Wizards vs. Heat — The Unboxing of Tomas Satoransky | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards vs. Heat — The Unboxing of Tomas Satoransky

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Updated: October 5, 2016

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I went to the Verizon Center on Tuesday night for one reason, and one reason only: to see Tomas Satoransky. This was a moment four years in the making. After suffering through year of unfulfilled Euro-stash promises (I’m looking at you, Vladimir Veremeenko and Juan Carlos Navarro), Washington finally put its prized second round pick on display.

Tomas did not disappoint. He played 31 minutes and scored eight points with five rebounds, six assists, and two turnovers. But it was not the stats that impressed. It was all the little things that do not show up in the box score.

Satoransky showed great awareness off the ball. He caught his defender sleeping and cut back door for an easy basket and would have done so a couple more times if his teammates had not completely missed his timely dives to the hoop.

Satoransky’s court awareness is especially important because there are limited point guard minutes available behind John Wall. As a shooting guard without reliable 3-point range, Satoransky will have to create space on offense through constant movement and exploiting unbalanced defenses.

When Tomas did have the ball in his hands, he showed he is ready to be an NBA point guard on Day One. He handled full-court pressure with ease and pushed the ball up court at every opportunity. He used his height to see over the defense and make tough passes in the lane, and he ran the pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat like a veteran.

Tomas’ athleticism, which previously ignited #WizardsTwitter with a couple training camp dunks, was also on display against the Heat. Late in the second quarter, Trey Burke was leading a fast break and Satoransky snuck behind the defense and pointed to the sky for an alley-oop—à la Javale McGee—but Burke’s pass was just a little too late to complete the highlight.

Tomas was no slouch on defense, either. Satoransky commented after the game that he needs to get used to the speed of NBA point guards, but he was able to keep the Heat’s smaller guards in front of him and contest shots with his length. Aside from an unfortunate Dion Waiters drive and dunk, Tomas was solid on defense.

Perhaps most impressive was his overall aggression. Satoransky said after the game that he was a little nervous for his debut but it did not show on the court. Tomas bodied up bigger Heat players and crashed the defense boards. Scott Brooks said after the game, “He’s played a lot of professional basketball overseas and has played a lot of big games, big tournaments, and he knows how to play. The thing I love about him, he plays hard. You will never say ‘Tomas didn’t play with great effort tonight.’ He played hard. He plays hard every night, and he knows how to play.”

In the interest of being somewhat fair and balanced, Tomas’s debut was not perfect. He shot 2-for-6 and missed his only 3-pointer. While that is an admittedly small sample size, Tomas’ shooting percentages are a legitimate question mark given that he will be playing alongside John Wall, who is at his best running the floor and setting teammates up for wide open 3-pointers. However, given Satoransky’s height and athleticism, he could play some small forward alongside Wall and Beal.

Andrew Nicholson.

I mean this in the nicest way possible: Nicholson looks like he is playing in slow motion. He runs like that 60-year-old guy at the gym with the head band and goggles. I don’t know why anyone would bite on his pump fake, but the Heat players did so repeatedly. I think I am going to like Nicholson in the same way I liked Andre Miller and Shaun Livingston before him. He has a tiny bit of Antawn Jamison in him with his unorthodox release points and distaste for passing out of the post.

Kelly Oubre.

Oubre must have had déjà vu in the first quarter when he watched Jason Smith, Sheldon McClellan, Tomas Satoransky, and Andrew Nicholson all enter the game before him. It was like Randy Wittman never left. Kelly did not get off the bench until six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The game was a mixed bag for Oubre. He played 25 minutes, shot 5-for-10, and led the team in scoring with 16 points and zero turnovers. He also avoided foul trouble and showed extremely quick hands with three steals.

But he also had a couple out-of-control drives that were reminiscent of the forced shots (while teammates could only watch) that got him banished to Wittman’s doghouse in his rookie year.

Brooks said after the game that Oubre has become much more solid defensively but still has to improve in that area: “He has the length and athleticism and he does gamble at times but he just has to continue focus on being solid. It’s hard to shoot over him, his arms go forever. He has to be able to focus in on that because when he gambles everybody else has to recover for him.”

For his part, Oubre graded his performance as a C.

Otto Porter.

Despite all the training camp talk of a position battle, Otto is light years ahead of Oubre and will most certainly begin the season as the starting small forward. Otto played limited minutes (16) but was his typical self—active moving without the ball, hitting an open 3-pointer, and getting overpowered on defense. I will give him a pass for the first game since he played almost all of his minutes in the first quarter, when the entire team was a sieve on defense, giving up 35 points on 65.2 percent shooting. Obviously Otto takes some of that blame, but it is unclear how much.

Sheldon McClellan.

McClellan was fine, I guess. He played 15 minutes and looked quick, but he only shot twice. With Marcus Thornton already banged up and Satoransky slated for some point guard duties, there theoretically should be a roster spot for an athletic shooting guard. It remains to be seen whether McClellan fits the bill, but the fact that he was the first guard off the bench means Brooks at least thinks there’s a chance.

Finally…

Just in case you were nervous about John Wall, he can still throw down left-handed dunks.

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.