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Seraphin introduces new left hook to Garnett


Seraphin introduces new left hook to Garnett

As a rookie with the Wizards two years ago, Kevin Seraphin reached double digits in scoring twice in 58 games.

Last season, he reached double digits 25 times in 57 games, including his final 16 games of the season.

So after scoring 19 points in his season opener against Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics Saturday night, is the 23-year-old power forward from Cayenne, French Guiana ready to have a breakout season in the NBA?

“We definitely want to get the ball to him,” Wizards teammate Trevor Booker said after Tuesday’s practice at Verizon Center. “It seems like every time he throws up that right-hand hook it goes in. Now he’s added the left-hand hook and he’s looking unstoppable.”

Seraphin’s 19-point, seven-rebound performance was his third-best scoring output of his career and it came against one of the NBA’s  best defenders. That could make for an interesting rematch Wednesday night when the Wizards visit the Celtics [7:30, CSN, 106.7 FM, 1500 AM] at TD Garden.

“It does give me some more motivation to keep doing it,” Seraphin said. “That game was a good game and now I have to keep doing it. There are 80 games left and I have to prove I can be consistent and play like that all the time.”

Seraphin came off the bench in the Wizards’ 89-86 loss to the Celtics Saturday night, but with Emeka Okafor struggling in his first two games with a total of 13 points and 14 rebounds, it’s not a stretch to suggest Seraphin may make his first start of the season on Wednesday night. He started the final 15 games for the Wizards last season.

Whether he starts or not, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he doesn’t want Seraphin to get caught up in trying to outscore Garnett, who on Saturday put up 15 points and seven rebounds. Wittman also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Garnett adjusts to that new left hook of Seraphin’s.

“He’s the best competitor I’ve ever been around and he’s going to try to eliminate that part of Kevin,” Wittman said. “Kevin just needs to stay within who he is and things will be fine.”

Seraphin said he knows it will be a challenge to have the same kind of success against Garnett as he had against him Saturday night.

“He will be ready for me, but I will be ready for him, too,” Seraphin said with a smile. “He’s a good player and I know for sure he won’t let me score 19 points again and for me that’s a challenge because I have to do it again. Now I have to bready for him like he’s going to be ready for me.”

Seraphin, who speaks with a thick French accent, said he and Garnett didn’t do a whole lot of talking on the floor Saturday night, but after a couple of timeouts, he said Garnett would not allow Seraphin to take a shot, playfully blocking his attempts.

“Next time," Seraphin said, "I’ll just put it higher."

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Rui Hachimura

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Rui Hachimura

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Rui Hachimura

School: Gonzaga

Position: Forward

Age: 21

Height: 6-8

Weight: 230

Wingspan: 7-2

Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 19.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg, 59.1 FG% (7.4/12.6), 41.7 3PT% (0.4/1.0), 73.9 FT%

Player comparison: Gordon Hayward, Mike Scott

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 9th, NBADraft.net 10th, Bleacher Report 23rd, Sports Illustrated 16th, Ringer 19th

5 things to know:

*Hachimura is an athletic scorer, most effective in the midrange and in the post. He is quick up and down the floor for his size and scores a lot in transition. Due to his size and downhill speed, some have compared him to Jabari Parker, who played for the Wizards this past season.

*There are questions about how Hachimura's game will adapt to the NBA level because he could prove undersized at the four spot, without the vertical leap to make up for it, and because he doesn't currently have a consistent outside shot. Hachimura shot 41.7 percent from three this past season at Gonzaga, but on one attempt per game. He shot just 31.6 percent from long range in his college career. 

*Some evaluators also wonder about his defense at the NBA level. He has some traits that suggest he could be a plus-defender. He has quick feet and long arms, but may have difficulty in the post against bigger, stronger players. 

*Hachimura is from Japan. He is set to become just the third Japanese-born NBA player. He was just the fifth player from the country in Division I NCAA basketball history. He has a chance to become the greatest Japanese basketball player of all-time.

*He didn't start playing organized basketball until he was 14. Though he became a sensation in Japan and adapted well to the college game, he may still be just scratching the surface of his potential. 

Fit with Wizards: Hachimura could end up as the best option for the Wizards at No. 9, depending on how the board moves on draft night. He plays a position of need and would add scoring and speed to their offense.

Hachimura, though, wouldn't necessarily help the Wizards with their biggest weaknesses of defense and rebounding. And he may not offer the upside they should probably seek in their first round pick.

Hachimura may have a high floor based on his college production and style of play. But whether he has All-Star potential is a real question.

The Wizards need to hit on this draft pick either way, but ideally they would find someone who could someday make a major difference.

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Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

We can begin free agent watch with the Washington Wizards way before July 1.

This isn’t about players. Coaching changes can happen whenever.

News broke Saturday out of Houston that the Rockets would not retain associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Considered one of the league’s top defensive minds, Bzdelik’s relationship with Scott Brooks along with comments made by the Wizards head coach at the NBA Combine makes this transaction interesting.

Bzdelik, 66, gave Brooks his first NBA coaching job when the then Denver Nuggets head coach hired the former player in 2003.

"I'm thankful for coach Bzdelik," Brooks told the Houston Chronicle in 2016.  "He gave me my first NBA coaching start. One of the best coaches I've ever been around. He has great understanding of the game, both ends of the floor.”

Fast forward to Thursday inside Chicago’s Quest Multisport facility. Amid 5-on-5 games involving 2019 draft prospects, players holding court with media members and the general convention vibe that comes with the NBA Combine, Brooks spent a few minutes chatting with reporters.

Among the non-draft or general manager search topics, whether any changes to the coaching staff were forthcoming.

"I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks began his reply, referencing Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We're probably going to make some changes. I don't know if it's for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks also noted change could come from members of his staff seeking opportunities elsewhere. Tony Brown, Brooks’ lead assistant during his three seasons with the Wizards, became a coaching free agent following Washington’s 32-50 season, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Two days after Brooks’ comments came news of Bzdelik’s exit in Houston.

Bzdelik, a former Bullets assistant from 1988-94 and three-time college head coach, retired following the 2017-18 season. He returned to the Rockets in November following Houston’s slow start. The associate head coach is credited with guiding the team’s defensive improvement as the Rockets rose up the Western Conference standings.

The Houston Chronicle reported Bzdelik, whose contract expired after this season, remained uncommitted to returning. The Rockets announced Saturday they would not renew his deal.

The Wizards do not want a repeat of their defensive struggles. Only the Atlanta Hawks allowed more points per game than the 116.9 Washington surrendered last season. The Wizards ranked 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.0) and 27th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

It’s unclear how the Wizards fix those defensive concerns based solely on personnel. The current roster with five healthy players does not include any forwards or mobile big men. Point guard John Wall is expected to miss the majority of the upcoming season following February’s surgery for a ruptured Achilles. Wall, an erratic defensive presence in recent seasons, was previously selected to the NBA’s all-defensive team in 2015.

Coaching strategies could become the primary driver of change on the defensive end. The man who brought Brooks into the coaching fraternity would make for an obvious addition if both sides are interested.

"The accountability that [Jeff] taught me with the coaching staff and the players is second to none,” Brooks told the Chronicle in 2016. “I learned about work. I learned how to transfer my playing career into a coaching career with his help."

News of the next front office leader likely comes before coaching staff tweaks.

Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was offered the same position with the Wizards Saturday after Denver granted Washington permission to meet. In the interim, the Wizards sent a contingent of scouting personnel along with Brooks to Chicago as the team conducted player interviews and watched scrimmages.

“Ted is going to make a decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said Thursday. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”