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Where's Nene? Wizards' big man yet to show up vs. Hawks

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Where's Nene? Wizards' big man yet to show up vs. Hawks

ATLANTA -- The puzzle the Wizards have yet to solve is how to make Nene a factor instead of a liability in this second-round series with the Atlanta Hawks. Though the series is tied 1-1, Nene has gone 0-for-2.

Nene has produced Roy Hibbert-like stats in two games: 0-for-9 shooting, two points, seven rebounds and six turnovers. 

"He's got to fight through it. He's got to play through it," coach Randy Wittman said about the 7-foot power forward's struggles. "Things in this world aren't perfect. When you struggle like that you got to play harder, be more concentrated. It's a thing that any player goes through. It's just so happened that these first two games he's struggled. We need him to step up. And he will. I have confidence that that will happen."

When Nene has had performance issues in the past, unless he was limited by a foot injury, Wittman has stuck with his veteran in the starting lineup. Where he has adjusted has been in how long he will stick with Nene before going to Plan B. 

So what would that be? Drew Gooden is the first big off the bench for Nene which gives the Wizards a different look. He has three-point range, can beat his man off the dribble and create an up-tempo style that they need vs. the small-ball looks from Atlanta. Kris Humphries had been ahead of Gooden in the rotation most of the season but has appeared just once in six postseason games. He doesn't have a post-up game of Nene or Gooden's three-point range.

The other option is to stick with small lineups, either with Pierce at power forward with Otto Porter as the small forward and bringing in Rasual Butler in relief to keep the floor spread for John Wall (if he can play with his left wrist), Ramon Sessions and Bradley Beal to get into the paint.

Nene was a different player in the first two games of a first-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors. He set the tone by averaging 11 rebounds as the Wizards won both on the road. The Hawks, however, have more versatile bigs in All-Stars Paul Millsap and Al Horford.  Both can score away from the basket on face-ups, shoot from long range, attack off the bounce and rebound with abandon.

"Nene's fine. He'll be good," Beal said. "I think he's thinking a lot, kind of pressing himself a little bit. But he's fine. He just needs to do what we know he's capable of doing, that's dominating and being the best big on the floor. He has to clear his mind of all things."

[RELATED Leonsis will shave his head if Wizards, Caps reach finals]

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

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. 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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