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Wizards training camp notebook: Wittman in no rush


Wizards training camp notebook: Wittman in no rush

On day three of training camp and with the first preseason game fast approaching, Wizards coach Randy Wittman gave his players their first real "extended minutes" of the week, scrimmage style. The Patriot Center scoreboard kept count, refs made calls and several hundred season ticket holders watched from the stands inside the Patriot Center as the "white" team downed the "blue" squad.

The meaningless result - 32 to 14, for those keeping score - had some notable moments, like Cartier Martin draining bomb after bomb and Jordan Crawford receiving extended minutes at point guard due to another playmaker besides John Wall watching the proceedings from the sideline.

One of the players potentially in line to replace the injured Wall. guard A.J. Price, turned in a solid if not at times impressive performance playing largely with those expected to start at Cleveland on opening night.

That's not to say he will be in the same scenario during practices on Friday or Saturday as overall no discernible lineup or rotation pattern was evident. The coach confirmed the observation.

For a team with several new pieces and two main cogs - Wall and Nene - out of action, trial and error is part of the plan.

Wittman, directing his first camp as Wizards head coach, was also quick to point out after practice that he's not rushing the game planning process simply because the semi-real game on Sunday at Charlotte is fast approaching. There is a big picture to ponder. Implementing the offensive plays sets and the defensive plays the team hopes will carry them throughout the season will come when the time is right.

"Sunday is too quick, five days (from camp opening)," Wittman said. "I'm not going to rush getting everything in where they can't get comfortable doing one thing and have 20 things in (the game plan) because we're playing a game. We're going to do it the right way with these guys, how much they can handle, how far how along we are in the next couple of weeks."

Along with Martin, who drained at least two 3-pointers and another long jumper during the 30 minutes of action, the winning side included Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, Trevor Booker, Price, Earl Barron and Brian Cook.

Booker, known as an energy player, often served as one-man press, consistently slowing down the "blue" squad's attempts to push the ball or at times even to complete an inbounds pass.

With Jannero Pargo limited after he, according to Wittman, "got his ribs banged a little bit," Crawford often moved over to the lead guard role with Martell Webster and others playing alongside. As evidenced by the lopsided score, his side rarely found its way to offensive success. That led to the occasional frustration-fueled yelp, though the squad's limited production is not a reflection on Crawford's combo guard potential.

His reputation is that of a volume shooter, a reputation Crawford built on during Monday's media day on when in reference to the Wizards numerous injuries last season he said, "If you go in an arena with eight players, who else is gonna shoot?"

Yet Crawford has shown flashes of being a viable distributor. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some that he averaged 3.0 assists last season and nearly four a game following the trade with Atlanta during his rookie season.

The rising third-year guard's game has continued to evolve during the early stages of camp.

"He's made a concentrated effort to get to that next step so far, there is no question about it," Wittman said. "It's been a positive seeing what he's done. Now he just has to continue to grow. He's going to have nights of frustration. How he handles that, does he regress back or does he move forward... He's been a real positive this camp."

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

USA Today Sports Images

Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

Wizards fans will know a lot more about 2018 second round pick Issuf Sanon once he takes the floor next month in the Las Vegas Summer League, but for now the 18-year-old point guard remains a bit of a mystery.

There are limited highlights on YouTube and stats available to evaluate him. Most who have an opinion on the player are operating on little information. 

For now, what we have are some video compilations and quotes from the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld described Sanon on Thursday night and says he's a player who could someday play both guard positions at the NBA level.

"[He’s a] very talented point guard, combo guard who is very athletic and he has real good upside," Grunfeld said. "Very athletic [and] very talented. [He] makes plays, he has a nice shot and he’s playing very tough competition.”

Grunfeld mentioned Sanon's athleticism many times. The Wizards saw Sanon at the NBA's international combine and love his combination of size and speed. He is 6-foot-4 and 1/2 and noticeably faster than those he competes against in the Premier A Slovenian League. 

Grunfeld likened Sanon's size and speed to Tomas Satoransky, a point guard currently on the Wizards' roster.

"He's a good ball-hander, very competitive and a lot like Tomas. We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”," Grunfeld said.

The highlights available of Sanon show a guy who clearly stands out above his competition. He has a knack for getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. There are also many clips of him blocking shots, sometimes in the post and often from behind on the fastbreak.

NBA.com has an interesting breakdown of Sanon's most recent season in the Slovenian league from an advanced stats perspective. They applauded his defense and the numbers suggest he puts that unique athleticism to use on the defensive end of the floor.

Had a remarkable year defensively for his age. Gets in a stance and competes to help make up for his lack of experience. Pressures the ball with quick hands, but lacks a degree of anticipation to stay in front of elite athletes. Still figuring out how to handle ball screens without overthinking things, but held his own anyways for the most part. Allowed only 0.471 points per Isolation possession [92nd percentile]. A bit foul prone, but forces turnovers at an impressive rate. Has a good work ethic defensively which should serve him well as he gains experience.

Sports Illustrated raved about Sanon's motor on the court and his hard-nosed approach, two things that would seem to bode well combined with his explosive athleticism:

Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.

Sanon spoke with Wizards reporters soon after he was drafted on Thursday night and said Russell Westbrook is a guy he models his game after. He plays at a much lower level of professional basketball, but there are similarities with Westbrook in Sanon's size and knack for scoring at the rim.

The stats only tell so much of the story, as he was going up against lower competition. It is worth noting, however, that his shooting percentage was low pretty much across the board. In 22 games during the 2017-18 season, Sanon shot 29.3 percent from three and 40 percent from the free throw line.

The Wizards have realistic expectations for Sanon, knowing it could take years before he even plays in the NBA. Many second round picks never make it at all.

Grunfeld pointed to Satoransky's career path as a possible timeline for Sanon, meaning the Wizards may not bring him over until he's in his 20s. He won't be able to help at backup point guard right away, but someday perhaps he can put his athleticism to use and actually help the Wizards.


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