Wizards fans, it’s just the preseason. But the preseason is important, too, and quite possibly indicative … of something. Remember what Mo Evans said at the end of last season?
“We were in disarray from the moment I got here, from the moment I stepped off the plane and seen we were getting blown out by Philly in the preseason, it just wasn’t looking good.”
So there’s that. But before Washington’s one and only preseason game at the Verizon Center against the Knicks, I spoke with a couple of Wizards about the preseason, and at what point do they go from ‘getting to know each other’ to building real expectations heading into real games. Here goes Martell Webster, Jannero Pargo, Randy Wittman, and A.J. Price…
No Dr. Richard Kimble Gilbert Arenas being snide. No annual broken promises from Andray Blatche. (No one said they were willing to die for the Wizards at this year’s media day.) No DeShawn Stevenson talking swag and Abe Lincoln neck tats. No overabundance of smiles from Nick Young. No Ted Leonsis calling JaVale McGee ‘erudite.’ OK, so there was Jordan Crawford saying, “When it’s time to score, I score. I mean, that’s how it should be.”
Otherwise, 2012 Washington Wizards Media Day was rather tame, but wouldn’t you expect that to be a good thing? Ted Leonsis didn’t even speak at this year’s media day. Now that’s tame. This season, headed into training camp, the focus has shifted more toward basketball. And it’s propelled by what Randy Wittman hopes has been a summer of truly ‘good‘ workouts. No, these aren’t the blog-worthy Wizards from when you first started hearing about blogs, but what they say in preparation for the season can be just as noteworthy. Pictures from media day have pixelated, now here’s just a sampling of the words (and faces).
Bradley Beal on who can step up as a leader with Wall out:
Media Day has been over for several hours and the Washington Wizards have been officially media’d. Quotes, images and pixels of various natures have been broadcast. Hope has been expressed. Do we have the talent to make the playoffs? Yes. How will we come together as a team? We will see, that’s what training camp is for. Will it be tough without John Wall (and Nene to some extent)? Yes, but we’re going to try anyway.
Could one simply tell, from an affair such as media day, that the Wizards are a more mature, professional team? That’s the gut feeling. Have a conversation with Nene, Emeka Okafor, Martell Webster or Trevor Ariza — there’s a difference compared to other teams in recent memory. Now young Wizards have guys they can look toward, knowing their experience, knowlege, and professionalism will provide answers they can trust. There is still as much uncertainty as towhat these 2012-13 Wizards will do on the court as the last couple of seasons, but there’s much more of an underlying sense of confidence that they can stay together and tackle any adversity, that they can deflect any punches instead of simply rolling with them.
Make no mistake, until they prove themselves otherwise in the win-loss column, these are still the same Wizards. But it’s a changing franchise. And this year is a new team – the freshest start Les Boulez have had in about a decade.
Jordan Crawford heads back to Atlanta to play against the team that drafted him, while Chris Singleton returns home. He is from Canton, Georgia and played his senior season of high school at Dunwoody, right outside of Atlanta. As the Wizards prepare for game two on the season against the Hawks tonight, their first road game, we have three questions and three answers surrounding the two teams. TAI’s Rashad Mobley, Kyle Weidie, and Bret LaGree from the ESPN TrueHoop Hawks blog, Hoopinion… 3-on-3 is now…
1) Rashad Mobley: The Hawks lack a significant scoring threat off the bench, and Wizards are lacking a veteran presence in the back court to mentor/guide/spell John Wall. Jordan Crawford could be that bench threat for the Hawks, and Kirk Hinrich (when healthy) could play that role again for the Wizards. The draft pick part of the trade that brought Chris Singleton to D.C. notwithstanding, would Crawford and Hinrich be more effective on their old teams?
MOBLEY: Crawford is still trying to figure out how his skill-set fits in the NBA, so I don’t know if that clarity would have come in Atlanta. But I do know that on opening night, Wall struggled to lead the Wizards on offense, and Hinrich could have steadied the team a bit.
LaGREE, Hoopinion: I think Hinrich’s perimeter defense will give the Hawks more value this year than Crawford’s ability to create a huge number of low-efficiency shots. Any of Atlanta’s five starters should be able to lead/carry the second unit for short stretches, though it remains to be seen how creative Larry Drew will get with the rotation to hide the lack of bench scoring.