The Wizards are 2-2 thus far in the preseason with both of their wins coming over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards have shown several bright spots as well as areas where they need to improve as they make a final push towards the regular season.
As the next two games will not be televised and it can be assumed that key players will sit out the final game of the preseason against Toronto; we’ve likely seen all of the “meaningful” preseason basketball that we’re going to see.
So what do we think we know about this team?
The backcourt is ready to go
John Wall made his preseason debut a few weeks early when he laced ‘em up against the Knicks this past Monday night. There were many questions, and rightfully so, regarding how long it would take Wall to get into form as he’s coming off surgeries on both of his knees. Wall hasn’t skipped a beat as his end-to-end speed, passing, and ability to attack the rim are in mid-season form. His jump shot has been a bit off but as expected; it will take a few more games before Wall is fully, 100% back.
The $128 Million dollar man in Bradley Beal also looks ready for action. Bradley Beal has shot an impressive 44.9 percent from the field through four games including 60 percent (9-16) from three-point range.
Beal has been much more comfortable making plays with the ball in his hands as well as running set plays to set up others.
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) October 13, 2016
Yes, it’s preseason, but this is probably the best start we could have hoped for from this backcourt.
Tomas Satoransky is as good as advertised
There were plenty of unknowns when’s the 24-year old came over from Spain. But if these first four games are a sign of things to come, Satoransky will be just fine. Satoransky is stuffing the stat sheet with 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.0 steal per game.
Standing at 6’7, his size makes him an instant mismatch at the point guard position. He looks very composed on the court for a rookie and the game doesn’t look too fast for him. He is very comfortable with the ball in his hands, running sets and setting up his teammates.
— Alan Jenkins (@AJenks24) October 14, 2016
Yes it’s early and we only have a small sample size, but don’t be surprised if Satoransky becomes the backup point guard for this team earlier rather than later.
Andrew Nicholson looks like the best free agent signing so far
Collectively, I think folks had a very ho-hum reaction when the news broke that the Wizards were signing Andrew Nicholson from the Magic in free agency. Nicholson didn’t really have a role in Orlando and was mostly used as an energy guy on a bad team.
In just four games, Nicholson has proved to be much more as he’s the leading rebounder for this team, averaging six rebounds per game.
Additionally, Nicholson has proved that he can stretch the floor and knock down three-pointers when open as he’s shot 40 percent from range through four games. Nicholson has a solid post-up game and can hit the baby hook shot in the lane. If Nicholson can continue to bring energy on the defensive end and knock down open three-pointers; he’ll be a big asset for this team off of the bench.
Kelly Oubre has looked great, but proceed with caution
Kelly Oubre Jr. has looked great so far averaging 14.5 points and four rebounds while shooting an eye-popping 55.6 percent from the field. What’s more impressive is that Oubre has become much more comfortable with the catch-and-shoot aspect of his game knocking down 44.4 percent of his three-pointers, many of the catch-and-shoot variety. This was the role that Trevor Ariza played here in Washington and it looks like the Wizards are looking to develop Oubre in a similar way to make him that 3-D player.
On the flip side, the game still looks a bit fast for Oubre at times. Oubre is averaging 2.3 turnovers per game this preseason, the most of any player who’s played in all four preseason games. Oubre still has a tendency to drive the ball into traffic or go up for a contested dunk over a 7-footer when he’d be better suited pulling up for an open jump shot.
Oubre is progressing nicely and has clearly shown improvements over last year, but let’s remember that most of his playing time is coming against reserves or players who may not make the final roster.
Breaking old habits is hard
New coaching staff, a slew of new free agents, same free-throw shooting woes. The Wizards are shooting a horrific 68.3 percent from the free-throw line making them the third worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA this preseason.
The Wizards don’t have issues getting to the line as they shoot 25.3 attempts on average which puts them in the middle of the pack. I know, it’s just preseason, but as we’ve seen last year, missing free-throws can cost this team wins and potentially a spot in the playoffs.
Free-throw shooting remains an Achilles heel for this team and they need to get this cleaned up prior to regular season play.