Wizards

Quick Links

Morning tip: Wizards putting too much pressure on themselves? Bradley Beal thinks so

Morning tip: Wizards putting too much pressure on themselves? Bradley Beal thinks so

The Wizards may be in a tough spot going down the stretch run of the regular season, but it's really not that much pressure for a team that didn't have high expectations placed on them externally coming into the season.

Despite a 2-8 start, here they are, a virtual lock for a top 4 seed in the East playoffs and a good chance to hold on to the third spot. 

They looked flat for most of Wednesday's 104-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks, coming back from a 14-point deficit to win at the Verizon Center with one more home game before emarking on their toughest road stretch. But the Wizards can't lose sight of the fact that they're in an enviable position and aren't far from contending with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers above them. 

"It was just probably our swag," said Bradley Beal, who scored a team-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds as he described the difference in their fourth-quarter play. "We just started having fun. I felt like we were just tense with everything. We were afraid to make mistakes. We were passing up open shots, making too many passes. ... We were kind of all over the place in the first half. We just got back to having fun, getting after it on defense and of course that was leading us to easy buckets in transition."

Through three quarters, the Wizards (43-28) were shooting 25 of 69, or 36.2%. In the final 12 minutes, Markieff Morris made 4 of 5, Beal 3 of 4 and Kelly Oubre 2 of 3. 

They were 13 of 26, or 50%, in a 37-point fourth. Morris had consecutive baskets, the latter a reverse layup, when the Wizards pulled away at the mid-point. Beal had a steal that led to his own three-pointer in transition. 

John Wall blocked a jumper by Dennis Schroder and assisted to Beal in transition for a dunk. Wall completed a three-point play when he was fouled on a drive and then had a steal that led to his own dunk. 

When the flurry was over, the Wizards were up 91-80.

The Hawks were held to 34 of 86 shooting, or 39.5%. But the Wizards still will have to be better than this on both ends after Friday's home game vs. the Brooklyn Nets. 

They play at the Cavs on Saturday and then have challenging matchups with the L.A. Clippers, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. The only soft touch on the trip is vs. the L.A. Lakers. 

Morris and Marcin Gortat also have to be more involved early for the dynamic offensive team they've been most of the season to return. While Gortat avoided foul trouble in this game, he never was totally in sync offensively and played 28 minutes. Morris picked up his third foul just seconds into the third quarter.

"We did a great job defensively, except for them making some tough threes at the end," Wall said. "We just have to do a better job of protecting the paint and if they do drive not foul them."

[RELATED: Wizards' Brooks has little sympathy in NBA rest debate]

Quick Links

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

usatsi_10781447.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ian Mahinmi

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Ian Mahinmi's season...

Player: Ian Mahinmi

Position: Center

Age: 31

2017-18 salary: $15.9 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.9 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 55.6 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 55.6 eFG%, 107 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/12 vs. Magic - 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, steal, assist, 7-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 FT

Season review: After missing 51 games in the 2016-17 season, the first of his four-year contract with the Wizards, center Ian Mahinmi managed to stay healthy for the entirety of 2017-18. He appeared in 77 games and gave the Wizards a good look at the player they signed to a $64 million deal in free agency.

Mahinmi was a mainstay in the Wizards' rotation as their backup center. While Marcin Gortat started all 82 games at center, Mahinmi at times got the nod late in games as head coach Scott Brooks favored his defense.

Though Mahinmi was available all season, he still fell short of the numbers he put up in his last year in Indiana, in 2015-16. Mahinmi's minutes per game were his fewest since 2010-11, and his points and rebounds were his fewest since 2013-14. 

Mahinmi's numbers were affected by his low minutes, as he could never quite crack the top six or seven spots in Brooks' rotation. His numbers per 36 minutes, however, were on par with how he played in Indiana before the Wizards signed him to a big contract.

2015-16 per 36: 13.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 spg

2017-18 per 36: 11.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.2 spg

That, of course, only means so much. Mahinmi may have been relatively efficient with his minutes, but the consistency wasn't there to convince Brooks and the coaching staff to increase his role.

It will be interesting to see what the team plans for Mahinmi next season, as this summer could bring changes to their frontcourt. Both of their starting big men - Gortat and Markieff Morris - have one year left on their contracts. If Gortat in particular is dealt, that could open the door for Mahinmi to earn more playing time.

The Wizards could also add to their frontcourt through the draft. If they get a rim-protecting big man in the first round, that could be bad news for Mahinmi's playing time. Like several Wizards players, Mahinmi's role is up in the air entering this summer.

Potential to improve: Finishing around rim, consistency, limiting fouls

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

usatsi_10714814.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides might be a good fit

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league. Meeks is also set to begin the 2018-19 season serving a suspension.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!