Wizards Exec on Satoransky: 'We want him to be a rotation player' | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Exec on Satoransky: ‘We want him to be a rotation player’

Updated: September 9, 2016


Washington Wizards executives not named Ernie Grunfeld are generally not made available to the media; nor are assistant coaches. Different teams have different rules, and of course exceptions can always be made.

Tommy Sheppard is Washington’s senior vice president of basketball operations. He’s essentially “1B” to Grunfeld’s “1A.” Earlier this summer, when visiting Europe to conduct scouting and various other efforts in basketball relations, Sheppard spoke with the Czech Republic Basketball Federation about Wizard-to-be, Tomas Satoransky. Portions of the Q&A were posted on sport.idnes.cz and that has been transcribed below by TAI’s Czech correspondent, Lukas Kuba.

Sheppard on what’s hardest for him as Wizards VP of basketball operations:

“Definitely losses, like in any business. And in the NBA it’s especially hard. The big challenge for us is to keep our players healthy, because the team is only good if the players are as healthy as they can be. Last season, we had issues with it, but I believe that we have moved forward again.”

Sheppard on his relationship with European hoops:

“I’m a big fan of European basketball. I first came to Europe in the early 1990s. I’ve got a lot of friends who have played in the NBA here. I collaborated with the Lithuanian national team, where I befriended guys like Sarunas Marciulionis and Arvydas Sabonis. [Then] I worked with [Czechs] George Zidek, Jan Vesely, and now with Tomas Satoransky. Euro basketball excites me—after all, several Europeans are among the best NBA players, for example Pau Gasol or Dirk Nowitzki.”

On why the Wizards picked Satoransky in the 2012 NBA Draft (32nd overall, second pick of the second round):

“When we drafted Tomas, we felt that he’d become a terrific NBA player. He’s unique, pretty athletic, and very versatile. He’s a point guard but he can play the 2 and 3 positions as well. But the most important thing is his basketball IQ, he’s just very smart and a good leader. Nevertheless, we are patient. We wanted him to come to play for us earlier, but we left it up to him to decide to come over to the NBA when he felt ready. In the upcoming season, we want him to play, not sit on the bench or play in the D-League.”

On how much Satoransky has improved in the four years since the 2012 Draft:

“[Not coming over immediately] helped him significantly. He’s improved his shooting, gained muscle and confidence. It happened not only because he played in the Spanish ACB League, but also because he plays a major role on the [Czech] national team. He helped the Czech Republic to the best rank (7th at EuroBasket 2015) in the country’s history.

“It’s important that he’s played in big and difficult games, both at  FIBA events and for FC Barcelona. For us it was important to watch him play great in those games. I’ve been to Barcelona [to watch him play] several times and I’ll miss going there. We have to find another player in Barcelona, it’s just a beautiful city.”

On Washington’s expectations for Tomas:

“I can’t tell you right now. First he has got to get used to the NBA. There’s a different speed [compared to the other leagues], the competition is much more physical, but I believe he’s going to handle it. We want him to be a rotation player. With him, we can play a different style of ball. Tomas will be able to play with both John [Wall] and Bradley [Beal] on the floor—actually, he can play with anyone. He’s great in the pick-and-roll and in making good decisions with the ball. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can defend point guards and shooting guards, too.”

On if Satoransky can play alongside both Wall and Beal:

“Of course. They can all play together, and we don’t have to say who’s a point guard. We’ll play small ball with three guards who are going to rebound the ball and run fast down the court. We think Tomas is an excellent fit for us and this style of basketball.”

On how difficult the transition to the NBA will be for Tomas:

“First thing, he’ll have to adapt. There’s lots of traveling in the NBA, lots of games played. In his first year he’ll find out how to take care of himself and his body, how to handle all the difficulties, how to adjust his sleep patterns, what’s best for him to eat, etc. But Tomas is experienced enough. He’s been playing professionally since the age of 16. So I’m not worried about him at all in this regard. He’s going to be an NBA rookie, but he’s a seasoned pro.”

On if he thinks the Wizards fans are going to like Satoransky and his game:

“Of course. They will love him. D.C. is one of the best basketball cities in the USA, there’s a good high school environment, pro environment, and a number of great players come from D.C. The Wizards fans appreciate when players work hard, when they can pass the ball and play smart—like Tomas does. Thanks to this, he’s probably going to be popular among fans.”

On what’s Satoransky like compared to his fellow countryman and former Wizard, Jan Vesely:

“They are absolutely different. What they have in common is that both of them are Czechs. [But] they are different people and different types of ball players. Jan was amazing, and I still think he’s an NBA player—if he wants to return to the league someday, the NBA door is open for him.”

On if his knowledge of Czech basketball is better now thanks to Vesely and Satoransky:

“Yes, I think so. I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time watching the national team at the recent EuroBasket tournaments in Slovenia and France. I think the youth program is on the way up. I hope that Tomas inspires young kids to play basketball. It’s a great sport. Tomas is a proof that when you got talent, you can get to the NBA from anywhere.”

On what does he think about Satoransky’s work with teenage kids at his Tomas Satoransky Basketball Camp in Prague:

“It’s amazing and it’s a must-see experience. I remember Tomas at Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, when he was 16 years old. Now I see him here teaching 16-year-olds the game himself and I feel old. As a young boy he looked up to the great players and now these kids are watching him. It’s amazing that they can see him in action on the court and work with him. Tomas has got a very responsible approach to it.”


Lukas Kuba