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Morning tip: Like everyone else, Temple shines with John Wall


Morning tip: Like everyone else, Temple shines with John Wall

The last two games for the Wizards may not have been winnable without Garrett Temple's outbursts. He's on the roster because of his defense but has evolved into a better scorer and three-point shooter in a pinch.

Tonight, he will have to help carry the load on a perimeter that has been hit with injuries to Bradley Beal, Gary Neal and Otto Porter when the Memphis Grizzlies come to Verizon Center (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

John Wall, as he was when Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza had career seasons, is the set-up man. He had a career-high 19 assists in Monday's 113-99 win vs. the Sacramento Kings. Temple posted a career-high 23 points two nights after first accomplishing the feat with 21 in a 109-101 win vs. the Charlotte Hornets. And despite a seven-man rotation, the quicker pace wasn't abandoned. It assisted Temple getting out in transition for easy baskets.

"It's John Wall so guys are going to key on him. Things as little as him getting the rebound and pushing it, guys looking at him and he's able to kick it up to me for a one- or two-dribble layup," said Temple, who scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter with Sacramento as the Wizards broke open a score that was tied at 84. "We understand they're going to key on John. I'm going to be sitting in the corner, spaced out and be ready to shoot the ball. With the second unit we don't have a guy to key on so guys have to try to create offense for themselves. When you have John it's easier to play off him."

This is true for just about anybody in the NBA, be it Temple or a rookie like Kelly Oubre. Play with better creators and shots will come easier. Temple is 7 of 13 from three-point range in the last two games. After shooting 37.5% from long range last season, he has dipped to 31%. His 6.3 points per game average is a career-high.

It doesn't matter if Temple plays 42 minutes or spot minutes like he did to begin the season. The 6-6 shooting guard is always prepared and doesn't complain about his role. He also does the dirty work that doesn't get credited in a boxscore, and he combines with Wall to make a formidable defensive tandem up top. 

"Temp didn't play that many minutes before. Temp is a hard-working, hustle player whose now getting his time and showing you that he should play more," said Jared Dudley, in his first year in Washington. "We have to be a scrappy-type team. We're not a pretty team where you know we're going to throw these lobs and stuff like that. We have to be able to get charges, throw-aheads, get us to the free throw line is crucial. Temp, I keep saying his name, is providing a huge lift for us."

Praise like that for Temple is common in the locker room. He plays for the league minimum, just over $1 million for a veteran of his experience. He's what's called a "glue guy," a sturdy ingredient required to hold the other parts together. 

"When he’s in the starting lineup he’s going to get easy shots. He’s going to get the ball in transition," Wall said. "He doesn’t have to be the main scorer and guys are not worrying about him as much. That’s great for us because he’s able to lock down guys on the other end and also make open shots. With the second unit it’s a situation where he’s not getting those open looks or having those opportunities to attack as much. When a lot of guys are keying in on me in the pick-and-roll, he’s able to shoot them with confidence."

A favorite of coach Randy Wittman, Temple heard his message loud and clear.

"Witt said before last game, come out thinking this is going to be the best game you ever played  and I’ve done that two games in a row. I had 21 last game," Temple said. "We needed it. With Gary Neal being out I needed to score, be a little more aggressive.

"I haven’t been shooting the ball great this year. Jared has been tremendous. But John is John. He’s going to create so much they’re going to stick to him especially since we’re so depleted. We just got to continue to be ready to shoot. Maybe the next few games we might be able to open up that paint a little bit more. … No way they’re going to continue to stay out with us with John creating havoc the way he is." 

RELATED: Add a bone spur to John Wall's list of injuries





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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

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