WASHINGTON -- If the preseason is about recognizing and fixing problems before the real games begin, the Washington Wizards didn't get many answers Tuesday night. Facing a new-look, super-talented Brooklyn Nets team in the preseason opener, the Wizards stumbled to a 111-106 overtime loss at Verizon Center.
In an exhibition game where results mean little, one can excuse the team for faltering against an opponent as talented as Brooklyn. What's far more difficult to ignore is the apparent uncertainty still surrounding the team's frontcourt after its first preseason game. Instead of possible solutions to Emeka Okafor's absence, we only got more questions.
"I'm not impressed with that," coach Randy Wittman said when asked about Jan Vesely's 12-rebound performance after the game.
[As laska noted, Wittman may have been referring to the rebounding by everyone else besides Vesely. We apologize for the initial misinterpretation.]
While a couple of players offered praise for the big man's high-energy play, and Wittman's comments were team-focused more than anything, the point stands: what Washington got Tuesday night won't be enough to win.
Hoping to see the likes of Vesely and Kevin Seraphin step up against a stacked Nets roster, fans were treated with performances straight from the 2012-13 season. Making matters worse, much of that effort came against second- and third-team players, the likes of which Washington's big men should be able to dominate.
"I tried to focus and do my things -- play defense and get those rebounds," Vesely said after the game.
He's not wrong. At times, you saw a sprightly Vesely flying through the air for an offensive rebound or sticking his hand in a passing lane, doing precisely what you'd hope for. But there were so many things Vesely needed to show Tuesday after an offseason of work -- shooting, footwork, ballhandling, etc. -- and we rarely saw those things.
And really, that's the biggest source of concern here. Yes, Vesely showed some nice energy out of the gate against Kevin Garnett, but he was mostly an ineffective offensive player while playing against backups and training camp invitees. If the Wizards are searching for their new starting power forward, Vesely gave little reason to show he can fill that role.
Seraphin hardly helped his case, too. Recording 13 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes despite tallying five fouls, the 24-year-old showed the same inefficient issues he's battled throughout his career, giving up four turnovers and going just 1-of-3 from the charity stripe.
Is all of this worth panicking? As of Oct. 8, of course not, particularly when the team still has a few more preseason games to work on everything. It's not like we've reached the point of calling Seraphin-Vesely a lost cause simply because of a bad exhibition game.
But the idea of either Seraphin or Vesely emerging as a legitimate, worthy starter at the power forward position after Tuesday's game, seems harder to imagine. We had always hoped that one of these guys would emerge as a 30-minutes-a-night option, someone who could actually carry big minutes on a good team if needed.
Instead, we're still working with the forward-by-committee approach that emerged when Okafor first went down.
"One person can't make that up, the whole team's got to," John Wall said after the game of replacing Okafor.
It's just too bad one guy couldn't make this easier.
More from Bullets Forever:
- Nets vs. Wizards final score: Washington drops preseason opener in OT, 111-106
- Wizards vs. Nets preview: (Preseason) basketball is back!
- Otto Porter injury: Wizards' rookie unlikely to play in first 2 preseason games
- NBA Previews - Atlantic Division and Pacific Division links
- Path to the Playoffs: The Wizards and the Cavaliers