The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 89-82 in the first exhibition game for both teams in Orlando, FL. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
This was our first look at the Wizards after 4 1/2 months of basically nothing outside of carefully curated clips sent out by the team's social media accounts. So, even though this was the continuation of a season in which they have already played 64 games, there was room for first impressions.
Initially, it wasn't pretty. The Wizards came out with some obvious rust which was evident in a series of missed layups, some more contested than others. But they got things going and showed us a little of what to expect when the games begin to count on July 31.
Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr. both looked more assertive, which is important. Admiral Schofield looked noticeably slimmer, as promised. And the Wizards hung in there with the Nuggets despite missing both Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans.
The final score, 89-82, was lower than we've come to expect in part because of the missing pieces in their offense but also because the game featured 10-minute quarters. The fact the Wizards shot just 36.5 percent from the field didn't help.
The Nuggets didn't play very well, either, with 25 turnovers. Now both teams only have two more warm-up games before it's go time.
Bol vs. his dad's former team
This may have been the day Bol Bol officially became a Wizards second-round draft pick 'what if.' Add him to the list that includes Jordan Clarkson and DeJuan Blair.
On draft night last June, many wanted the Wizards to take him in the second round when he was on the board. They went with Admiral Schofield instead.
Up until now, Bol hadn't done much to make them regret that decision. Neither he nor Schofield has been able to really show what they can do at the NBA level.
But in this game, Bol made all sorts of plays and lit up social media along the way. He finished with an eye-popping line of 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. He is 7-foot-2 and can run the floor, dribble, pass and shoot.
One of his first buckets came on a pull-up three from Trae Young range. Did we mention he's 7-foot-2?
What Denver has done with him and Michael Porter Jr. is brilliant. With an already-stacked roster, they took chances on high-ceiling players who fell in the draft due to injury concerns. They may have struck gold with both of them.
Rui looked the part
Hachimura's first crack at being the Wizards' primary shot-taker was solid. He seemed to be comfortable in that role and was very aggressive driving to the rim. There were some mishaps with his finishes, but that could be a matter of him finding a rhythm after the time off.
Hachimura ended up with 18 points and nine rebounds. Considering he's a rookie and was facing one of the best teams in the NBA, that's an impressive line.
One area the Wizards coaching staff may point out in film study of this game is Hachimura's tendency to pass up open threes for midrange shots. There were a few occasions where he either pumpfaked, or just stepped into his money range of about 15 to 20 feet out.
Beyond the value discrepancy of those shots, it is more important Hachimura looks for threes with Beal and Bertans not on the floor. The Wizards shot just 26.5 percent (9-for-34) from the perimeter.
Brown's strengths were on display
In some ways, Brown played exactly the way the Wizards have long wanted him to. There was no second-guessing or overthinking, he just put the ball on the floor and made quick decisions. And the results of those decisions were good.
Brown had some of the Wizards' best plays of the game with deft dribbles and highlight reel passes, many of the no-look variety. In the third quarter, he crossed his way through the defense and drained a floater in traffic.
Brown has excellent basketball instincts. The more he trusts them, the better off he will be. The 2018 first round pick had 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
We got our first starting lineup to (over)analyze and in it was perhaps one surprise with Isaac Bonga starting over Jerome Robinson and Jerian Grant. Head coach Scott Brooks went with Shabazz Napier, Bonga, Brown, Hachimura and Thomas Bryant.
There has been a lot of talk about how Bonga improved during the break, so maybe this was a result of that. Or, perhaps Brooks was looking for some defense with a lineup otherwise full of offensive-minded players.
The real starting lineup news, however, involved the Nuggets who started 7-footer Nikola Jokic at point guard and Bol at small forward. Denver only had eight players available, so they trotted out the biggest NBA lineup you may ever see.
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