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Tomas Satoransky enters another summer unsure of his role with Wizards

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Tomas Satoransky enters another summer unsure of his role with Wizards

No one on the Wizards wears more hats than Tomas Satoransky. A point guard by trade, Satoransky was ushered into a variety of roles throughout the 2017-18 season, some that were familiar and some that were entirely new.

He began the season as the third point guard then earned the primary backup role by passing Tim Frazier on the depth chart. That led to 30 games as the starter when John Wall went down with a left knee injury in January.

Along the way, and especially once Wall came back at the end of March, Satoransky spent time at shooting guard and small forward. Used to having the ball in his hands and initiating the offense, Satoransky was now charged with playing off the ball.

Though he has the skillset to succeed at those positions, Satoransky couldn't make a consistent impact at the two or the three.

"It wasn't easy, for sure. It wasn't easy at all," he said. "I went through a lot of things this year. I didn't play at the beginning, then I started to play and I played good as a starter. That's what the NBA can bring you. That's why you have to be ready for those opportunities and be ready when things aren't going your way."

Satoransky, 26, was told by coaches and members of the Wizards' front office at the beginning of last summer to prepare for playing more off-the-ball during the 2017-18 season. He focused on his three-point shot and his quickness on catch-and-gos.

His three-ball got much better. He shot 46.5 percent on the season, up from 24.3 percent last season, but his versatility making the shot was limited. Satoransky required being open, having his feet set and time to go through a prolonged shooting motion.

This summer will be all about speeding up that process and working on other ways to get his shot off.

"I felt like at the beginning of the season I was given those shots, but then the scouting of other teams, they were more ready for me. I definitely have to get quicker," he said.

There's no question Satoransky's game improved by leaps and bounds in 2017-18. He became an important part of the Wizards' rotation and averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and only 1.1 turnovers in 22.5 minutes per game.

But his role moving forward remains up in the air. The Wizards went out and signed Ty Lawson to be their backup point guard in the playoffs, supplanting Satoransky just days before the postseason began. 

Once again, Satoransky goes into the offseason wondering if he will be the backup point guard next season, or if he will have to fight for minutes at another position.

"It's going to be nice to find out," Satoransky said of his role. "I just hope my game is developing."

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Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. offer advice for Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. doesn't need to look far to find a blueprint for success this season, the final year of his rookie scale contract. Both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. were in the exact same situation, and while they were teammates with Oubre. Each of them knocked the test of a contract year out of the park.

Both Beal and Porter earned max deals from the Wizards after breakout seasons in contract years. Oubre, of course, would like to make a lot of money for himself. When asked to share advice for Oubre, Beal and Porter spoke their piece in different ways, but the message ultimately was much the same. 

Beal spoke in-depth and with his trademark even-keel approach. Porter was characteristically brief.

"Don't worry about it. It will take care of itself," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. "I'm not gonna sit here and say that it's easy to do because it's your brand, it's your life, it's your money... but I always say that with your money you are going to get rewarded and taken care of at the end of the day."

"Just continue to work hard and everything else will take care of itself," Porter said.

Beal sees some similarities in Oubre and Porter and not just because they play the same position as small forwards. Oubre, like Porter in the 2016-17 season, has to operate in a secondary role. Beal was a central focus of the offense in 2015-16, his contract year.

"It will be tough to do because you've gotta think [Oubre] is coming off the bench," Beal explained.

"I always use Otto as an example. Otto did everything he was supposed to do, everything coach asked him to, everything the organization asked him to and he got rewarded for it. It's plain and simple. His game is simple, honestly. I feel like Kelly can be the exact same way... It's just a matter of him staying level-headed and just not worrying about it too much."

If Oubre has any questions, Beal seems like the guy to go to. It's clear in talking about Oubre that Beal genuinely cares for him and his future.

Beal also cares for the future of the Wizards and would like Oubre to remain in Washington.

"Kelly is super-athletic. The sky is the ultimate limit for him," Beal said. "He is somebody who has star potential, somebody who we are crazy to think that other teams aren't going to try to go after him. We've gotta realize that."

Beal said he will do his part to help Oubre, if the fourth-year forward needs it. Having been there before, he feels like he can be a resource.

"He's like my little brother, so as much as I can I will try to keep him level-headed and try to not keep him focused on it. It's definitely easier said than done," Beal said.

Technically, Oubre could sign a new deal with the Wizards before the Oct. 15 deadline for rookie scale contract extensions, but those types of deals are relatively rare. Only a handful of players sign them each year. And for the Wizards, their salary situation beyond this season is bloated with $116.4 million committed to six players. That includes the raise John Wall will receive in the first year of his max contract extension.

Oubre also may be better served by waiting it out. Beal and Porter bet on themselves and won out. As long as Oubre can stay healthy and continue to develop this season, he should follow suit.

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Day 1 of Wizards training camp features focus on defense, Mahinmi hitting threes, praise for new facility

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USA Today

Day 1 of Wizards training camp features focus on defense, Mahinmi hitting threes, praise for new facility

The Washington Wizards' new practice facility features all sorts of bells and whistles between a virtual reality room and a sensory deprivation tank. The biggest takeaway, though, from players and coaches after the first day of 2018-19 training camp was the simple fact they have more space.

The Wizards used to practice at Capital One Arena at what was known as the practice court. Notice that 'court' is not plural. They had one, and all the Wizards players had to share it.

Now, the Wizards have two courts in their practice area and technically a third if you count where the Go-Go and Mystics will play their home games. All three are located at the newly-minted Medstar Wizards Performance Center in Ward 8.

Beyond simply having more room to stretch out their NBA-sized frames, Wizards players don't have to share hoops or wait their turn as often while practicing their shot.

"It just makes us better prepared," forward Otto Porter, Jr. said. "I think more guys can get more shots up, more goals. I'm tired of everybody shooting on my goal. I have the freedom to get extra shots up."

There are more courts and more rooms at their disposal. Front office executives even have offices that overlook the practice area. 

"There’s so much space, and there’s so much room for the coaches. It’s like a coach’s dream," head coach Scott Brooks said. "You got a lot of baskets. You got all the facilities, the weight room, the training room, everything, the film room. Everything is outstanding. So, it’s important."

Defensive mentality

A brand new building helps the mindset of new beginnings for the Wizards as they open another training camp with another season on the horizon. Brooks said Day 1 was a productive one, highlighted by tone-setting conditioning drills and a sharp focus on defense.

The first message Brooks wanted to deliver to his team this season was that they have to improve on that end of the floor.

"First thing is defense," Brooks said. "We need to get better defensively. I really believe we should be top 10. I’m not saying we should lead the league in defense, but we should be top 10. Last year, [we were 15th in points allowed and defensive rating], middle of the pack. We don’t wanna settle for middle. We wanna be a top-10 team."

Brooks believes having newly-acquired center Dwight Howard protecting the rim can help that cause. And after the Wizards get their stops, Brooks wants to see more zip up and down the court.

"[Second is] playing with pace. We’ve got a lot of speed. We’ve gotta use that every time down the court, because it can be intimidating. We can score early in the shot clock. We got the fastest point guard in the league [in John Wall], and in order to do that, we need all four other guys running with him," Brooks said.

Mahinmi for 3?

Day 1 of training camp can bring all sorts of goals, some loftier than others. Like, for instance, is it realistic to expect center Ian Mahinmi to develop a three-point shot?

Mahinmi, like the other Wizards' big men, participated in three-point drills towards the end of practice and actually made a few.

Mahinmi has never made a three-pointer at the NBA level and has just eight attempts in his 10-year career. Brooks, though, says it's not all that crazy of an idea.

"Don’t be surprised if he shoots threes. He made 65 out of 100 last week," Brooks said.

Like any season, reality will set in at some point. But don't blame the Wizards, now training in a new facility, for thinking bigger.

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