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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

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

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 21

2016-17 stats: 79 G, 20.3 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 0.6 apg, 3.3 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 42.1 FG%, 28.7 3P%, 75.8 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 104 ORtg, 110 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Oubre's second NBA season was a productive one and a clear step forward for the former first round pick. He doubled his minutes under head coach Scott Brooks, carved a niche as a disruptor on defense and got some playoff experience along the way; some very memorable playoff experience, in fact. Oubre now enters his third season with the Wizards with an option on his contract for the fourth year that will be determined sometime over the next month.

This year represents a chance for Oubre to take another step and become an even more important cog in their second unit. Like most young players, the Wizards are looking for consistency from Oubre. They want him to let the game come to him and play within their system. Focus on defense and let the offense follow. 


On their revamped bench, Oubre remains the most athletic player and best wing defender. He also has a potentially important spot in the Wizards' small-ball lineups. Last season, Brooks found success with Oubre playing alongside Otto Porter with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Brooks liked how the four of them could switch from ball-handlers to wings. 

Defense is likely to be Oubre's calling card in the short-term, but he has a high ceiling on offense. He has been working extensively this offseason with trainer Drew Hanlen on dribbling and creating his own shot. Developing those skills should help him score more efficiently, as both his field-goal and three-point percentages dropped slightly last year as his volume of shot attempts increased. The more he can knock down threes, the more other teams will focus on him defensively and that can open up opportunities for other bench guys like Jodie Meeks.

Potential to improve: Three-point shooting, ball-handling, on-ball defense.


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?



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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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