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Morning tip: Dudley pushes Wizards for more playing time

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Morning tip: Dudley pushes Wizards for more playing time

The big game aside for Kris Humphries last week, when he made a career-high five three-point shots, it could be time for Jared Dudley to make his way into the starting lineup as the "stretch" power forward. Or at the very least, play more minutes off the bench.

Humphries didn't score in 17 minutes Saturday (only four in the second half), missing all seven shots. When the Wizards (6-4) erased an 11-point deficit in the third quarter, they did it with Dudley on the floor (16 minutes in second half).

Good things tend to happen when he's out there -- much like fellow reserves Nene and Garrett Temple -- despite a modest stat line of nine points on 3 of 4 shooting, one rebound and one steal in 27 minutes. He makes the right rotations on defense, the right reads on where to go with the ball and the proper box-outs to clear the path of a teammate to get the ball.

After a bad pass from Dudley to Marcin Gortat led to a three-pointer for Ersan Ilyasova for a 13-0 run and a 69-58 lead for Detroit, everything changed.

Alongside Nene, Ramon Sessions, Temple and Otto Porter, Dudley has returned from lower back surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back in July. He's averaging 21.7 minutes, but given how effective he continues to be late in games he may be a reserve in name only:

  • Dudley sets a screen on Reggie Jackson, pops outside the arc and buried a three over Ilyasova.

  • On the next possession, switches off Ilyasova, who set a back screen on Porter, and set up in front of the rim to stop Andre Drummond's roll to the basket after he'd set a screen on Sessions. It prevented a clean catch and finish by the Pistons' center who was held six rebounds under his season average. Ilyasova instead turned over the ball.

  • Down 73-66, Porter missed on a drive to the basket. Drummond grabbed the rebound and tried to make a long outlet to Jackson. Dudley, with his back to Drummond and running back on defense, looked up at the last second and deflected it. Before the ball bounced out, Dudley dove into the scorer's table to tap it back to Sessions who stepped into an open three-point shot. The deficit was down to 73-69.

  • Stanley Johnson's three rimmed out, and Dudley was right there to box out Anthony Tolliver and keep him off the glass. Dudley didn't get the ball, but it allowed Nene to get the rebound. 

  • Anticipating that Johnson was going to attack Sessions off the dribble as Tolliver tried to set a high screen, Dudley didn't hesitate to show over the top. He immediately jumped out to force Johnson to retreat on two occasions to take away Detroit's advantage to advance the ball. The edge Johnson had on Sessions is negated.

  • Sessions passes it across the floor as he brings the ball up the floor to Dudley, who blows by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for the layup and just as important, draw Drummond's fourth foul. He hit the foul shot to complete the three-point play for a 74-73 lead for Washington.

  • Spencer Dinwiddie brings the ball up and Tolliver tries to set a screen on Porter. Dudley, again, comes up quickly before any pick can be set to step the progress of the ball as he uses the sideline as an extra defender. When Dinwiddie backs out the ball -- and Dudley runs over to relocate Tolliver at the top of the key -- he tries to go forward down the sideline again. This time, Nene's man Aron Baynes tries to set the screen. Nene traps the ball on the sideline with Porter. It forces a skip pass to the weakside and a turnover by Detroit. Dudley won't get credit in a boxscore for this either, but his energy put this sequence in motion.

The Wizards entered the fourth quarter ahead 75-73 and would win their third game in a row. Dudley seems more comfortable than Humphries especially on the defensive end, but based on coach Randy Wittman's history it's unlikely he'd make a change anytime soon with the results being favorable.

The chemistry of the second unit is there and moving Humphries to it probably wouldn't work as well with Nene. What could be more likely is if Humphries doesn't have it going like when he scored a season-high 23 points Nov. 14, Dudley will earn a greater share of the minutes.

Drew Gooden is out of the rotation as a result of Dudley just as Temple's play has chewed into time originally slated for Gary Neal. The Wizards have options and a degree of unpredictability that will increase with Alan Anderson's eventual return. If a particular lineup or matchup isn't working, the ability to change and get results is the key to winning over 82 games.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards squeeze by Pistons 97-95: Five takeaways

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Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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