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2021-22 Wizards player evaluations: Tomas Satoransky made his homecoming and immediately showcased his value

He may not return, but Sato made the most of his time in Washington again.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard did Tomas Satoransky justice by bringing him back to D.C. after a season where he found himself out of the New Orleans Pelicans rotation and on the trade block come February. Sato initially found himself in Portland, only to then move on to San Antonio which then waived him in late February before the buy-out deadline to have a chance to join a team where he could get more minutes in a contract year that had gone wrong in so many ways for Sato.

And Sato returned the favor to Sheppard by salvaging his point-guard rotation and bringing some cohesiveness to the Wizards offensive sets and some feeling of how a more organized Wizards team might emerge next season. (Ish Smith also has a share in this.)

Season Evaluation

Size at point guard — Sato brings size to the PG position, standing at 6’7”. After having contracted COVID-19 once, perhaps twice, this past year, and also suffering a few other injuries including a hamstring injury late in the off-season while representing the Czech Republic in the Olympic Games in Japan (a mind-boggling achievement for such a small country that eliminated powerhouses Canada (coached by Nick Nurse!), Turkey and Greece in the qualifiers in June 2021), Sato had anything but a smooth ride. Add to that the Pelicans’ organization trying to figure out their direction and you get the idea of how Sato could hardly be judged by his numbers in a Pelicans jersey. So let’s look at some of his Wizards stats:

Statistical lines — Sato started his second stint with the Wizards as a bench player whose main goal was to get the rust off. And there was plenty of rust. Yet, quicker than many expected, he started showing many of the characteristics that we got so used to see from him in the famous “Everybody Eats” era that he led together with Beal and Porter several years ago. Namely, a lot of effective pick-and-rolls, a lot of pushing the pace and his selflessness, his diagonal driving lanes that facilitate cutting lanes for his teammates, and his sacrifice of his own shot in order to set up and get his teammates in rhythm.

In just 18.9 minutes per game he managed almost 5 assists, an incredible stat, especially considering that this was accompanied by only 1 turnover! So a 4.9 assist/turnover ratio that is nothing short of amazing, or in other words: flawless. He also recorded 2.8 rebounds, 4.9 points, and 0.7 steals.

Normalized to per 36 minutes, this assist stat is easily Satoransky’s best of his career. For comparison in his 2nd and 3rd season in Washington he recorded 6.6 and 6.8 assists per 36 minutes, while in his best season in Chicago he had 7.5. His 4.9 assist/turnover ratio is also a career best.

His shooting however took a serious downturn. While he shot an incredible 46.5 percent from deep in his 2nd year as a Wizard (placing him in the league’s top 5 back then), he shot an awful 27.3 percent this time around with the Wiz. His 2-point percentage however was respectable at 54.8 percent which is above his 52 percent career average. His 5.3 rebounds/36 minutes was also a career high. On the other hand, you could see that his foot-work needs some off-season work and this is perhaps related to his career-high 3.3 fouls per 36 minutes.

Chemistry with Deni Avdija and Kristaps Porzingis — Even though the sample size was small, it was clear that Deni, and separately KP, have good chemistry with Sato. For Porzingis this was expected, as both Sato and him played together in Spain some years back as youngsters. For Deni, this came as a pleasant surprise, especially seeing how Sato found Deni several times in the cutting lanes, as well as for open looks outside.

The outlook — Given Sato’s strong finish of the season, and the fact that he really looks mostly healthy and back in good shape, I would expect Sato to field more than one job offer this off-season. My expectation is that some team offers him a bit more than the minimum. Depending on the length of the contract, and based on the large salary cap jump this year I could see him getting anywhere in the $3-6.5 million range per year. As a Wizards fan I’d be quite happy to see him resign, and something like a $11-16 million for three years seems reasonable. Given how well Sato interacted with two very important players in the Wizards rotation, and given his known good chemistry with Beal from seasons past, and, finally, given the salary cap increase this year, I believe it’s a no-brainer the Wizards should try to re-sign Sato.

History — Sato became just the third player in NBA history to record a double-double with 0 points!

This stat alone neatly summarizes Sato’s uniqueness. Here are the highlights from that masterclass (and easy Wizards win) by Sato: