Washington is now 1-1 after their first two games on the preseason schedule, winning a double overtime tilt with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. The outcome of the games means little, but there’s much to be taken from the contests. The Wizards have two games next week, Monday in New York against the Knicks and back home on Thursday when they host the 76ers.
There’s five more games in the preseason, plenty of time for Washington to find their identity on both ends of the court. To find the lineups that work best together, it’s a new situation and it’s going to take time. Still, there have been a few players that have stood out over the first two games. Below are a few observations from Washington’s games against Miami and Philadelphia.
Beal’s Handle. Brooks mentioned on media day that he wanted Bradley to make his teammates better this season on the offensive end. That was one of the challenges laid out for the talented shooting guard. It’s clear that a healthy offseason did wonders for Beal, more importantly his handle. He used to have enough handle to create a shot for himself, but it would take time. The improved handle has him beating defenders in less time, less moves, and allows him to put added pressure on the defense. Along with snaking pick and rolls, Beal’s able to attack off the bounce much easier. Bringing the defense to him and creating space for others. It’s just preseason, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his improved handle.
Poise of Tomas. The rookie is never rushed, really has a good feel for the position. Ran the team in several lineups in this contest, really controlled the tempo well. Understands how to operate off the screen and roll and is a very willing defender. He also hit the offensive glass a bit, which is a little different for a point guard, but his size allows him to contribute there. Midway through the first half he drew a looseball foul while pursing an offensive rebound. He’s yet to find his jumpshot through two games, but Washington clearly has another point guard on the roster not named Wall that can run a team. The rook finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists against the 76ers. A very well rounded effort for a talented young player, it’ll be fun to watch him whenever he’s on the court with Wall should that happen at some point this preseason.
Making a Case. The youngster out of Miami continues to make his case for a roster spot. He did it with his defense in Washington’s loss to Miami, really getting in to the opposing team’s ball handlers. Against the Sixers, we got to see a little more of what he can provide on the offensive end. He only attempted one three point shot, doing most of his damage inside the arc. He attacked the basket very well, resulting in 11 trips to the foul line (knocking down 8 attempts). The Houston native finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Oubre. The 2nd year wing finished the contest in Philadelphia with 24 points. He was a consistent scoring option for his team all night long. He did get in trouble at times with over penetrating and driving. He’s not yet strong enough to finish around the rim through the trees, but he did earn 8 trips to the foul line. Where he’s continued to succeed was in those catch and shoot situations. Kelly has put the work in and it’s paid off through the first two preseason contests in those situations, knocking down a high percentage of shots when his feet are set. Through the first two preseason games, it’s evident that Kelly is far more confident than his rookie campaign.
Defense. It’s coming along slowly, there have been spurts of sound defensive play, but mostly lapses. Pick and roll coverages have suffered a bit, with teams attacking Washington’s bigs. There was some improvement between Miami and Philadelphia, but Monday’s game should be a better test with Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and company. It takes time for cohesion to happen on the defensive end, it’ll certainly be something to keep an eye on going forward.