Washington Wizards President/GM Tommy Sheppard and Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr.’s Pre-Training Camp Media Availability

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By: Michael Marzzacco

The Washington Wizards begin training camp on Saturday as the unofficial start of the 2022-23 NBA season. On Tuesday, team president and general manager Tommy Sheppard and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. spoke to the media. Here are the highlights and you can watch the full press conference here.

Tommy Sheppard:

Outlook on the upcoming season:
“I can’t tell you how excited we are. A new season is upon us. We did a whole lot of changes from last year over the summer, a lot of new additions. Really, I think we addressed a lot of needs. We spent the summer really investing time with our players and it was a huge sacrifice. I can’t thank Wes and his staff enough… I couldn’t be more excited. I’m grateful for what’s ahead, grateful for all the work Wes and the players put in and can’t wait to get going.”

On the approach with Rui Hachimura to avoid burnout like last year:
“I’ll say this, they’ve done a great job, his management and staff and his agency has already done most of the leg work at the beginning. All the necessary photoshoots are out of the way so he can focus on basketball. Certainly there will be an opportunity to get in front of his fans (in Japan) but I think he’s in a great place. I think he’s looking forward to going back, I think the time that we’re on the ground essentially there’s not going to be a whole lot of opportunity to do anything other than basketball so that’s a good thing. He’s looking forward to seeing people and reconnecting with the community but being in front of those fans that’s really the big coming out for him. It would be the first time he’s been back since the Olympics so that will take care of itself.”

On his “need some more dogs” quote from June:
“I think all the guys that are a part of our roster bring a whole different mentality in terms of their expectations of themselves walking in the door, defining themselves as players. They don’t have to tell you about it, they show you. It’s Delon (Wright) locking up people, Monte (Morris) and Will (Barton) being able to play both ends, flying around, I’ll plug Taj (Gibson) in there and I’ll also give Johnny Davis some love. Summer league, the best thing about rookie year is when it’s over and the best thing about summer league is when it’s over. He got back in the lab, he was struggling a bit in summer league, and when the players got together in LA I think everybody saw what we saw all season from him as a player in college. He’s a dawg. He goes hard. He loves to compete.”

Wes Unseld Jr.:

Outlook on the upcoming season:
“It’s a very unique situation. We had a lot of movement for the last, probably, eight months. It’s a new team, but it’s the same. Very familiar feel to it. I give Tommy and his staff a ton of credit as far as the draft, free agency, we had an opportunity to upgrade, strengthen, and bolster our roster. We’re extremely excited about where we are as a group. Lots of challenges lie ahead but it’s certainly something we all embrace and look forward to.”

On what kind of impact Monte Morris could make as the new, likely starting point guard:
“I’ve seen some of the immediate impacts already. He’s a connector, and he’s a guy, I’m not sure how, everyone around the league knows who Monte is. He does a terrific job appreciating himself beyond just between the lines. He’s obviously a point guard at heart, I think he’s accelerated his offensive game a little more over the last two years. That showed going from a G league player to a roster guy to a rotation and eventually starter, it’s a great story but he’s the guy that deserves credit.”

On how soon Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis will share the court together:
“I don’t want to jump the gun but I think once again it would be great to have everyone at full strength. I think we also have to be smart, attacking this thing strategically, it’s great to have guys out there in the preseason but it’s a long season and we want to make sure it’s a long season… We do only have four preseason games so we need to make sure certain groups get minutes on the floor together and develop that home court synergy… I don’t think we need to rush into it. We’ll worry about that on this trip.”

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