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On Dwight Howard and the Wizards

The Wizards in recent seasons always seem pretty good, but never take that next step towards rising up and being closer to great. Now they’ve added Dwight Howard, who still puts up nice stats but needs to show that he actually impacts a game beyond some numbers in the usual stat categories. Here’s a look on the positive side of things regarding the Wizards and new center Dwight Howard, from NBC Sports Washington:

On Dwight Howard and the Wizards

Howard is already 15th all-time in total rebounds. Last season, he surpassed Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. He has long since eclipsed Dennis Rodman, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Ben Wallace.

Howard is objectively one of the best rebounders of all-time and he hasn’t slowed down much, if at all, from his younger days. Last season, he grabbed 12.5 rebounds per game, good for third in the NBA.

If Howard can keep that up with the Wizards and get Wall out in the open court a second or two quicker than in the past, the Wizards could be uniquely dangerous.

“He’s the best rebounder in the league. It creates offense for our guys that can play fast and can shoot,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said.

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Wizards sign Dwight Howard

The Washington Wizards’ signing of free agent center Dwight Howard became official today.

“Dwight has been known throughout his career as one of the league’s best defenders, rebounders and finishers around the rim, all areas that we needed to improve heading into next season,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “His inside presence and athleticism will give us a much different look and will open up opportunities for us on both ends of the floor.”

According to NBC Sports Washington, “Howard was signed to a two-year deal worth $11 million with the second year a player option.”

At this point in his career, Howard is more of a supporting cast player than a star. He can still put up big stats, especially as a rebounder, and he’s still starting material and certainly should start for the Wizards with Marcin Gortat gone. But John Wall and Bradley Beal are still expected to lead the way in DC, with Howard supporting their efforts.

Howard (6-11, 265) has averaged 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting .585 from the floor in 1,035 NBA games (1,034 starts) over 14 NBA seasons with Orlando, L.A. Lakers, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte.

The 32-year-old center posted 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 assists while shooting .555 from the field in 81 games (all starts) for Charlotte last season. He finished the 2017-18 campaign third in the NBA in point-rebound double-doubles (fourth overall), third in total blocks, third in total rebounds and rebounds per game, fourth in total defensive rebounds and defensive rebounds per game, fifth in total offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds per game, seventh in blocks per game and 11th in field goal percentage.

Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year (winning three straight awards from 2008-09 to 2010-11) and has also earned five All-NBA First Team selections while being named All-NBA Second Team once and All-NBA Third Team twice. The former number one overall draft choice (2004) has been selected to the All-NBA Defensive First Team four times and also earned All-NBA Defensive Second Team honors once.

The eight-time All-Star currently leads all active players with 13,101 career rebounds, 3,647 career offensive rebounds and 2,047 career blocks. He has averaged 18.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.4 assists while shooting .545 from the floor in 95 career playoff games (including the 2008-09 postseason, when he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals).

Wizards sign Jeff Green

The Wizards have signed free agent forward Jeff Green.

The contract is reportedly just for one year.

“Jeff is a proven veteran who will add to our frontcourt rotation with his ability to play and defend multiple positions,” said Grunfeld. “We’re excited to be bringing him back to the D.C. area and look forward to his experience and professionalism benefiting us on the court and in the locker room.”

Green (6-9, 235) has averaged 13.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting .438 from the floor and .332 from three-point range in 783 NBA games (498 starts) over 10 NBA seasons with Seattle/Oklahoma City, Boston, Memphis, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando and Cleveland. Last season, he posted 10.8 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting .477 from the field and .312 from three-point range in 78 games (14 starts) en route to helping the Cavs reach the NBA Finals.

Over his career, Green has averaged 9.8 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting .331 from three-point range in 60 playoff games (17 starts). The 31-year-old forward has averaged double figures in nine of his 10 NBA seasons and scored the 10,000th point of his career last season (Jan. 15 vs. Golden State).

Signing with the Wizards marks a homecoming for Green, who was originally selected with the fifth overall pick by Boston in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Georgetown (and was named All-Rookie First Team in 2007-08). He played three years as a Hoya, where he received numerous accolades including Big East Player of the Year in 2007. Green was born in Cheverly, MD, and attended Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, where he led the NHS Wildcats to the state basketball championship in 2004.

Wizards add Thomas Bryant off waivers

The Washington Wizards yesterday claimed Thomas Bryant off of waivers from the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Thomas is an intriguing young prospect with size and athleticism who showed he has three-point range during his time in the G League last season,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He will be able to continue his development process as he gains experience and works with our staff.”

Bryant (6-10, 245 lbs.) appeared in 37 games while on assignment with the South Bay Lakers of the G League last season, averaging 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting .597 (284-476) from the floor and .364 (67-184) from three-point range. The 20-year old center, who has a 7’6” wingspan, also appeared in 15 games with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A native of Rochester, NY, Bryant was originally drafted 42nd overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2017 NBA Draft. Bryant was acquired by the Lakers from the Jazz along with the draft rights to Josh Hart in exchange for the draft rights to Tony Bradley on June 22, 2017.

Bryant played collegiately for two seasons at Indiana (2015-17) and averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting .592 from the field and .373 from three-point range. He was named Third Team All-Big 10 as a sophomore after earning Big 10 All-Freshman honors following his first campaign.

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired guard Austin Rivers from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for center Marcin Gortat.

“Acquiring Austin gives us another versatile, experienced player who provides scoring and playmaking,” said Grunfeld. “He is coming off a career year and his ability to create offense for himself and others will help our second unit and allow us to play a variety of lineups throughout the season.”

“We are excited to welcome Marcin Gortat to the Clippers, a respected player that brings years of NBA experience and additional toughness to this team. We’ve been a fan of Marcin’s for some time and this decision will help rebalance the roster by adding another proven big man to the front court,” said Lawrence Frank, Clippers’ President of Basketball Operations. “Austin’s development as a player is a testament to his work ethic and desire to improve. We experienced a lot of success with Austin and are grateful for his contributions during his four seasons with the club. The Clippers wish Brittany and Austin all the best in Washington.”

Rivers (6-5, 200) averaged career highs of 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals this season while shooting a career-high .378 (136-360) from three-point range in 61 games (59 starts). The 25-year-old guard posted 12 games of 20+ points, three games of 30+ points and set a new career high with 38 points at Memphis on Dec. 22 (one night after scoring 36 at Houston).

He holds career averages of 9.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 408 career games (130 starts) while shooting .355 from three-point range in five seasons with the Clippers and New Orleans. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Rivers has appeared in 23 career playoff games (six starts), all with the Clippers. He entered the NBA after one season at Duke, where he earned First Team All-ACC honors.

Gortat, who was originally acquired prior to the 2013-14 season, posted 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting .555 from the field in 402 (out of a possible 410) games over his five seasons in Washington. The team posted an .543 (223-187) overall record and made four playoff appearances during his tenure.

“We appreciate Marcin’s contributions during his time with us and wish him the best moving forward,” said Grunfeld. “He is a very durable professional who helped the team in many ways to become a perennial playoff contender and set an example with his work in the community both in D.C. and in his native country of Poland.”

The Washington Wizards selected Troy Brown Jr. out of Oregon and Issuf Sanon out of Slovenia in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Brown Jr., a 6-7, 215-pound swingman, was selected with the 15th overall pick. In his lone season at Oregon, he averaged 11.3 points, a team-high 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. In addition, he recorded a team-best 55 steals and finished just one assist shy of a triple double against Portland State on Dec. 13 when he recorded 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine assists.

“Troy is a very versatile player with a high basketball IQ, great work ethic and outstanding character,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He will be able to play and defend three positions and his playmaking abilities will allow him to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.”

A native of Las Vegas, NV, Brown was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit in 2017 at Centennial High School. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship team.

“I was impressed with Troy both on and off the court throughout the draft process and I’m excited to have him work with our coaches throughout the summer,” said Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks. “His size, toughness and all-around game make him a good fit for our roster and will give him the opportunity to earn minutes as a young player.”

Sanon, a 6-4, 177-pound guard, was selected 44th overall by the Wizards. He averaged 22.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists over the last two seasons in Ukraine’s 2nd Division before moving to Olimpija in Slovenia in January.

“Issuf is a young player who will be able to continue to play at a high level overseas and develop his game as we monitor him, much like we did with Tomas Satoransky,” said Grunfeld. “His athleticism, size and competitive nature were all very intriguing and we feel he can be a player who will help us in the future after gaining more experience.”

A native of Ukraine, Sanon averaged 19.3 points (second in the division), 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.7 assists with Ukraine’s U18 National Team at the 2017 U18 Euros.

We are now in a crucially important period of the basketball offseason: Awaiting the draft, but also seeing which players enter free agency. Some will do so automatically because their contract has officially ended, but with others it’s by choice, either by the player or the team. In the case of the Wizards, here’s the Washington Post with an update on Jodie Meeks:

Jodie Meeks will reportedly stay with Wizards

In an expected move, Washington Wizards guard Jodie Meeks exercised the player option of his contract for the 2018-19 season, according to league sources. Meeks’s return will signal a hit to the salary cap while also ensuring the Wizards will be shorthanded to start next season.

With Meeks, the Wizards have 10 players under contract. The sharpshooter is expected to earn $3.45 million next season and though his individual income appears meager compared to the team’s core players John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr., the cumulative amount will push the team’s 2018-19 salary past $124 million.

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The Raptors were an excellent team almost all regular season, winning 59 games (second most in the entire league) and clearly played at a higher level than in the past. And started strong in the playoffs, winning their first two at home against Washington. But the Wizards did what was needed and defended homecourt in DC, tying the series 2-2. We have a battle on our hands. Here’s the Toronto Star with more:

Maybe Casey’s team will respond more favourably in the friendly environs of the Air Canada Centre. As it was, the Raptors capped a forgettable trip to the U.S. capital with a second straight loss, 106-98, to leave their best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2. For the second straight game the Raptors saw an early lead undone by careless turnovers and unforced mistakes. For the second straight game, the Wizards got a big performance from Bradley Beal to vault themselves back into the series. Even after Beal fouled out with 4:58 to play — after he scored 31 points on 19 field-goal attempts — the Wizards got it over the finish line. John Wall inserted a dagger, making one of his floating mid-range jump shots to put the Wizards up 102-96 with 58 seconds to play. Wall, for whom the Raptors have yet to find an antidote, finished with 25 points and 14 assists.

Yet again, Toronto’s vaunted depth failed to show itself, leaving all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to carry far more of the load than they did en route to 59 regular-season wins. DeRozan responded to a steady diet of single coverage with a big game, scoring 35 points and getting to the free-throw line 18 times. Lowry, meanwhile, scored 19 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range. But Toronto’s other starters were less effective. And Toronto’s bench, which averaged 42 points a game during the regular season, contributed just 22 points. C.J. Miles was 0-for-3 from three-point range. Delon Wright had just seven points on seven shots.

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Wizards sign Ty lawson

Wizards sign Ty lawson

The Washington Wizards have signed free agent guard Ty Lawson.

“Ty’s experience and ability will give us extra depth in the backcourt during the playoffs,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He’s a veteran player who can score and distribute while bringing additional postseason experience.”

Lawson has averaged 12.7 points (.460 FG%, .359 3FGt%, .770 FT%), 6.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 29.2 minutes per game in 551 contests (345 starts) over his eight NBA seasons with the Denver Nuggets (2009-15) Houston Rockets (2016), Indiana Pacers (2016) and Sacramento Kings (2016-17). During his time with the Nuggets, Lawson appeared in 416 contests (307 starts) over six seasons, averaging 14.2 points, 6.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also averaged 19.0 points and 6.0 assists during the 2012 NBA Playoffs and 21.3 points and 8.0 assists in the 2013 NBA Playoffs (and helped the team reach the playoffs in his first five seasons).

His best overall season with the Nuggets came in 2013-14 when he averaged 17.6 points, 8.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 62 games. Lawson averaged a career-high 9.6 assists per game in 75 games for the Nuggets during the 2014-15 season. He was originally selected with the 18th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft before being traded to the Nuggets on draft night.

A native of nearby Clinton, MD, Lawson most recently played this year with the Shandong Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), where he averaged 25.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 46 games. He scored 55 points for the Lions on February 12.

Win over Heat was key for Wizards

We’ve reached the part of the year where for many NBA teams, each win matters. The postseason isn’t here yet, but it’s still a pivotal moment for squads whose destiny may revolve around whether they qualify for the postseason or reach the lottery and possibly land a higher draft pick. As for teams that surely expect to reach the postseason, every win against an opponent in their conference with a similar record matters greatly. Here’s NBC Sports Washington with the latest on the Wizards:

The Wizards earned themselves a much-needed breather amid a hectic Eastern Conference playoff race on Tuesday night.

By beating the Miami Heat, Washington snapped their season-long three-game losing streak. It has been a tough few days with losses to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers, but the Wizards are finally back in the win column.

With the win, the Wizards took a 2-1 lead on the Heat in their season series. They will play for a fourth and final time on Saturday. If the Wizards win that game, they will own the playoff tiebreaker for seeding purposes.

The Wizards moved to 37-28 on the season and 11-6 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury.

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The Washington Wizards today signed guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day contract.

“We’re very familiar with Ramon,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He’s a veteran who can play both guard positions and will add depth to our backcourt.”

Sessions returns to the Wizards after playing one-and-a-half seasons in Washington (2015 and 2015-16), appearing in 110 games (eight starts) while averaging 9.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He was originally acquired from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Andre Miller at the 2015 trade deadline.

In his 11th season, Sessions (6-3, 190-pounds) has averaged 10.4 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 rebounds for the Bucks, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Lakers, Bobcats/Hornets, Kings, Wizards and, most recently, the Knicks, where he played 13 games (three starts) earlier this season. The Myrtle Beach, SC, native was originally selected by Milwaukee in the second round (56th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft.

Wizards trade Sheldon Mac to Hawks

The Washington Wizards announced today that they have traded guard/forward Sheldon Mac to Atlanta for a protected 2019 second round pick.

Mac, who underwent surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon in October, has not appeared in a game this season. He averaged 3.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 30 games for the Wizards last season after signing as an undrafted free agent.

John Wall scoring big in January

John Wall scoring big in January

The Wizards were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks 104-95 yesterday, finishing their five-game homestand 2-3.

John Wall recorded 27 points and nine assists, his fifth game with at least 25 points in January.

25+ Point Games, January
Lou Williams 7
John Wall 5
Giannis Antetokounmpo 5
DeMar DeRozan 5
Kevin Durant 5

Wall is averaging the second-most points in the Eastern Conference in the month of January (seven games) and the most assists in the entire NBA in that same span.

Points Per Game-EC, January
DeMar DeRozan 30.8
John Wall 25.9
Giannis Antetokounmpo 25.6

Assists Per Game-NBA, January
John Wall 11.3
Kris Dunn 7.9
Goran Dragic 7.0

Kelly Oubre Jr. notched his 30th game this season with at least 10 points, the third-most on the team this season (Beal-41, Wall-32).

– Wizards Notes

 

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The Wizards currently have the fifth best record in the Eastern conference, behind the Miami Heat. Solid. But more was expected from a team that brought back last year’s roster and should presumably be improving, not staying the same. Here’s the Washington Post reporting:

But now that the 2017-18 Wizards have reached the crossroads of the regular season, they look strikingly similar — or only slightly better, in some instances — to last year’s team.

The Wizards are 23-18, just one game better than last year’s pace despite the organization going all in on its belief that continuity with Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jr. would lead to greater heights.

Through the first 41 games, Washington has produced an offensive rating of 106.3, the 11th best mark in the league — the exact same number and ranking the team held at this point in the season a year ago. While the Wizards have shown marked improvement on the defensive end, ranking eighth in the league with a 104.0 defensive rating, that progress has not helped the team win more games.

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And here’s NBC Sports Washington with more:

The positive side is that the Wizards are comfortably in the Eastern Conference playoff race at fifth despite missing several key players at times due to injury. Wall has missed 11 games, Markieff Morris missed eight and Otto Porter has missed four.

Health has been a big difference between last year and this year. Last season they didn’t have any significant injuries to their starting lineup and after 41 games they were 22-19, a game behind their current pace. That team advanced all the way to the seventh game of the second round of the playoffs.

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Wizards lose competitive game to Bucks

 

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The Wizards dropped a competitive game to the Milwaukee Bucks last night, 110-103. The Wizards fell to 4-2 this season in the second game of a back-to-back.

The loss snapped a five-game home winning streak for the Wizards, who last lost at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 17.

Markieff Morris recorded his third consecutive double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Three-straight double-doubles is the longest streak of Morris’ career. Morris has also led the Wizards in rebounding for six-straight games now.

John Wall tallied 16 points and 16 assists in the game, a season high for assists this year. It was the most assists Wall has recorded in a game since his career-high 20 against the Bulls on March 17 last season.

The Wizards lost for the first time this season when all five starters scored in double-figures, Washington is now 5-1 in those games this season.

– Wizards Notes

Wizards set to face Pelicans

 

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The Wizards are set to face the Pelicans tonight. An intriguing matchup for anybody in the league, the Pelicans have two of the biggest names in the NBA frontcourt world: DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. But the team as a whole is 15-15, tied for the 7th best record in the Western conference. Very solid, but unspectacular.

Here’s NBC Sports Washington discussing the Pels:

Few teams in the NBA offer a matchup problem as unique as the New Orleans Pelicans, who feature two All-Star big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. One is lanky with arms that reach to the sky. The other is wider and known for his brute strength. Both can move and shoot unusually well for their size.

On Tuesday night, the Wizards will see the Pelicans’ twin towers for the first time since Cousins landed in New Orleans. He was acquired from the Kings in a Feb. 20 trade, just 16 days after the second and final meeting between the teams in the 2016-17 season.

Cousins is a player the Wizards know well. He and Wizards guard John Wall teamed up at the University of Kentucky back in the 2009-10 season before the two were drafted into the NBA. Veteran players on the Wizards have played against both Cousins and Davis over the years. But now they have to deal with them at the same time.

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The Wizards are off to a 5-4 start this season. Which is okay, but the squad should play better. The return from injury of Markieff Morris should help matters. But there’s still improvement needed. Here’s the Washington Post reporting the comments of center Marcin Gortat:

On Sunday night, following a 107-96 road win over the Toronto Raptors, starting center Marcin Gortat advised that the team needs to bind its unfettered confidence.

“Just because we won this game today here, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine and we back on the right track. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to work on,” Gortat said. “First of all, we’ve got to become a more humble team and we just got to work harder.”

Gortat’s message: less talk and more action.

Despite Gortat’s supersized personality — the man once walked a pig on a leash through a shopping mall in Poland — as the graybeard among the Wizards, he tends to be more pragmatic. And when Gortat’s comments were shared with teammates, they agreed with the suggestion.

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Here’s the Washington Post with what’s hopefully a minor update about Wizards guard John Wall, whose shoulder sounds like it could use a bit of rest:

John Wall reportedly has minor shoulder strain

John Wall could miss his first game of the season while dealing with a left shoulder injury.

Wall, who has started all eight games while averaging 20.5 points and 10.4 assists per game, received treatment Saturday on his sore and sprained shoulder but is considered “questionable” to play ahead of the Washington Wizards’ Sunday night matchup against the Toronto Raptors, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The previous night as the Wizards hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wall made shoulder-to-shoulder contact with 6-foot-11 forward Channing Frye and dropped to the hardwood where he remained longer than usual. Following the Wizards’ 130-122 loss, Wall underwent X-rays, which came back negative, and exited the arena with his left arm in a sling.

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John Wall speaks out on Charlottesville

Here’s what Wizards guard John Wall had to say about recent troubling non-basketball, non-sports events in Charlottesville, Virginia that have gripped the nation as of late, per the Washington Post:

John Wall speaks out on Charlottesville

“It’s been difficult. It’s been tough,” Wall said, referring to the previous week. “We go through times where times are going in the right direction for us. Our country is going in a positive way. Then we turn back around and revert back to the stuff we try to tell our kids not to do or what our parents told us … they went through in the past, and we thought we got away from that.

“It’s kind of amazing to understand that in 2017 going into 2018, we’re still dealing with the same type of things that our great, great grandparents dealt with and we thought we were going in a positive direction,” Wall continued. “All we can do is not use it as retaliation and try to stay positive and understand that we want to give these kids a brighter [outlook] of what’s going on and not use it to go back at these people.”

On the development of Otto Porter

Here’s CSN Mid Atlantic reporting on Otto Porter, who the Wizards just rewarded with a huge new contact. Specifically on what Porter will be working on as he continues his development:

On the development of Otto Porter

During the press conference to announce Porter’s new deal, the Wizards small forward outlined the specific areas he hopes to improve in the next few years:

“I want to continue to improve in getting stronger and being able to defend bigger guys. I definitely want to be able to do that. I’m going to continue working on my midrange and my three-point, extending my range out. The big thing for me is my ballhandling. I want to make sure I keep my ballhandling real tight, whether I get the rebound and push it up the floor myself, I just want to be able to maintain my skills.”

If Porter can get better at defending big forwards, that would be excellent for the Wizards in terms of playing small and switching on defense.

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