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All the Wolves need is Love

All the Wolves need is Love

This should be theseasonthat the rebuildingMinnesotaTimberwolves finally turn that corner and get back to the playoffs, something they haven't done since 2004 when they reached the Western Conference Finals with future Hall-of Famer Kevin Garnett leading the way. Now with All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Kevin Love as the team's leader,Minnesotais almost expected to make the post-season.
Love is coming off his best season as a pro as he averaged a staggering 26 points and 13 rebounds a game. Love showed that not only could he bang down low but could step outside and hit the three-ball, making 103 shots from beyond the arc which is pretty amazing for a6'-10" power forward. Love lost 25 pounds during the lockout and was in the best shape of his life and hiscommitmentto fitness showed as he put up those incredible stats.

Loveobviouslycan't do it on his own and will need some help from the likes of second year players Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams in the upcoming 2012-13 campaign.
The Timberwolves were contending for a playoff spot last season with a 21-20 record before Rubio went down in March with a torn ACL and the team struggled from that moment on finishing 26-40. Rubio averaged 10 points and 8 assists at point guard before he got injured. Rubio's flair and uncannyabilityto find the open man made the Wolves a tough team to defend. Without him, they struggled mightily so the Wolves need him back healthy to contend this season.
Out of the NBA last season because of a bad knee, the Wolves signed former All-Star guard Brandon Roy almost as an insurance policy in case Rubio is not ready to go. Roy retired prior to the 11-12 season citing his injury but underwent an alternative kneeprocedureand claims he is good to go. Roy was the Rookie of the Year in 2007 and was an All-Star from 08-10 and has career averages of 19 points and 5 assists. Roy can play both guard positions and if he can stay healthy he could really be a key contributor for the already guard heavy Wolves.
Luke Ridnour and Jose Juan Barea return in the back court for the Wolves and it will be interesting to see how coach Rick Adelman divvies up the minutes between these two players off the bench.
Up front the Wolves will need Williams -- the former 2 overall pick in the draft -- to step up his play for Minnesota to be a factor in the western conference. Williams averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds in his rookie season. That's good but not great for a top 5 pickandthere's no doubt that Williams will have to improve. He likely will start the season coming off the bench behind free agent pickup Andrei Kirilenko.
The 6'-9" Kirilenko signed a to a two-year 20 million deal this summer. Kirilenko played overseas last year but hasaveraged12 points and 5 rebounds in his 10 year NBA career. Kirilenko will also provide defense down low with his ability to block shots and can also guard players on the wing.
Forward Nikola Pekovic is back after emerging as a legitimate NBA player, scoring 13 points and 7 rebounds a game last season.Minnesota also traded the 18th pick in the NBA Draft to get veteran Chase Budinger. The high-flying small forward averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets last season.
Michael Beasley, Wayne Ellington and Darko Milicic are notable players gone from last year's team but Love is still there and that's the key ingredient.
Love will lead the way but he's going to need some serious help if the Wolves will get back to the playoffs.

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Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

The Wizards will hold their third pre-draft workout on Thursday at Capital One Arena, this time featuring four local standouts out of the six players attending. Highlighting that group is Yuta Watanabe of George Washington, the Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Here is the full list with notes on each player...

Phillip Carr, F, Morgan State (6-9, 205)

Carr averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season at Morgan State in Maryland. He shot 84.6 percent from the free throw line, excellent for a big man.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

James Daniel III, G, Tennessee (6-0, 172)

Originally from Hampton, Va., Daniel III played four years at Howard University in D.C. before transferring to Tennessee as a redshirt senior. He was the MEAC Player of the Year in his last healthy season at Howard. Daniel III averaged 5.6 points in 35 games for the Volunteers.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Marcus Derrickson, F, Georgetown (6-7, 250)

Derrickson hails from nearby Bowie, Md. He played three years with the Hoyas and averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 46.5 percent from three this past season. 

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Etou, F, Tulsa (6-8, 235)

Originally from the Republic of Congo, Etou went to high school at Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va. He is Serge Ibaka's cousin and didn't start playing basketball until he was 15. Etou averaged 15.0 points and 7.9 rebounds this past season.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Robinson, G, Mount St. Mary's (5-5, 150)

The Northeast Conference Player of the Year, Robinson averaged 22.0 points and 4.8 assists this past season. He was a four-year starter at Mount St. Mary's.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Yuta Watanabe, F, George Washington (6-9, 205)

One of the best basketball players to ever come from Japan, Watanabe was a defensive standout for the Colonials who developed into a solid scorer by his senior year. This past season, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is known in Japan as 'The Chosen One' and both of his parents played basketball professionally. NBC Sports Washington first reported he would work out with the Wizards this week.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent; best chance for NBA is as defensive specialist

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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