Wizards

Quick Links

Crossing halfcourt with Team USA Pt. 2

826927.png

Crossing halfcourt with Team USA Pt. 2

Click here for Part 1 of 8-second count: Crossing halfcourt with Team USA5) The Unibrow and other curious Olympicsights Mentions of Anthony Davis signature look during the Olympic coverage will top total points scored by the de facto 12th man in London. Assuming the U.S. plays their max number of games (eight), Im setting the overunder for the Kentucky kids points at 16.5. Too low? Eh, perhaps, but Davis had better score in the true blowouts because Coach K will tighten his playing rotation at even the mere hint of a close game. Seeing as Davis is all about linking "things" together, I'lllink in some other random factoids here, Sesame Steet style... The letter "A", as in Team USA is in "Group A". Argentina and France loom as the other primary contenders - and offer a must watch, Grade A matchup between San Antonio Spurs teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The letters D, M, V, as in the players with ties to the DMV participating in the games. That group includes Wizards big men Nene (Brazil) and Kevin Seraphin (France) plus a cornucopia of former local college stars like Tony Skinn (George MasonNigeria), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (George WashingtonGreat Britain), Sarunas Jasikevicius (Maryland Lithuania), Ekene Ibekwe (MarylandNigeria). The letter O, as in oddity, as in the oddity of havingtwo NBA coaches picked- Nate McMillan and Mike D'Antoni -, both picked many moonsgoto assistMike Krzyzewski on the Olympic team, be currently unemployed. Guess that meant they had plenty of time to scout France, Team USA's first opponent (July 29, 9:30 am ET; for the entire men and women's schedule, click here). Here's my suggestion: When Parker is dribbling up court, have one of the U.S. guards yell out "hey, is that Chris Brown and Drake?" When Parker ducks, steal the ball.6) Dont forget the ladies Led by likely leading scorer Diana Taurasi (at least thats what Team USA point guard Sue Bird told me earlier this summer), forward Seimone Augustus (who Im sure Team USA point guard Sue Bird will feed often) and my favorite Team USA point guard (no, not Lindsay Whalen, Sue Bird!), the womens squad enters London as the favorites. Unless the Down Under Aussies find scant resistance going over the top to center, former WNBA MVP and Birds Seattle Storm teammate Lauren Jackson, Team USA, with Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom on the staff, gets it done. I think Sue Bird might help.7) Passing of the torch One of the intriguing, behind the scenes aspects of the recent and stellar Dream Team documentary was the way Michael Jordan wrestled away top dog supremacy from a non-relenting Magic Johnson. Even though Jordan was coming off his second NBA title and the former Lakers star was essentially off the NBA stage, it wasnt until the spirited practices leading up to the Olympics when the Chicago Bulls and basketball shoe promoting king was crowned best of the best.Flash forward to present day London. LeBron James is still riding high after winning his first NBA title a few weeks back. Few outside Los Angeles (or maybe Cleveland) would argue the Miami star is not the current best of the best. Still, if Team USA finds itself in need of late-game offense, does James take control or does he and theother notable optionscede crunch time to 5-time NBA champ Kobe Bryant as they did during the 2008 gold medal run. Actually, Bryant didn't simply let the game come to him in China. Rather he took control in those rare moments when it looked the ship be sinking. Now, this is not my attempts to bring up the standard trope about James passing on game-winning looks. By all accounts, James - along with Durant and Carmelo Anthony - is running the scoring show. Will that pattern continue when the offense stagnates or the game is on the line and the Mamba is ready - and willing - to strike? Guess we have to defer on the potential deferring until the time comes, though for all we know, those watching the Team USA practice sessions already know the answer.At the buzzer All the talk has been about whether the U.S.s lack of size becomes an issue against Spains treetops, yet fellow Group A squad Argentina with Luis Scola and that GINOOOOOOOBILI fella scares me most. Should the U.S. have a game where its perimeter shooting disappears to the point assistance from Scotland Yard is required and Chandlers foul trouble woes becomes a Presidential campaign topic under the guise of national defense, then trouble looms against a confident and veteran squad (same goes for a meeting with Spain). Do I fear such a scenario? A little, especially since there are certain aspects of the roster makeup that don't jive with how I wouldput the pieces together(think more NBA team than All-Star squad). But not enough to pass on saying we will soon live in a world where LeBron wins the NBA title and Olympic gold in the same year. After writing that sentence, I can't wait for the Olympics to end and the NBA season to beginso I can get back to rooting against him.

Quick Links

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!