Last season in an instant, Brian Cook went from playing for the playoffcontending Los Angeles Clippers to the lottery-bound Washington Wizards. That didnot exactly make the nine-year veteran a happy camper when he arrived in town,going from playing for something to simply playing for pride. As it turns out, the coastal switch wasn't so bad. Now, Cook is back formore, agreeing to a non-guaranteed contract with the Wizards. The formerUniversity of Illinois star becomes the 18th player on Washington's trainingcamp roster, the Washington Post reported.The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 3.1 points in 16 games for the Wizards lastseason after being acquired as part of the trading deadline maneuvers that alsoadded Nene to the roster while subtracting Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Thoughstill capable as a "stretch four" Cook's steady presence combined with the otherveterans helpedturn the locker room and on-court culture from clowning tocompeting. The Wizards closed the 2011-12 with a flourish, winning their finalsix games."I dont think well ever forget it," Cook said following thefinal weeks of the season. "We had a lot of guys that came in, 10-day guysthat came in and we all knew our strengths and weaknesses, and we just tried toplay hard and play the right way. Thats by sharing the ball and being a greatteam."The team appears better heading into the 2012-13 campaign, having addedcenter Emeka Okafor, forward Trevor Ariza and first-round pick Bradley Bealamong others to what remains a largely youthful squad. Should the Wizards successfullymake a playoff push and Cook be on the roster, it would be the formerUniversity of Illinois star's eighth postseason appearance."You always want to play in the playoffs. You always want to play forsomething," Cook said after the season, describing his reaction to thedeal that brought him to one of the worst teams in the league. "Like Isaid, that did come through my mind. Thats what I was mad about at firstbecause I knew the team I was on was going to go to the playoffs. But I had agreat month and a half here. These guys, theyre all really good guys. Theyreall competitors. They all competed, and hopefully Ill see them again sometimesoon."How long Cook will see the really good guys is another question. The Wizardsseemingly have only one roster spot available - and that's assuming the teamenters the season with a full 15-man roster. Cook joins other non-rosterinvitees -- center Earl Barron, forward Shavlik Randolph and guard Steven Gray --as part of the Wizards training camp roster. Washington opens camp early nextmonth.One could argue that even though the Wizards upgraded their outside shootingwith the addition of Beal, Martell Webster and by keeping Cartier Martin, theteam lacks a big man with range. Cook is a career 38 percent shooter frombeyond the arc, but that might not be enough to stick considering the frontcourtlogjam with nine players already in the mix for playing time.Then again, who would have guessed Cook's time in DC last season would be sowinning or that he would have enjoyed it so. Certainly at the time of the deal,not Cook himself.
Otto Porter, Jr. has heard it from coaches and teammates for over a year now, that they want him to shoot the ball more often.
He is the team's most efficient player and the more he shoots, many believe the better off the Wizards will be.
Porter took that idea, and his general quest to be a better player, in a new direction this offseason.
He specifically wants to take after Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Kawhi Leonard of the Raptors.
If Thompson can get his while playing with Curry and Durant, Porter should be able to do the same with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Thompson has averaged 16 field goal attempts or more in the past four years while running with other superstars, while Porter topped out at a career-high 11.5 shots per game last season.
"That's definitely going to be a goal of mine, just to be ultra-aggressive. I think it's best for the team and best for me to put out that effort and be more involved and kind of be like Klay Thompson and take my shots. I'm very confident in that. I'm going to instill that in every game," Porter said.
As for Leonard, Porter hopes to take after him on the defensive end. Leonard, who was traded from the Spurs to the Raptors in July, has won two defensive player of the year awards and he's only 27 years old.
Also a small forward, Porter believes he can model parts of his defensive game after Leonard.
"I watched tons of film," Porter said of his regimen this summer. "I'm learning how to guard on-ball; take my angles and be able to master that. I studied Kawhi Leonard a lot, and the angles he takes. He's very strategic with how his movements are. He never seems tired. I was able to get in [better] shape this summer. There are a lot of games, so I wanted to be in the best shape possible."
Porter has proven he can shoot at a high percentage. Now, he wants to put up volume numbers like Thompson.
Porter has proven a solid team defender. Now, he wants to become a dominant on-ball force like Leonard.
Both of those things should be good news to the Wizards.
Washington Wizards first-round draft pick Troy Brown Jr. is as mild-mannered as it comes.
The 19-year-old did and said all the right things Monday at his first NBA media day inside the brand new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights.
He made his way through a jam-packed media day with a certain charisma, swagger and composure as if he'd been doing it for years.
The Las Vegas, Nev. native, who left the University of Oregon basketball program after a year, was drafted No. 15 overall by the Wizards in June.
Brown Jr. was candid as far as what these last few months have been like for him personally.
"It was overwhelming at one point but then I kind of brushed over it quick and knew I had more work to do."
The rookie joins a team that underperformed a season ago finishing with a record of 43-39 and fell to the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in the First Round of the playoffs. But this year's squad has a new supporting cast.
Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers and Jeff Green each bring something different to the Wizards. Elite rim protecting, rebounding, second-unit scoring, defending and most importantly...the depth this team so desperately needs.
Brown Jr. was no stranger to last year's results and clearly did his homework.
"I feel like guys are a little more locked in [this year] and everybody is just here with one goal. I feel like this season should go pretty well."
Summer League proved just how 'locked in' Brown Jr. himself seems to be. In three of the five games from Vegas, the versatile forward notched 20 points or more including one double-double.
He understands he's competing for minutes on a team that is already stacked offensively.
"I've always had to kind of pick my role depending on whether it's USA basketball or if I was playing up when I was younger, so I kind of knew what to do in those aspects and that's where my versatility comes in for me personally," said Brown Jr. "For me, whatever I can do to get on that court and show that we're a 50-win team will personally make me feel good."
His versatility was on full display in the fifth and final Summer League contest where he lit up the box score notching 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting with six rebounds and three steals.
When the five-time 'Wall-Star' and team floor general sings your praises at media day, you have to feel good heading into your rookie season.
Brown Jr. and the Wizards open preseason play Oct. 1 against the Knicks at 7 p.m.
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