The Washington Wizards were shorthanded for their preseason opener, and it showed. Playing without John Wall, Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Booker, the Wizards struggled all day against the Charlotte Bobcats, falling, 100-88. There were some bright spots, and the injuries provide a mitigating factor, but all in all, it was not an encouraging debut.
The game itself wasn't televised or played on the radio, so take the following observations with a grain of salt.
Bradley Beal: Beal got off to a really great start, and while his efficiency tapered off as the game went on, he was still the Wizards' leading scorer on the afternoon. In the short term, he may have to sacrifice some efficiency in order to be the team's top offensive option, but I'm OK with that. One concern: he had his shot blocked three times, so he'll need to figure out some way to combat his lack of size.
Chris Singleton: He spent most of his time in the game playing power forward, and he did a much better job stuffing the stat sheet, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds. He did commit five fouls, but it seems like he played better going against slower defenders. The Wizards don't have much room to do this on their roster, but it may serve them well to get Singleton some minutes at power forward in small lineups.
Martell Webster: He struggled initially, but was really productive in the fourth quarter as the Wizards were coming back. I like that he got to the free-throw line five times, because it seemingly demonstrates that his shot-fake-and-drive game is looking good. That's going to be a key for Webster if he wants to see the court. He was also very good in transition, which demonstrates that he's back to where he used to be athletically before the many injuries.
Shelvin Mack: Was much more efficient running the offense than A.J. Price, picking up seven assists with no turnovers. He still isn't much of a scorer, but he proved he can manage a game despite his lack of quickness.
The defense: For a team that's priding itself on the defensive end of the floor, Sunday was not encouraging. The Wizards allowed the Bobcats to shoot 45 percent from the field (it was higher in the first half) and let them get to the free-throw line 46 times. The latter statistic is especially concerning. The Wizards want to be physical, but they also need to be smart. Fouling too much isn't helping them.
Jordan Crawford and Trevor Ariza: Crawford shot 3-12 from the field and didn't do much to get his teammates good shots. From the sounds of it, he was the same guy he was last year. Ariza, meanwhile, committed six turnovers, and while he was OK otherwise, the turnovers demonstrate that he shouldn't be creating much offense. Without Wall, though, the Wizards may not have a choice.
Jan Vesely: Five fouls in 18 minutes.
A.J. Price: You can live with Price having a poor shooting game, but you can't live with him committing five turnovers.
Here's hoping Thursday's performance against the New York Knicks is better.