Ranking who needs to step up the most in John Wall’s absence and if they’ve done so

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Pistons at Wizards Final Score: Washington uses 17-0 third quarter run to blow out Detroit, 109-91

Washington overpowered Detroit this evening outscoring them 35-15 as they’d run away and beat the Pistons, 109-91. In a bounce-back game, Markieff Morris led the Wizards with 23 points while Otto Porter and Tomas Satoransky added 17 points each.

With the lead seesawing back and forth for most of the first half, Washington took control with a 17-0 run in the third quarter and never looked back.

Five players scored in double figures for Washington as they drop Detroit for the second time this season.

Takeaways

Big third quarter propels Wizards

Washington was flawless in the third quarter.

After trailing 52-46 at halftime, the Wizards started the third period on a 17-0 run to regain the lead, 63-52. It started on the defensive end as Washington turned Detroit over three times early on, many of the ‘turnovers leading to touchdowns’ variety. The Wizards were able to keep Andre Drummond off of the offensive glass and forced Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris into some very tough shots.

Washington outscored Detroit 35-15 in the third period, which propelled them to the blowout victory.

Bounce back game for Morris

Tonight was by far, Markieff Morris’ best game of the season. Morris hasn’t looked like himself recently as he battles back from a sports hernia. But tonight, he shook that off for a game-high 23 points on 10-16 shooting including going 2-3 from three-point range.

Morris got cooking early for the Wizards connecting on his first four field goals for nine quick points. Washington made it a priority to get the big man involved as they ran the first two plays of the game through him. Morris connected on two shots in the midrange which has become his bread and butter but also knocked down a three-pointer early on to get his confidence up.

Obviously, it helps that his shooting was on tonight but in addition, his aggressiveness on the offensive glass and attacking the hole also played a big role in his bounce-back performance.

We officially have a backup point guard battle

Tomas Satoransky was outstanding tonight.

The second-year player scored a career-high 17 points on 5-6 shooting including two three-pointers late in the game for the Wizards. He dished out four assists to go along with a steal but most importantly, didn’t commit a turnover this evening.

Satoransky and Frazier both played 23 minutes tonight and we officially have an open battle for the backup point guard position.

Game Notes

  • Marcin Gortat notched his 7th double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Avery Bradley gave Bradley Beal fits for most of the night but here; Beal got the best of him.

  • The bench turned in another solid performance combining for 41 points. 

Tomas Satoransky has been solid for the Wizards, but still has areas he can improve

The Wizards bench has been a mess so far through the first nine games of the season. Whether it’s blowing leads built up by the starters, a stagnant offense, or the inability to score; it’s all been on display during an upsetting start to the season.

However, there has been one constant, and it’s Tomas Satoransky. The 25-year old rookie has played well so far for the Wizards averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 assists in his 18 minutes off the bench.

The stage doesn’t seem to be too big for Satoransky evidenced by his 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and ability to step into the starting lineup when called upon against the Magic and Bulls. He’s been one of the only bright spots off the bench for the Wizards and will need to elevate his game even more if the Wizards are going to right the ship and start winning games again.

It all starts with his scoring. As we’ve seen, he is most comfortable in the offense when the ball is in his hands and he’s making plays for others.

However, he has made just 18 field goals this season, with 12 of those coming from the 0-9 foot range. He does most of his scoring from close in and prefers going left while rising up for a floater in the lane or making a cut off the ball on a play like this:

Outside of the paint, Satoransky has been much less of a threat. He’s shooting only 6-19 on shots 10 feet or further from the basket. Defenses know this so they tend to lag off on him when he’s standing out on the perimeter.

If the Wizards bench is going to bust out of this slump, it’s going to have to start with Satoransky. As mentioned, he has no problem setting up his teammates, now he just needs to be more of a scoring threat. Far too often Satoransky’s defender goes under the screen or just leaves him wide open. Since he hasn’t developed much of a shot, he’ll either miss the wide-open look or worse, pass it up altogether and dish the ball to one of his more trigger-happy teammates.

On Saturday against the Bulls, Satoransky took a step in the right direction with his aggression. He attempted a season-high 12 shots, and although he only made four of them, he had the right idea taking more shots outside the paint to try to keep the defense honest.

For the Wizards bench to break out of this slump, they’ll need the aggressive Satoransky from the Chicago game to show up on a nightly basis. It’s important that he continue to set his teammates up, but he also needs to improve his shot as he’s the best and most important player on the Wizards bench at the moment.

Five things we think we know about the Wizards after four preseason games

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. 

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.

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. 

Wizards vs. Knicks preview: Washington takes on new-look New York squad

The Wizards head to New York to take on the new-look Knicks for the first time in Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Both the Wizards and Knicks are coming off of their first preseason victories and will look to keep the momentum rolling Monday evening.

We’ll have to wait to see the electric matchup of years past in John Wall and Derrick Rose as neither of them will be playing Monday night.

The last time the Wizards visited Madison Square Garden, they snuck out with a thrilling 111-108 victory. We can only hope that this game will be half as exciting.

Game Info

When – 7:30 pm EST

Where – Madison Square Garden New York, NY

TV – The game will be available on CSN Mid-Atlantic in the D.C. area and nationally on NBA TV.

Radio – Washington Wizards app

Injury Report

John Wall and Marcus Thornton remain sidelined for the Wizards. Marcin Gortat and Trey Burke were limited in practice on Sunday and are questionable for the game.

Derrick Rose (personal reasons) and Joakim Noah (hamstring) will miss Monday night’s game for the Knicks.

What to watch for

Otto Porter vs. Carmelo Anthony

Anthony averaged 30 points per game against the Wizards last season, mostly at the expense of Otto Porter. Porter has struggled with bigger, more physical small forwards in the past. This will be Otto’s biggest test thus far of the preseason as he’ll likely be matched up on Anthony during the limited minutes that they will both play.

In seasons past, this is the type of game where Porter might disappear. As he continues to develop, it’ll be interesting to see if Porter can hold his own on the defensive end while still being an offensive threat in limited play.

Can Tomas Satoransky continue his excellent play?

Satoransky is averaging nine points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists through two preseason games for the Wizards. In addition, he’s played 71 minutes through the first two games, more than anyone else on the team.

Satoransky hasn’t looked like a rookie thus far playing with composure, making the right play, and running certain sets as if he’s played in this offensive scheme for years. He has looked very good through two games, let’s see if he can string together a third impressive performance.

Can Kelly Oubre Jr. continue scoring at a high level?

Kelly Oubre Jr. is averaging a team-high 20 points per game this preseason on 59 percent shooting (13-22 through two games). He looks much more confident with his jump shot, especially his three-point shot where he’s knocked down four of five from range this preseason. Yes, Oubre is often playing against backups and guys who may not make the final roster; but if he can continue to score at an efficient rate, that’ll warrant more playing time once the regular season rolls around. 

Most Likely Wizards Killer: Mindaugas Kuzminskas

The Lithuanian import has been solid in limited action with the Knicks so far this preseason. He’s scored 14 points on 6-9 shooting in just 18 minutes of action. If Washington has more defensive breakdowns, he’ll make them pay for it.

The Wizards underwhelm in their preseason debut, lose to the Heat, 106-95

It was only the preseason, but the Wizards looked unimpressive in their loss to the Heat, 106-95. Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Wizards in scoring with 16 points followed by Trey Burke with 14 to go along with 12 from Bradley Beal.

This was sort of what you’d expect from a team’s first preseason game. Poor defense, sluggishness, it was all on display for the Wizards tonight. The Heat jumped out to a 35-22 lead after the first quarter on 65% shooting and the Wizards were never able to claw back within single digits.

The Heat would coast to victory with the Wizards never getting the lead lower than 11, 106-95 (the final score).

Let’s overreact after one preseason game, shall we?

Tomas Satoransky looks like the real deal: The rookie played the most minutes of any Wizard tonight, 31, and was also the most impressive Wizard on the floor tonight. Satoransky finished the night with eight points, five rebounds, and six assists. He looked very composed, had some nice cuts to the basket for easy finishes, and was able to get to the free-throw line. He also showed that he’s more than capable of running the pick-and-roll.

Overall, a very solid debut for Satoransky.

Where’s the Defense?

Yes, it’s just the preseason, but the defense the Wizards played tonight looked very similar to last year’s. The Wizards had issues guarding the lane evidenced as they surrendered 26 points in the paint in just the first quarter. Rotations were slow, and the Heat got too many open looks making the Wizards pay as they shot 55 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point range.

Bradley Beal looks fine:

Beal played for just 16 minutes tonight but was very effective scoring 12 points on 5-9 shooting and knocking down his only three-point attempt. There were some question marks regarding Bradley Beal’s health after he suffered a mild concussion just a week ago in training camp but that didn’t seem to bother him. Beal looked comfortable in the mid-range, from three-point range, and also in the pick-and-roll. Very good showing from the $128 Million dollar man.

The Wizards take on the 76ers in Philadelphia on Thursday night.