Wizards’ fans will be introduced to a new face in the backcourt this season, as their 2012 draft pick (32nd overall) will make his debut with the club. Tomas Satoransky has played five years for CB Sevilla of the Spanish ACB League, prior to being drafted by Washington. After the draft, he signed on for two years with FC Barcelona Lassa. When his contract expired, he decided to make the move and become an NBA rookie by signing a three-year contract to play guard for the Wizards. But don’t let the title of “rookie” surprise you.
While he is new to the NBA, Satoranksy has played more professional basketball, albeit in Europe, than John Wall and Bradley Beal. At age 25, he is coming into the league with the need to adapt to a slower, more physical game than what he experienced in Europe. However his experience of being a pro while also having the physical maturity compared to that of a typical 18 or 19 year old rookie surely will be advantageous in his transition.
New head coach, Scott Brooks, is no stranger to Satoranksy. Having watched him play in Europe prior to either of them signing with the Wizards, he was impressed with the guard. After getting to know him once the two joined the team, Brooks had positive remarks:
“Now that I’m the coach, I saw how he worked. He was early in practice, he stayed late, he was a good teammate with his guys and he was one of the best players on the team.” — Coach Brooks
While playing for FC Barcelona Lassa last season, Satoransky averaged 10.7 points per game along with 4.3 assists and shot 43.9% from three-point range. Perhaps the most impressive mark of his statistical line was his three-point percentage. Wizards’ fans know first-hand how useful a premier three-point shooter can be when you have an excellent passer like John Wall running the floor. Open looks are created by his ability to drive at blazing speeds but still have the court vision to fire off pinpoint passes to open shooters.
However, Satoransky’s three point percentage comes with a caveat – the European three-point line is a foot and a half closer than that of the NBA. To adjust, Satoransky has been spending the summer working on increasing his range and distance while working on his ankles. “I tried to work on my ankles, making them a little more flexible because during my career I had a problem with that,” Satoransky said. “They’re not that flexible like they should be, and I’ve made progress with that. I think it’s eventually going to help to readjust for the further distance.”
Regardless of whether he is shooting a three pointer in Europe or knocking down a long jumper in the NBA, a 44% clip is a positive for a team that will be looking for scoring wherever they can get it.
Satoransky has shown glimpses of being a potentially useful role player off the bench through the preseason. In his second game, he logged 40 minutes and scored 10 points on 5-11 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. He also committed five personal fouls showing a clear need to assimilate to a more physical game. He was able to reach double digits again against Sacramento with 11 points, 4 boards and 2 assists in 25 minutes (though, again, he had three quick fouls).
Listed as a shooting guard behind Bradley Beal on the depth chart that has not been finalized, Satoransky will probably only play sparingly in the first half of the season as he continues to work on developing his game and learn the ways of the NBA. When he is on the floor, expect to see what he as done his entire career, which is to hustle for rebounds, knock down a good clip from the field, and finish strong round the rim. While he is probably closer to a “project” than contributor, he should make strides through the first half of the season with the hopes of him becoming an asset as the Wizards make a playoff push after the All-Star break.
On a team that has more uncertainty than not, it would be a pleasant surprise to have an international player break onto the scene and give Wizards faithful something unexpected to be excited about.