Just in case you haven't heard or forgot to update your calendar, today brings about the first preseason game of the year for the Wizards (you can see the whole schedule here). As we gear up for month of games that are ultimately meaningless, here's what I'll be looking for, in no particular order:
The Young and the restless: After a disappointing performance in Vegas, by all accounts he seemed to do well last week in training camp. Can he build on his play from last week or will he struggle again once the lights go on?
- EuroTrip: Next week, the Wiz play two games in Europe against the Hornets. Besides being a great chance to see Brendan Haywood's reaction to German cuisine (fingers crossed) this trip provides a great opportunity for the team to bond togethter this preseason. If you don't believe me, just ask the Celtics, who made the same trip last season:
"It’s a lot different. Actually, I was on my way to the airport right after the last game of the season last year. That’s a true story," [Paul Pierce] says. "You assume it’s gonna be a great team but usually teams have turmoil or have to have team meetings or something, but we didn’t really have that. This season has been great from day one. It all started in Rome."
Rome, Italy. A city of worldwide historical significance and a city referenced by several of the guys when asked why things coalesced so seamlessly for this team. The Celtics were there for training camp and a preseason game against Toronto as part of the NBA’s never-ending acceleration to global acceptance. Doc put the hammer down and banned cell phones. Dudes had to talk to each other. And they did.
"I don’t think we would have been a 66-win team without that trip to Rome," Pierce continues. "We would have been good. I can’t put a number on it, but not 66 wins good. That trip really brought us together. It just had to happen. The team really got together. This team was built with all these new players and we needed to get together to see how we wanted to be…what we were gonna do this season and how we’re gonna approach the season. It brought us a lot closer."
Just a thought Eddie. Anyways...
- What can Brown do for you? You have to think that Eddie Jordan is going to do what he can to keep Antonio Daniels minutes low because he knows he's going to need a lot out of the 33 year old early in the season with Gilbert Arenas out. That means this preseason will effectively work as an extended tryout for Dee. We'll get to see a lot of the Brown's "Chicago Toughness" and get a good feel for what he can and can't do before the season starts. How he performs this month will be huge in determining the rotation both before and after Gilbert returns.
- Stunning results: Preseason rotations = More time for backups = Taser Time.
- The battle for the end of the bench: Currently, the Wizards have 18 players on the roster and they only plan on sending 15 over to Spain and Europe next week. Gilbert won't be taking that trip, so that leavs 17 players to fight for those 15 seats. Of those 17, 12 have guaranteed contracts, so they won't be going anywhere and of the 5 remaining, Dee Brown and Juan Dixon both have partially guaranteed contracts, so barring a free fall, they'll be on the plane. That leaves DerMarr Johnson, Linton Johnson, and Taj McCullough to battle for that final spot. However, winning the spot on the trip to Europe doesn't guarantee a spot on the roster for good, because Gilbert will still take up a spot on the roster that he won't take on the plane, so whoever makes it on the plane would still have to outplay either Brown or Dixon to earn that last spot on the team. Right now, my bet would be on DerMarr heading to Europe for the two games against New Orleans but getting dropped before the regular season, but the preseason can be a wacky, wacky time.
- Acts of random violence: Don't hurt 'em Caron!