Friday night in New York marked the end of the Wizards’ five-game preseason slate, but head coach Scott Brooks made sure that his squad was working its way up to full speed ahead of next week’s season opener. Bradley Beal’s team-best 24 points in 28 minutes paced Washington to a 110-103 victory over the Knicks at The Garden as it finished the preseason with a 4-1 mark. Beal’s minutes made it clear that the Wizards wanted to get plenty of work in ahead of the regular season opener, and the rest of the presumed rotation followed with plenty of run of its own.
A few final takeaways as the Wizards prepare for the final five days of practice before next Wednesday’s opener against the Sixers at Capital One Arena…
John Wall (rest) was the only notable absence from the rotation aside from Markieff Morris, who’s working his way back from offseason surgery. As for the rest of the starters, Marcin Gortat and Tim Frazier logged 25 minutes, while Otto Porter posted 11 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Jason Smith chipped in 17 points in 22 minutes, while Kelly Oubre poured in 21 in 23 minutes.
Bench Contributors Shine
Tomas Satoransky was the first point guard off the bench after Tim Frazier got the start in John Wall’s absence, and he immediately showed the vast improvement that the Wizards’ brass was hoping to see after his first full NBA season in 2016-17. The Czech native displayed a much more confident jumper Friday, scoring 10 points (five assists) on 5-of-6 shooting from the field that included a 3-pointer. While Satoransky’s natural point guard position is crowded, his work on adding versatility is paying off and could help him break into the rotation as the season gets underway.
Speaking of versatility, Jason Smith appears to be picking up right where he left off last season. In what’s been a bit of a reinvention, Smith had success from beyond the arc Friday – hitting three 3-pointers – but also used his great touch to score off the bounce. While the opening day starting five hasn’t been confirmed, the expansion of Smith’s game will no doubt help ease the transition into life without Markieff Morris at the beginning of the regular season.
While he’ll back up John Wall when the regular season comes, Frazier used a more featured role Friday to give a glimpse of why he was brought to D.C. He constantly pressured the defense with dribble penetration and showed he’s more than selfless enough to find the right pass. He finished with eight points, four rebounds and four assists in a very strong final preseason showing.
In a game that was nearly a dead heat for the majority of the night a 16-4 run gave the Knicks a 86-83 lead with 9:45 to play after a game, but the Wizards locked in down the stretch to lead by as many as 13 inside the three-minute mark. Kelly Oubre scored 12 of his 21 points in the final frame while Chris McCullough added five to help Washington stave off a final New York run.
Next, the Wizards will set their sights on Wednesday, October 18 as they get ready to host the Sixers on opening night.