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By the numbers: Wizards' offense supercharged since Parker and Portis trade

By the numbers: Wizards' offense supercharged since Parker and Portis trade

The Wizards made five trades this season from October to February. If the trade deadline was later than Feb. 7, they probably would have made more. They really like trades.

All of those moves have put head coach Scott Brooks in a weird spot. Over and over this season, he has had to incorporate new players, whether they came from trades, the G-League or 10-day contracts.

The latest installment has existed for 13 games. That's when they inserted Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson into the mix after a pair of deals on Feb. 6 brought them to Washington. Along the way, rookie Troy Brown Jr. also cracked the rotation, earning some consistent playing time for the first time all season.

These 13 games have produced a mixed bag. They are 6-7, the exact same record they had in the previous 13 games. 

So, what exactly has changed? Well, a lot more than the record would suggest.

They are better at some things and worse at others. The biggest improvements have been in rebounding, three-point defense and with their offense overall. They still can't defend or stop opponents from getting offensive rebounds, but their offense has reached a new level.

First, the rebounding. The Wizards were 28th in the NBA in the category before the trades and are 15th since, with 4.6 more boards per game. Portis (9.4 rpg) and Parker (6.8 rpg) have led the Wizards on the glass. 

Portis, who had 13 boards on Monday night in their win over the Kings, has been the Wizards' best rebounder this season. He's averaging more than Dwight Howard did in his nine-game stint (9.2) and already has as many double-digit rebounding games (seven) as Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris did this season with the Wizards combined. Porter and Morris, of course, were the guys who left in the Feb. 6 trades. 

Three-point defense has been a major issue for the Wizards this year, but lately that has not been the case. Surely, it could be coincidental or misleading based on the sample size, but the numbers are worth pointing out.

Before the addition of Parker and Portis, the Wizards were dead-last in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage (37.7). Since, they are seventh-best, holding teams to just 33.3 percent from long range. That's exactly what the Kings shot on Monday, as they went 9-for-27 from the perimeter. 

Overall, however, the Wizards have been markedly worse on defense. They are giving up 2.8 more points per game and are forcing 3.1 fewer turnovers per contest. The Wizards previously were second-best in the NBA in forcing turnovers. Now, they are a mediocre 17th. They are also giving up 7.2 more points in the paint per game and rank last in the NBA in the category.

The biggest difference between the pre-Parker and Portis Wizards and them now is their offense. The Wizards were about average offensively before the deals, but since have been supercharged.

They are playing much faster, for one. Their 104.85 pace factor (possessions per 48 minutes) is third in the NBA over the past 13 games. It would lead the league if held over the full season and would be the fastest pace since the 1990-91 Denver Nuggets.

Again, small sample size, but the Wizards are really pushing the ball. Parker and Portis are faster than their predecessors, Porter and Morris, and it shows. Parker, in particular, has added a new element by leading the fastbreak as a point-forward.

Now, that speed has led to some mistakes, particularly from Parker. The Wizards lead the NBA in turnovers with 15.8 per game since the trades. They were previously pretty good at protecting the ball, ranking 11th in the NBA with 14 turnovers per game.

The added pace does have some advantages, however. Since Parker and Portis were acquired, the Wizards lead the NBA in effective field goal percentage (55.1) when they were previously 11th. They lead the NBA in assists per game (29.5) when before they were seventh. And their offensive rating has gone up from 109.2 (16th) to 113.3 (fifth). 

That has led to a big improvement in net rating. They were 24th at -3.0, but are now 14th at a barely-positive +0.4. That's a 3.4-point swing.

Rebounding and three-point defense have been some of the Wizards' most glaring weaknesses this season. So far with Parker and Portis, they have shown moderate improvement.

But more than anything, they have become a legitimate run-and-gun offense. It hasn't necessarily translated into more wins, but maybe that will come next.

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

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Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

The 76ers-Nets playoff series has been wild from the start, but the trash talk and physical play reached the next level in the Sixers' Game 4 victory Sunday. 

The contest featured two ejections as well as a game-deciding shot with 19.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the middle of it all? None other than Jared Dudley and Mike Scott, who played for the Wizards in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. 

Tensions between Dudley and the Sixers had been simmering since he slammed Ben Simmons in the media after Game 1.

With 7:42 left in the third quarter Saturday, Joel Embiid committed a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen under the basket. An incensed Dudley shoved Embiid, prompting Jimmy Butler to push Dudley away.

When Simmons to try to separate the two, he and Dudley got tangled up and tumbled into the front-row seats. Both Dudley and Butler were ejected on the spot. 

The Nets held a 67-61 advantage when Dudley and Butler were tossed, but that lead dwindled to one point with under a minute left to go. 

Brooklyn made the mistake of leaving Scott open in the corner, where Embiid set him up for a go-ahead three-pointer with 19.7 seconds remaining.

A pair of Tobias Harris free throws sealed the Sixers' 112-108 win, putting them up 3-1 in the series. Scott and company can finish off Dudley's squad in Game 5 on Tuesday. 

In the meantime, listen as Scott goes 1-on-1 with Chris Miller in the latest Wizards Talk Podcast. 

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Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 5: WILL THE WIZARDS GET LUCKY IN THE DRAFT LOTTERY ON MAY 14?

Though the Washington Wizards made some poor decisions to create the mess their next general manager will need to clean up, they have also been struck with a good deal of bad luck. John Wall falling in his home and rupturing his Achilles tendon certainly qualifies. Dwight Howard suffering a relapse with his back and requiring surgery to repair a herniated disc was out of their control. And if Bradley Beal makes All-NBA and qualifies for a supermax this summer, the timing would not be ideal as far as their finances are concerned.

The Wizards have long been one of the most snakebitten franchises in sports and even stand out in a city where curses are often blamed for sports misery. They could use some luck for a change and especially on the night of May 14.

That's when the 2019 NBA draft lottery will take place in Chicago, Ill. ESPN will broadcast the event live at 8:30 p.m. as the ping-pong balls fly through the air, determining the order for the June 20 draft and therefore the future of the league.

The Wizards will for the first time since 2013 have high stakes in the lottery. They had finished with at least a .500 record for five straight seasons before bottoming out in 2018-19. But their 32-50 record this past season gave them the sixth-best lottery odds and, in the first year under new lottery rules, that has left them in excellent shape ahead of May 14.

The Wizards lottery odds will break down pick-by-pick like this:

1st - 9.0%

2nd - 9.2%

3rd - 9.4%

4th - 9.6%

5th - N/A

6th - 8.6%

7th - 29.6%

8th - 20.6%

9th - 3.8%

10th - 0.2%

The two most important numbers to consider are nine and 37.2. They have a nine percent chance at the first overall pick and a 37.2 percent shot at selecting in the top four.

The Wizards' nine percent odds at No. 1 are only five ticks lower than the top teams in lottery odds, the Knicks, Cavs and Suns who are tied at 14 percent. Though their chances are still less than one-in-ten, that means they will be very much in the mix to land the ultimate prize, Duke forward Zion Williamson.

Williamson would change everything for the team that drafts him, but perhaps especially for the Wizards, considering the alternative direction their franchise could go. They already fired their general manager and have an uncertain future with their head coach Scott Brooks and arguably with their best player, Beal, as well. They appear to be teetering on the brink of a rebuild and Williamson could jumpstart them into the other direction.

No draft prospect, maybe with the exception of LeBron James in 2003, offers guarantees. Williamson could top out as a good, but not great player. But few who have dominated college basketball quite like he did have then failed to live up to the hype. Consider the fact he is only the third freshman ever to win the Naismith award for NCAA's best player. The other two were Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.

One NBA front office executive told NBC Sports Washington he believes Williamson will be an All-Star as a rookie and not just because of fan voting. He has superstar potential, both from a production and marketing standpoint. Williamson would likely step right in as at least the Wizards' second-best healthy player and as the face of their franchise, the player most associate them with.

Landing the top pick is not the only way May 14 can result in a success for the Wizards. Jumping into the top four would be a major victory, especially in this year's draft which appears to be top-heavy. That could mean a chance to draft Ja Morant of Murray State or R.J. Barrett, Williamson's teammate at Duke. 

Barrett would be a nice fit alongside Beal and Wall when he returns from injury. He complements them positionally and has All-Star potential.

If Morant is the best player on the board, the Wizards should take him. But doing so would create a brand new storyline of how he would co-exist with Wall, who plays the same position. That dynamic would be hard to ignore for as long as they are together in the organization.

Though the Wizards have a better than one-in-three shot at the top four, their two most likely landing spots are No. 7 and 8 overall. If the Wizards did not make a major jump in the lottery, they may be wise to trade back and acquire more picks. They do not have a second round pick this year and not until 2023. They also have roster spots to fill and could use more young (and cheap) players.

The Wizards may not have to trade back very far to stock their cupboard with more picks. Last June, the Hawks got a lightly-protected first round pick from the Mavericks for going back from No. 3 to No. 5. The Sixers traded back from 10th to 16th with the Suns and scooped the Miami Heat's unprotected 2021 first round pick.

In a draft that most consider to not be deep outside of the top four or five picks, the Wizards may not see a huge difference in the eight pick and, say, selecting 12th. And that could be the key to getting another first or a collection of second round picks.

There are so many scenarios for the Wizards that all depend on their luck on May 14. Who they choose to send as their representative will be interesting. Will it be Beal, who right now is their biggest star? How about Wall, who was the first overall pick in 2010 and would be able to impact the franchise in an indirect way despite his long-term injury absence? It could also be whomever they hire as their new GM, or someone in the ownership group.

The Wizards, like the 13 other teams in the lottery, will be hoping for a blessing from the basketball gods.

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