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Morning tip: Contrasting styles await Wizards in 2nd round


Morning tip: Contrasting styles await Wizards in 2nd round

The more time the Wizards have to collect themselves and recharge, it'll likely be for the better as they wait for their second-round opponent which will be the Atlanta Hawks or Brooklyn Nets.

"Whoever comes out of that series, we can't sit here and say who do we want," said Drew Gooden. "We never played that game. We didn't play that game last year. Whoever it's going to be we're going to prepare for that opponent."

The Wizards went through the entire playbook in their first practice Tuesday after eliminating the Toronto Raptors in four games over the weekend. They sacrificed a few victories and seeding to rest key starters, John Wall, Paul Pierce and Nene, in the last few weeks of the regular season. And they still have yet to unleash all of their weapons as Kris Humphries and Rasual Butler only appeared in garbage time of their final game vs. Toronto, Garrett Temple didn't appear at all because of a right hamstring strain and Kevin Seraphin went mostly unused in the final two games. 

Coach Randy Wittman has a lot of options to tinker lineups if necessary or throw 11th-hour wrinkles into his game plan. The Hawks and Nets, who'll got at least six games in their first-round series, won't have much time to prepare with Game 5 tonight and Game 6 on Friday. The second round would begin Sunday unless Game 7 is needed.

Last season, the Wizards were able to get rid of the Chicago Bulls in five games with Trevor Booker getting the playing time off the bench at power forward. In the next round vs. the Indiana Pacers, who had to go seven games in the first round, Wittman went with Gooden over Booker because he needed more size and outside shooting to open the floor for his backcourt. 

Brooklyn or Atlanta will force similar changes based on their personnel. The Nets have a true back-to-the-basket center in Brook Lopez. The Raptors are more similar to the Hawks in that they are very perimeter-oriented with shooters who can get hot quickly and pile on the offense. Their post players, however, are more versatile which is why the Hawks are the No. 1 seed in the East. 

"Like I told you guys coming down the stretch I didn't care if we played Toronto or Chicago," Wittman said of the 2014-15 regular season that ended with 46 wins and a No. 5 seed for the second year in a row. "I don't really get caught up in that. Either one of them poses its own problem. I don't think one is bigger than the other. Right now I want our guys to continue to focus on us, what we have to do. That's my whole message this week."

The preparation for Atlanta isn't easier because the Wizards just focused on Toronto's guard-heavy offense.

"It's two different teams," Gooden said. "You got to be aware who to double-team because when you swing it to their bigs they have Paul Millsap, Al Horford, those are bigs who can shoot or make plays with the basketball. It might be a different game plan."

MORE WIZARDS: Garrett Temple's return strengthens defense

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

Former NBA player J.J. Hickson faces charges of armed robbery after breaking into a home near Atlanta, stealing $100,000 from the house, and physically assaulting a teenager who was inside, authorities said Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hickson, who played eight seasons in the NBA with four teams before his brief appearance in Washington, is currently being held in Coweta County Jail without bond. 

He is currently affiliated with the Lebanese Basketball League but played 15 games with the Wizards during the 2015-16 season. Hickson averaged 4.6 ppg and scored a season-high 15 points against the Nets in the penultimate game of the regular season. He has not played professionally in the United States since.  Hickson played just one season at North Carolina State before being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 19 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Jimmy Yarbrough, the sheriff's spokesperson in Coweta, said that while at least two people were involved in the invasion, only Hickson is being held and charged.

According to authorities, Hickson entered through a side door, armed with a knife and his face and head covered. He was initially apprehended by another department and later transferred into the custody of Coweta County law enforcement. 

At this time in the investigation, very little detail is publicly available.

The teenage victim, whose name remains private, received medical treatment for several broken bones and is fortunately in good condition.