Wizards Open Practice: Bullets, Smack-Talk, Video
The status of John Wall’s jump shot is always a major storyline. Initial reviews? Better than ever.
Wall’s back-court mate, Bradley Beal, made some plays, too.
One of Washington’s offensive sets is called “Horns.” The play consists of wings in the corners, bigs in the high post, and the point guard running a pick-and-roll off one of the big men. In the following video, Nene passes up a wide-open look and tries to swing the ball to Martell Webster on the weak side. Wall was not happy with the Brazilian. “Shoot that shit, Ne,” he said. This is what leadership out of your floor general looks like in practice.
Wall has never been bashful about talking smack on the court. After stripping Al Harrington on defense, he reminds his teammates of what just happened, with a variety of playful “Sit down!” requests.
- Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis addressed the media before the event in his annual “state of the team” preseason press availability. Basically, it is put or shut up time for everyone involved in this organization. There will be no excuses and Leonsis expects major improvement in year four of his ownership tenure. Playoffs are the goal and anything else will be unacceptable. We have heard similar talk before, but I get the sense his patience is running thin as well.
- Otto Porter did not participate in the scrimmage due to an injured hip flexor and spent most of the time working with a trainer doing stretching and resistance-band work. During his interview afterward, Porter alluded that it is unlikely he will play until after the team returns from their trip to Brazil. He mentioned that he has bonded the most with Nene and that they often play the soccer video game FIFA against each other. Nene told him that it is a long season, so he should not rush back too soon—of course, this would be Nene’s advice. Porter has not been hazed by any veterans yet, but expects to be picking up large dinner tabs at some point soon.
- Josh Childress comes across as a very solid guy in his conversations with the media. He did not play much in the practice. The team would likely have to cut Glen Rice, Jr. or make a trade (Trevor Booker?) in order to clear up a roster spot for Childress. This scenario is unlikely and his odds of sticking with the team are slim.
- Al Harrington knocked down a few open looks and, if his health holds up, could be a key contributor. You get the sense that his veteran leadership is respected by players and coaches. Unlike the “vets” that Wizards had in past ( I am looking at you, Mo Evans and Rashard Lewis), Big Al has some game left, but time will tell how much his knees will allow this to transpire. And, man… the dude sweats.
- Washington’s identity will still be its stalwart defense, but don’t overlook the formidable strength of their wings. Beal, Webster and Trevor Ariza all have their own different skill-sets that can cause problems for opponents. Martell is always in the correct spot, stays within himself, and can drill 3-balls created by John Wall. Beal has potential to be one of the top shooters in the NBA. Ariza is an elite defender, and he makes some unreal deflections with his length. There is depth when you throw in the rookie talents of Rice and Porter into the mix.
- It was nice to get to watch the Wizards coaching staff work with the players. Since fans are never privy to this instruction time, it is under-appreciated how much coaching actually goes on. For example, Randy Wittman was upset at Kevin Seraphin for a slow double-team on defense and called him out. The coach showed the player where he needed to go, when was the appropriate time, and explained why they were incorporating this strategy. A few plays later, Kevin executed the double-team flawlessly and forced a turnover.
- They brought in refs to officiate the practice and Nene often found ways to complain to them … mid-season form, yo!
- The event brought out many of the players’ friends and families. Wall’s mom, Frances Pulley, and bestie, Ty Williams, were courtside. Webster’s wife and three cute daughters were there cheering for their dad, and decorated in face paint. Nene’s wife and adorable 2-year-old son sat nearby the action. Kevin Seraphin’s social media crew, Lucky Righty and Coach Sebmorin, had a close up view. Most of the players’ families will be accompanying them to Brazil.
- While in training camp at George Mason University, the Wizards jettisoned the normal two-a-day practice schedule and went with just one longer session. Coach Wittman told me the change was the result of consulting with doctors, trainers, other NBA coaches and his players. It is commendable to see Wittman adapt his style and be flexible in certain areas. With the team down four players before camp broke, it was probably for the best. Oh, and I chickened-out about asking the coach about #WittmanFace. Perhaps another time….
Video Highlights of Scrimmage: