I don’t know about you, but I learned a lot from last night’s Washington Wizards exhibition romp against the NBL’s Cairns Taipans.
For example, Chris Miller proclaimed (and Drew Gooden confirmed) that Bobi Klintman has “skills” moments after Klintman launched a step-back 25-foot three that caromed off the backboard with the velocity of a shot attempted from the 35 feet. Klintman, by the way, finished the night 1-12 from the floor.
I also learned that I need more people in my life who like me as much as Miller and Gooden like Eugene Omoruyi.
The biggest takeaway from on-court action is that there was really nothing to take away. The Wizards looked impressive. The Taipans were nervous and overwhelmed. Which makes sense — 2023 NBL MVP Xavier Cooks was in a Wizards uniform. If he makes the team, he’ll do it as a deep bench reserve.
This is not to trash the Australian league guys. In the grand scheme, they’re awesome basketball players. But there are levels. The Wizards were stocked almost entirely with NBA level players. Virtually everyone Washington brought to training camp would be Cairns’ best player. The Taipans had two guys who might make the NBA someday (Klintman and Taran Armstrong — the 6-5 PG who defended full court for much of the game).
A few observations that may or may not be meaningful:
- Bilal Coulibaly started and spent most offensive possessions in a corner. Research I did over the summer on teenage rookies in the NBA suggested that ones who turn out best play a heavy load of minutes and have a relatively high usage rate. Efficiency for a teen matters a lot less than getting the reps. There are enough exceptions to the “rule” I found, so it’s probably not a big deal. That said, unless Coulibaly has skills deficiencies I haven’t noticed, I’d prefer him getting reps in the offensive role the team envisions for him in the future.
- While their numbers were fine by the end, I didn’t love how hard Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole seemed to need to work to get shots. Poole especially got out of control a few times and committed turnovers. Both ended up with difficult shots more often than I thought made sense for the level of competition. Probably meaningless.
- Taipans is a great name for a sports team. A taipan, by the way, is a highly venomous snake that lives in Australia and New Guinea. Also their uniforms were great.
Meaningful or not, it was fun to see professional basketball again. The game Thursday night against the Charlotte Hornets should provide some more interesting information about Wizards players and the team’s future.