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Wizards focusing on small details and big picture


Wizards focusing on small details and big picture

With their preseason opener at Charlotte just 24 hours away, the Wizards wrapped Saturday's practice working on last second plays. The specific instructions from Coach Randy Wittman and his staff of when to cut or who receives the pass and where came without a defensive presence on the court. Just five offensive players learning the movements, the play designs, each other.

With only five days to get the undermanned and still learning the playbook team ready for its first live action, the focus for Wittman during training camp has been on his squad, not any other.

"Pretty much just leading up to the last couple of preseason games you're really just concentrating on yourself." Wittman said inside the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. "We're really not doing scouting reports on the teams we're playing or anything of that nature like a regular season. I want these guys to concentrate on us and the things we want to do."

For "right now it's about the little things," Wittman said. "The big picture starts when the season starts obviously. Right now, it's a step of building. We've got a lot of new faces that have no idea what we're doing. The guys that were here have a little idea because we are doing a lot of things that are different from what we did last year too. It's a balancing act of how fast and quickly we can go."

The Wizards won't be as fast without the injured John Wall or as powerful with Nene (plantar fasciitis) also watching action from side, but mentally the available players have impressed their coach.

"The thing that I've liked about these guys so far is that our basketball IQ is pretty high. They've been able to retain things pretty quickly. Now are they going to be able to retain them come game time? That's the stuff we have to work on tomorrow."

Getting the players in maximum shape and fighting through the pain that comes with five days worth of practices is what they will have to continue working on.

"Oh sure, they're beat up a little but, no question," Wittman. "That's what this is about, getting their bodies back to condition of playing up and down every night, 3 days in 4 nights kind of thing. No they're tired mentally and physically right now."

Point guard A.J. Price won't argue with that last assessment - and credits the coaching staff for providing the needed grind-it-out push.

"It's very grueling first of all. By no stretch of the imagination is it easy," said Price, who turns 26 on Sunday. "We have to get up - you have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff. They're the guys that will get you in here and get you motivated cause there are plenty of times when you come in and just feel like you can't do much. The coaching staff gets you into it, get you motivated. After that it's pretty much easy."

Price and Shelvin Mack are expected to handle the primary point guard duties against the Bobcats. Newly signed veteran Jannero Pargo missed his second straight day with a left rib injury.

"(Jannero) said he felt better," Wittman said. "Noting showed from X-ray, no crack, nothing of that nature. Obviously if it's feeling better today already, we're anticipating it will be ok.

Forward Trevor Booker (hamstring soreness) also sat out Saturday's practice.
As for opener, Wittman warned not to expect a thing of beauty.

"Tomorrow is usually not a real pretty sight. They'll be going 100 miles an hour as they were here on Tuesday the first practice. I had 18 guys out here an hour before practice. Today, it was dwindling to nobody an hour before practice. We'll see that tomorrow. You're going to play your first game; we're going to be going 100 miles an hour, just getting back and playing again."

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

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: Bol Bol

School: Oregon
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-3
Weight: 208
Wingspan: 7-7
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.7 bpg, 56.1 FG% (8.2/14.7), 52.0 3PT% (1.4/2.8), 75.7 FT%

Player comparison: Kristaps Porzingis, Thon Maker

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 12th, NBADraft.net 18th, Bleacher Report 9th, Sports Illustrated 17th, Ringer 12th

5 things to know:

*Bol has a chance to be perfectly suited for this era of NBA unicorns. He is over 7-feet tall, yet is highly skilled for his size. He can run the floor, make plays off the dribble and shoot from outside. He is also an adept shot-blocker with the instincts to maximize his height and length.

*Bol is the son of former Bullets player Manute Bol. His father was drafted by Washington in 1985 and played three seasons with the team to start his career. He later returned to play for the Bullets in 1993 for another year. The elder Bol was 7-foot-7 and is among the tallest players in NBA history. He famously was teammates with Muggsy Bogues, who stood just 5-foot-3.

*He only played in nine games with Oregon due to a stress fracture in his left foot. A stress fracture is always ominous for a basketball player, but especially for a big man. If it weren't for the injury, Bol would probably be in the top-five range. Whichever team takes him will be going high-risk, high-reward, not unlike the Nuggets with Michael Porter Jr. last June.

*Bol unsurprisingly turned heads at the NBA Combine. He measured in about 7-foot-3 and with a 7-7 wingspan. If it weren't for Tacko Fall, those each would have led this year's class. Bol also has a 9-foot-7 1/2-ing standing reach. That means he can nearly touch the rim without jumping.

*Perhaps the most interesting stat when it comes to Bol is his three-point shooting. Though it was a small sample size, he shot 52 percent from long range and on nearly three atempts per game. For a guy his size, having any sort of three-point shot is noteworthy and to shoot at that clip is exceptional, no matter the position. 

Fit with Wizards: Bol would be a great fit for the Wizards in some regards in that he plays a position of need and would offer star potential. He also would add rim protection, which the Wizards sorely lack. And it would be a nice story, Bol beginning his career with the same franchise that his father did.

But Bol is the type of risk that the Wizards may not be in position to take. They ideally would get someone who does not have injury concerns, someone who could step right in and represent a legitimate building block for the future. 

Maybe that changes if the Wizards' medical team gives him the clear. But Bol seems more likely to fit with the Wizards if they pull off a trade to adde more picks. If they moved back from ninth and got another first round selection, taking Bol wouldn't be nearly as risky.

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