3 Takeaways From the Wizards vs the Knicks at the Vault | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

3 Takeaways From the Wizards vs the Knicks at the Vault

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Updated: October 7, 2017

 

The Wizards were the last NBA team to open the 2017 preseason against an NBA opponent, putting them squarely behind the 8-ball in terms of talent evaluation before the start of the season. Although there were other teams around the NBA whose star players played their first game last night or still haven’t at all (i.e. Russell Westbrook and Lebron James), this indictment of lack of competition mostly affects the end of the bench roster spots and undetermined roles on the team. It’s one thing to evaluate how Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith play together in the front court against Tyler Hansbrough and the Long-Lions, but there’s a completely different evaluation process when looking at that pairing against actual NBA players.

Most teams had already had at least one opportunity to experiment with different lineups and rotations, whereas the Wizards finally tipped off with their franchise cornerstones on the court at the same time, and thankfully it appears that the stars have picked up right where they left off in the playoffs.

The team was able to pull out a 104-100 victory over the New York Knicks, despite not really putting forth their best effort defensively. In the first half,  the Knicks blitzed the Wizards defense to the tune of 62 first half points, much to the dismay of head coach Scott Brooks who commented on how much better the Wizards locked down in the second half: “We just couldn’t get the stops that it takes to win in this league consistently. I thought the third and fourth quarter defense picked up, played much better. We’re still trying to get a rhythm, how we play and how we want to play going forward but like I said I thought the guys gave great effort, especially in the second half on the defensive end.”

While the Wizards could not string together stops in the first half, it wasn’t too detrimental because the offense, led mostly by the explosive John Wall, seemed to be clicking– which leads us to our first big takeaway from the game:

John Wall is as Explosive as Ever

Even if you didn’t watch the game, I’m sure you’ve seen the highlight of the night which had John Wall posterizing D.C. native Mike Beasley on a ferocious dribble drive.

 

 

https://twitter.com/World_Wide_Wob/status/916445053454815232

It’s a scary thought to realize that we may not have even seen the peak of Wall’s athletic powers, but the wonders of having an injury-free offseason seem to have a positive effect on his explosiveness. Wall even lamented the fact that this is uncharted territory for him to be this healthy to start the season: “ First time in my career. I dedicated my summer getting in the best shape possible and just putting a lot of work into my game, and hopefully it pays off throughout the whole season.”

The Knicks point guard situation may be one of the worst in the league, and Wall fully took advantage of being mismatched onto former teammate Ramon Sessions, who is a serviceable backup point guard, but never stood much of a chance in any attempts at staying in front of Wall in the half court or transition. Wall was able to drive to the basket at will, and play downhill at a pace that drew attention from the defense and subsequently left Wizards’ shooters open. The one drawback of Wall’s newfound speed is that he reverted to how he played early in his career, when he seemed to be moving a little too fast, which lead him to five turnovers. Wall finished with 19 points, 6 assists, on 9-14 shooting from the field in just 24 minutes of action.

Scott Brooks Has Some More Experimenting to do at Power Forward

Jason Smith started his second consecutive game at the power forward position in the absence of Markieff Morris who is still  few weeks away from returning to game action after a sports hernia surgery. Smith did not look as crisp as he did Monday against the Long-Lions, and it is fair to say that there is cause for concern with a front court starting lineup of Smith and Gortat. As I highlighted earlier this week, the sample size of Smith and Gortat playing together last year was small, but yielded semi-poor results. While Smith has drastically improved his 3-point shooting the last two seasons, he was not able to find the stroke last night, and finished 0-5 on the game and 0-4 from three.

Conversely, Mike Scott appeared to be ready for a breakout season, as he tried to stuff the stat sheet as much as possible in just 18 minutes of play, finishing with 12 points on 5-9 from the field, including 2-3 from behind the arc.

Scott certainly has the tools to be the quintessential utility 4-man in today’s NBA. He can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot, along with being able to step out to the perimeter and display catch-and-shoot skills from distance. Not only were the fans, and media impressed with Scott’s toughness, he seems to be earning the respect of his teammates as well. Bradley Beal did not hold back on heaping praise on Scott:

“He can give you the inside game or outside game. I always call him Mr. Effcient because he’s a bucket. I played him in college before too so he’s just automatic. I love his drive and focus in the game. He’s all about his teammates and being locked into the game. He can score. He can score in a variety of ways. He can shoot threes, give it to you in the post, put it on the floor, he’s a great pick and roll player too. he’s everything that we need him to be. He’s proven it.”

Tomas Satoransky Putting his bid for the Backup PG Role

Satoransky got his second stint of extended minutes as a point guard on this team, and he displayed his much improved ball-handling skills in the match up against the Knicks. While no one will confuse Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack as defensive stalwarts, Satoransky was able to get where he wanted to on the court and get the second-unit into their offensive sets much quicker than he did in his limited time playing point guard last season. He played 21 minutes and finished with five assists which were second to only Wall’s five. When head coach Scott Brooks was asked about Tomas production and comfort level as a point guard this season, Brooks smartly pointed out the adjustment period that it sometimes takes European players coming over in their first NBA seasons:

“Well, he’s getting more confident as his NBA career is unfolding. I think last year, even though he played a lot of pro ball in Europe, it’s not the same. I thought he came back, he had a good summer playing for his national team, and he’s confident. He knows he’s a good player. He knows he belongs in this league and he’s not trying to force things. He’s just letting the game come to him. He made a lot of good reads tonight. His outside shot is improving and overall I think he was really good tonight.”

The longer that Tim Frazier is out with his groin injury, the more opportunities Satoransky will have to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves minutes in the backup point guard slot.

Bonus Coverage: Capital One Arena Get a New Makeover and a Hip Nickname

It’s already been highly publicized that the Wizards changed the naming rights of the home arena from the Verizon Center to Capital One Arena and the team finally took down the Verizon place cards on the exterior of the arena and replaced them with the new Captal One emblems.

When the Wizards played in the Verizon Center, the arena’s nickname was aptly called “The Phone Booth,” but team captain and leader Bradley Beal took it upon himself to hold an informal poll on twitter this week to determine what the the nickname of the new arena would be and it came down to two finalists: “The Bank” and “The Vault”

 

And the final verdict ended up being “The Vault”

 

When asked about why Beal chose to go with “The Vault” the emerging leader took the time to eloquently explain the new nickname and the defensive mindset that he and his #DeathrowDC teammates are bringing into this season:  “I like the name, you know vault, you lock it down. For us, we want to be a defensive-minded team. We got to lock up the defense. We got to lock up our house. This is our house. We have the mindset that no one comes in here and beats us and no one comes in here and puts up a lot of points. I think that’s a good motto for us. Hopefully, it can trend a little bit more in D.C. for us.”

John Wall co-signs and respects Brad’s inititaive as a fellow team leader: “He is the leader of this team. He is another captain so I am rolling with it with whatever decision he makes. I am rolling with it. The Vault. You come in here, you are walking into the vault. You get locked in.”

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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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.