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Robinson, Bryant and McRae likely to form core of Capital City Go-Go

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Capital City Go-Go

Robinson, Bryant and McRae likely to form core of Capital City Go-Go

With training camp starting later this month, we at NBC Sports are previewing the season for each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we look at three players who may spend a lot of time in the G-League: Devin Robinson, Thomas Bryant and Jordan McRae.

 

Player: SF Devin Robinson

Age: 23

2018-19 salary: Two-way contract

2017-18 stats: 1 G, 13.0 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 33.3FG%, 00.0 3P%, 00.0 FT%, 33.3 eFG%, 103 ORtg, 102 DRtg

2018-19 storyline: Devin Robinson was part of the very first year of NBA two-way contracts, as the Wizards signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida last summer. Now he enters year two hoping to make more of an impact than he did as a rookie. Robinson appeared in just one game last season for the Wizards.

In the Las Vegas Summer League this July, Robinson shined and displayed development in all parts of his game. He flashed some polish to go along with his obvious and rare athletic traits. The question now is whether he is ready to get a more extended look at the NBA level, or if he will have to get used to leading the Capital City Go-Go each and every night.

Wizards executives and coaches will acknowledge that Robinson was impressive in Summer League, but they only put so much stock into performances in Las Vegas. Though he may have raised his stock significantly among fans, that’s not going to be the basis of their evaluation. They want to see him gain muscle, develop more as a ball-handler and continue to adapt to his new shooting mechanics, which they installed this past season to raise his release point.

If the Wizards’ roster was constructed more like it was last year, Robinson would have a clearer path to getting minutes. But this year, they have added depth in their frontcourt and it’s hard to see Robinson passing rookie Troy Brown, Jr. at small forward, where the Wizards are deeper than at any other position.

The safest expectation for Robinson this season is to make a lot of noise for the G-League team and be promoted as their star player.

Potential to improve: Gain weight, ball-handling, rebounding

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Player: C Thomas Bryant

Age: 21

2018-19 salary: $1.4 million

2017-18 stats: 15 G, 4.8 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 38.1 FG%, 10.0 3P%, 55.6 FT%, 40.5 eFG%, 100 ORtg, 108 DRtg 

2018-19 storyline: Amid all the hype for their trade for Austin Rivers and their signing of Dwight Howard and Jeff Green, the Wizards made a minor move on the second day of free agency by claiming Thomas Bryant off waivers from the L.A. Lakers. He was a second round pick just last summer out of Indiana University, where he attended as a highly prized recruit.

Bryant’s career at Indiana didn’t live up to expectations and he only played 15 games for the Lakers, but the long-term potential is enticing. The Wizards basically acquired a project who could convey as a diamond in the rough someday down the road.

Bryant did have some success last year in the G-League, as he was named first-team all-league and to the rookie team. He averaged 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot 36.4 percent from three for the South Bay Lakers. That latter is a particularly good sign for a guy who measures in at 6-foot-10.

Like Robinson, Bryant will probably spend much of his time in the G-League once Go-Go training camp begins. He is a raw talent on the outside of the rotation looking in. The Wizards have Howard and Ian Mahinmi set at center with Jason Smith behind them. They can also opt to go small and use guys like Markieff Morris at the five spot.

Bryant should thrive at the G-League level and could set himself up for a more important role the following season. There is also the potential for an opportunity to come from injury. If either Howard or Mahinmi goes down, Bryant could get the call-up.

Regardless, the fact the Wizards can afford someone like Bryant the playing time to continue developing at the G-League level is a huge bonus. The Wizards believe they can get their young players to log at least 1,000 to 1,400 minutes this season between the two leagues. Bryant can hit that mark if he stays healthy, strictly by being a key cog for the Go-Go.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, rebounding, finishing at rim

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Player: SG Jordan McRae

Age: 27

2018-19 salary: Two-way contract

2017-18 stats: (didn’t play in NBA)

2018-19 storyline: The toughest guy to set expectations for on the Wizards’ 2018-19 roster has to be Jordan McRae and the answer could be to not expect much at all when it comes to the NBA level. He will likely be with the team until G-League training camp starts, as the two-way contract clock doesn’t begin until then. But the path to playing time for McRae does not appear to be there as of now.

McRae is a shooting guard and the Wizards are pretty set at the position. They have an All-Star in Bradley Beal and an unusually capable backup in Rivers. Plus, Brown can play some at the two and then there’s Jodie Meeks, who will certainly be motivated to bounce back this year with free agency on the horizon.

That said, McRae is a bit older than the typical two-way player, so he’s not a long-term project. And he also had two years of NBA experience to draw from, including time with the NBA champion 2016 Cavaliers.

Beyond those facts, helping McRae’s cause are two things. One is that he has shot well from three in the NBA with a 38.4 career percentage. The other is that he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan despite standing 6-foot-6. If injuries pave the way and the Wizards are looking for length and athleticism, he could fit the bill.

The most likely scenario for McRae is a lot of time with the Go-Go. He was a G-League All-Star for the 2015-16 season and is the type of veteran who could help usher along the Wizards’ young prospects.

Potential to improve: Forcing turnovers, field goal percentage, rebounding

 

 

2018-19 WIZARDS ROSTER OUTLOOK:

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Wizards and Warriors have an eventful history for two teams that don't play each other often

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USA Today Sports

Wizards and Warriors have an eventful history for two teams that don't play each other often

For two teams that only play each other twice a season and have no regional ties, the Wizards and Warriors have an underrated history between them. There have been thrilling games, memorable moments and a good deal of bad blood between the players.

As far as game results, Golden State has held the upper hand. That sounds about right, given the Warriors have won three of the last four championships. Since John Wall entered the league, the Warriors are 13-2 against Washington.

Before the Wizards take on the Warriors in the Bay Area on Wednesday night (10 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), take a look back at some of the most consequential games between the teams...

March 23, 2013 - Klay vs. John

A lot of people forget about this one. Back in March of 2013, long before the Warriors became a dynasty, Wall was ejected for a confrontation with Klay Thompson at Oracle Arena.

While they were each chasing a loose ball, Thompson shoved Wall to the ground with his shoulder and Wall took offense. Before the ball was inbounded for the next play, Wall went up to Thompson and confronted him with a healthy amount of trash-talk.

The refs saw it and sent Wall to the showers. The Wizards ended up losing the game.

Feb. 28, 2017 - Durant gets hurt in his return to D.C.

Kevin Durant made the surprising decision to join the Warriors in the summer of 2016 and few fanbases were more shocked than those of the Wizards, who had long seen their franchise as a logical landing spot for the hometown star. Durant didn't make his return to Washington with his new team until February of that season, and his homecoming didn't last long.

Just 1:33 into his night, Durant suffered a knee injury when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell into him in a game against the Wizards. The injury initially appeared to be very serious, though Durant was able to return just over a month later.

One of the worst parts about it all was that Pachulia clearly flopped unnecessarily on the play. Another reason to hate flopping.

April 2, 2017 - Jennings vs. JaVale

Neither of these guys are still on the teams at play, but this was a good one. Late in the 2016-17 season, the Wizards were getting blown out by the Warriors when center JaVale McGee decided to shoot a three from the corner.

Wizards guard Brandon Jennings thought that crossed the line of good sportsmanship. Golden State was up big and there is an unwritten rule in basketball not to run up the score at the very end.

So, Jennings pushed McGee to the ground and afterwards both had a series of entertaining quotes about the matter. A league-wide debate about unwritten rules also broke out in the ensuing days.

Among the things said in the aftermath, Jennings pointed out how he could have done more.

"Thank God he didn't go to the rack," Jennings said. "It probably would have been worse for him... I'm old school. Like I said, he better be glad he shot that three and didn't go to the rack."

Oct. 27, 2018 - Draymond vs. Brad

Wizards fans should remember this well because it was the most recent spat between the teams. On Oct. 27 of last year, Bradley Beal and Draymond Green were both ejected for a fight at Oracle. It started after a missed shot with the Wizards on offense as both players were jockeying for position to grab the rebound.

They got tangled and ended up falling out of bounds into the stands in a tussle. Many players joined in on the fun.

Amazingly, neither Beal or Green were suspended. Others weren't as lucky, including Markieff Morris and Carrick Felix who stepped onto the court when they were supposed to remain on the bench. 

None of this is to suggest the Wizards and Warriors will be at each other's throats on Wednesday night, but history suggests it should be an entertaining game.

 

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Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Most nights, with little variance, the Wizards know what they are going to get from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. They are consistently what they are, both good and bad, and mostly good.

The same cannot always be said about Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Both are capable of brilliance, it's just those moments come and go and sometimes with mysterious timing. Both players help the team more often than not, but can be unpredictable and enigmatic.

Monday night saw both Morris and Oubre at their best as the Wizards topped the Blazers 125-124 in overtime at the Moda Center. It was a worthy reminder of how much the two of them can change the outlook for the Wizards as a team on any given night.

Let's begin with Morris because this may have been the best game he's played with the Wizards since joining them in a Feb. 2016 trade. On both ends of the floor, he  was a force, but particularly on offense.

Morris erupted for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. His six threes were a career-high. He also had 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.

It was the most efficient night in Morris' career and, by one measure, one of the most efficient in franchise history. His 28 points were the most by a Wizards or Bullets player in 25 minutes or less since A.J. English dropped 30 points in 23 minutes in 1990.

Morris' threes were well-timed. He hit two in the extra period, including one with 38.5 seconds remaining to put the Wizards up four. He also made one with 1:04 left in regulation and another right before that with 1:39 to go, both to give the Wizards a lead at the time. 

The clutch threes invoked memories of a game-winner Morris hit in the very same building two seasons ago. That also happened to be his best year with the Wizards.

Morris has improved his three-point shooting in recent years with a career-best 36.7 percent last season. When he's knocking them down, the Wizards can be uniquely good at spacing the floor, as Wall and especially Beal and Porter can be dangerous from three.

What Morris did against Portland was a major departure from a pair of uninspired games to begin the season. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds total in his first two games, both losses, as he failed to compensate for Dwight Howard's absence. On Monday, he stepped up and helped lead the Wizards to victory.

Like Morris, Oubre had been scuffling through two games. A different version of him showed up in Portland.

Oubre amassed only 17 points in his first two games and shot just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from three. Against the Blazers, Oubre scored 22 points and shot 9-for-13 overall and 3-for-3 from long range.

Oubre added six rebounds, a block and a steal and a host of winning plays that didn't show up in traditional stats. He drew a loose ball foul on Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter and took a charge on C.J. McCollum with under two minutes in overtime.

Oubre played pretty much exactly how head coach Scott Brooks often says he should. He ran the floor in transition and attacked the rim when the ball swung his way. He was more selective with his three-point attempts than usual. He wreaked havoc on defense with deflections, didn't gamble for steals and he hustled for rebounds. 

Monday night showed the perfect version of both Morris and Oubre. The Wizards need that to be the model for how they aspire to play every single night. If they do, this team's ceiling is significantly higher.

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