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Brooks learning ins and outs of Wizards roster an ongoing process

Brooks learning ins and outs of Wizards roster an ongoing process

When the Wizards' 2016-17 regular season opens on Thursday [6:30 p.m. on CSN], exactly six months will have passed since Scott Brooks was introduced as their new head coach. In that time span he has hired a staff of assistants, gone to summer league in Las Vegas, held a training camp and coached the Wizards in seven exhibition games. 

He has been in the building for half of a calendar year, yet still feels there is plenty to learn about his team. 

"That's the most difficult part of the job, trying to really understand the team and all of their strengths and trying to find their weaknesses so you can shore them up," Brooks said.

"But you don't have a lot of time and I've always been a no excuse coach. We coach our team for no excuses. We have to figure it out quickly. I thought our guys have done a really good job of understanding what we do and how we do it. I thought during these last three or four weeks we have improved as a team. But we have to keep improving."

Like Brooks, Dwane Casey of the Raptors is in his second stint as an NBA head coach. After spending two seasons with the Timberwolves in 2005-07, he took over in Toronto before the 2011-12 campaign.

Casey has seen the Raptors develop into a perennial power with three straight division titles. But it didn't click for him overnight and he knows what it's like to be in Brooks' shoes at the moment.

"The big thing is understanding personnel. Basketball is basketball. You're going to have your own philosophy as a head coach," Casey said. "Just getting to know your players is the most important thing. What they can do and what they can't do in certain situations. That's what's great about exhibition and summer time.

"You're able to see what they can do [in terms of] what side of the floor are they best on, who can execute under pressure at the end of the game. Those things you kind of learn in exhibition, but you have to watch a lot of last year's film and rely on the people who were here last year to find out what they can do and can't do. That's the biggest issue, I think."

From a player's perspective, it is more about learning the new coach's system and what is asked of them on both ends of the floor. That can vary by the player and their role.

For star point guard John Wall, he feels him and Brooks are already on the same page. Brooks has put an emphasis on communicating with each player about their roles and Wall, for one, believes he's up to speed, even after working his way back from offseason surgery.

"To be honest, it's been kind of easy. Right after my surgery he came down and spent two days with me in Cleveland. We started talking basketball there and were picking each other's brains about the game of basketball. He just wants me to be a leader and be the second coach out there," Wall said.

"It's basically what I've been doing, do the same exact thing. I've played with most of these guys and most of these guys know how I play. Our starting five, we have a great chemistry. We already built that in the past. It's just about getting the other guys who have come in to play with us."

It may take time for Brooks to reach a comfort level leading a roster full of players he's never coached before. But Thursday will provide a big step in that learning process.

"Now the games are for real," he said. "I need to put it all together collectively as a group… That's the tough part, but that's the part I really enjoy. I really enjoy the challenge of finding ways to make it work every night."

[RELATED: Wiz settling on a regular-season rotation]


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Kelly Oubre turns into 'Spooky Papi' ahead of home-opener vs. Heat

NBC Sports Washington

Kelly Oubre turns into 'Spooky Papi' ahead of home-opener vs. Heat

As the weather in Washington, D.C. drops below 60 degrees, most athletes typically arrive at their games in sweatsuits for comfort or suits for luxury. 

Kelly Oubre, on the other hand, is going full gothic for the Washington Wizards' home-opener against the Miami Heat. Oubre is the self-proclaimed "Wave Papi," but tonight he is giving off a vampire-slayer vibe.

Maybe he didn't get the memo that Halloween is roughly two weeks from now.

For the sake of it still being October, let's call him "Spooky Papi."

His black belts and buckles match his rockstar lifestyle, but the bloody, disfigured skull accessory is one of the most ridiculous things we've seen at Capital One Arena. Ever. 

Maybe there's a hidden meaning to it all, or maybe it's just yet another in a long line of Kelly Oubre fashion statements. 


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Dwight Howard ruled out for Wizards' season opener vs. Miami

NBC Sports Washington

Dwight Howard ruled out for Wizards' season opener vs. Miami

Dwight Howard will not play in the Washington Wizards' season opener against the Miami Heat, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller has confirmed. The news was first reported by Chris Haynes.

Ian Mahinmi will start in his place as he did for a majority of the preseason. 

Howard, an eight-time All-Star, has been dealing with a butt-injury ever since joining Washington this summer. This resulted in him missing all of the team's preseason matchups. He only has practiced with the team for a couple of days this week

Earlier on Thursday morning, Howard was listed as questionable for this matchup.

Based on his absence during the preseason and limited work with the Wizards, Howard being out is not too surprising. If he would have played it likely would have been for limited minutes off of the bench. 

Best-case for the Wizards is to rest Howard who has only missed 20 regular season games in the previous three seasons. 

Howard is not that far off from starting his 15th season in the NBA. On Wednesday Scott Brooks said that Howard will travel on the first road trip with the team to the West Coast starting on Monday. 

This story is developing and will updated as more information becomes available.