The four games since John Wall went down with a left injury have been one, big best-case scenario for the Washington Wizards. Losing Wall was devastating news, but it hasn't slowed them down one bit.
They have won four straight games to match a season-high streak and have done so with conviction. They have left no doubt in two blowout wins over lottery-bound teams and have risen to the occasion with pristine performances against two of the best teams in the NBA.
Many players have been involved in the effort, but the play of Tomas Satoransky is most newsworthy. As the replacement starter for Wall at point guard, Satoransky has big shoes to fill. But through four games, he has proven he's no average backup point guard.
That was emphatically displayed on Saturday night when Satoransky set a career-high with 19 points in a win against the Orlando Magic. He had six assists, three rebounds, two steals and just one turnover. Satoransky shot 7-for-9 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range.
On defense, Satoransky helped hold Magic point guard Elfrid Payton to just 14 points. Payton's previous two games against the Wizards this season were his No. 1 and No. 2 scoring games of the year. In one he dropped 30 and the other he had 27. Satoransky bucked that trend.
Satoransky has taken the opportunity provided by Wall's absence and has thrived. In four games, he has provided more than the Wizards could ask for on both ends of the court. Offensively, he has been superbly efficient, averaging 11.0 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 60 percent from three, all while carrying an offensive rating of 135. Defensively, Satoransky has helped limit Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry (through three quarters), Dennis Schroder and Payton.
Four games is a very small sample size, but Satoransky has made an impact for the Wizards throughout this season despite dealing with an evolving role. His 125 offensive rating is best on the team. He is fourth in field goal percentage (50.6), second in three-point percentage (42.9) and second in effective field goal percentage (56.8). He leads the Wizards with a 4.03 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Satoransky's improvement at shooting threes changes everything. He shot just 24.3 percent from long range last season and has nearly doubled that mark this year. That alters how opponents guard him and opens up space for him to take advantage of his size and athleticism.
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Satoransky can play above the rim at 6-foot-7 with a substantial vertical leap. Though he needs to improve as a finisher, he is getting better at beating opponents off the dribble.
Sato with a nice little crossover. pic.twitter.com/pjRNN8WLY1— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) February 4, 2018
Satoransky is developing versatility as a scorer with a consistent three-point shot, a burgeouning midrange game (he shoots a team-best 56.7% from 3-10 feet) and the ability to challenge most at the rim. He is proving to be adept on defense, big and long enough to give smaller guards problems and experienced enough to bait them into help from his teammates.
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Satoranksy's development is a fantastic sign for a Wizards team that, given their luxury tax state, currently has little choice to improve from within. At just 26 years old, Satoransky is thoroughly outplaying his contract of just $3 million this season. He is set to make only $3.1 million next year, a bargain for a guy who is proving dependable and has a high ceiling due to his size and athleticism.
Satoransky is breaking through at an interesting time for the Wizards, who must decide how to handle the Feb. 8 trade deadline with Wall out of the picture until at least the month of March. Satoransky's play and their success with him running point could convince the Wizards they do not need to make a major addition. Not only do they have enough to compete without Wall, but Satoransky could be the key to them being a better team once Wall returns.
The Wizards are currently just a half-game out of third place in the Eastern Conference because they have not skipped a beat with their best player out due to injury. That's an impressive feat and Satoransky has been a big reason for why.