As we’ve already noted on the site, the Wizards preseason opener is tonight. I’m less concerned with who they’re playing and more interested in who they actually play. There are several key questions that I’d like to get some semblance of an answer to from seeing tonight’s performance.
1) How ready to contribute is Bilal Coulibaly?
He needed some time to work his way into the rotation last season in France. Will he need a similar spooling up tonight this season? It will be interesting to see how much Wes Unseld Jr. will trust him to do and what role they envision for him.
2) What should we really expect from Wes Unseld Jr. this season?
Will he prioritize getting developments minutes for younger players or will he start out with the veterans? This will show us a lot about the organization’s mandate for Wes Unseld Jr. for this season. If he feels any pressure to “coach for his job” maybe that informs who starts out in the rotation at the beginning of the year.
We’ve also heard a lot about their desire to play faster this season so this is the first opportunity to see if they’re going to practice what they’ve preached. Upon originally being hired, Unseld Jr. stressed that playing too fast could come at the expense of the defense. If this increased pace doesn’t yield immediate success, will he revert back to his previous preferences?
3) Can Johnny Davis contribute at all this year?
Several videos from training camp have shown additional form changes to Davis’s jump shot. During Summer League it seemed like maybe he was turning a corner, at least from a confidence standpoint, and I wonder if consistently changing his form could erode some of that confidence. Mostly I’m just nervous because it looked like his knees were bowed together again. It’s pretty hard to hit shots at a high clip if you look like you’re going to fall over.
4) Can Danilo Gallinari effectively play minutes at center?
The 35-year-old Gallinari, who is coming off an injury, may have an easier time staying in front of other centers and could provide spacing that someone like Daniel Gafford cannot. But given that he’s never really played center before, it remains to be seen how effective he can be.
5) Are the younger returning players prepared to take a leap?
Deni Avdija worked with a shooting coach all offseason so I look forward to seeing if he’s going to be able to consistently keep defenses honest. Corey Kispert has had more time to work on his body and study film and that should likely help him hold up defensively. Seeing internal growth from a few of their current young players would be a nice boost for the Wizards’ rebuild.