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Wizards run over Bucks 115-86: Five takeaways

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Wizards run over Bucks 115-86: Five takeaways

In a more complete effort than they've shown at anytime this season, the Wizards ripped the Milwaukee Bucks, beating them for the second time in as many meetings, 115-86 on Tuesday at Verizon Center in front of 15,485.

The Wizards (5-4) had six players in double figures, led by Otto Porter's 19 points, four assists and three steals and John Wall with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Jared Dudley made 3 of 4 three-point shots for a season-high 13 points to go with seven rebounds. Marcin Gortat had 12 points and nine rebounds and Garrett Temple and Gary Neal had 10 points each.

Milwaukee (5-6) led 29-27 after the first quarter but were dominated on both ends after that. Khris Middleton led them with 14 points and Jerryd Bayless' 13. Michael Carter-Williams had 12 points and no assists.

What had been a 66-46 lead was cut to 72-66 on a dunk by Carter-Williams at 5:50 of the third quarter but a 13-0 run from Washington going into the fourth ended the threat. 

When these teams met on Oct. 30, the Wizards had to come back to win 118-113 in Milwaukee.

The Wizards' bench had 46 points. In just 16 minutes, Nene contributed eight points, six rebounds and two assists. rookie Kelly Oubre had seven points and three rebounds in eight minutes and Ramon Sessions seven points. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting and Greg Monroe just four points on 1-for-6 and five rebounds.

They don't play again until Saturday when they travel to face the Detroit Pistons.

  • The way Temple is playing defensively, and hitting the occasional three to keep the defense honest, they can get away in the short-term while Bradley Beal (left shoulder bruise) heals. The ball movement hasn't suffered at all, they're better defensively with him and because he doesn't need that many shots the distribution probably is more equitable. Going into the third quarter, no one had more than 10 shots (Porter). Three other starters for the Wizards (Wall, Temple and Gortat) had nine.

  • The second unit lost the edge that the first unit had defensively to start the game. Greivis Vasquez came off the bench for Milwaukee to get nine points in 11 minutes of the first half. He's a big part of why they led 38-36 at 8:09. But when Wall and Temple returned with the first unit -- and Dudley joined them at the stretch four spot instead of Kris Humphries -- they pressured them into mistake after mistake and closed with a 28-8 run. Pending the matchups, the Wizards don't necessarily have to go with Dudley or Humphries. It can be both. 

  • The hustle plays, an area where the Wizards have been terrible all season, improved. Sessions missed a jumper and Johnny O'Bryant secured the rebound. Dudley, however, slipped in and stripped him and knocked the loose ball off of Bayless for an extra possession. Temple missed a transition layup but got his own rebound and saved it inbounds for another possession. Plays like this is why they had a 13-7 edge in second-chance points.

  • The size and length of the Bucks are real, but their lack of reliable outside shooting except for Middleton will be their downfall and why they won't be a top four seed in the East. Middleton, who has traditionally torched the Wizards with his shooting, began 4-for-4 from the field but he picked up his fourth foul with 1:54 left in the third quarter.

  • Gortat went strong to the basket and Wall's pinpoint passes found him. He had 12 points and six rebounds by halftime as the smaller lineups by the Wizards created more room for him to operate. The highlight was a one-handed bullet that split multiple defenders and found Gortat slashing towards the rim for a dunk. But more important than any of that is the job he did defensively on Monroe, Milwaukee's max player. He was physical with him at every turn and kept him off his sweet spot.

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Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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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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