Much to the anticipation of Wizards fans, the Summer of 2016 came and much to their dismay, it went with but with an empty draft and a handful of underwhelming player acquisitions. Oh, and the inevitable replacement of Randy Wittman so it wasn’t that bad.
The Wizards then set out for training camp in Richmond and after five positive days of , the Wizards opened up their first preseason game of the 2016-17 season at the Verizon Center against the Miami Heat. With the tip-off crowd – probably a number of 300 or so bodies including the arena staff – in full midseason form, the new-look Wizards took to the floor on a mission to employ a beta version of Scott Brooks’ basketball strategies and philosophies.
As is the case with any preseason sporting event, the game didn’t render any meaningful results in the win/loss column, but it gave us a chance to observe a few important things to help shape the outlook of the season: how the Wizards operated on both ends of the floor; Tomas Satoransky; how synchronized the players were; Tomas Satoransky; how active they were defensively; Tomas Satoransky; how the undrafted walk-ons would fare in their first ‘real’ professional action; Tomas Satoransky.
The Wall-less Wizards would meaninglessly lose to Miami 106-96. Here are some quick hits:
Have I mentioned Tomas Satoransky?
The anticipation for Sato’s (or Saty, however you prefer to cutify him) arrival has been real, prolonged, but now is finally in the past. The new anticipation before Tuesday was how exactly will he look on the floor playing with foreign players, in a foreign country. There’s always the stereotype about Euro basketball and it’s vast distinction from how it’s played in the States. But in his first action with the Wizards, however, Satoransky right-clicked on a lot of that blabber and promptly dragged it into the recycle bin. He just won’t empty it, though. Still too soon for that. Satoransky looked poised, he looked like he belonged, he looked like a five-year veteran professional basketball player. He has a keen eye for open teammates and a good awareness of his surroundings. The foundation is there and it’s strong enough to make him less of a project and more of an established rotation player.
Sato finished the game with a solid stat line: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and just 2 turnovers in 31 minutes.
Running the offense through Kieff
Coach Brooks ran a lot of offense through Kieff post-ups early in the game and it paid off. The Wizards’ half-court game has been a stagnant shit show for quite a few seasons now so anytime the they find a strategy to churn out some fluidity, it’s a pleasant experience. But Markieff wasn’t only effective in the post. A sporadic deep-range shooter in the past, he’s got this soft touch from behind the arc that gets you (or just me) tingly when he knocks them down. And he knocked two of three from downtown against the Heat on Tuesday. John Wall has been yearning for a consistent, stretch pick-and-pop companion and with the Wizards sacrificing a 1st round pick for Morris, he’s got no choice but to be that guy.
Don’t worry about Gortat
Marcin looked rusty and out of sorts at times on Tuesday but that was just his brain telling the rest of his body he’s still plunged in blue ocean water somewhere in the coastal outskirts of Northern Florida. At times he looked a bit laxed, and he did have this one bad sequence early on where he gets his shot blocked and turns the ball over, then gets dunked on by Justice Winslow on the other end. Ironically, Gortat’s stat line would tell a different story. He scored 10 points on 5-12 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. Also this #Euroball connection:
Lord Sheldon of House McClellan
You already know if I like you enough as a player, you’re probably going to get a nice Game of Thrones reference from me. And I like Sheldon McClellan more than enough as a player after this steal, breaking move, and basket:
McClellan got a decent amount of burn – 15 minutes – more than the four other guys battling for the two remaining roster spots (O’Bryant: 11 min; House and Ochefu: 3 min; Ware: DNP).
What to look forward to tonight:
The battle for starting position at small forward continues between Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter, who both had decent showings on Tuesday. Otto was involved from the onset, getting good some looks from the field and showing aggression toward the basket. He only played 17 minutes, however. Oubre showed some flashes on defense, hounding his guy and basically trying to put into action what his theme has been all offseason long, to be a menacing defender.
Trey Burke, the world’s most important backup point guard. After a decent performance on Tuesday – 14 points on 5-13 shooting and 5 assists – tonight we shall see how much more comfortable Burke is facilitating the floor and how much better he can figure out his new teammates. After a slow start against Miami, Burke seemed to have some of that stuff figured out in the second half, as confessed by both Coach Brooks and Burke himself. Hopefully that’ll transpose over into tonight’s game as well.
Ian Mahinmi? Washington’s new French big missed Tuesday night’s game with a sore knee and is listed as possibly ‘les incompetant’ for tonight.