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Film study: What leads to Wizards' leaky 3-point defense

Film study: What leads to Wizards' leaky 3-point defense

Increasingly, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are being put in favorable positions. I wrote, in part, about how they can make opposing defenses pay for their coverages when John Wall and Bradley Beal are on the ball.

But this look at how they can perform better is strictly about defense. Whatever their shortcomings down the stretch in losses to the Houstson Rockets and Dallas Mavericks on the offensive side, they allowed Eric Gordon, Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry to shoot out the lights. A lot of the looks were clean or came via late closeouts. These players combined to shoot 22-for-39 from three-point range, or 56.4 percent.

"Houston, in that third quarter, of the seven (threes) we gave up I want to say six of them were mistakes. We have to correct that," coach Scott Brooks said Thursday, before they play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. "Dallas was the same way. We knew going into the Dallas game they’re one of the league leaders in running the shot clock down to under six seconds before they get a shot and if you relax they’re going to burn you. That’s what happened. We have to do a better job. We have to stay focused. This game is about focus. It’s not about anything other than just being ready to execute the game plan every minute you’re on the court and we have not done a good job with that in the last game and maybe one quarter in Houston.”

There's ample evidence:

Exhibit A: It's unclear what Beal was thinking here, but he clearly lost track of Harris after running the baseline. He is confused who he's covering (should be Harris) and is keying in on Matthews. Both are lethal but the problem here is Kelly Oubre has Matthews in his sights, though he's not aggressively double-teaming Barnes as he tries to get his shot over the undersized Wall in the paint. Instead of trying to guess what Oubre is doing, Beal has to maintain discipline and stick with his man by trusting Oubre will do his job. Oubre has a 7-2 wingspan and can make the recovery to Matthews to contest if he sucks in too far on Barnes. Given Harris' hot hand, leaving him alone from the short corner is not an option. 

[RELATED: Can Morris and Gortat make opponents pay?]

Exhibit B: Under no circumstances should Curry be allowed to get this shot off. He not only does so, but there's no coverage. Porter tries to prevent the switch on Barnes' screen. Thornton initially goes the wrong direction to try to get over. Porter needed to use a contact show to slow down Curry coming off the screen which would give Thornton time to recover. He gets no contact on Curry to make him turn at a wider angle or throw off his rhythm. The confusion here is so pronounced between the two it's difficult to determine exactly what they were thinking the other was thinking. 

Exhibit C: What Porter was trying to do in Exhibit B, this is what he initially accomplishes as Curry and Barnes repeatedly reset the screen-roll action to force the switch. He stops Barnes' roll and prevents Curry from going back to his left to get the shot. He allows Thornton to recover. When Curry can't get his shot off he reverses field and goes back to the action. Porter doesn't get contact on the show and Curry reverses direction yet again. Thornton is stuck. He runs into Porter this time and it forces the switch. Barnes now has the matchup he wants, backs down the smaller defender and gets the fallaway jumper from his sweet spot. For some players this is a difficult shot. Not for Barnes.

Exhibit D: In order for Beal to be in better help position to get to Curry, he had to be level on the flare screen by Dwight Powell that picks off Wall and prevents a contest. Beal does his best to challenge but with a shooter like Curry that's too much separation. He needed to be up higher, rely on the help behind him and force the ball to Powell who then would have the pressure  of making the shot on the move or the right read. 

Exhibit E: When Porter decides to swtich it's too late. He gets sucked in too deep as Matthews fills the opposite corner with Barnes on this floppy action. Beal appears to be in good position to switch -- Marcin Gortat points out where to go -- but he gets pinned under Salah Mejri's screen.

Exhibit F: Porter simply leaves Barnes, similar to how Beal left Harris uncovered in the first example. All it takes is the extra pass from Matthews, who now is being closed out by two Wizards, for the open three for Barnes. Beal tries to cover for Porter's mistake but it's too late.

Exhibit G: This was from two games ago in Houstson. Oubre immediately switches to take away Gordon's look, but Thornton didn't get the memo. He continues to fight to get back to Gordon and totally forgets about Trevor Ariza, who is left wide open in his sweet spot for the short corner three. 

Exhibit H: Nene is driving and Gortat is in position to contest the 7-footer at the rim. Nene isn't a strong finisher on the move, though he did have it going in this game. There was no reason for Oubre to suck in to take away a possible difficult two-point shot at the expense of leaving Gordon wide open for a three-point shot.

[RELATED: Tough road to All-Star Game for Wizards' backcourt]

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 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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