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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

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

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 22

2017-18 salary: $2.1 million

2017-18 stats: 81 G, 27.5 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 40.3 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 106 ORtg, 109 DRtg

Best game: 3/21 at Spurs - 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 9-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PT

Season review: The first half of Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s 2017-18 season went very differently than the second half. Through 46 games to begin the year, Oubre shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the perimeter. Oubre then shot just 34.9 percent from the field and 27.4 percent from three in his last 35 games to close the regular season. That included a stretch from March 25 through April 5 in which he shot 2-for-35 from long range and 23-for-77 (29.9%) overall in seven games.

As his head coach described, Oubre had a tale of two seasons. By mid-January it appeared to be a breakout year, as he was scoring consistently and shooting at a high percentage. He was even limiting his mistakes on defense. Then, his shot went away and Oubre could never quite regain it.

All in all, Oubre's season represented a step forward. He proved he could be a top-six player in a playoff rotation and had extended stretches of success he can draw confidence from in the future.

Now Oubre enters his biggest offseason yet as a basketball player. He has just one year left on his rookie scale contract and will be in line for a considerable raise if he keeps developing. If Oubre takes even a slight step forward, he will make big money in his next contract. If he takes a major leap forward, like Otto Porter did when he was in the same position in 2016-17, he could earn way more money than the Wizards can afford as currently constructed.

That dynamic gives the Wizards a decision to make this summer on Oubre's future. He has significant trade value at this point, given his upside and his contract. He is due to make just $3.2 million next season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If they don't see a long-term future for him in Washington, trading him this offseason should not be ruled out.

It figures to be a busy summer for the Wizards and when it comes to Oubre there are a lot of factors in play. If they want financial flexibility, another option would be to deal Porter or another frontcourt starter and roll with Oubre as a less expensive option. Though his season was inconsistent, Oubre has shown enough to warrant consideration as a starter.

Regardless of what the Wizards decide, Oubre himself is in good shape. If he keeps getting better, he will earn a nice deal whether it's in Washington or somewhere else. He just needs to find consistency on both ends of the floor. 

He can do that on offense by tightening up his ball-handling and improving his ability to get to the rim. That would allow him to circumnavigate the type of shooting struggles that held him back late in the year.

Defensively, he has all the natural ability needed to be an elite player. He just needs to limit the gambles he takes that turn into blown assignments or unnecessary fouls.

Potential to improve: Consistency, efficiency, ball-handling

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George Washington's coaching hire reunites the Christian brothers in D.C.

jarell_christian_jamion_christian_ben_standig.jpg
Ben Standig/ NBC Sports Washington

George Washington's coaching hire reunites the Christian brothers in D.C.

The basketball-minded Christian Brothers, Jamion and Jarell, studied like coaches as teenagers.

Their parents surrendered usage of their 1990’s era VCR so their kids could record one NBA or college game after another. They loved the players, but kept a close watch on the men roaming the sideline.

After playing stints on the college level, the South Kent County, Va. natives successfully pursued that passion. Both elevated to head coaching jobs. They were now in a position to analyze opposing coaches live. They did, with one notable exception: Each other.

“I’ve never actually been to a game where he was the head coach,” said Jarell, who just completed his first year as the head coach for the Wizards’ G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. “He’s never seen me coach.”

The same goes for Jamion, 36 and four years older than Jarell. The notable omission isn’t a case of sibling rivalry. Jarell humbly admits Jamion was the better basketball player “hands down. I was more aggressive, but he was more athletic, a better shooter.”

Brotherly love is real between the two. So are the life obstacles from their nomadic coaching lives.

That’s about to change now that Jamion is the new men’s basketball coach at George Washington.

“Just fired up to be here with my brother,” Jamion told NBC Sports Washington following Monday’s introductory press conference. “Be able to watch his success, his growth. He’s grown so much as a coach in the last four to five years, but it’s been at a distance. I haven’t had a chance to watch him as much.”

Forget watching each other’s in-game strategy or demeanor from the stands. Other than a brief time when both were at Division III Emory & Henry – Jamion served as an assistant, Jarell one of the team’s guards – the two haven’t lived in the same city since Jamion left home in 2000 to play for Mount St. Mary’s.

“Just doing the things most siblings do often we haven’t been able to do for quite some time. Even having our family come up and watch us both in the same weekend will be kind of special,” Jarell told NBC Sports Washington.

The entire Christian clan attended Monday’s event on the Foggy Bottom campus. Jarell’s connection to the Colonials before Jamion’s hire came from Capital City general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was one of the best players in GW’s history. The two helped lead the expansion Go-Go to a 25-25 record this season.

Jamion’s coaching résumé includes reaching the NCAA Tournament twice during his six seasons coaching his alma mater before taking over at Siena for the 2018-19 season. He led the Saints to a nine-win improvement in his lone season. Then GW came calling.

“It was a tough decision,” Christian said of leaving Siena. He ultimately could not pass on the opportunity to coach in the Atlantic 10 and specifically the D.C.-based school.

During his introductory comments and press conference, Jamion showed the traits that drew interest from George Washington. There will not be a viral video of Jamion screaming at a player. His vibe is closer to a high-energy motivational speaker than a stodgy basketball coach.

“I think this synergy and this connectivity is what really makes the difference. I don't necessarily think it's the coaching strategy like some people might want to believe,” Jamion Christian said of his program-building mindset. “I think it's just about getting your group to play close together, to believe in one another and fight through adversity and love the process of doing it.”

There’s more to this Christian brother’s rise up the coaching ranks beyond inspiring words.

“[Jamion’s] work ethic is something I always noticed,” Jarell said.

When the two grew up outside of Richmond, Jamion often woke Jarell up at 7 a.m. to drag his little brother to the basketball court. “At that time it was just for me to rebound for him,” Jarell joked, but those early rising moments helped trigger his love of basketball.  

Jarell knew he wanted to try coaching somewhere around eighth grade. He turned on the family VCR to watch college point guards like Mateen Cleaves and Khalid El-Amin. Specifically, how they controlled the game as extensions of their respective head coaches.

Pigeonholing one brother as a motivator and the other a strategist doesn’t paint a complete picture of either. It does perhaps explain why one landed in the pros and the other remains in the college game.

“I like the college system. I value education and what it gives to them, and I like recruiting,” Jamion said. “I think that’s the biggest difference (between us). Recruiting is something you really have to love and I do love it. I think [Jarell] loves more of the coaching and the time with the guys. We’ve got two different personalities in that way, but are both pretty good in our own regard.

Now the coaching brothers have the chance to watch the other at work in person, not to mention offer advice and drop a playful jab along the way.

“We’ve got an opportunity here and we don’t know long this opportunity will present itself so I’m going to try to take full advantage of it,” Jamion said. “I just hope his team stops giving up 120 points a game. Play a little better defense.”

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Wizards at Lakers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards at Lakers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards make the trek to Southern California Tuesday evening to play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to start a four-game road trip. 

Losers of four in a row, the Wizards are now well removed from a playoff spot and are facing the lottery. Fortunately for them, the Lakers are a for-sure lottery bound franchise completely eliminated from the postseason. 

Losses for the Wizards have come against the Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Miami Heat, three of which are potential playoff teams. Those were must-wins for anyone hoping for a fairytale run to finish the year. Any faint playoff hopes for Washington are now quickly fading. 

Los Angeles is in a free fall. They've dropped 10 of their last 12 and 16 of their last 20. Sounds like a perfect chance for the Wizards to compile a win over one of the league's most storied franchises. 

The Wizards and Lakers game takes place on Tuesday, March 26 at 10:30 p.m. at Staples Center and will be broadcast on TNT. 

WIZARDS at LAKERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Lakers game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Pregame and postgame coverage is on NBC Sports Washington Plus.
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Lakers on TNT's live stream page, WatchTNT.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at LAKERS TV SCHEDULE

9:30 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE - NBC Sports Washington Plus)
10:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE - NBC Sports Washington Plus)
10:30 PM: Wizards at Lakers (LIVE - TNT)
1:00 AM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE - NBC Sports Washington)

WIZARDS at LAKERS INJURY REPORT

Wizards: Dwight Howard (OUT, Back), John Wall (OUT, Achilles), Ariza (DAY-TO-DAY, Groin)
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (OUT, Ankle), Brandon Ingram (OUT, Shoulder), Josh Hart (DAY-TO-DAY, Knee), Reggie Bullock (DAY-TO-DAY, Foot), Mike Muscala (DAY-TO-DAY, Ankle)

WIZARDS at LAKERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (25.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.6 apg): Beal is averaging 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds over the month of March. He is  the clear mainstay and star for the Wizards as their 2018-19 season is coming to a close. 

LeBron James, Lakers (27.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 8.1 apg): James is reportedly on a minutes restriction, although they have not followed it over the past two weeks. Still in a more limited role than he is accustomed to he leads the team with 29.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game. 

Troy Brown Jr., Wizards (3.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.4 apg): Following the first two starts of his NBA career, Brown is finally getting a real taste of the association. The past five games have marked the only times this season that he received more than 20 minutes of playing time on the court. In his two starts, a combined 20 points on 8-for-19 shooting. 

WIZARDS at LAKERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of All-Time Meetings: 192 regular season games (no playoff games)
Regular Season Record: Lakers lead 118-74
Playoff Record: N/A
Last Meeting: Wizards won 128-110
Last 10: Wizards lead 8-2

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