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Scott Brooks, Wizards players take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

Scott Brooks, Wizards players take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

With their 104-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Wizards improved to 22-19 overall through 41 games, the exact midpoint of the 2016-17 season. They play again the next night in New York, so there will be little time for reflection of how they got here. But after beating the Grizzlies, head coach Scott Brooks and several of his players took a look back and a look ahead.

After beginning the season 2-8, they are now three games over .500. What have they liked about their season so far, and what do they still believe can be improved?

Brooks went into extensive detail.

“I didn’t like our start; I liked the last part of the first half, where we’ve played a much better since December. The thing I liked about the start [is that] we didn’t give in to a tough start, we kept battling and figuring out ways to get better – we’re tweaking and tinkering with the lineup, the starters mixing with some of the guys coming off of the bench. Some of our younger players have really done a good job of developing and staying with it when they’re not playing. It can be tough on you mentally, but I think our staff has done a good job to keep them engaged and keep them developing.

"I think Kelly [Oubre] has made some strides. He’s taken a few steps forward [and] taken a step back, but the step back he takes, he doesn’t get frustrated and takes another step. He always seems to bounce back and come back. Otto [Porter] has, I think, developed into the most consistent shooter in the league from the three. Every night it seems like he has it. And John [Wall] and Brad [Beal], I like the way they’re playing and leading. March [Marcin Gortat] has done a good job. I think we’re playing much better because we’re really buying into each other, and I think when you do that, teams have trouble beating us. I think at home, we’ve figured that out, but we have to figure out how to do it on the road.”

Guard Bradley Beal agreed with Brooks, that he was most pleased with how the Wizards rebounded from their dreadful start. 

“I like how we fought through adversity. I think we didn't give up on our slow start. We battled back and now we're over .500 now but just imagine if we were playing the way we were supposed to the first couple of games, our record would probably be a lot different. Definitely proud of the way we've been playing, the way we bounced back. We definitely can get better at playing great defense for 48 minutes, being locked in for 48 minutes. Just making sure we continue to respect our opponents and be prepared for every game moving forward.” 

[RELATED: CMills asks why Wall, Beal don't get more national attention]

Otto Porter gave a few reasons why he thinks they are playing better now than before.

“Back then it was early. We were still figuring each other out. New coaches, new players. Right now, we are starting to figure things out. We are confident in ourselves, playing for each other, playing hard and just rolling with it... Just, I guess figuring out things defensively. Everybody is on the same page. Offensively, just letting the game come to us. Moving the ball, and knowing that we want to be a defensive team," he said.

Improving away from the Verizon Center was a common theme in the answers from players. The Wizards are now 18-6 at home, while only the Golden State Warriors have more home wins. On the road, the Wizards are only 4-13 with the Nets the only NBA team featuring less road victories.

That's enough to give them the fifth seed in the East, but they know they still have plenty of work to do.

“We have a lot we can improve on: just closing out games, playing for a full 48-minutes, moving the ball at times when we get stagnant, but I like the effort that we gave," guard John Wall said of the first half of the season. "The way that we started the season, the way we had a great month of December, and we're playing well right now. It's great to take care of home court, just want to for the second half of the season improve on the road. If we can find a way to improve on the road I feel like we could have a better record. To be in the situation we are now, the way that we started the season, you can't ask for more.”

The Wizards were in a reflective mood, but Marcin Gortat put it bluntly where he thinks the Wizards are currently at.

“[The 22-19 record means] nothing. We have to continue to do what we do. We aren’t getting excited. We’ve been in this situation where we’ve been minus-five, under .500. We just have to focus and play and now we have to get some wins on the road," he said.

[RELATED: Grizzlies pay for ignoring Otto Porter]

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

Something that used to be a rare occurrence has now happened four years in a row.

The Phoenix Suns had the best odds of winning the NBA lottery, and they did, landing the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Over the last four years, the team with the NBA's worst record has landed that top spot each year. Before this stretch though, dating back to 1985, only four teams that had the worst record still won the lottery.

Nine teams have also jumped at least five spots to get to No. 1 during that period as well.

Now the order is set (until any trades of course) and teams have had a chance to check out many of the top players at the combine.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

There's also the very intriguing Luka Doncic, who most still believe won't go back to Real Madrid, even with him leaving the door open. 

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, and sitting at pick No. 15, they may just get one, although he brings a lot of mystery. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tomas Satoransky

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tomas Satoransky

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tomas Satoransky's season...

Player: Tomas Satoransky

Position: Point guard

Age: 26

2017-18 salary: $3 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 22.5 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.2 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 52.3 FG%, 46.5 3P%, 78.1 FT%, 58.5 eFG%, 124 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 2/10 at Bulls - 25 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 10-for-12 FG, 5-for-6 3PT 

Season review: Following a rookie season where he could never quite earn an extended role in the Wizards' rotation, Tomas Satoransky broke through in his second NBA season and did so when an opportunity was presented due to injury. 

Starting point guard John Wall missed two weeks in December and Satoransky was pushed into the backup role behind Tim Frazier. Satoransky then outplayed Frazier to earn the primary backup role once Wall returned.

Satoransky got an even better chance to shine once Wall missed two months from late January to late March as he stepped in to start a stretch of 27 straight games and 30 of the Wizards' final 34 regular season games. He thrived as a starter, averaging 10.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field.

Satoransky was confident and assertive for much of his time as a starter. He found success running the offense and defending tough point guards like Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry. The Wizards won 10 of their first 13 games when Wall went down and Satoransky got much of the credit for helping them stay afloat. If he didn't step up, the Wizards may have missed the playoffs.

But Satoransky then had trouble adjusting back to his previous role as a backup. The Wizards signed point guard Ty Lawson and moved Satoransky off the ball. That change appeared to affect Satoransky's aggression on offense. At times, he played timid and the coaching staff went away from him for much of their playoff series against the Raptors.

Satoransky may have to get used to an evolving place in the Wizards' rotation. Though he is most comfortable at point guard, the Wizards see him as much more than a floor general. They want him to play shooting guard and small forward.

Now that Satoransky has more experience at those positions at the NBA level, perhaps he can put it all together and find consistency next season, his third in the NBA and his last under contract with the Wizards.

Potential to improve: Shooting off dribble, aggressiveness, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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