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Film study: How Kelly Oubre can be an impact player until his offense catches up

Film study: How Kelly Oubre can be an impact player until his offense catches up

The first double-double of Kelly Oubre's career came after he was quickly yanked from the previous game, a loss vs. the San Antonio Spurs.

The second-year forward, however, was a spark from the moment he took the court in an overtime win over the Sacramento Kings, and coach Scott Brooks might finally be able to depend on him as Otto Porter's backup. 

Oubre has teetered between erratic and dependable. Athletically, he's exactly what the Wizards need. Mentally, he can be hit or miss when he enters a game from the bench. And considering how well Porter is playing, it can be difficult to believe that the starting small forward spot was ever an open competition in training camp. 

"He's buying into what we need him to do. We need him to be this high-energy guy that he is," said Markieff Morris, the starting power forward, about Oubre.

"Dunk the basketball, run the floor, play defense. That's his role on the team. We need as much energy as possible from him because he's one of those type of guys"


Brooks was fed up with Oubre blowing a defensive assignment by getting beat on a backdoor cut by the aged Pau Gasol in that loss to the Spurs. He played three minutes and never returned. Oubre logged 24 minutes vs. the Kings, one fewer than his season-high that also came in a similar performance he had in a win over the Phoenix Suns.

How good was Oubre?

He was exceptionally good:

Position defense without reaching is what works here. Omri Casspi is trying to dribble into the lane but is denied. Oubre bodies him up early and prevents him from turning the corner or squaring up for a shot. By playing disciplined individual defense, it allows Bradley Beal to stay in range of Garrett Temple while reaching in to deflect the ball in the passing lane. The result here is a forced shot to beat the shot clock that's errant.

Rudy Gay's first instinct is to shoot. So is his next instinct after he's denied. Oubre takes away the middle of the floor here, too, forcing Gay to take a difficult and contested fall-away shot. He misses but is able to get his own rebound for the bucket. More help to gang rebound by teammates might've salvaged this effort.

This play ended with a foul that had nothing to do with Oubre. He's alert and doesn't allow Darren Collison's cross screen to separate him from Gay. And pushes him out of his preferred position so he can't set for the post up too deep. 

DeMarcus Cousins' lax help coverage allows this to work so well. Oubre doesn't panic on the closeout by Ty Lawson. He also doesn't do the predictable baseline drive to try to finish at the rim in traffic.

Instead, Oubre accepts the screen from Morris and reads it well. Cousins is in no-man's land. He doesn't trap the ball to help Lawson. He doesn't bump down on the roll man, Morris, to prevent a rim run. Oubre makes a pocket pass that hits his man in stride perfectly to force a foul. Oubre's tendency in this situation has been to shoot no matter what. This is a read and react.

Oubre stays connected to Casspi, going over the screen to short cut it. Though he catches the entry pass, Casspi isn't in position to score. Oubre takes away the look immediately and moves with his feet -- he doesn't reach -- and contests the shot at the top. Casspi is bothered by it and short.

The ball pressure on Gay is what's required on the perimeter at all times. It forces the offense to start farther out from the rim, erodes time on the shot clock and usually results in a lower-percentage look that can be rushed. Oubre gets over the screen attempt by Kosta Koufas and never gives Gay an opportunity to turn any corners.

Again, Oubre doesn't reach-in for a cheap foul to bail him out.

This is an example of how a player can impact a game positively and make his team better without scoring.


Oubre had 10 points and 10 rebounds but none of these highlights involve a made basket. Only one is from the offensive side. Any scoring he does on top of this for the Wizards will be considered icing on the cake. 

This is the kind of dirty work that Oubre will be judged by until he's ready for more responsibility.

If he does it, Brooks will keep him on the court.

If he doesn't do it, Oubre knows what will happen. Brooks may be a players' coach, but he won't hesitate to put him on the bench like he did in the loss to the Spurs. And he won't hold a grudge against a player for having a bad game by not giving him a chance to redeem himself, either. 

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

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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.


- 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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