With the Washington Wizards starting training camp next week and preseason next month, it is important to take stock of where the roster stands at each position. Who is the starter, backup, and reserve players? What did they do last year and what should we expect this year.
Starter: John Wall
Player Bio: 28 years old, 8 years experience, 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Kentucky
2017-18 Stats: 19.4 points, 9.6 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 42.0 percent shooting, 37.1 percent three-point shooting in 34.4 minutes per game over 41 games.
There is no need to write an essay on Wall’s performance last season. It was cut in half due to a nagging knee injury that required multiple procedures and his on-court play was diminished as a result of the ailment as well as subpar execution. Marcin Gortat was shipped out of D.C. because of a falling out with the franchise star because the center questioned Wall’s effort. What is done is done, but the Wizards cannot afford for the All-Star point guard to perform like this again with his supermax four-year, $170 million set to begin next season in 2019-2020.
Last summer, Wall had Wolf Season preparation that had him in arguably his best shape to begin the regular season before his unfortunate hurt knee. This summer, Wall is rebranding it as his Summer of Separation and his going through an intense workout plan in Miami, FL with trainer David Alexander. The hope is that entering 2018-19 in great shape again will lead to Wall returning to career-high numbers in his third season under Scott Brooks. Possibly guilty of being too optimistic, Wizards have surrounded Wall with this most talent in his career and he is coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Washington goes as far as their point guard takes them (given smooth locker room dynamics with a new ego in the equation), which should be at least a second-round playoff appearance even though bettors may not agree.
Backup: Tomas Satoransky
Player Bio: 26 years old, 2 years experience, 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, FC Barcelona
2017-18 Stats: 7.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 52.3 percent shooting, 46.5 percent three-point shooting in 22.5 minutes per game over 73 games.
After Trey Burke and Brandon Jennings took any playing time chance for Satoransky in 2016-17, the lengthy baller got a real shot at seeing the floor with Wall missing time last season. The Czech product flashed with strong hustle, an improved jump shot, and a high basketball IQ frequently getting others involved. Satoransky represented the best backup Wall has had during his eight-year tenure in D.C.
If given the playing time, you can expect much of the same from Satoransky. He is spending part of September playing for the Czech Republic in World Cup Qualifying games and hitting game-winning shots. The lengthy wing strong work ethic, documented by him working out at Capital One Arena nearly every day last season including off days, is bound to at least last season’s efficiency. Whether he has the chance to flaunt his stuff will depend how Brooks gets him on the court. Satoransky is best as an on-ball guard, but was often used off-ball as a two and three because of Washington’s lack of depth. His level of play during the upcoming season is less on him and more of his utilization by the Wizards that has previously frustrated him at times.
Reserve: Austin Rivers
Player Bio: 26 years old, 6 years experience, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Duke
2017-18 Stats: 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 42.4 percent shooting, 37.8 percent three-point shooting in 33.7 minutes per game over 61 games.
The Los Angeles Clippers faced several injuries last season, especially in their backcourt, that forced Rivers into a larger role as a starter when healthy. He played both point and shooting guard and put up some career numbers as he has trended in the right direction every year since entering the NBA. In my eyes, he deserves to no longer have to listen to, ‘he is only in the league because of who his dad’ talk.
Last season, the Wizards also had Tim Frazier, Ramon Sessions, and Ty Lawson, on the roster at different points of the season who took away time from Satoransky in at times questionable rotations from Brooks. At this time, Washington does not have a true third point guard on the roster if Rivers gets penciled in as a shooting guard, but you still may see the former Blue Devil handle the ball periodically over the season as the team brass raved about his versatility during his introductory press conference. He can be a capable point guard if needed for injury or production purposes, but it would probably be best for Satoransky to be given unlimited reign over the role behind Wall.