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Wizards starters have best net rating of any lineup in the NBA even before Markieff Morris returns

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Wizards starters have best net rating of any lineup in the NBA even before Markieff Morris returns

The Wizards have the best five-man lineup of any in the NBA seven games into the season. It's made of their starters in that span – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Marcin Gortat. 

That group has outscored opponents by 69 points on the floor together, according to the latest stats from Basketball-Reference.com. 

Note that immediately trailing the Wizards are the Warriors, defending NBA champs, with two former MVPs and four max-salary-level players among the five. 

MORE WIZARDS: Hot start to NBA Power Rankings

The Wizards starters have logged 125.7 minutes together on the floor despite only being intact for six games (Porter sat out the Wizards' loss to the Suns with illness). Only two other five-man lineups have played more minutes together. 

That's all about to change when Markieff Morris returns to the starting lineup after recovering from offseason hernia surgery and serving a one-game suspension. 

As Wizards reporter Chase Hughes noted earlier this week, the Wizards have fared well with Oubre slotting into Morris's place, but re-inserting Morris into the starting five could make the team even more dangerous because it allows Oubre to anchor the bench.

Swapping in Morris shouldn't disrupt that success and pushing Oubre to the bench will only help the second unit. With Morris' return getting closer and closer, the Wizards have to feel good about how they have operated during his absence and the potential of their roster once he is back in the fold.

The potential Hughes references is the Wizards' ability to swap Oubre and Morris in and out with great production from each.

Last season, the Wall-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat lineup outscored opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions while playing 69 games together. That's a huge sample size (1347.4 minutes) of consistently high production. For some context, that was second best in the Eastern Conference among lineups that played more than 250 minutes together.

Subbing in Oubre bumped that net rating to +18.3, albeit over 39 games. Furthermore, playing the super-small "death lineup" of Wall-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Morris, which the Wizards used in 30 games, put up a +15.8 net rating per 100 possessions. 

So the moral of this story is that the Wizards have two very good options at power forward. When Morris returns, the Wizards can use Oubre to anchor the bench or play alongside Morris very effectively in a small lineup. 

It's a good place to be just in time for the Cavaliers. And if Oubre continues to excel, he could force his way into the starting conversation down the road. 

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Wizards plan to introduce Dwight Howard Monday

Wizards plan to introduce Dwight Howard Monday

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? 

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.

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