WASHINGTON -- Xavier Silas knows what it is like to be on the other side of fortune. The 6'5" shooting guard has seen his share of pitfalls and setbacks on his four year journey to find a spot in the NBA.
It started when Silas suffered an ankle injury that kept him sidelined during the last month of his college career and for the Portsmouth Invitational. He wasn't selected in the 2011 Draft and ended up playing in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws.
But after clawing his way on to Philadelphia's roster late in the season, Silas again found himself on the wrong side of luck. His coming-out party in the Orlando Summer League ended when he suffered a nasty concussion that also result in several sinus fractures that required facial surgery. He rehabbed from shoulder surgery to make on the Wizards training camp roster, but didn't make the cut.
And thus, Silas had to spend the year playing in Israel and Argentina.
"In all those 4 years of things happening, I always felt the same way," Silas said. "I always felt like I belonged and I had a good opportunity to do it, but this year things are falling into place and that feels good finally."
Perhaps that luck is finally turning around. Bradley Beal's injury means the Wizards need another wing player, giving Silas a chance to step into the void. He scored 16 points against the Hornets, then followed it up with 10 points against many first-line players in Sunday's win over the Pistons. It remains to be seen if his work is good enough for the Wizards, but this is finally the opening he's been seeking.
To succeed, he has to fight the age-old battle training camp invites often face: showing themselves capable in very limited time. This requires that they stay aggressive, but avoid going too hard and committing unforced errors.
"I think I'm finding that balance for myself. I don't want to try to do too much, but I think I always try to have confidence. I had confidence before I came in for the 16 point game, and I have to keep that in my position and I just always have to be ready," he said.
Silas didn't get the chance to show that in the first three preseason games, but as Paul Pierce put it, "he stayed ready, he didn't pout or mope on the bench when he didn't play."
His chance would come on Friday night against Hornets. Silas was one of the few bright spots on a struggling Wizards offense, scoring 16 points while hitting four three pointers in 17 minutes of play. This earned him another look against Detroit and he again took advantage, scoring 10 points and getting to the foul line five times.
"I thought he gave us a big lift in Greenville," Randy Wittman said. "He played really well, so we wanted to get him right back out there again. I thought Xavier played well tonight."
In particular, Wittman liked how well Silas ran the floor, which he sees as essential for Washington's wings playing with the speedy John Wall. If the wings can run down and get to the corners as Wall comes down on the break, it forces defense to choose between stopping Wall or giving up an open three. Should Silas be able to run and knock down that shot, his career could get a boost just like Martell Webster's and Trevor Ariza's did in that same role.
Silas's long journey to the NBA has taken him to around the world and now back to Washington, where he was told last month he would have a "legitimate chance" to make the roster. With Beal out for at least six weeks, those chances seem a lot more legitimate now.