Opening Statements: Wizards at Knicks, Preseason Game 3 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Knicks, Preseason Game 3

Updated: October 10, 2016

Washington Wizards vs New York Knicks - Nov. 30, 2012

The Wizards travel to the big city—your city, not my city, shoe city, New York City—on Monday to face the Knickerbockers in their third attempt at a preseason game (1). Washington is coming off a—preseason double overtime—win last Thursday in Philadelphia. And yes, there was plenty of Twitter hand-wringing about the fact that overtime exists in the preseason. Speaking for my banging 140-character shots which mocked that very fact (watching from the comfort of my apartment), most of it was empathy for those who had to be on-hand covering the game, i.e., not me. Otherwise, it was kind of fun! The two Dans (Danuel House and Daniel Ochefu (2) got plenty of run, and what could be a budding second unit 1-2-3 combo (Satoransky, McClellan, and Oubre) got a valuable 17 minutes-plus of crunchtime action.

And the thing is, there’s still so much to learn about this team. The preseason opener was a blowout (11-point loss, 61-44 halftime deficit), and the last few games could feature only (mostly) reserves. It was nice to see a test, meaningless as it may have been, and even against the Sixers. Also of note, per the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, John Wall will make his preseason debut tonight in New York—because of course, the kid (young adult) loves him some Big Apple (3).

Scott Brooks is no doubt throwing different lineup noodles against the wall because it’s preseason and he can. But, you know me, lineup data grills my cheese. So let’s take a look at Brooks’ references over 105 total preseason minutes so far (two regulations plus two overtimes to see what’s sticking (4)).

The (Current) Starters

  • Trey Burke, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat.
  • This crew played 17:28 together in Philly to the tune of minus-9.
  • They played 7:26 of first half action vs. Miami, also minus-9 (Jarell Eddie started for Beal in the second half).
  • Needless to say, minus-18 over nearly 25 minutes (so far) is putting a lot on John Wall’s shoulders.

The Reserves

  • Tomas Satoransky, Sheldon McClellan, Kelly Oubre, Jason Smith, and Ian Mahinmi was Brooks’ reserve unit of choice against the Sixers (8:28, plus-7)
  • Satoransky, McClellan, Oubre, Danuel House, and Daniel Ochefu closed out regulation and both overtimes in Philly (17:18, plus-5)
  • A three-guard lineup featuring Satoransky, Beal, and McClellan got nearly six minutes of run vs. Miami (+3) but otherwise either Porter or Oubre were always the 3 that game; no three-guard lineups were used in Philadelphia.

Combos: 4-5 (& sometimes the 3)

  • Over two games Brooks has generally used two bigs in a five-man unit (Mahinmi missed the first game due to a tight back; he played in the second game while Andrew Nicholson sat out).
  • The main takeaway: a tandem of Morris and Gortat is very much a work in progress, and in theory much better than Humphries and Gortat but you can’t tell by the poor results so far:
    • Morris + Gortat: 39:02, -26 (19:11, -7 vs. PHI; 19:52, -19 vs. MIA)
    • Morris + Mahinmi: 2:41, 0 (vs. PHI)
    • Morris + Nicholson: 3:10, -7 (vs. PHI)
    • Morris + Smith: 3:05, -2 (vs. MIA)
    • Smith + Gortat: 4:03, +2 (vs. PHI)
    • Smith + Mahinmi: 9:20, +5 (vs. PHI)
    • Smith + Nicholson: 6:41, +2 (vs. MIA)
    • Smith + Ochefu: 3:22, -1 (vs. PHI)
    • Nicholson + O’Bryant: 11:08, +11 (vs. MIA)
  • For a very brief spurt versus the Sixers, Brooks used Porter and Oubre as his 3-4 combo with Gortat at 5 (2:05, plus-2).
  • Otherwise, Oubre and House have been the go-to, small-ball 3-4 combo with Ochefu at 5 for 20:23 over two games to the tune of plus-9.

The Backcourt 1-2

  • Options have been limited with Wall and Marcus Thornton out due to injury, leaving Brooks with a four-player rotation of Burke, Beal, Satoransky, and McClellan. (Casper Ware has gotten no love.)
  • Burke and Beal have paired for nearly 26 minutes over two games and are minus-14.
  • Satoransky and Beal have shared the court for just over 13 minutes at even-zero.
  • Burke and Satoransky have played 15:20 together at plus-4.
  • Satoransky and McClellan have been exclusive backcourt partners for just over 39 minutes (+8), but both also were part of that aforementioned three-guard lineup.

Overall, given the roster makeup, the lineup combinations Brooks has tried to date are certainly no surprise. Wizards fans would probably like to see Porter and Oubre on the court together for more than two minutes, and that pairing could be in the works as the preseason progresses. Once a full-strength Wall is available as the head of the defensive snake, it will be easier to see what the Wizards’ defensive ceiling is, even if the greatest defensive drop-off from starters to reserves will be in the backcourt. The larger developing concern is that while Washington finally has a respectable rim protector in Mahinmi, the rest of the frontcourt, as individual and team defenders, leaves a shit-ton to be desired.

Joining TAI to answer a few questions about the Knicks is the internet’s Robert Silverman. He’s Brooklyn, NY-based, writes for a whole slew of quality outlets, and can be followed on Twitter here: @BobSaietta. Let’s chat, family…

1) What most makes you feel warm-and-fuzzy about the Knicks heading into this season?

It’s Kristaps. It’s always been Kristaps. He is the alpha and the omega. Who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Trying to temper expectations is an exercise in futility, but even after two preseason games, it’s hard not to see another couple of shiny new parts that have been added to this burgeoning colossus. Namely, he’s noticeably stronger, and more capable of holding his defensive position and less hesitant about launching his sopping wet jumper. No matter what Knicks-ian ugliness (eventually) emerges, Kristaps is gonna Kristaps. Now if you’ll excuse me, Kristaps and I are gonna be BFF’s and hang out and have fun and you’re not invited unless you ask real nice.

2) What most makes your stomach churn?

The ongoing Derrick Rose trial. We have no idea what actually transpired that night and regardless of the verdict, we may never know. Her lawyers are running the Smear The Accuser playbook to a T, and I’m not sure how I’ll be able to stomach rooting for him. Sports, specifically fandom, has a way of making your, my, or anyone’s revulsion go away, or at least fade into background noise, but it shouldn’t.

3) Which Knick would be best, and who would be the worst, at catching butterflies (and why)?

I’m going to say Mo “The Forest Moon Of” Ndour. His preferred nickname is evidently “Nature Boy,” which is pretty nifty, but come on. It’s no Forest Moon. That said, it seems to indicate he’s spent many an our in deep meditation while swarms of Monarchs swirl about his person, inimically drawn to him, before he unleashes his bouncy, quick twitch athleticism to snatch as many as he could get his hands on,

The worst is Sasha Vujacic because he’s Sasha Vujacic.


  1. While I think there are too many preseason games (seven for Washington this year) and not enough training camp, I’ll also consider two things: players gathered for a mini-camp in L.A., and in the days leading up to camp, they worked out and played ball with each other in D.C. p; a player could get hurt just as easily during preseason activities that aren’t a regulated game.
  2. Per reports, Daniel Ochefu might get cut soon.
  3. Other injury notes: Trey Burke (ankle) was limited in practice on Saturday and Sunday; Markieff Morris did not practice on Saturday due to a sore foot; and Marcin Gortat did not practice on Sunday (strained glute).
  4. doesn’t have preseason lineup data so these numbers were put compiled manually.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.