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Markieff Morris on his slump after the All-Star break, looking ahead to first playoffs

Markieff Morris on his slump after the All-Star break, looking ahead to first playoffs

For some players, the first NBA playoff game they participate in is the first they have ever attended. Many players did not grow up around cities with NBA teams and others never made it to one for various reasons. 

Not Markieff Morris of the Wizards, who last year sat courtside for the Detroit Pistons' first round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was there to support his twin brother, Marcus, and even donned a No. 13 Pistons jersey in the crowd. To accessorize, he wore a hat with the initials F.O.E., or 'Family Over Everything.' 

This year it will be Markieff's turn to go to the playoffs and participate for the first time in his six-year NBA career. He's thrilled about the opportunity for himself, but also his family.

"I'm excited for my family," he said. "It would mean a lot. I got a chance to watch my brother play in the playoffs last year for the first time. It was an unbelievable atmosphere and I was so happy for him. I just want to get out there and experience it with my family."

Morris, 27, remembers the atmosphere at The Palace of Auburn Hills last spring and is looking forward to a similar environment at the Verizon Center in just a few weeks.

"It was crazy, man. It was like being back at Kansas. It almost felt like I was playing," he said.

Morris and the Wizards have 11 games left before the playoffs begin and there are still plenty of things to sort out, both in terms of playoff seeding and within the team itself.  For Morris, he is trying to get back to being the player he was before the All-Star break.

In 25 games from Dec. 26 until the break, Morris averaged 17.2 points and eight rebounds on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from three. In the 14 games since returning, Morris has put up 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three.

That's a major difference and some of it has to do with Morris dealing with a sinus infection to varying degrees for weeks. 

"I have been sick. But sometimes you just have those bad games," Morris said. "My intensity hasn't changed. I'm still the same player. We've got a couple new guys. We've been trying to adjust those guys to the team. But other than that, I'm the same player with the same intensity. I'm just trying to get ready for the playoffs."

The Wizards can clinch a playoff spot on Friday night with a win over the Nets and a loss for the Pistons, who play the Magic. Pretty soon it will be official that Markieff is going to the playoffs for the first time.

[RELATED: John Wall questionable for Friday night's game vs. Brooklyn Nets]

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Nuggets select Michael Porter Jr. just one pick ahead of Wizards

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USA Today Sports

Nuggets select Michael Porter Jr. just one pick ahead of Wizards

So close yet so far.

The Washington Wizards fell just one pick short of selecting once-coveted top prospect Michael Porter Jr., who almost fell outside of the lottery in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

But the Denver Nuggets selected the forward with the No. 14 pick.

A back injury led to widespread concern throughout NBA front offices and, as a result, Porter Jr. had the draft’s biggest slide.

In his first game for Missouri, Porter Jr. left two minutes in with injury. He underwent back surgery and would return for the last two games of the season: an SEC tournament loss to Georgia and a first-round exit to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.

During the loss to FSU, Porter Jr. shot 4-of-12 with 16 points and 10 rebounds over 28 minutes. The 6-10 forward added three steals in the 67-54 loss.

Porter Jr. finished his freshman season averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds over just 17.7 minutes per game. He shot just 35 percent from the field.

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Wizards take Oregon's Troy Brown with No. 15 pick in 2018 NBA Draft

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Wizards take Oregon's Troy Brown with No. 15 pick in 2018 NBA Draft

The Wizards may have filled several needs in one pick by selecting Oregon's Troy Brown 15th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Brown, just 18 years old, plays both shooting guard and small forward. The Wizards need depth at both positions and Brown could give them insurance for Kelly Oubre, Jr., who is set to be a free agent after next season.

He also helps shore up shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. That will be extra important early in the 2018-19 season as Jodie Meeks is due to miss 19 games while serving a suspension.

Here's what you need to know about Brown...

Weight: 208
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: 33
2017/18 stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 44.4 FG%, 29.1 3PT%, 74.3 FT%

*Brown was a one-and-done player at Oregon who in his one NCAA season showed that he can do a lot of thing on the court. He played some at shooting guard, some at small forward and says he's comfortable at point guard as well, having played there plenty in the past. Brown could be a perfect for positionless basketball.

*He is an excellent rebounder for his position. Brown pulled in 6.2 boards per game and five times had 10 or more. One of those games, on Dec. 13 against Portland State, showed well how many ways Brown can affect a game. He had 10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, a block and a steal. Brown is also an adept passer. He prides himself on being able to set others up and has a knack for threading the needle in passing lanes.

*The biggest question for Brown is his shooting. He shot just 29.1 percent from the perimeter and 44.4 percent from the field. After his predraft workout with the Wizards, Brown blamed his percentage on shot selection. He is confident he can be a better shooter as his career goes on.

*Brown had a solid combine, measuring in over 6-foot-7 in shoes and with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. But his 33-inch max vertical leap was not great. Perhaps that will improve with time and through strength training.

*Brown's parents and sister were all college athletes and both of his parents were Nevada state correction officers. That latter fact may be the reason why Brown is mature beyond his years. Though he's 18 years old, he carries himself and handles the media as if he's a longtime NBA veteran.

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