Bullets on Wizards: John Wall is Back — Preseason Game 3 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Bullets on Wizards: John Wall is Back — Preseason Game 3

Updated: October 11, 2016

A few hours before the start of Monday night’s game, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweeted that John Wall was going to be making his preseason debut against the New York Knicks. Shortly after that, it was revealed that the Wizards would take the cautionary route by asking Wall to play no more than 16 minutes. Considering Wall would be limited, Markieff Morris and Trey Burke would sit out, and the Knicks would be without both Derrick Rose (court, or “not with team,” per the box score) and Joakim Noah (hamstring), this should have been a relatively meaningless Monday preseason game.

Wrong, wrong.

John Wall’s 1st Quarter.

Wall’s play began about as uneven as you’d expect from a player who had not seen action during the preseason, but it was not totally his fault. He was short on his few jumpers, he turned the ball over, and he was unable to post-up the smaller Brandon Jennings—an offensive strategy Coach Brooks has indicated he wants Wall to utilize more. Conversely, Wall still demonstrated enough quickness to get into the lane and create open shots for Jason Smith and Otto Porter, but they fell into the missed assist category. Marcin Gortat was, however, there to follow with a put-back basket both times. Wall finally scored via a 16-footer with 4:17 left in the first quarter, and then he promptly took a seat on the bench.

John Wall’s 2nd Quarter.

Wall checked in for Tomas Satoransky with 8:37 left in the second quarter and the Wizards trailing by six points. When he left the game (for good) at the 1:25 mark, Washington led by 11 points. Wall had just six points and three assists during that span, but the pace and energy he played with clearly rubbed off on his teammates—especially Porter and Bradley Beal.

Wall got to his spots on the floor at will, and once there, he’d find Beal open for midrange jumper or 3-point shot, Gortat cutting to the basket, or he’d score himself on a layup (one came courtesy of an illegal screen by Gortat). On one particularly pretty drive, Wall got into the paint, looked off the defense, and found Kelly Oubre alone in the corner for a 3-point attempt. Oubre missed but it didn’t nullify the fact that Wall seemed to be back.

Injury-wise, Wall showed no effects from his two knee surgeries, he just looked winded at times in the second quarter. He also fell down once after a hard drive but popped right back up. Oh, and this happened while Wall was celebrating a Casper Ware basket (Wall was fine after the game, though):

Here’s what we learned in Wall’s absence (a two-game sample size): Satoransky is a legitimate backup point guard candidate, Trey Burke plays with Eric Maynor-levels of ineffectiveness, and Sheldon McClellan might able to run the point in 5-to-10-minute intervals. We also learned that Beal, Gortat, and Porter can play well in flashes without Wall, but the offense won’t be as fluid, nor is the pace as quick.

It’s good to have him back.

About Those Wings.

  • Otto Porter was his usual steady, reliable self on offense, and he did his best Oubre impression on defense by keeping his arms and hands active. After a Wizards turnover, Porter sprinted down court and stripped Courtney Lee of the ball, save it from going out of bounds, and then he passed the ball up-court to start a Wizards fastbreak. There were other instances when Porter got his hands on the ball or he forced the Knicks to make a difficult pass. He still struggled guarding Carmelo Anthony in the post at times, but he’s not in the minority in that department and it was better than Porter had done in the past.
  • Kelly Oubre continues to play more minutes and score more points than Porter, but he still seems like the riskier choice for the starting small forward position. Oubre is better at penetrating the lane and drawing fouls, and against the Knicks he showed that he could be a presence on the boards (7 rebounds, 5 offensive) but he had six turnovers caused by rushing or just making bad decisions. Barring injury or a collapse from Otto, Oubre seems destined for the second unit this year—which is still better than the fleeting minutes Coach Wittman gave him last year.

The Battle of the New Acquisitions.

  • Jason Smith started for the injured Markieff Morris, and he managed to do his best Kris Humphries impression. He did not shoot well (2-of-8), was consistently out of place on defense, and could not seem to keep up with Kristaps Porzingis all night. At one point, Knicks announcer Clyde Frazier said about Smith, “How do you lose a guy (on defense) who’s 7-foot-3?” Smith will eventually find his shooting stroke and make his mark that way, but given that Scott Brooks is all about the defense, he may find himself on the short end of the rotation stick
  • Johnny O’Bryant did not shut down Porzingis (who can?), but he stripped him on two occasions and played physical with him despite giving up six inches in height. O’Bryant also showed a bit of his offensive game by scoring 10 points (two via this Kobe-like fadeaway), and he tied for the game-high in rebounds with seven.
  • Andrew Nicholson showed his full repertoire as well. He demonstrated good weak-side help defense and blocked a shot in the lane, he brought the ball up the floor when the Knicks were overplaying Casper Ware, and he showed more of old man game via an impressive jump hook. He’s not flashy and it takes him a bit to get set in the post, but Nicholson is effective.

Casper Ware vs. Brandon Jennings.

Poor Casper Ware. He waited two games and nearly three quarters to get some run and a chance to make this Wizards roster, and so 90 seconds into his Wizards debut there was Brandon Jennings: in his face after a made layup. Ten seconds after that, Ware returned the favor by getting in Jennings’ face after a unnecessary foul by Jennings, and a double technical was called. Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller indicated that their beef dates back to the Drew League, which is entirely possibly since Ware put on an absolute clinic there this past summer. Still, it was odd that Jennings would pick on Ware in this setting.

Ware showed the ability to get to the basket, and he was feisty on defense, but he also picked up a team-high five fouls in just 14 minutes. Sheldon McClellan still seems likely to make the roster over Ware right now.


The Wizards starters continue to raise concern about defensive ability in the first quarter—a constant regardless of who is in the lineup. The Knicks made five of nine 3-pointers in the first period, and many of them were unchallenged by Wizards players.

It is preseason and the Wizards real starting lineup has yet to play, but bad starts in three consecutive games is a bit alarming, considering that Brooks continues to harp on defense.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.