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Wizards' playoff foes active on Day 1 of NBA free agency

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Wizards' playoff foes active on Day 1 of NBA free agency

The two teams the Washington Wizards faced in the playoffs last season will look different going forward.

Toronto signed Atlanta free agent forward DeMarre Carroll to a four-year, $60 million Wednesday, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported

#WeTheNorth I will be playing for Toronto Raptors next year!!!! I'm Blessed for this Opportunity! #WeTheNorth

A photo posted by DeMarre Carroll (@demarrecarroll1) on Jul 1, 2015 at 9:02am PDT

This news came moments after reports that the Hawks acquired center Tiago Splitter from the San Antonio Spurs.

Before all of this took place there were reports that All-Star forward Paul Millsap was weighing a return to Atlanta or signing with the Orlando Magic.

Let's stop for a second and examine each scenario:

  • The Raptors were bulldozed in a four-game sweep by the lower-seeded Wizards in part because Washington played a more physical brand of basketball. The rugged Carroll changes that. The 3-and-D threat made things difficult for the Wizards at times during Atlanta's 4-2 series win. 
  • Toronto previously guard Greivis Vasquez to Milwaukee and added two point guards in veteran Luke Ridnour and first round pick Delon Wright. Guard Lou Williams, the NBA's sixth-man of the year, remains a free agent.
  • Atlanta suffered its own series sweep against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. One major factor besides the 4-time MVP? Cleveland dominated the glass. Adding Splitter provides the Hawks with a banger inside and true interior depth. Initial reporting did not indicate specific pieces Atlanta would send San Antono, but it's doubtful to include any salary for the 2015-16 season. The Spurs are clearing space for the possible addition of Portland free agent forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
  • Keeping Millsap now becomes vitally important for Atlanta. NBA.com's David Aldridge reported Wednesday morning that the stretch-4 met with Orlando and "will decide between Magic and Hawks." Orlando has young talent, but no main linchpin. As for the Hawks, this would lead to serious scrambling if Millsap exits. Atlanta cruised to the East title last season thanks largely to a perfect blend of system and offensive talent. That delicate balance is changing one way or another.

MORE WIZARDS: NBA Free Agency Tracker: Pierce watch, what happens with Lebron

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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.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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!