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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Kevin Knox

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Kevin Knox

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Kevin Knox

School: Kentucky
Position: Power forward
Age: 18 (turns 19 on Aug. 11)
Height: 6-9
Weight: 213
Wingspan: 6-11 3/4
Max vertical: 36.5

2017/18 stats: 15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 44.5 FG%, 34.1 3PT% (1.5 3P/4.5 3PA), 77.4 FT%
Player comparison: Antawn Jamison/Tobias Harris
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 15th, Sports Illustrated 11th

5 things to know:

*Knox projects as a stretch-four with the ability to play some small forward in bigger lineups. He has good range and proved at Kentucky he can get super hot from three. He made three threes or more in eight different games, including on Jan. 27 against West Virginia when he made five threes and dropped a career-high 34 points. He could be a strong outside shooter at the next level.

*He is still only 18-years-old, which means he could keep growing. At the very least, he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. 

*Knox's concerns center around his ability to create off the dribble and his potential on defense. Knox blocked only 10 shots his entire freshman season with the Wildcats. He did, however, show promise as a rebounder. He averaged 5.4 boards per game and had seven games where he grabbed eight or more, including 11 against LSU on Jan. 3.

*He was a top-10 recruit entering Kentucky who played in the McDonald's All-American game. Knox has two gold medals from representing Team USA at FIBA tournaments.

*Knox's father was a star wide receiver at Florida State and was part of their 1993 national championship team. He went on to play one season in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted in the sixth round.

Fit with Wizards: Knox would be a perfect fit positionally for the Wizards both in the short- and long-term. As a rookie, he would slide in as their primary backup power forward who could also pitch in at small forward. He would add scoring to their bench as a nice contrast to the defense of Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Ian Mahinmi.

Beyond next season, Knox could potentially start. The Wizards have both of their starting big men, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat, on expiring deals. Knox could probably coexist with Morris, if he sticks around, and give the Wizards two big men that can shoot.

The problem is that Knox may not be there at 15. He seems like a safe bet to rise up draft boards in the next few weeks, possibly even into the top 10.

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For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

For a January game, Wizards vs. Pistons has plenty of playoff implications

Winners of six of their last nine games, the Washington Wizards have breathed new life into their season, now with revitalized hopes of making the playoffs. On Monday, they will get a shot at one of the teams standing in their way.

With a 2 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington, the Wizards host the Detroit Pistons in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee. The Wizards are 10th in the Eastern Conference and the Pistons are ninth.

With a win over the Pistons, the Wizards would move into a tie for ninth, just one spot out of the playoff picture. Though more than two months remain in the regular season, the Wizards can gain some valuable ground.

Whether that is on their mind going into the match-up depends on whom you ask.

"It's definitely too early to talk about it," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"I think there are some very important games [coming up] where we go head-to-head against the guys who are around us in the standings," guard Tomas Satoransky said, singing a different tune.

Satoransky doesn't just see an opportunity against the Pistons on Monday, he mentioned Friday's game against the Magic as well. Orlando is one spot behind the Wizards in 11th.

The standings are one thing. Even more important for the big picture is head-to-head records, which determine tiebreakers for playoff seeding. The Wizards are 0-1 against the Pistons, having lost in Detroit on Dec. 26. 

A win on Monday would tie the season series with only one meeting left, on Feb. 11. If the Pistons win on Monday, they would lock up the tiebreaker.

The Wizards have reasons to be confident going into this meeting with the Pistons. While they are playing their best basketball of the season, Detroit has been in a tailspin. Going back to Dec. 3, they are 7-18. Only the Cavaliers have more losses during that stretch.

In those 25 games, the Pistons have been 28th in the NBA in offensive rating (103.6) and effective field goal percentage (49.6). They have committed the third-most turnovers per game (15.6).

Injuries haven't been the reason, but the Pistons have a few to report entering Monday's game. All-Star center Andre Drummond missed their last game on Saturday with a concussion and is considered day-to-day. Guard Ish Smith is also day-to-day after missing Saturday's game with a groin injury.

The Wizards have a chance to beat a reeling team and gain some control of their playoff hopes. We'll see if they take advantage.

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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

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5 things to know about new Wizards guard Gary Payton II, also known as 'The Mitten'

The Wizards are set to add guard Gary Payton II on a 10-day contract to fill their 14th roster spot. Here are five things to know about the Wizards' newest player...

1. Payton II is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton Sr. His father made nine All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams, won a title with the Heat on 2006 and is considered one of the best defensive players of all-time. Payton starred for the Seattle Supersonics in the 1990s, so naturally Payton II is originally from Seattle.

2. His father also had one of the best NBA nicknames of all-time. He was known as 'The Glove.' So, according to Basketball Reference, Payton II is sometimes referred to as 'The Mitten.' 

3. Payton II, a point guard, is listed at 6-foot-3 and shoots left-handed. He has appeared in 29 total NBA games split between the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He was Thomas Bryant's teammate in L.A. 

Payton II also spent time with the Portland Trailblazers in 2018-19 training camp before getting released in October. Since then, he played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the G-League where he averaged 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals in 13 games.

4. Just like his father, Payton II played his college ball at Oregon State. With the Beavers, Payton II became the first player to win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year twice. He averaged 2.8 steals per game in college.

5. Payton goes by Payton II, not by Payton Jr. That's because his half-brother is Gary Payton Jr. Payton Sr. named two of his sons after himself. There is also a third Payton brother named Julian, according to Payton II's college bio.

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