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Kelly Oubre, Ian Mahinmi may be keys to helping Wizards snap out of defensive funk

Kelly Oubre, Ian Mahinmi may be keys to helping Wizards snap out of defensive funk

With the Wizards struggling defensively coming out of the All-Star break, it was perhaps inevitable that head coach Scott Brooks would eventually turn to second-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. for a spark. Though Oubre's minutes had taken a hit since the trade for Bojan Bogdanovic, Oubre at times this season has been one of their best defensive players, a matchup nightmare with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and the versatility of a Michael Bay-dreamt Transformer.

On Wednesday night, with the Wizards' desperately seeking a win after losing four of five for the first time since November, Oubre stepped up in the opportunity he was given and wreaked havoc like Brooks knows he can. That even included guarding point guard Dennis Schroder at times.

"Another good game defensively. I like how he's piggy-backing game after game," Brooks said. "He's had four games of being really locked in defensively. He can keep doing it. With Kelly, it's just focusing in and being really good at that role. The game rewards him by doing that. He gets the fastbreak dunk, he makes the wide open three. But it's all predicated on the defensive end."

Oubre kept it simple. In his 18 minutes he grabbed five rebounds, hit an open three-pointer and did a lot of things that don't show up on the boxscore. Like, the turnover he forced on Schroder in the second quarter. Oubre picked him up at halfcourt and harrassed Schroder all the way to the baseline where he lost the ball out of bounds.

"He needs to come in and play defense," guard John Wall said of Oubre. "That's his job, to be a lockdown defender for us, make spot-up threes and do a good job of cutting to the basket when he can for us. When he does that, when he understands is role, he's going to be an X-factor for us in the playoffs."

[RELATED: State of the Wizards: Defensive woes, by the numbers]

Oubre spoke recently with CSN about how he hit a wall before the All-Star break, how he was mentally and physically worn out. That coincided with the trade for Bogdanovic and after averaging 20.7 minutes through his first 53 games this season, he saw just 11.7 minutes per night in the next 11 games out of the break. Oubre had bottomed out with just :39 seconds of run against the Timberwolves a DNP against the Mavericks last week.

Oubre has seen 19.5 minutes on average in the four games since, though, and appears to be earning back the trust of the Wizards' coaching staff. He along with backup center Ian Mahinmi, who logged an impressive +22 rating and had 10 rebounds in 20 minutes against the Hawks, provide Brooks some defensive weapons off the bench. Jason Smith, who had two blocks and four rebounds in 15 minutes vs. Atlanta, can be included in that mix.

"[Ian] brings us a presence that we've been missing all season," Wall said.

There were still some moments on Wednesday where the Wizards looked out of sorts defensively, but they finished the night with a 104-100 win over a team currently heading to the playoffs. And they held the Hawks to just 39.5 percent shooting. That was just the fifth time this season the Wizards have held a team to under 40 percent.

The Wizards need to get things in order defensively before their upcoming road trip and Wednesday night seemed like a step in the right direction.

[RELATED: Beal thinks Wizards got their swag back vs. Hawks]

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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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