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Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

The Wizards this season have been notable for their inconsistency and that has been even more evident in the last eight games with John Wall injured. The same team that notched wins against the Timberwolves, Blazers and Pistons lost to the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and by 47 points to the under-.500 Utah Jazz.

Perhaps ironically, given results of the past several years, the one mainstay while Wall has been out has been the Wizards' bench. With the team's best player out, the Wizards' much-maligned second unit has collectively upped their game. 

In the last eight games without Wall, the Wizards' bench is scoring 41.5 points in 20.9 minutes per game with a +1.4 rating. All of those rank in the top 10 in the NBA during that span. For the season they are much more average with 34.1 points (10th) and 18.2 minutes (18th) per game and a net rating of -0.2 (15th).

In the Wizards' four wins without Wall since his latest injury, their bench has scored 40.8 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent from three. They have been +8.3 as a group.

The bench in Wall's absence has seen a host of contributors step up in different games. Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Ian Mahinmi have had their moments. But in the last three games, two of them wins, backup forward Mike Scott has been the standout.

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Scott has 40 points on 17-for-19 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range in his last three outings. That's to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists. His 22 points against the Clippers on Saturday were his most in a game since April of 2014.

Scott, 29, joined the Wizards as a reclamation project in the offseason on a one-year, prove-it deal. So far that signing has been a positive. At his best, Scott provides an important scoring punch off the bench.

There have been some off-nights and some games where minutes aren't offered by head coach Scott Brooks. But overall, Scott's consistency scoring the ball has a nice boost for the Wizards. He has reached double-figures in points 10 times this season off the Wizards' bench. Only Oubre has more (13) this year and only three Wizards players - Oubre, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jason Smith - had more double-figure scoring games off the bench all of last season.

Scott is putting up some of the best numbers of his six-year NBA career. He's shooting career-highs from the field (54.9%) and three-point range (41.9%) and his 8.3 points per game are his most since the 2013-14 season. 

Some nights it's easy to tell early when Scott is in rhythm. He often scores quickly once he checks in, mixing midrange jumpers and fadeaways with a dose of quick-release threes. This season Scott is shooting 40 percent on corner threes, 53.3 percent on midrange shots from three to 10 feet, 69.2 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 58.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line.

The Wizards didn't have an efficient scorer off their bench at this point last season. In Scott, they appear to have one and he comes at the reasonable price of a veteran minimum contract.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?