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DeJuan Blair predicts 'great year' ahead with Wizards


DeJuan Blair predicts 'great year' ahead with Wizards

PHILADELPHIA -- A smile on the face of DeJuan Blair comes as often as a solar eclipse. It certainly never made an appearance last season with the Wizards, but he's confident enough to predict a much better 2015-16.

"It's going to be a great year, man," Blair said after posting 15 points and seven rebounds in the Wizards' 127-118 victory vs. the 76ers on Friday night. "That's my goal."

By default it'll be an improvement for him over 2014-15. Blair appeared in a career-low 29 games. He sat in street clothes during the playoffs because he was inactive. He was out of shape. He pouted. He never could work his way into coach Randy Wittman's good graces. But with Kevin Seraphin gone and Nene likely to be in and out of the lineup with aches and pains, Blair will have more chances like this. And it helps that he lost 30 pounds coming into training camp.

"This is probably the best I looked since I've been in the league, for real," Blair said after playing in his just second preseason game and heading into his third tonight at the Milwaukee Bucks. "It's time to switch it up a little bit, trying to better myself in every way.

"It's my body (that's the difference). Last year was a big wake-up call coming from Dallas, went from playing in the playoffs to not playing at all ... This year I worked all over the summer."

Unlike when he had 12 points in six minutes of mop-up duty vs. the Sixers two weeks ago, Blair came off the bench early with Nene sitting out because of a sore right calf. 

He was light on his feet, getting to the rim, finishing reverse layups, launching the one-hand floater, catching difficult passes in traffic and making nifty touch passes of his own.

"Both games he's played in, I thought he's been really good," Wittman said. "Really effective being a big body, rolling to the basket. He's got any uncanny soft touch on his in-between game if doesn't get all the way there."

To keep up with the new way they're playing, pushing the ball at every chance to heighten the pace and possessions, Blair has to remain fit to play. His 25 minutes on the court Friday were his most in any appearance for the Wizards, preseason or regular season.

"It's something that I just got to get used to. But I'm ready though," Blair said. "I'm not far away. I'm just trying to work hard, get in the best shape I can. It's going to be a great season."

[RELATED: Wall gets legendary praise for off-court charity work]

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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