Tomorrow the Washington Wizards will open their season at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers. In what was likely their last practice in D.C. prior to tipoff, the team looked loose, yet focused.
Kristaps Porzingis, Will Barton and Isaiah Todd shot from half court and were later joined by Deni Avdija in the corner for a series of shooting competitions. Porzingis and Barton are projected to start this season, while Avdija will be a key contributor and defensive spark plug off the bench. Todd was recently guaranteed a contract after splitting time between the Wizards and the Capital City Go-Go last season.
Notably, Corey Kispert was out on the court working on near-full speed shooting drills. Kispert sprained his ankle during a preseason game on Oct. 5 and was expected to miss four to six weeks, but Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Kispert’s recovery is ahead of schedule.
The 2022 10th overall draft pick Johnny Davis will make his NBA debut on Wednesday, and he spent some time shooting alone with trainers. Davis is looking to bounce back after a rough showing in four preseason games — he averaged 2.5 points per game on a collective 2-for-21 shooting.
After practice, Unseld and Bradley Beal were available to the media.
Ahead of his second year as an NBA head coach, Unseld expressed optimism for a Wizards team whose Vegas line is set at 33.5 wins. “I think there’s a lot of untapped potential with this group right now,” Unseld said. “It’s gonna be a fun brand of basketball to watch.”
Beal described Unseld this year as “more confident in his role,” adding that his coach is speaking more authoritatively now to maximize the team’s potential. Beal also praised the young guys’ improvements and shouted out Avdija, Hachimura and Davis for their offseason work.
Bradley Beal shared what he’s seen from some of the Wizards’ young players in the preseason. He says Rui Hachimura looks “spectacular” and Deni Avdija is “constantly evolving.” https://t.co/6yeBikNnBJ— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) October 17, 2022
Beal called Davis a “work in progress,” but noted that “he’s in a great position to really learn from a lot of guys.”
“Johnny’s constantly getting better,” Beal said. “We’re staying in his ear and telling him to take his time and be patient. We’re throwing a lot of stuff at him, but he’s done a great job of...grasping everything.”
The 2022-23 season will be a real test for the Wizards. After committing to Beal this summer, a rebuild is officially off the table, but at the present moment it seems the Wizards’ pool of talent may not yet be enough to escape the play-in tournament. We’ve got 82 games to see what happens.