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Kelly Oubre finally performs up to par in Wizards' win


Kelly Oubre finally performs up to par in Wizards' win

PHILADELPHIA -- The first free throw caught the front of the rim, and it turned over for Kelly Oubre's first point. Then the next two, after he was fouled on a three-point attempt, swished and he was on his way. Thirteen points later, he was the Wizards' leading scorer in a 127-118 victory against the 76ers on Friday.

"Coach will tell you, I still was messing all the plays up," said Oubre, who shot 3-for-4 from the field and 9 of 11 from the foul line. "I'm still learning but I'm definitely trying to make sure my defense is more exuberant and it shows more so than my offense because my defense will lead to my offense. That was more of my scheme going into the game."

Oubre had a near steal late in the first quarter. He deflected a pass out of bounds. He then stripped J.P. Tokoto and was fouled on the drive in transition. Then came the open three-point shot to start the second quarter and Oubre, who was 1-for-10 in the two exhibitions he'd played in before Friday, looked the part of a No. 15 overall draft pick who the Wizards traded up to acquire. This was his first field goal against an NBA team, actually, because his only make had come vs. a Brazilian club.

"My teammates did a good job of helping me feel comfortable out there with all the plays and defensive schemes," Oubre, 19 said. "Everything you saw is what I'm trying to do. Plus more. I felt more comfortable out there. Smooth."

In addition to his team-high 16 points, Oubre had three steals and three rebounds in 26 minutes. He put the ball on the floor repeatedly to force the action which led to all the foul shots. Coach Randy Wittman had to go to him late in the fourth quarter to play some at power forward because the Sixers went so small.

"Played good," said Wittman, who started the third quarter with Oubre at small forward because Otto Porter tweaked his left ankle and was held out. "Played aggressive. We went so small at the end it's kind of unfair to him. He's trying to learn one position and being put in that (power forward spot), I thought he played aggressive."

RELATED: Five takeaways from the Wizards 127-118 win

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft.