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Report: Nene may play Wednesday in Atlanta


Report: Nene may play Wednesday in Atlanta

After sitting out training camp and preseason and the first nine regular season games, Nene could make his season debut Wednesday at Atlanta.

That's according to NBA writer and CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher, who tweeted out on Tuesday afternoon, "Look for Nene to make season debut on Wednesday."

The team's practice session on Tuesday was not made available for the local media. Upon entering the Wizards practice court inside the Verizon Center, Nene, who returned to practice on Friday, was seen working on his low post moves one day after Washington lost to Indiana, fell to 0-9 and set a franchise record for longest losing streak to start a season.

Upon checking with the Wizards PR staff following Bucher's report, the team offered no update on Nene's status.

Meanwhile Comcast SportsNet's Chris Miller confirmed that Nene practiced for one hour today before the team took a flight to Atlanta. According to Miller, Nene will be a game time decision tomorrow. 

Nene missed 10 straight games late last season with a plantar fasciitis injury in his left foot before playing the final five. The Brazilian big game reaggrevated the injury playing for his native country during the summer Olympics, forcing him to rehab and wait. That is until Friday's practice when he participated in a halfcourt drills.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman was asked Tuesday how the team would benefit whenever Nene and John Wall (knee) return to the lineup.

"It's going to help, no question, but again I don't want these guys sitting in the weeds waiting when are they coming back," Wittman said. "We're going to wait for them to get here and things are going to be fine. Things can be fine now; they've proven that in these nine games. We haven't played close to a group, team solid game and we've been in all of them."

Despite his presence being an obvious help last season after being acquired from Denver, Nene recenty downplayed his potential savior status.

"It’s not, me and John’s out, when we back we’re going to be the miracle. We’re going to be two more helps on the court," Nene said on Sunday. As for his rehab, Nene said at the time, "Step by step. Right now, my body is sore, my foot hurt a little bit. I try to be positive and try to control what I can do."

Asked directly about Wall's status following practice, Wittman offered no specific timetable on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft's potential return. "Things are progressing. No setbacks," Wittman said. Wall has been out since late September with a stress injury in his left knee. The team initially projected Wall would miss eight weeks, meaning a late Novemeber/early December return. Wall will not play against the Hawks (5-4).

Forward Trevor Booker, who started Washington's first seven games in place of Nene, missed practice and underwent an MRI on Tuesday for a right knee strain suffered in the loss to Indiana.

Without Nene and Wall, the Wizards have struggled offensively, scoring the fewest points in the NBA. Without the team's primary low post threat and point guard, on-court roles have been altered, leading in part to inconsistency production throughout the roster, leading to Wittman's struggles with settling on a primary rotation.

"No, I’m not settled in. I’m trying to. I’m trying, but you know what, I don’t, and that’s the hard part," the coach said. "As a player, you want that. As a coach, you want that, but we’ve just been so inconsistent in the level of play that I can’t – I’ve been in this position before where I’ve figured out what nine I wanted to play and maybe which of those nine would start. I can’t figure out the nine, it’s so up and down. The 13th guy all of a sudden looks good, the second guy looks awful. It’s just that fluctuation in play that I’ve got to continue to try to find, that’s what I’m trying to do. Today we went through and I probably played four different linueps together, to see them, to see, ooh, maybe I like that, and we’ll continue."

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

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Former Wizards forward arrested on armed robbery charges after stealing $100,000

Former NBA player J.J. Hickson faces charges of armed robbery after breaking into a home near Atlanta, stealing $100,000 from the house, and physically assaulting a teenager who was inside, authorities said Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Hickson, who played eight seasons in the NBA with four teams before his brief appearance in Washington, is currently being held in Coweta County Jail without bond. 

He is currently affiliated with the Lebanese Basketball League but played 15 games with the Wizards during the 2015-16 season. Hickson averaged 4.6 ppg and scored a season-high 15 points against the Nets in the penultimate game of the regular season. He has not played professionally in the United States since.  Hickson played just one season at North Carolina State before being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 19 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Jimmy Yarbrough, the sheriff's spokesperson in Coweta, said that while at least two people were involved in the invasion, only Hickson is being held and charged.

According to authorities, Hickson entered through a side door, armed with a knife and his face and head covered. He was initially apprehended by another department and later transferred into the custody of Coweta County law enforcement. 

At this time in the investigation, very little detail is publicly available.

The teenage victim, whose name remains private, received medical treatment for several broken bones and is fortunately in good condition.