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Wizards' Satoransky quickly adjusting to NBA, new city: 'I love D.C., man'

Wizards' Satoransky quickly adjusting to NBA, new city: 'I love D.C., man'

Between star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal missing games and the early struggles of newly-acquired veterans, the Wizards' bench has already evolved quite a bit just nine games into the 2016-17 season. Some players have seen their minutes pared down by head coach Scott Brooks, while some have seen a window of opportunity open that wasn't there when the season began just a few weeks ago.

Perhaps no one has benefited most individually from all of it than rookie guard Tomas Satoransky, who has filled in for Wall when he rests his surgically repaired knees and, even when Wall is in the lineup, has emerged as the team's primary back-up point guard. Satoransky is averaging a modest 4.7 points and 2.7 assists per game, but had 12 and nine against the Bulls on Saturday night in his most recent outing.

The 6-foot-7 native of the Czech Republic has impressed when given minutes and as a result has drawn praise from teammates and coaches for his quick adjustment to the NBA game. 

"It's going great. I would say faster than I expected," Satoransky said. "I don't feel like a rookie. I am a rookie, but I'm 25 years old and have already played seven years of professional basketball in Spain. So, it's different."

Satoransky may have not been in the NBA before this season, but he played pro ball at a high level with FC Barcelona. He performed in front of big crowds and played with and against former NBA players. 

On his team were current Magic swingman Mario Hezonja and former NBA players Carlos Arroyo, Joey Dorsey and Juan Carlos Navarro, a former Wizards draft pick. He competed opposite NBA veterans like Andres Nocioni and Sergio Rodriguez.

Some of the basics, of how to prepare for games and opponents still apply now that Satoransky has switched professional leagues. But there are, of course, differences.

"It's the smaller details. There are longer games, it's 48 minutes, so you never can be sure with the lead. The game is never finished until the end. You have a lot of different rules. I think the game is a little wider. The 3-point line is further. That makes for some adjustments on defense for me. You have so much talent here. Individually, the guys are amazing. It's more tactical in Europe, I would say. This is a change for me, but I think I'm getting used to it pretty quickly and it's nothing new for me now," he explained.

Satoransky said Marcin Gortat - who is from Poland - and Wall have helped him out most of his Wizards teammates. Gortat has helped him adjust to life off the court, while Wall has been a great asset in helping his game on the court.

The biggest difference for Satoransky in the NBA, he says, is the level of competition. The NBA is the best and most exclusive league in the world. The skill and athleticism is like nothing Satoransky had experienced before while playing in Europe.

That's not to say he wasn't familiar with the NBA. Like most who love the game of basketball, Satoransky followed the league growing up and had his favorite players. He happened to play against one of them recently.

"It's crazy," Satoransky said. "I've been following NBA games a lot. So, the other day when we went to Memphis, Vince Carter was one of my favorite players. This is like a dream come true, being able to be on the same court as these guys. 

"But at the same time, you can't take it like that when the game is on. You have to play against them like they are regular players. You can have the respect, but you cannot fear them. I've been trying to compete hard against them, but after the game I'm always so excited because I could play against those guys."

Satoransky has been exposed to many new things over the last few weeks, from sharing a court with Carter, LeBron James and James Harden, to visiting cities he's never been to before like Memphis and Orlando. There is a lot more travel in the NBA than there was when he played for Barcelona. But that's okay, because Satoransky enjoys life on the road.

He also likes his new home in Washington.

"I love D.C., man. It's an international city and you can find anything here. It's been great so far. I'm glad I'm in D.C., the capital city," he said.

[RELATED: WIZARDS ROOKIE MCCLELLAN STANDING OUT ON AND OFF COURT]

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS