Satoransky's Career Night Shows Signs of Things to Come for the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About

Satoransky’s Career Night Shows Signs of Things to Come for the Wizards

Updated: February 11, 2018

There’s a silver lining in every cloud, and while the D.C. area was showered with rain all day Saturday, the Wizards were in Chicago reaping the benefits of the John Wall Silver Lining. This team is decidedly, obviously better with Wall in the lineup, but his extended absence certainly brings positive takeaways.

First and foremost, every game without Wall in the lineup allows Tomas Satoransky one more chance to prove to Scott Brooks that, no, really, he is a point guard! And a good one at that! Satoransky was excellent on Saturday and nothing short of dominant at times, showing a quality stroke from beyond the arc, rapid-fire decision-making, and instantaneous swinging of the ball from side-to-side on offense.

Satoransky set a new career high before the third quarter was over, already sitting on 22 points on just 11 shots, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. He finished the game with 25 points on 10-for-12 shooting, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers, setting a new scoring record for Czech-born players.

He hardly got to enjoy the victory lap, however, as he watched the Wizards close out the 101-90 win from the locker room after a hard foul (deemed a flagrant-2) by Bobby Portis that sent him flying. Satoransky drove baseline to the basket, went up as Portis went up, and Portis caught him at the right angle where Sato’s legs went flying up and while his head plummeted down.

#WizardsTwitter immediately cried “dirty!” while #BullsTwitter was baffled at the ejection. Other players might have gotten the benefit of the doubt. The guy who knocked out his own teammate before the season will never get the benefit of the doubt. (But shame on everybody who made the same tired “Portis thought Satoransky was Nikola Mirotic!” joke in the immediate aftermath.)

Satoransky’s injury is potentially devastating for Washington, though he tweeted Sunday morning that he was “relatively OK” (what does that mean?).

Wall is sidelined for at least a few more weeks, and Tim Frazier took a knee (from Bobby Portis, no less) to the face earlier Saturday night and suffered a nasal fracture that will require surgery.

Positionally, it’s a killer for the Wizards, who desperately need point guard help. Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Washington could be in the buyout market for one Derrick Rose. Several hours later, the only two true point guards on the roster fell victim to Portis for thus-far undetermined lengths of time. And now we’re venturing into the 10-day contract arena, per David Aldridge.

Aldridge lists former Wizards Ramon Sessions and Donald Sloan as potential targets, as well as VCU product Briante Weber. (For what it’s worth, I’m vehemently in the Weber camp of that trio. Weber is young and has the potential to emerge as a useful player, whereas you know exactly what you’re going to get from Sloan and Sessions. Go with the upside, not the minutes-eaters … Just please don’t sign Derrick Rose.)

Prior to the injury, Satoransky was nothing short of spectacular. He led all scorers with 11 points (4-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 on 3-pointers) in the first quarter as the Wiz jumped out to an eight-point lead, and he finished the half with a game-high 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, despite playing the fewest minutes of any Wizards starter.

With Frazier at that point out for the game, Sato played the entire third quarter and was on his way to playing the entire fourth quarter before Portis took him out. It was a reassuring sign of confidence in Satoransky on Scott Brooks’ part; I personally expected Brooks to resort to Bradley Beal as the primary ball-handler for parts of the second half and ask him to play all 24 minutes. Despite his night ending early, Satoransky played the most second-half minutes of any player for either team.

Always the unselfish playmaker, Sato continued looking for his shot as a second or even third option despite the hot hand. He instead worked to get Kelly Oubre and Jodie Meeks (among others) involved, for both better and worse. Oubre struggled with his shot and the box score is not kind to him, but his persistent aggressiveness gave the Bulls something to think about all night. Meeks showed signs of life at times and finished with 10 points (4-for-6 from the field, 1-for-2 on 3-pointers) and added four rebounds and a pair of assists while playing 18 minutes.

Jason Smith saw eight minutes of action thanks to Markieff Morris sitting out with an illness and Ian Mahinmi leaving early, also with an illness. Smith turned in seven points on four shots while showing a general interest in playing basketball, and Mike Scott was his typical productive self with 14 points (5-for-11 FG) and five boards in 24 minutes of action.

It’s easy to say Beal was a non-factor in this game, as he finished with just seven points on 3-for-13 shooting (0-for-7 on triples), but that’s not entirely fair. His shot wasn’t falling, but he contributed six assists while showing a willingness to keep the ball swinging from side-to-side. And once it became clear that it was Sato’s time to shine, Beal appropriately took a back seat. It was easily one of the worst games Beal has played this season, but the box score is harsher than the reality.

Speaking of Beal: He’s very obviously not a natural point guard. With Wall out, Beal is inadvertently proving Wall’s significance to this team, as there is nobody else on the roster who can individually dissect a defense.

But another aspect of the John Wall Silver Lining is Beal getting a chance to run the offense. This is the most he’s been in control of an offense since he entered the league, and he looks markedly more comfortable in the role than he did two weeks ago. There is already some chemistry with Beal and Gortat in the pick-and-roll game, he’s getting a chance to work on his ball-handling, and who knows, it might help Beal appreciate Wall’s role a bit more. (It’s not easy to create offense for this Wizard-ing squad.)

Of course, the flip side to this is every time Beal becomes the de facto point guard, Tomas Satoransky is not acting as the point guard. That is a bad thing that Scott Brooks needs to stop doing. Satoransky is very clearly the best point guard on this team when Wall is out, and everybody benefits from his quick thinking and unselfish play. If Sato keeps stroking 3s anywhere near the .483 clip he’s shooting for the season, Washington could have itself a future Sixth Man of the Year candidate.


Bryan Frantz on EmailBryan Frantz on LinkedinBryan Frantz on Twitter
Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.