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Interesting rotation choices await Wittman in near future


Interesting rotation choices await Wittman in near future

The Washington Wizards welcomed Bradley Beal back to the lineup Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time since Dec. 9 -- and promptly lost Otto Porter with a hip injury. That's how things have gone much of the season and particularly the last seven weeks. Just when somebody returns, someone else takes a seat.

Yet at some point this season, in theory, coach Randy Wittman will have a deep array of options. That's when certain rotation decisions become rather interesting.

Since Nov. 27, Wittman hasn't many choices. Teams typically use 10-11 players and occasionally a dozen during regular season games. The late November meeting at the Boston Celtics was the last time Washington had 12 players available.

By the way, of the 15 players on a roster, teams can have 13 active. You might not realize that based on watching the Wizards. They haven't had a baker's dozen almost the entire season.

They certainly haven't had a full roster at the ready seeing as swingman Alan Anderson missed every game following offseason ankle surgery. Center Marcin Gortat (infection) and forward Kris Humphries (knee) joined Anderson on Wednesday's inactive list. We'll see if Porter becomes a candidate before Friday's game at Indiana.

Only John Wall, who's played through pain at times, and backup point guard Ramon Sessions have been in the lineup for all 37 games. Though Jared Dudley played every game since sitting out the season opener, it took some time before he shook off the rust after undergoing back surgery in July.

Beal returning against Milwaukee was important. Their leading scorer will need some time before ramping up -- he had 11 points over 23 minutes in Washington's 106-101 win.  Eventually he'll play in the 25-35 minute range most nights.


Yet even with Beal's limited minutes Wednesday, rookie Kelly Oubre appeared headed for a DNP-coach's decision after becoming a regular and occasional starter over the last month. Wittman used Porter, Garrett Temple, Beal and Gary Neal at the two wing positions. Then Porter goes out in the third quarter and Oubre eventually entered. Rave reviews followed. He "helped change [the game] with his activity at the defensive end," Wittman said.

Assuming Porter doesn't miss a game and Beal soon plays more, the lengthy rookie may not. His coach historically bypasses first-year players when a veteran option exists. Temple stepped up with all the injuries, turning into one of Washington's better two-players. Neal is one of the few on the roster who can get his own shot. This doesn't even factor in when Wittman goes with his two point guards together or Anderson's eventual appearance.

This post isn't about Oubre specifically, but rather pointing out there won't be room at the inn for all whenever the injury report becomes empty.

But let's say Wittman goes with Oubre in certain small ball looks - get the first round pick more experienced regardless - while still using Dudley as the primary stretch-4. If Gortat and Nene eat up the center minutes, then Humphries or Gooden are watching and possibly both.  

Regardless of how the coach wants to use his perimeter players, how many of the bigs does Wittman really want to use together? Gortat, Nene, Gooden and Humphries have all missed games over the last seven weeks and in such a sequence that Wittman often had only two available at a time. For a team thinking small ball, ball movement and up-tempo offense, that's been fine.

Gortat is much better playing alongside the 3-point shooting Dudley than a true power player. Just ask him. Nene's interior and passing presence must play assuming the Big Brazilian is cool with that on a given night. During the three-game winning streak, Nene's net rating (points per 100 possessions) is an impressive 29.2.

Humphries and Gooden can sink the 3-pointer and battle for boards. Defending opposing stretch-4's is a challenge and neither is a ball handler, but both are worthy of work.

When the Wizards are at their best, the ball is moving offensively and the defense forces turnovers, both of which help pick up the pace and get many players involved. Washington had seven players reach double digit scoring in each of the last two games. Assists and shooting percentages are up.

"They've been playing a little bit smaller so the ball has been moving a lot more," Bucks center Greg Monroe said. "They have a lot of shooters on the floor so the next pass is always to a shooter. It makes it tough for any defense."

Depending on the opponent, Wittman can mix and match with his lineups. Well, at least he'll be able to someday. The better teams can play different styles. Once healthy, the Wizards might able to do that. Simply having all available will allow Wall, Dudley and Nene more rest for the second half of the season.

Wittman will have many options. The fun part involves seeing which he chooses.

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2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

USA Today Sports

2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

The NBA officially announced a list of 20 players invited to the Green Room at the 2018 NBA Draft. Provided that all attend, here's a list of who'll be there.

  • Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Mikal Bridges, Villanova
  • Marvin Bagley III, Duke
  • Mohamed Bamba, Texas
  • Collin Sexton, Alabama
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State
  • Lonnie Walker IV, Miami
  • Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
  • Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech
  • Aaron Holiday, UCLA
  • Deandre Ayton, Arizona
  • Wendell Carter Jr., Duke
  • Luka Doncic, Slovenia
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
  • Kevin Knox, Kentucky
  • Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
  • Robert Williams, Texas A&M
  • Trae Young, Oklahoma
  • Chandler Hutchison, Boise State
  • Jerome Robinson, Boston College

There are two players each invited from Villanova, Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky.

The 2018 NBA Draft will be Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It will be broadcast on ESPN and streamed live on WatchESPN. The Wizards have Nos. 15 and 44 picks.


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The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario


The 2018 NBA Doomsday Mock Draft: A comical look at every team's worst-case scenario

The 2018 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 21 and once again provides a glimmer of hope for even the most downtrodden franchises.

The NBA Draft is where teams can prepare for the future; where teams can rebuild and reload.

But the NBA Draft is often a crapshoot. Teams waffle on taking the best fit versus the best available player. Teams often panic and rest on laurels of draft years past. Fans like to build draft stereotypes for individual franchises, and while a lot of that is stupid Internet conjecture, it's fun to talk about and is often some actual truth to it.

So what follows is a look at the Doomsday Mock Draft. What your favorite team is likely to do if all else fails, which it often does.

1. Phoenix Suns: A franchise center who spends his first contract working with the Suns' medical staff more than his teammates.

2. Sacramento Kings: Someone who won't be a member of the Kings by the time 2022 rolls around.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Someone that will make Dennis Schroder unhappy.

4. Memphis Grizzlies: A Mike Conley Jr. repair kit.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Not the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki.

6. Orlando Magic: A reach that won't pan out.

7. Chicago Bulls: Someone from Iowa State, probably.


9. New York Knicks: /inserts .GIF of Spike Lee looking disappointed/

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Another big man because HINKIE 4 LYFE.

11. Charlotte Hornets: A North Carolina Tar Heel.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: A playmate for the head coach's son.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan 2.0.

14. Denver Nuggets: Yet another athletic guard.

15. Washington Wizards: Nope. Not touching this one.

16. Phoenix Suns: Someone to pass Devon Booker the ball.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Wingspan. Nothing but wingspan.

18. San Antonio Spurs: One of the Space Jam villains who conveniently falls to the Spurs (See: Leonard, Kawhi. Anderson, Kyle. Murray, Dejounte)

19. Atlanta Hawks: Someone to replace Dennis Schroder.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Someone who Tom Thibideau can play 60 minutes of a 48-minute game.

21. Utah Jazz: A real glue guy. A gym rat. A high-motor guy. Intangibles. Grit. Moxie. 

22. Chicago Bulls: A two-way player who will ultimately get punched in the face by Bobby Portis.



25. Los Angeles Lakers: The subject of Lonzo Ball's next diss track.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: A pallet of knockoff burner phones.

27. Boston Celtics: A draft night trade for more draft picks they probably won't use.

28. Golden State Warriors: An unfairly good player.

29. Brooklyn Nets: An unfairly bad player.

30. Atlanta Hawks: We ran out of Dennis Schroder jokes.