Quick Links

Markieff Morris is returning soon to a Wizards team that has managed well during his absence

USA Today Sports Images

Markieff Morris is returning soon to a Wizards team that has managed well during his absence

Though the exact game will be affected by his suspension for Friday night's fight against the Warriors, Markieff Morris' return to the Wizards could happen any day now, as the power forward is 5 1/2 weeks removed from the sports hernia surgery he had on Sept. 22. 

His initial recovery timeline was six to eight weeks and it's looking more and more like Morris will hit the front end of that timetable. Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters on the Wizards road trip this weekend that Morris will return soon, perhaps by the end of the week.

People within the Wizards organization caution that Morris may take several weeks to reach midseason form due to the nature of his injury and the timing of his return. In terms of game action, he is nearly a month behind everyone else.

Still, getting Morris back on the court will be a boon for the Wizards. Last season he was a key cog on a Washington team that won 49 games, their most as a franchise since 1978-79, and reached the second round of the playoffs. He complements the rest of their starting lineup well on both ends of the floor and is their best answer defensively to stretch-fours. 

The Wizards stand 4-2 as they return home from the West Coast and probably feel they should be at least 5-1, considering one of those losses was to the lottery-bound Lakers. They remain in good shape, however, despite the absence of Morris for what will be at least seven games by the time he steps on the court.


Kelly Oubre, Jr. deserves a good deal of credit for the Wizards compensating for Morris' loss. He wasn't the first choice to start, Jason Smith was, but once Smith went down with a shoulder injury in the season opener, Oubre was the replacement and Brooks has kept him there ever since. 

Through six games, Oubre is averaging 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. He is shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three, looking like a more refined offensive player than he was just a few months ago. His 117 offensive rating and 103 defensive rating suggest he's been one of the Wizards' best players on both ends of the floor.

Oubre is averaging 35.2 minutes while providing that level of production. At times Brooks, has had no choice but to ride Oubre with Smith hurt and Ian Mahinmi's sprained left ankle adding another injury to their frontcourt, but Oubre has held his own.

Mike Scott has also had his moments. He's averaging 8.0 points in 19.7 minutes on 46.3 percent from the field. In Sunday's win over the Kings, he scored 11 straight points for the Wizards and in his last two games has 27 total points in 39 minutes on 10-for-16 shooting.

Morris is not going to be able to carry a full load of minutes right from the start, meaning Oubre could continue to play an increased role in the interim. Regardless, he will be the sixth man with the starting lineup fully healthy.


How Brooks utilizes Smith and Scott will likely be a work in progress. Scott is new to the Wizards' bench, as are guards Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks. Morris rejoining the team will produce a domino effect in the rotation as Brooks discovers which lineups he likes and doesn't like while working with a full lot of players.

The Wizards' 4-2 record has coincided with most stats reflecting them favorably. But Morris can help them in specific areas of need. They rank in the bottom half of the NBA in rebounding and their three-point numbers could use improvement. They are a pedestrian 15th in three-pointers made and 16th in attempts. Morris can help spread the floor with a respectable outside shot. Plus, Smith will help those numbers as he gets healthier.

The Wizards' primary starting lineup this season with Oubre alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat holds a 23.6 net rating, best among NBA five-man lineups with at least 50 minutes logged this season. Swapping in Morris shouldn't disrupt that success and pushing Oubre to the bench will only help the second unit.

With Morris' return getting closer and closer, the Wizards have to feel good about how they have operated during his absence and the potential of their roster once he is back in the fold.


Quick Links

The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

USA Today Sports Images

The NBA wants to end the one-and-done rule and the timing is right

The NBA is building momentum towards a significant change in their draft entry rules. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken about his preference to change the so-called one-and-done rule and on Thursday he met with the newly created Commission on College Basketball in Washington, D.C. to discuss the subject.

The meeting was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who says the league could once again let high school players be drafted. The compromise could be a rule requiring those who go to college to stay for at least two years. That would be similar to Major League Baseball, which stipulates three years of college.

Would a similar rule be a good idea for the NBA? While the players' union would like the option to go straight from high school, there was a reason the one-and-done rule was implemented in the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The perception back then was that players left for the NBA too early and many flamed out because of it. The thought was that some players would have had better careers if they were older and more experienced when they became professionals.


Darius Miles, Kwame Brown, Eddy Curry and Sebastian Telfair are notorious cases of draft busts who came out of high school. Many wondered if those guys would have been better off with a year in college to adjust to life on their own and with an intermediary step up in competition.

But there are important differences in the NBA's structure nowadays. Now there is a robust minor league system with G-League affiliates all over the country. There are also two-way contracts, allowing teams to pay more money to a prospect and have more flexibility in bringing them up to the NBA. Players don't have to adjust as quickly as they used to.

The G-League is going to continue to expand and the perception keeps changing. Now, it is more common to see players have a stint in the G-League either for development purposes or injury rehabilitation. Player development of baseball players is different, but the MLB's well-established minor league system is the reason why their rule allowing high school players to go pro really works.

The one year in college under the one-and-done rule, however, does have some positives. Most notably, it allows NBA teams to get a better read on draft prospects. Instead of evaluating guys exclusively in high school and AAU, they get to see them play in the ACC, SEC and other big college conferences.

NBA front offices may be hurt by it, but the time is right to go back to high school players entering the pros. Things are much different than they were in 2006 and the league can handle it. Ending the one-and-done rule would be better for the players and it should also make a lot of college basketball fans happy.

That is the good of what the NBA is considering, however, the rule requiring two years of college should not be part of the equation. If the NBA wants to grant some freedom, then actually do it. Some players may need just one year of college and nothing more. Don't punish them for it.

The two-year requirement seems like a very bad idea, but it could be part of the deal. Either way, it seems like the one-and-done rule could come to an end sooner than later and it's for the best.


Quick Links

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

USA Today Sports Images

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Miami Heat

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 91-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night at Capital One Arena...

1. The first half didn't feature many highlights for the Wizards, as they managed just 29 points in what was their worst half of the season so far. This play, though, was nice.

Mike Scott hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter:

Scott had only four points in nine minutes.


2. The Wizards had a special guest in attendance. Nationals ace Max Scherzer showed up and was nice enough to join Chris Miller on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast.

This particular part of the interview was funny. Scherzer was asked who would be the best basketball player on the Nats and who would play the dirtiest. Scherzer was honest:

3. The Wizards were down by as many as 25 points, but they made it a game in large part due to Bradley Beal catching fire in the second half. He hit three threes in the third quarter, including this one:

Beal finished with a game-high 26 points.

4. John Wall (eight points) didn't hit his first shot until there was just 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. But his first shot was a big one, a timely three that helped key the WIzards' comeback charge:

5. Wall would hit another three soon after that:

The Wizards had a final shot attempt, but Beal's stepback jumper rimmed out. They are 9-6 on the season with the Raptors up next.