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Things look up for Luol Deng after eye gouge vs. Wizards


Things look up for Luol Deng after eye gouge vs. Wizards

The last week for Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre hasn't been a particularly good one. His man beat him for the game-winning shot in a loss to the Boston Celtics and he didn't make a field goal in the next two games, but it ended up worse for Luol Deng.

Deng, a forward with the Miami Heat, went down in the fourth quarter of a 106-87 loss to the Wizards when Oubre accidentally struck him in the face and damaged the left eye. Oubre extended his 7-2 wingspan, reaching underneath to swipe at the ball.

"It's just a tough pill to swallow. Throughout the course of the game we have another guy go down. That shouldn't have even have been a play with a guy making a play on the ball. They're up 20," Heat teammate Chris Bosh said. "That's a dangerous play."

The frustration is understandable. The Heat are without Hassan Whiteside (oblique strain), Goran Dragic (calf), Beno Udrih (neck) and Josh McRoberts (knee), Chris Anderson (knee). Dwyane Wade (shoulders) has been in and out of the lineup.

The Wizards were leading 101-79 with 2:25 left. While Bosh questioned the overzealous play by Oubre, it also can be questioned why Deng still was on the floor with the result already determined. Of course, a 20-year-old will still play hard in garbage time matched up against an All-Star, trying to get his rhythm back.

Deng had to be escorted back to the locker room and couldn't walk under his own power as he fell hard to the floor. But the situation for him, thankfully, is looking better:





The Heat (23-21) are sliding down the standings fast and the Wizards (20-21), who have had as many injuries for a much longer period, are close to catching a team many had estimated would be second-best in the East.

[RELATED: Alan Anderson's recovery takes sharp turn upwards]

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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”


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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Breaking down the Wizards' 2018 draft class

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller analyze the Wizards' two picks the night of the draft.

They went in-depth on first round pick Troy Brown, Jr. and why the Wizards took him when some big names were still on the board. They also broke down why the Wizards chose to pick a draft-and-stash guy in the second round.

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!