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Wizards get a chance to watch intriguing draft prospects Keita Bates-Diop and Brandon McCoy

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Wizards get a chance to watch intriguing draft prospects Keita Bates-Diop and Brandon McCoy

The Washington Wizards held another pre-draft workout on Thursday, hosting six more players that could find their way onto the roster come draft night.

Of the six players, Keita Bates-Diop is the highest-ranked prospect. The Ohio State veteran has seen a fluctuation in draft stock, projecting as high as the middle of the first round and as low as early second round. The other player often projected in mocks is UNLV freshman Brandon McCoy. He projects as a second-round selection. 

Here are some notes on each player, as they were the two who met with the media post-workout.

Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State (6-7, 235)

Bates-Diop is known for his versatility and length. At 6-7, he projects more as a small forward in the NBA, but managed to grab 8.7 rebounds per game in his redshirt-junior season at Ohio State. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year before declaring for the draft.

“Definitely my length, I have an extremely long wingspan,” Bates-Diop said. “It helps me grab balls I normally wouldn’t get, or most guys wouldn’t get.”

Bates-Diop posted a 7-3.25 wingspan at the NBA combine, 10th highest among all participants.  His length helped him block shots at Ohio State, where he averaged 1.6 blocks per game.

During the pre-draft workout, Bates-Diop was often tasked with defending the guards, he said.

Along with his length, Bates-Diop has developed a three-point shot over the years, most recently making two threes per game at a 35.9 percent clip.

After the pre-draft workout, the Wizards pulled Bates-Diop aside for an extra, individual shooting drill. It was the first time he’s done an extra shooting drill after a pre-draft workout, he said.

Bates-Diop said he wants to prove to teams that “I can shoot the ball better than the percent I shot in college.”

Bates-Diop said up next is a workout with the Atlanta Hawks, who pick No. 19, No. 30 and No. 34 overall.

Brandon McCoy, PF/C, UNLV (7-0, 250)

McCoy was the youngest player at the pre-draft workout on Thursday but made his talent known his first year at UNLV. The 7-foot big man scored 16.9 points and grabbed 10.3 rebounds per game, just one of four freshmen to average a double-double this past season.

The other three? DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Mo Bamba.

But McCoy projects in the second round of the draft. Still, he felt like signing with an agent and leaving after a year was the right move.

“My thought is the more you stay in college, the more you become a college player and we all have aspirations of playing in the NBA,” McCoy said. “And I feel like I did enough in college and it was time to take that next step and become a pro.”

The Wizards told McCoy after the workout that he has a lot of upside and to keep working, he said. The potential is there — McCoy was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and in addition to his double-double line, he finished with 1.8 blocks per game.

But, McCoy, who just turned 20 less than a week ago, knows he still has a lot to learn.

“You have guys like LeBron James, the best player in the world, still putting things to his game and stuff,” McCoy said. “Imagine a guy like me from the bottom, I got to learn a lot.”

McCoy will head to Dallas next and says he has four more workouts before the draft. The Mavericks have two second round picks, No. 33 and No. 54 overall.


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2018 NBA Mock Draft: 5.0

2018 NBA Mock Draft: 5.0

We're closing in on the 2018 NBA Draft, which means there's now a combination of misinformation, rumors, changing opinions, and heavy debate. 

Some have to decide if the risks of past injuries are worth overlooking (Michael Porter Jr.).

Others near the top will have to figure out if Luka Doncic is making his way over here next year, or waiting, or just figure out whether it matters to them or not either way.

Plus, there's the tempting comparison of Trae Young to Steph Curry. Could that make a team reach?


This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

This could be the draft we look back on as the one that brought back the big man to the NBA.

Of course, these are very different players from what we had when giants like Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon dominated the paint.

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine and into the endless workouts and interviews leading up to the final night. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, but that's not their only need. With the way things may work out before No. 15, they may have to consider a Plan B.

Ernie Grunfeld will just have to decide what their biggest need is when they're on the clock. 


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Dwane Casey and Pistons agree to 5-year deal


Dwane Casey and Pistons agree to 5-year deal

Dwane Casey did not stay out of the NBA for long.

A month after being fired by the Toronto Raptors, Casey agreed to a five-year deal to become head coach of the Detroit Pistons, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the move, which was first reported by ESPN.

Casey led Toronto to a franchise-record 59 wins this year and helped them earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time. The NBA coach of the year finalist was fired shortly after Toronto was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers with one year remaining on a three-year, $18 million dollar extension. He was 320-238 in seven seasons and is Toronto’s winningest coach.

Detroit has been looking for a coach for more than a month since firing Stan Van Gundy, who was also its president of basketball operations. Michigan coach John Beilein was a finalist for the job before withdrawing his name from consideration last week and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka also was a candidate.

With the Pistons, Casey has a lot of work to do.

The Pistons have made the playoffs only once in nine years after advancing at least to the Eastern Conference finals six straight years, winning the 2004 NBA title and falling a victory short of repeating as champions in 2005. They do not appear to have much flexibility to make significant changes this offseason.

Detroit acquired Blake Griffin in a blockbuster trade this past season and that wasn’t enough to push Detroit into the playoffs. An injury to point guard Reggie Jackson derailed what looked like a promising season. If healthy, the Pistons do potentially have an intriguing nucleus with Griffin, Jackson and Andre Drummond.

The Pistons are still looking to hire someone to head their basketball operation. They did bring in Ed Stefanski as a senior executive to assist in searches for a new coach and head of basketball operations.

Detroit moved into a new downtown arena last season, but with the exception of some brief success after trading for Griffin, the team didn’t create much buzz.

Casey is getting his third shot to lead an NBA team.

He coached the Minnesota Timberwolves for a little more than one season, going 53-69. He also has experience in the league as an assistant with Dallas and Seattle.

Casey, who is from Morganfield, Kentucky, played for the Wildcats and helped them win the 1978 NCAA title and began his coaching career the next year as a graduate assistant under Joe B. Hall. He later back to campus to work as an assistant for Eddie Sutton. He has five years of coaching experience in Japan and has spent time around the game in Europe.

Under Casey, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons. But Toronto couldn’t get past Cleveland, losing to LeBron James and the Cavs in each of the past three playoffs.