Wizards

Quick Links

New Wizard Jodie Meeks lights up the Guangzhou Long-Lions for a preseason win

usatsi_10323305.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

New Wizard Jodie Meeks lights up the Guangzhou Long-Lions for a preseason win

The Washington Wizards beat the Guangzhou Long-Lions 126-96 in their first preseason game on Monday night at Capital One Arena.

How it happened: Even without their top two point guards, one of them John Wall, and even without their starting power forward, the Wizards had no trouble with China's Guangzhou Long-Lions in the first game of their five-game preseason schedule. 

Tomas Satoransky started at point guard and attacked the rim at will. Either he's gained some newfound confidence after a summer as the man on his Czech national team, or he was simply taking advantage of lesser competition. The same could be said about Kelly Oubre, Jr., who was more aggressive off the dribble than normal, even getting assists on drive-and-dish plays, which aren't typically in his repertoire. Regardless of the opponent, they looked good and so did backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks, who got anything he wanted on the offensive end of the floor. 

The Wizards' regular starters didn't see the floor much. Wall sat the game out entirely to rest. Bradley Beal played just 7:37 before calling it a night. Marcin Gortat scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 15:02 before retiring to the bench. Otto Porter had three points and four rebounds in 13:33. 

Ian Mahinmi moved well after an offseason of slimming down. He was active on the boards and dominated the paint when he was on the floor.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall eyes MVP award, appreciates Brooks' confidence

What it means: Nothing. Well, almost nothing. This was the first time the 2017-18 Wizards matched up with a team outside of intrasquad scrimmages. It gave head coach Scott Brooks the chance to test out some lineups. But given the opponent was a team from China, it's hard to clean too much from the results.

Meeks was instant offense: The Long-Lions had no answer for Meeks, who had about as good a Wizards debut as one could ask for. He showed no hesitation with a quick release and first step, relying on his three-point shot and floaters to rack up 19 points in 16:23 by halftime. He hit 4-of-5 threes in the first half and swished a floater from beyond the free throw line to end the first quarter. Health is the biggest concern for him, as he averaged 33 games the past three seasons due to various injuries. For one night, he looked exactly like the Wizards want him to look: quick and assertive with the ball.

The replacements: The most important objective for the Wizards this preseason is figuring out how to sub for Markieff Morris while he is out recovering from sports hernia surgery. Jason Smith got the start alongside Gortat at the four and immediately knocked down a three. He also had a nice block on Tyler Hansbrough, the one recognizable name on the Long-Lions. 

Chris McCullough (14 points) showed flashes, going above the rim to snatch rebounds and throw down dunks. He came to life offensively in the fourth quarter, with a 20-foot jumper and a pair of two-handed dunks assisted by Sheldon Mac. He later powered home an alley-oop set up by Donald Sloan. McCullough also gambled and lost on defense on a few plays, but overall had a nice night. 

Mike Scott didn't play at all in the first half. He then started the second half and had some moments, including a nice dish to Mac for an open three in the third quarter. Scott had six points of his own in the third quarter.

Mac made some noise: Speaking of Mac, he had a nice night overall with 13 points. After not playing at all in the first half, he was a focus of their offense in the second half. He got into the lane with easy, finishing once with a wide open, two-handed slam. Mac looked comfortable firing from long range and handling the ball. His roster spot could be threatened by Sloan and Carrick Felix, so it was an encouraging start for Mac, who finished with 13 points. Mac also pulled off an impressive feat: he fouled out despite not playing in the first two quarters.

Up next: The Wizards play their first preseason game against an NBA team on Friday night, again at home. They will host Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks.

Quick Links

After starting season in good health, Ian Mahinmi is dealing with right knee injury

ian_mahinmi_angry.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

After starting season in good health, Ian Mahinmi is dealing with right knee injury

Just when it looked like Ian Mahinmi was turning a corner, the Wizards center has been sidelined with a right knee strain and his status is up in the air for Tuesday's game at the Brooklyn Nets.

Mahinmi didn't participate in the Wizards' practice on Monday, according to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, and will be evaluated pregame.

Mahinmi has yet to miss a game this season, one of six players to appear in all 26 of the Wizards' games. Last year, he played in only 31 of their 82 games due to injuries.

[RELATED: MIKE SCOTT IS STANDING OUT ON IMPROVED BENCH]

Those injuries included a host of knee problems. Mahinmi had surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee last October. After that he developed tendinitis in his right knee and underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment in both knees in December. Mahinmi also had a left calf strain in April that caused him to miss games in the playoffs. He then had a minor procedure involving his meniscus in his left knee early in the summer.

Mahinmi has avoided the injury bug this season so far and in recent weeks has improved his play. He set season-highs in points in each of the past two games with 10 points and eight rebounds against the Suns and 14 points and three assists against the Clippers. In his last 10 games, Mahinmi is +53 and averaging 4.4 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game.

If Mahinmi can't go, that should open the door for Jason Smith to get some playing time, based on how head coach Scott Brooks treated Mahinmi's absences last season. But it would also mean heavier minutes for starting center Marcin Gortat.

The Wizards have a back-to-back set of games coming up at the Nets on Tuesday and then at home against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, something to keep in mind as they determine his status.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]

Quick Links

Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

Mike Scott a bright spot for Wizards with John Wall out

The Wizards this season have been notable for their inconsistency and that has been even more evident in the last eight games with John Wall injured. The same team that notched wins against the Timberwolves, Blazers and Pistons lost to the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and by 47 points to the under-.500 Utah Jazz.

Perhaps ironically, given results of the past several years, the one mainstay while Wall has been out has been the Wizards' bench. With the team's best player out, the Wizards' much-maligned second unit has collectively upped their game. 

In the last eight games without Wall, the Wizards' bench is scoring 41.5 points in 20.9 minutes per game with a +1.4 rating. All of those rank in the top 10 in the NBA during that span. For the season they are much more average with 34.1 points (10th) and 18.2 minutes (18th) per game and a net rating of -0.2 (15th).

In the Wizards' four wins without Wall since his latest injury, their bench has scored 40.8 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent from three. They have been +8.3 as a group.

The bench in Wall's absence has seen a host of contributors step up in different games. Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Jodie Meeks and Ian Mahinmi have had their moments. But in the last three games, two of them wins, backup forward Mike Scott has been the standout.

[RELATED: WIZARDS RARE IN THEIR INCONSISTENCY]

Scott has 40 points on 17-for-19 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from three-point range in his last three outings. That's to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists. His 22 points against the Clippers on Saturday were his most in a game since April of 2014.

Scott, 29, joined the Wizards as a reclamation project in the offseason on a one-year, prove-it deal. So far that signing has been a positive. At his best, Scott provides an important scoring punch off the bench.

There have been some off-nights and some games where minutes aren't offered by head coach Scott Brooks. But overall, Scott's consistency scoring the ball has a nice boost for the Wizards. He has reached double-figures in points 10 times this season off the Wizards' bench. Only Oubre has more (13) this year and only three Wizards players - Oubre, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jason Smith - had more double-figure scoring games off the bench all of last season.

Scott is putting up some of the best numbers of his six-year NBA career. He's shooting career-highs from the field (54.9%) and three-point range (41.9%) and his 8.3 points per game are his most since the 2013-14 season. 

Some nights it's easy to tell early when Scott is in rhythm. He often scores quickly once he checks in, mixing midrange jumpers and fadeaways with a dose of quick-release threes. This season Scott is shooting 40 percent on corner threes, 53.3 percent on midrange shots from three to 10 feet, 69.2 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 58.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line.

The Wizards didn't have an efficient scorer off their bench at this point last season. In Scott, they appear to have one and he comes at the reasonable price of a veteran minimum contract.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]