers.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

Here are the best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 115-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

1. Much of the attention going into any Wizards-Pistons game these days will be on John Wall and Reggie Jackson, as the two have had a mini-rivalry over the years. It was a long night for Jackson, as you'll see throughout this post, and it started with this putback jumper by Wall that left Jackson in the dust:

2. Wall finished with 26 points, 10 assists and two blocks. Both of his blocks were amazing. The first was this one, on Tobias Harris who is a power forward:

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3. Wall's 28 points were much quieter than in the season-opener when he was dunking all over everyone. In this game, though, he did have this sick layup on the fastbreak:

4. Bradley Beal was also an offensive standout with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. One of his best plays was this and-1 late in the game:

Here's a bonus clip. Beal (25 points) had a few nice crossovers that ended in missed shots. This was one of them:

5. Okay, here's the second Wall block. It was on Jackson and it came at the perfect time. This helped seal the win:

[RELATED: WALL SAYS HE'S BEST SHOTBLOCKER AT POINT GUARD EVER]

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John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

If you have thought to yourself over the years that John Wall is very good at blocking shots for a point guard, then don't worry, he's fully aware. Wall, in fact, believes there has never been one better in the history of the game.

Seriously. Wall staked his claim after Friday night's win over the Pistons, one in which he had two jawdropping blocks; one against a power forward and the other with just 14 seconds left to help seal the victory.

"That's just me playing defense. I think I'm the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history. I'm trying to set records," he said.

First, let's look at the aforementioned blocks before we break down Wall's proclomation. The power forward who felt his wrath was Tobias Harris. Wall is 6-foot-4 and Harris is 6-foot-8:

The second block was as timely as it gets. If Wall doesn't swat this one away, who knows how the game turns out:

Wall understandably got some serious praise for those plays.

"Those are blocks that point guards are not supposed to make, but he has a special ability to make those plays throughout the game," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"It's the will to win, man," Bradley Beal said. "It's a timing thing. A lot of his transition ones, I will cut the guy off just so he can go block it. It's all about timing. He has great timing and great athleticism."

Now, for Wall's claim itself. There certainly aren't many guards who come to mind for shot-blocking. Dwyane Wade is known as being one of the best, but he's a shooting guard.

Wade, in fact, has the most career blocks ever for a guard with 802. Wall, though, has the second-most among active players at the guard position with 326. He's already 10th in NBA history for guards. Here is the top 10:

1. Dwyane Wade - 802*
2. Clyde Drexler - 719
3. Dennis Johnson - 675
4. Jason Kidd - 450
5. Kendall Gill - 432
6. Latrell Sprewell - 399
7. Jason Richardson - 367
8. Baron Davis - 360
9. Doc Rivers - 351
10. John Wall - 326*

*active
(via Basketball Reference)

That's an excellent list of NBA names to be a part of. Only Johnson, Kidd, Davis and Wall are point guards, meaning Wall is already fourth all-time in career blocks at his position and the active leader. To set the all-time record, he will need 350 more to pass Johnson. That won't be easy, but it's feasible based on his career numbers.

Wall averaged 46 blocks per year in his first seven seasons. He would have to keep going at that rate for more than 7 1/2 seasons to pass Johnson. Given Wall is 27, he would have to still be blocking shots in his mid-30s.

It is certainly possible. Wall has averaged 0.6 blocks per game in his career and Wade is still at that pace now at Age 35. Wade, however, was averaging over a block per game in his prime, when he was Wall's age.

Wall may need to pick up his pace a bit to back up the claim he made on Friday night, but there's no denying that he's on track to at least make it interesting.

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