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Wizards Summer School


Wizards Summer School

The Wizards had high hopes for Jan Vesely when they drafted the high-flying 6'-10" Czech Republic forward with the 6th overall pick in last summer's draft. The Wizards' brass envisioned Vesely running the break and finishing on the wing off a feed from speedy point guard John Wall. Although that did happen on occasion, it didn't happen enough as Vesely averaged only 4 points and 4 rebounds in 57 games.

Vesely showed he can run the floor at times but he must add more to his game next year in what will be his second NBAseason.

So what must Vesely work on in his game this summer to come back and be a more effective player?

First off,Vesely obviouslyhas to get up thousands of shots a day to try to improve his jumper. New coach Randy Wittmansurelyhas set out a plan for Vesely to put up as many shots as possible ahead of next season. Not only must he get up a ton of jumpers but he also must practice his free throws. Vesely wasjust a 53 percent shooter from the free throw line last season.

The Wizards hired a shooting coach during training camp last year to help Vesely with his form, specifically with his hand and fingertip placement on the ball. Vesely even wore a contraption in practice to keep his thumb from being too close to his index finger when he shot.Wittman might want to think about getting Vesely more help this off-season.

Clearly, Vesely has relied on his superior athleticism up to this point of his pro career, but he has to add other elements to his offensiverepertoireother than the dunk. If Vesely can add a jumper, defenses would have to respect and guard him on the outside, leaving open the possibility of Vesely ball-faking and getting to the rim. Adding a jumper could open up a lot of things offensively for Vesely and the Wizards.

Last season, Vesely rarely attempted a jumper, scoring rather by a fast-break dunk or a put-back layup off an offensive rebound. While watching him shoot 53 percent from the free-throw line, you could tell that he has a ways to go to get better from any distance beyond five feet.

Late in the season, Vesely started to show some signs that he could put up some numbers.Vesely scored in double figures in 7 of the final 15 games in April, highlighted by a career-high 16 points and 6 rebounds in a win over Charlotte. Vesely followed up that performance with 7 points and 12 rebounds in a victory against Cleveland. In a game in mid-April against a Milwaukee team still in the hunt for the playoffs, Vesely scored 8 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had 3 assists.

Vesely has been praised by the coaching staff for his high basketball IQ, his defense, and hiscommitmentto playing team basketball. Now, he has to improve his shot.

If he can add a touch from the outside, Vesely could become more of a threat offensively. That would benefit everyone.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: KZ Okpala

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: KZ Okpala

School: Stanford
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Height: 6-10
Weight: 210
Wingspan: 7-2
Max vertical: 37 in.

2018/19 stats: 16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 46.3 FG% (5.9/12.7), 36.8 3PT% (1.1/3.0), 67.1 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Gerald Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, NBADraft.net 23rd, Bleacher Report 27th, Sports Illustrated 29th, Ringer 41st

5 things to know:

*Okpala is a tall, lanky wing who loves to drive from the perimeter to the rim. He made the All-Pac-12 team this past season after improving his scoring average from 10.0 points as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He also increased his rebounds per game average from 3.7 to 5.7.

*He is arguably one of the most athletic players in this class. At 6-foot-10 in shoes, he has great size for a wing player and measured at the NBA combine with a 7-2 wingspan. He also has an impressive vertical leap of 37 inches which would be good even for a point guard. He is also fast in the open court. Teams will be enticed with his ceiling on both ends of the floor.

*Okpala scored a lot in college but has a raw offensive game. He isn't fully there as a ball-handler and has an improving, but still inconsistent outside shot. The fact he made a leap from his freshman to sophomore year as a three-point shooter was a very good sign. His 36.8 three-point percentage on three attempts per game is encouraging but does not offer any guarantees that he can stretch the floor at the next level. His 67.1 free throw percentage doesn't help his cause.

*He is just the third player from Stanford to leave for the NBA before his junior season, joining the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, who were first round picks in 2010.

*Okpala is the son of two Nigerian immigrants. He had a 4.4 GPA in high school.

Fit with Wizards: Okpala would fill a need for the Wizards in that he is a forward and they don't have many of those under contract for next season. He would also give them a young player with high upside, something they currently lack.

But Okpala also seems to offer decent bust potential. Ever since Kevin Durant came into the league, there have been a lot of players like Okpala to come along, ones that are tall enough to play inside but prefer to work on the perimeter.

Sometimes that can work, like with Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brandon Ingram (sort of). But for every success story, there seem to be a lot of guys like Perry Jones and Thon Maker.

Okpala seems very much like boom or bust, and the Wizards may not be able to afford taking a chance like that.

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Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

Neil Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers, off the table for Wizards job

After Tim Connelly decided to re-join the Nuggets rather than take the Wizards' vacant front-office position, Washington has been forced back to the drawing board.

The Wizards have interviewed Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry and Wizards interim team president Tommy Sheppard.

In addition to those names, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig reported the team could have interest in Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. 

That option was eliminated Friday when Olshey signed an extension to remain with Portland. 

With Connelly and Olshey off the table, there are fewer high-profile candidates left for the Wizards to consider as replacements for Ernie Grunfeld. 

Standig noted that Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris could also draw interest from Washington. 

The franchise is running out of time to find their new front-office leader with less than a month remaining before the NBA Draft.