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Morning tip: Lately, Wizards' bench ranks among top 10 in NBA

Morning tip: Lately, Wizards' bench ranks among top 10 in NBA

No matter how much the Wizards continue to win, this question -- "What about the bench?" -- will persist until the boxscore pops with gaudier numbers. But there's ample evidence beyond those raw numbers to suggest the bench is adequate if unspectacular.

Only 18 points were scored by the resereves in a 112-107 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Trey Burke had seven points and five assists in 14 minutes. Jason Smith had six points and two rebounds in 17. But the best player was Tomas Satoransky who produced less in terms of the stats with four points and one assist in 13 minutes. 

Satoransky didn't attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter but he played seven minutes. At 6-7, his length and ability to stay in front of Rodney Stuckey aided in keeping the Pacers' guards from getting clean looks at the rim. He deflected an entry pass from Stuckey and then forced him into a traveling violation because of his ball puressure midway through the fourth. 

Then Satoransky fought through Al Jefferson's screen and stayed on Monta Ellis' right hand to contest his errant jumper with 6:59 left. 

"I thought this was one of his best games," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Satoransky. "He played solid. ... He handled the ball under pressure which is something he's been working on. He's been improving defensively. He's getting better. 

[RELATED: Wizards stockpiling wins in East for tiebreaker edge]

Ian Mahinmi's second consecutive game he played 13 minutes and didn't score. But to start the fourth he created a turnover with his ball pressure on Al Jefferson leading to an errant pass and blocking his drive to the rim. Both plays put the Wizards in transition to and led to four free throw attempts. It's a sign of what his understated impact can be when he's at optimum health since his knee procedures.

The way to judge the second unit -- currently Trey Burke, Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Jason Smith and Mahinmi -- is how they play defensively first. Brooks will mix and match them with starters at times, too, but their offense will have to be jump-started on the other end of the floor.

Going into the Indiana game, the stats told a similar story about the reserves. And again, Mahinmi had only played once so the full impact of his presence still is to be determined. They could end up much better. 

The net rating is determined by subtracting the defensive points allowed per 100 possessions by the Wizards' reserves from offensive points scored per 100 by them.   

Previous 25 games (19-6):  Plus-1.2 points per 100 possessions. 9th best net rating in NBA

Previous 18 Games (15-3): Plus-3.7 per 100 possessions. 8th best net rating in NBA  

Previous 10 Games (8-2): Plus-9.3 per 100 possessions. 3rd best net rating in NBA

While there are benches in the NBA that play more minutes and score more points, they're not neessarily as responsible as this group on defense. Now that Brooks has developed one of the best starting fives in the league, he's figuring out how to get more out of his reserves. 

[RELATED: Markieff Morris taxes defenses that fail to account for him]

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



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Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?