Opening Statements 04: Wizards vs Hawks — Looking for a Place to Land | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements 04: Wizards vs Hawks — Looking for a Place to Land

By
Updated: November 4, 2016

dc-logo-over-hawks-logo

If Wednesday’s home opener against the Raptors was supposed to be a “must-win” then Friday’s tilt with the Hawks could have Wizards players and fans alike inching toward the ledge.

Over that ledge is a deep-dive off the cliff of mediocrity, which is a lifestyle that this franchise has grown accustomed to over the last three decades. This team is more likely to be relegated to this mediocre status if they are not able to pull out a win versus their division rival Hawks—especially after getting beat by them a week ago. If that first game was any indication of what to expect, the Wizards have much cause for concern.

As TAI’s Kyle Weidie stated in his recap of that game in Atlanta, Washington’s bench was pretty bad, and that has to be the most alarming aspect to this season. Granted, the Wizards have been without their biggest free agent acquisition, Ian Mahinmi, who was signed to shore up the second unit with his rim protection. While Mahinmi’s absence is sorely missed, he would probably not be able to save the Wizards from displaying the ineptitude that has hindered progress over the first three games.

The biggest culprit of the bench unit has been backup point guard Trey Burke, who averages more turnovers (1.7) than assists (1.0). Burke has given Wizards fans flashbacks of Eric Maynor, another undersized score-first point guard who flamed out not only from this team but from the league in general. If Burke is not able to show that he is capable of competently running an offense, he may soon find himself with a similar fate.

In the meantime, the Wizards may have found a capable replacement for Burke in Tomas Satoransky, who received his first meaningful minutes of the season against the Raptors and showed flashes of a player who could possibly become a mainstay in rotation. In just 10 minutes of action, Saty displayed the versatility that gave Wizards fans so much promise coming into the season. Satoransky finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal and essentially played three different positions in his time on the court. The Wall-Beal-Saty lineup that Scott Brooks unveiled in the fourth quarter could be a preview of the interesting lineups that the coach can unlock by incorporating more Satoransky.

It’s likely that Satoransky will continue to be a factor in tonight’s game against the Hawks, and they will need him to be able to contribute against the effective second unit wings of Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr, who was pretty much castoff by the Knicks and spent the majority of last season trying to find his way in the Hawks organization, has started out very confident this season. Hardaway averages 14 points, including a 21-point performance in the season opener. It won’t be just up to Satoransky to save the day for the second unit, the Wizards will also need a better showing from Kelly Oubre, who in this early going ripe with opportunity has not taken the next step as many had anticipated.

While the bench has been a clear weak link for this team, they are not solely responsible for its failures, nor should they be considering the financial obligations the Wizards have committed to the backcourt of the future (and present). John Wall has held up his end of the bargain, living up to the #WallStar performance that we have come to expect, especially on Wednesday against the Raptors. Bradley Beal on the other hand has struggled to assert himself as a scoring “alpha dog” (or even “beta dog”). He is only averaging 14 points on 38 percent shooting, which is damn sure not enough for someone who makes $22 million.

The season is on the brink with a must, must-win game—or maybe just a need-to-win, or ‘gotta win’. Or it will just look really bad if they don’t win. Yes, it’s way early, but it would still be hard to imagine this team getting back to the playoffs if they aren’t able to show the mental toughness that comes with avoiding an 0-4 start. Of course, that previously undefeated Hawks team is coming off a loss to the visiting L.A. Lakers on Wednesday night, so who knows.


Bonus #Content.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.