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Showtime is back in L.A.


Showtime is back in L.A.

Hollywood got its next big leading man as all-star center Dwight Howard joined the Los Angeles Lakers, making it the biggest NBA move of the summer. Add in all-star point guard Steve Nash and the constant pro in all-star swing man Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are clearly the favorites to come out of the west and compete for another NBA title.

Howard was a dominant big man in Orlando, averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds in his eight-year career, but for whatever reason became disgruntled and wanted out. Howard got his wish as he was shipped to the Lakers as part of a big four-team trade that saw the Lakers say goodbye to center Andrew Bynum who went to Philadelphia.

Before he missed the final 12 games of last season with a back injury, Howard was putting up 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds a game. Howard will give the Lakers so many different options on offense. He is athletic enough to run the fast break and finish, with Nash pushing the ball. Howard is nimble enough to run the pick-and-roll which Nash is brilliant at. And with Howard clogging the middle, likely drawing double or even triple teams, Bryant and Nash specifically should be wide open to knock down jumpers on the kick-out from Howard. He still needs major work on his free throws, making only 58 percent for his career.

Defensively, the chiseled 6'-11" Howard is an intimidating presence in the middle, having averaged 2 blocks a game for the Magic. Howard is a game-changer and he will alter the Lakers look immediately in all facets of the game.

Before Howard came on board, the Lakers created a mini-stir by trading away two future first-round picks for the 38-year old Nash. The two-time MVP just makes players around him better as he averaged 13 points and 10 assists for Phoenix last season. Even though he's pushing 40, the Lakers believe Nash has several good years left in the tank.

The Lakers also hope the same for forward Antawn Jamison who signed a one-year deal with L.A. The 36-year old can still score the ball as he averaged 17 points a game for Cleveland last season. Jamison would likely be the Lakers' sixth man this season. Jamison is no stranger to that role, as he won sixth man of the year award with Dallas in 2003-04.

The Lakers also added shooter Jodie Meeks with a two-year deal for 3-million. Meeks hit 36 percent of his three's last season, including a season high 7 against the Cavaliers in March. Meeks is another player who will benefit from the presence of Howard down low. Jordan Hill signed a three-year deal for 8 million to stay with the Lakers and he will back up Pau Gasol at the power forward spot.

Bryant, a winner of five NBA rings, is back, and although he's getting older he is still one of the best scorers in the game. The 34-year old scored 28 a game last season as the Lakers lost to Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs.

The Lakers have arguably the best starting five in the game with Nash, Bryant, World Metta Peace, Gasol and Howard -- and their bench led by Jamison isn't too shabby. They made the biggest splash of the off-season and it should pay huge dividends come the post-season. It's likely an NBA title or bust for this talented crew.

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

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

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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