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Morning tip: Otto Porter's strongest competition for Most Improved Player in NBA

Morning tip: Otto Porter's strongest competition for Most Improved Player in NBA

A career season is being posted by Otto Porter, and it couldn't come at a better time with him in a contract year going into this summer. He'll be on the short list of players vying for the Most Improved Player award when the 2016-17 regular season ends. 

"Anytime he shoots and misses, we're surprised," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said, after Porter led them with 21 points by shooting 5 of 7 from three-point range in a 112-86 win over the Atlatnat Hawks on Friday.

Porter already has eight double-doubles -- three more than his total in three previous seasons since he was the No. 3 overall pick in 2013. 

Porter is shooting 45.6% from three which leads the NBA, and contibuting 14.4 pointrs on 53.5% shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals. All are career-highs. But he's not necessarily the leader of the pack. 

Clint Capela (Rockets): The center took over for Dwight Howard and has been a difficult matchup for some. His stats are modoest, 11.7 points on 62.4% shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, He's doing it all in just 23.1 minutes per game.

Harrison Barnes (Mavs): In starring role in his first season in Dallas, the forward has gone from 11.7 points per game with Golden State to 20.4. The counter-argument for Barnes is his team's record.

Ruby Gobert (Jazz): The big man was an All-Star consideration with 12.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks, and defensively he has been key to their resurgence as a likely playoff team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): The first-time All-Star has gone from 16.9 points to 23.4 His. 8.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game also are career-highs. 

Porter's toughest competition will be Antetokounmpo and Gobert. If the Wizards hold to form as a winning team, that could prove the difference with Barnes. But Antetokounmpo probably is the one to beat because he's more popular (and on all the highlight reels). Last year, C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers won the recognition as the Most Improved Player.

 

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NBA, NBAPA agree to move up start of free agency by six hours

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NBA, NBAPA agree to move up start of free agency by six hours

The Woj bombs are gonna start dropping a little earlier this year. 

The NBA and the NBA Players Association announced Friday that the two parties have agreed to move up the start of free agency by six hours. Teams can now begin negotiating with free agents at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 instead of having to wait until 12:01 ET on July 1. 

The move ensures fans -- and eternally grateful media members -- don't have to stay up until midnight waiting for the madness that is NBA free agency to begin. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports put it, this is "quite possibly the best thing to happen with NBA free agency in years!" 

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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but were swept by the Seattle Storm in the championship series.

Elle Delle Donne -- who was recently named in WNBA.com's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP -- is back for her third season in Washington.

Though she is out for the opener, Delle Donne believes the team is ready to make another run at the title thanks to the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

Earlier Friday, the Mystics announced their final 12-woman roster for the 2019 season. Delle Donne and guard Kristi Toliver headline a team that includes nine returners from the 2018 team, as well as Meesseman, who played for the Mystics from 2013-17 but sat out in 2018 to focus on playing for the Belgian national team. The final roster spots went to WNBA rookies Kiara Leslie and Kim Mestdagh.

According to ESPN, the Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces are the favorites to win the championship this season.

The WNBA's 23rd season kicks of Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Atlanta Dream host the Dallas Wings.

MYSTICS VS. SUN HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Mystics vs. Connecticut Sun, Regular Season Game 1

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Live Stream: You can live stream on WNBA's League Pass website by signing up for a free trial

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.

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