Tomas Satoransky Takes Point | Wizards Blog Truth About

Tomas Satoransky Takes Point

Updated: November 6, 2016


It was one of the major tenets of Wittmanism: if you were new, you were going to do your time before you saw the court. Otto Porter, slender and unready as he was, languished almost an entire season after being picked third overall in the NBA Draft. All along, a familiar refrain from Wittman haunted the post-game press availability: his time will come.

Given this history, It was not comforting to hear the same from Scott Brooks about Tomas Satoransky, who impressed players and media alike in the preseason, after the Wizards started the regular season 0-2. And it wasn’t comforting to see his minutes inch up from 1 to 10 in Game 3 as Trey Burke wasted lead after lead lent by the starters. Brooks, it seemed, either knew something that we didn’t, or was otherwise reluctant to hand over the second unit to the better player.

And so it came as a great relief when Satoransky checked in versus Atlanta ahead of Burke, and saw his minutes rise again to 22. The Czech combo guard is easy to like, especially shining in the shadow of Jan Vesely, his friend and countryman, who took the name of AirWolf but never played at more than a terrier’s volume. With an “attitude” that surprised Kelly Oubre due to Satoransky’s European heritage, Tomas plays with an aggression that complements his forward’s frame.

A surprise game off for John Wall opened the door for Wizards fans to see Satoransky take the playmaking reins for an extended period against Orlando. The results were mixed, but encouraging. Satoransky looked nervous as Gortat won the opening tip, and wasn’t fast enough to corral the ball, allowing Orlando a fast-break in the opening seconds.

What’s been obvious about Satoransky from his first minutes as a Wizard is that he doesn’t have the same self-consciousness (or grace, if you’re being rude) as other players. He’s willing to scrap and get beat, to risk a botched dunk and watch it rim out. Most importantly, he has the two most important qualities in a sixth man: ball-handling ability and willingness to drive to the basket.

Plays like this, even despite the lack of speed in Satoransky’s initial steps, set him apart from Trey Burke, who entered the season with the presumption of being the team’s PG2. Satoransky’s slightly-wild hand switches and seeming preference to attempt the floater also play to one of his inherent advantages: his height. At 6’7, there are few point guards who can match his length. And let it not be said that this European can’t jump: he can.

All this adds up to a steadying influence that Washington will desperately need as they recover from a 1-4 start, each game winnable but too easily squandered by an incompetent bench unit that can’t score or defend.

How steadying has Satoransky been? Washington as a team has only managed a minus-6.6 in team plus/minus differential in the first five games. Even the team’s plus/minus king, John Wall, is a humble minus-1.3. Satoransky is the only Wizards player who has seen real game minutes with a positive plus/minus differential: plus-3.6. (Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McClellan, neither of whom have played more than six minutes, also are on the postive end of the spectrum).

In total, Satoransky is a plus-18, whereas Wall is a minus-5. This isn’t me, your trusted blogging voice, advocating for Satoransky to take Wall’s spot. Far from it. But the Wizards have a chance to develop a sixth man: something they’ve needed since Antonio Daniels’ departure.

Against Orlando, playing with the starters in a bitterly disappointing 88-86 loss, Satoransky and the first unit couldn’t quite dig the Wizards out from the hole dug by the second unit, a group left in several minutes too long in a winnable game. Going by two-man units, the Wizards’ fortunes were most squandered by the combination of Burke (a poor signing with little to suggest improvement) and Jason Smith (still wondering what happened there…Grunfelded!). The duo’s presence spelled a 15-point advantage for the Magic, by the numbers. They were also the first line of failing defense against a 16-point run that put the Magic comfortably on top after being down 10.

Digging down through the deep cuts in the game’s statistics log, you can see that touches were spread in a fairly unusual way, with the offense running through Markieff Morris (66 touches) moreso than Beal (58) and Porter (44). Satoransky, an extremely “combo” kind of guard, was active off the ball as well, which Wall and Beal sometimes struggle to motivate themselves to do.

The Wizards are 1-4. Jeff Green, classic Wizards killer, saw to that with 18 points off Orlando’s bench, tying Morris for the game-high. But in a two-point loss, Satoransky was plus-13, which must make him feel more like John Wall than ever.

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.