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Howard barely involved in Rockets offense against Wizards

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Howard barely involved in Rockets offense against Wizards

The Rockets had just beaten the Wizards 109-103 after a dramatic fourth quarter, but Houston center Dwight Howard would hardly make eye-contact with anyone in the locker room. 

Howard, who turned 30 the day before, finished with 4 points and 9 rebounds -- not a stellar outing for a player whose career average is 18 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. 

He was especially quiet on offense, hitting one of four attempts in 27 minutes. 

The reason is obvious: Howard wasn't very involved in the Rockets' offensive game plan. 

They favored small lineups of shooters to score on the perimeter and keep pace with the Wizards. For example, they put four guards on the floor at one point in the night.

That philosophy leaves Howard with a more circumscribed role these days. 

After the game, Houston's interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hinted at the rather conservative plan for his center.

"It's important that Dwight [Howard] serves his role to the fullest," he said before praising Howard's defensive plays down the stretch. "Dwight knows how to impact winning in a bunch of different ways. He's not a guy who has to score the basketball to be effective."

But Bickerstaff acknowledged that the way he's used Howard hasn't helped his scoring.

"I do believe it's hard for him right now to catch a rhythm in these back-to-back games playing only in four minute stints. We're trying to extend when we can have him, so we're playing him in shorter stints and for guys that's difficult."

Howard more or less agreed once he was ready to speak to reporters. 

"Yeah, it is [hard]. But I just try to do whatever I can while I'm out there and not focus on how long I'm out there." 

When asked about his team's ability to score without him taking many shots, Howard was wary.

"I don't think that's going to be good for us later on in the season, especially come playoff time, but we just got to get better at playing inside-out," he said. "That'll make it easier for the guards to get those 3s off and they won't have to work as hard." 

Bickerstaff closed his comments by reasserting how important Howard is to the team. 

"So as long as he knows [his role], and he understands how important he is to us and his teammates let him know how important he is to our success, I think he's confident that he'll go out and do what he has to do to help us win."

We'll see how Howard takes that message. 

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards fizzle late in 109-103 loss to Rockets

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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