#FreeSato — The Birth of a Movement | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

#FreeSato — The Birth of a Movement

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Updated: October 28, 2016

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Grab some cheesecake from the fridge and pull up a chair.

Picture it. Upper Marlboro, 1994. It’s a crisp autumn afternoon and newly appointed Washington Bullets head coach Jim Lynam is meeting season ticket holders at the team’s annual event at Six Flags. A young man approaches Lynam at a picnic table and tells him, “You may not realize it yet, but Gheorghe Muresan should be starting ahead of Kevin Duckworth.” Lynam nods politely and thanks him for the advice.

That young man was me, and 22 years later it’s time for another conversation with another first-year Washington coach about another European import. It’s time to #FreeSato.

After Washington’s final preseason win over Toronto, where Trey Burke played exclusively as the team’s backup point guard and Marcus Thornton was the first shooting guard off the bench, Scott Brooks said his player substitutions were a good indication of his regular season rotation.

Concerned that Satoransky may be the odd man out, I asked Brooks where he fits in the rotation. His answer was not reassuring:

Washington’s season opener versus the Atlanta Hawks confirmed the #FreeSato movement’s biggest fears. Even with Bradley Beal getting in early foul trouble and having to sit out almost the entire third quarter, Satoransky barely played. Even with Marcus Thornton shooting 2-for-8 in 20 minutes, Satoransky barely played. Even with Marcus Thornton doing whatever this is below, Satoransky barely played.

Even with Trey Burke’s inability or unwillingness to run an offensive set, Satoransky barely played. Even as Brooks watched the entire second unit devolve into a comedy of defensive lapses and unforced turnovers, Satoransky barely played.

It is only one game, but when that one game confirms everything you already knew, it is time to face the truth.

Satoransky is exactly what the second unit needs. He can create easy shots for teammates with penetration and crafty pick-and-rolls. He can get the team into offensive sets without embarrassing turnovers (Washington had five turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as the game slipped away). He can keep quicker guards in front of him and contest jumpers with his length. And, perhaps most importantly, he hustles.

Satoransky showed in six preseason games that he is already a better pure point guard than Trey Burke—which is not surprising given Burke’s NBA resume. Marcus Thornton has shown during 15 regular season games in Washington that he is a high-volume, low percentage shooter who needs to catch fire to have a positive impact on the game.

There is no reason Tomas Satoransky should be behind both of those players in the rotation. Ernie finally found a gem in the second round and signed him to an incredibly reasonable three-year, $9 million contract. There is only one thing Scott Brooks needs to do: play him.

I have no doubt Brooks will eventually play Satoransky ahead of either Burke or Thornton. It is only a question of how many games Washington loses before he does.

I used to preach at the Church of Gheorghe Muresan. Now I proselytize on behalf of Tomas Satoransky. #FreeSato.

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Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.