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Morning tip: Injuries force Wittman to abandon 'old school'

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Morning tip: Injuries force Wittman to abandon 'old school'

Think the game earlier in the week against the Cleveland Cavaliers looked unusual for the Wizards, with 6-7 Jared Dudley playing center to take advantage of Kevin Love? It grew more strange Friday when Otto Porter played there in the second half, Garrett Temple logged time as a power forward while John Wall shifted to small forward.

Both games produced victories, with the Wizards (8-9) even more depleted by injuries to frontline players Nene (calf), Drew Gooden (calf),  Kris Humphries (ankle) and Marcin Gortat not available (personal leave).

"I told them at a 6-foot-5 and under league we’d be pretty good," coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to edge the Suns 109-106. "Even with that, that’s the most points we’ve had in the paint all year. Fifty."

A frequent, and fair, criticism of Wittman is that he can be stubborn. That's probably true of anyone who played for the legendary Bobby Knight.

"Witt’s old school. He rarely ever changes anything. He’s more of a two big offense guy, go in then post, having points in the paint, that’s what he’s all about, and shooting threes," said Bradley Beal, who exploded in the second half of 24 of his 34 points. "This is the total opposite but that’s just the way the game’s transforming and that’s the makeup of our team, too. It just shows how disciplined we can be, how versatile we can be as well."

Dudley started at power forward but when the third quarter tipped he was on the bench while Temple took his spot. Wittman felt like Dudley was overextended playing 17 minutes in the first half and wanted him fresh for the fourth.

"I pride myself in my versatility. Jared Dudley made a comment after shootaround, ‘Temp, man , get ready to play some four tonight,'" said Temple, who rattled Eric Bledsoe on the perimeter in the first half and clashed with Markieff Morris on the low block in the fourth. "We were laughing about it but it actually came to fruition. The small lineup worked out for us. We did a good job of playing hard and talking, boxing out. We outrebounded (them) even though we had such a small lineup on there."

Wall gave way to Ramon Sessions as the primary ball-handler. 

"I wouldn’t have believed I’d be playing the three position," Wall said. "It’s an opportunity to get in there and rebound more. When you get the opportunity to rebound you just push it. Certain teams want to have certain players matched up against a certain person. When they’re missing shots and you pushing the pace its hard to find (him)."

What makes these lineups so successful? In Cleveland, the Wizards stretched a three-point lead in the second quarter to 10 in 2:34. They played a seven-minute stretch of the fourth of that game with the same lineup, with Dudley in the middle, to compensate for Gortat being saddle with foul trouble. They make up for their lack of size with quickness and recovering to help. It puts pressure on the offense to make the right reads. They front the post and bring help from the weakside. It becomes a matter of who blinks first.

"When we had that five out there that’s a great group of defensive guys that knows how to communicate and talk," Wall said of Sessions, Beal, Temple and Porter. "It’s kind of easy when you know you’re talking early. We’re switching this. We already talked about it so you know when the pick-and-roll coming you don’t have to worry about a certain call being called or you getting beat off the dribble. You already know what we want to do."

When injuries aren't an issue and Wittman's team is struggling, will he remember these times and junk up his rotation? 

"I loved it. Sometimes I think we get caught up into adjusting to other teams," Beal said. "We need to make them adjust to us. I think we did that."

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by Nick Ashooh and Stefon Marquis to talk NBA Draft. 

They broke down five prospects and their potential fit with the Wizards: Moe Wagner of Michigan, Michael Porter, Jr. of Missouri, Grayson Allen of Duke, Collin Sexton of Alabama and Omari Spellman of Villanova.

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!

MORE WIZARDS COVERAGE: