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Morning tip: Wizards' options expand with Gortat's return

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Morning tip: Wizards' options expand with Gortat's return

Being connected as a unit is more important than the size of the parts. If the Wizards have learned anything since losing so much size in the low post, as Marcin Gortat is expected to return for tonight's game against the Houston Rockets, it's to communicate.

Sounds like it should be simple, but when they're having defensive lapses like they displayed in a 24-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this season they can look like the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We miss his size, his presence in the post," Bradley Beal, after the Wizards beat the Miami Heat 114-103 on Monday, about not having Gortat for the last three games. "At time same time we did a great job adjusting without him."

That's because with Otto Porter and Jared Dudley manning the middle during key stretches, including in fourth quarters. The perimeter players naturally are better connected with each other since they have more familiarity.

Plus, the Wizards (9-10) can switch everything defensively which minimizes confusion. While they're undersized and can get outrebounded like they were 50-31 in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks because of a big like Dirk Nowitzki who can play with his back to the basket to force double-teams to free up shooters, they can succeed in disrupting others like the Heat who don't have that sort of versatility with the one-dimensional Hassan Whiteside in the middle (37-34).

"No matter if Otto's at the five, J. Dud's at the five of if I'm at the five, we just go out there and play with heart and make sure that we're all together and we do it on the defensive end," Beal said. "We let our offense take care of itself."

Porter had a career-high 11 rebounds against Dallas and then topped that in Miami with 14. Playing smaller allows the Wizards to get up and down the court quicker and in better position to get long rebounds as the pace is revved up. 

Still, they need Gortat. If they'd had him, they might've beaten Dallas, an intelligent team that always has good ball movement to exploit mismatches. 

But if the chemistry starts to suffer on the defensive end, coach Randy Wittman now knows he can go to a lineup of four guards and a wing and win in the NBA. His team has done it twice -- on the road -- against two of the best teams in the East in the Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat.

"Guys are doing a great job of rebounding," said John Wall, a point guard who has played closer to the basket, too, to compensate. "Our guards are kind of big guards and we're doing all the talking and all the things we need to to make things happen for us."

RELATED: Gary Neal pays off most when Wizards deploy small lineups

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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:

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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!

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