3-on-3: Observations From Wizards Training Camp
Adam McGinnis, John Converse Townsend and Kyle Weidie each attended portions of Wizards training camp, within the allotted half-hour media time at the end. Sometimes the Wizards scrimmaged, sometimes they didn’t. It was just a brief window in the to-be-revealed big picture. But players showed how they carried themselves as they prepare for a new season. Some of them spoke with the media afterward, Flip Saunders always did. Three questions, three answers… Wizards Training Camp 3-on-3.
1) Which Wizard stood out most?
MCGINNIS: I know that I will regret this once he falls for the first head fake, but JaVale McGee really has stood out to me. It’s clear he has worked to incorporate silky smooth hook shots and improve upon other parts of his low post game this summer. Flip Saunders has emphasized that he is slowing down out on the court and becoming an all-around better player with improved passing. McGee is playing like a man in a contract year looking for a big pay day, but the Wizards could be reaping the rewards this season.
TOWNSEND: For all the hype about Andray Blatche, Roger Mason, Jr. is the player who impressed me most during camp. The NBA veteran was a vocal, calming presence on the floor. When you combine his leadership skills with a sweet jumper, Mason leaves little doubt he can push this roster in the right direction.
WEIDIE: There are plenty skeptics and their statistics down on Jordan Crawford. I’ve cited statistics before, but that doesn’t make me a non-BE-LI-VAH!!! Whatever the next inevitably overused term for swagger — along the lines of moxie, guts, balls… whatever — use that term for Crawford. His game may have flaws, but he gets into it with passion on both ends of the court. He loves a pretty pass, but can score in ways that make teammates ‘WOOOOOO!’ Crawford could soon make Nick Young a tiny speck in the rear-view mirror.
2) Who needs the most work?
MCGINNIS: I do not think Wizards fans should expect too much out Jan Vesely this season, at least early on. He still needs to gain some girth to guard fours at this level while his shot is still a work in progress, but coach Ryan Saunders is constantly helping him with his form after practice. Jan will likely keep your attention in garbage time with his ability to highlight dunk at any moment.
TOWNSEND: Jan Vesely, the Wizards top pick in the most recent draft, looked passive and indecisive on the court. Vesely is figuring out how to make it in America, whether adapting to a new role in head coach Flip Saunders’ offense or simply learning a new language. He’ll succeed, but for now the world’s racing past him.
WEIDIE: Three times a charm… or not. Vesely will need some work, but I think he’s ready for a crash course, and the Wizards coaches are obviously dedicating themselves to this. Good thing his girlfriend is coming at Christmas, she can help him with his free throws.
3) What comment from Flip Saunders perked your ears?
MCGINNIS: I know we are still fixing the bugs in Dray 4.0, but Saunders really seems to believe that Dray is showing leadership. He constantly says Dray is the hardest worker and not too many coaches have ever said that about Blatche in his six-year career. As always, Wizards fans, it is TBD, and the ‘B’ is for Blatche.
TOWNSEND: Flip Saunders expressed his appreciation for the fresh faces on the Wizards roster after training camp Wednesday evening. The new kids in D.C. are long, athletic and capable of protecting the paint. If they demonstrate that defensive ability on game days, GM Ernie Grunfeld deserves a polite round of applause.
WEIDIE: At the end of Day 2, Flip Saunders spoke to his team about when to run pick-and-rolls in the offense. He stressed that his team was to run them late in the offense, not early. Pretty genius if you think about it. By doing such, you pretty much always ensure that the ball is in the star’s hands, John Wall, late in the shot clock, but you are also keeping other capable scorers involved in the early offense.