The Washington Wizards have a squad that may turn some heads this season. With the additions of Ian Mahinmi, Tomas Satoransky, Trey Burke, and Andrew Nicholson, the Wizards could now have a much more formidable bench than in season’s past.
Satoransky is a young guard who is extremely athletic, has great court vision and can shoot. Just in case you needed to be reminded of his versatility:
He's a guy who can pour it in in a pinch, but more importantly, he adds a lot to the table as a ball-handler, something the Wizards dearly need off the bench. He also has a lot of guts and seems like he's willing to take on the challenge of the NBA, based on what he told J.Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
It’s a little bit about getting the respect of the guys, of the league. When you cannot be scared, go for it and play, I was very excited to be there playing my first preseason game for an NBA team. Tried to show off a little bit, gain a little respect because that’s what it’s all about in this league. Not to be scared of anyone.
He has been versatile so far during this preseason. He’s averaging 6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists through his first three games with the Wizards. While he hasn’t taken over games as a scorer like Ramon Sessions, he’s a much more balanced, all-around player who can make an impact on both ends.
Mahinmi is a player who is part of the post depth that the Wizards were looking for last season. Statistically, it may not look like he’s a huge upgrade over Nene, but the biggest difference is health. Mahinmi played 71 games last season, 14 more than Nene. Better yet, he has played at least 71 games in three of the past four seasons. This obviously wasn’t the case with Nene who never participated in more than 67 games during his four seasons with the Wizards.
The big man also seems to be a team player as well. He loves the way that Scott Brooks’ offense flows and involves every player on the court, as he told J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
"Everybody is touching the ball. Side to side," Mahinmi said. "(Brooks) is preaching togetherness, playing for one another. Making sure you're working to get your teammates open, to get your teammates a shot. Everything is geared to playing together, playing for each other. I love it."
He missed the first preseason game against the Heat with a sore knee. However, he looked solid in limited action against the Sixers and Knicks. He’s averaging 2.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in just over 13 minutes per game, and the team’s Defensive Rating with him on the floor is 79.4, which certainly won’t hold up as he plays more minutes, but should provide some idea of what kind of an impact he can make on that end of the floor.
Trey Burke also cannot be forgotten in the fold. The Wizards may have to rely on him heavily this season because of John Wall's knee and the continuous injury woes of Bradley Beal. He must step up his play as the main ball distributor after Wall. Burke's assists per game haven't been the greatest, but he can score and has shown the ability to be a more consistent outside shooter than Ramon Sessions.
While Andrew Nicholson hasn’t played much so far this preseason, he should be able to play an important role for the team once the season gets going. He’s a savvy veteran forward who knows how to score on the low post and from beyond the arc when needed. When the offense bogs down and they need someone to create a decent shot opportunity without much help, he’ll come in handy.
One must remember that Kelly Oubre Jr. will continue to develop this season. In his second full season, I expect him to play much more and give the Wizards a productive small forward/shooting guard off of the bench. Although Oubre only averaged 3.7 points per game and 2.1 rebounds last season, he's had another offseason to work on his game (as Josh Martin documented on Bleacher Report) and develop chemistry with his teammates.
He is the team’s most important bench piece and he has looked great during the preseason so far. He’s averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.7 steals per game through the first three preseason games. If he can continue to be an efficient scorer and a defensive pest, he’ll make it a lot easier for the starters to get rest, and will make a strong case for why he should help close out games when the situations calls for it.
In short, the Wizards will have a younger, healthier and most likely a better better bench this season. Adding guys that can backup their stars (especially the ones with injury histories) was the most important thing the Wizards could add this summer, and so far, it looks like they’re handling those roles quite well. If they can keep that up in the regular season, it could have a big impact on the team’s trajectory moving forward.