3-on-3 Preseason Preview: Spurs vs. Wizards
One last preseason game to go before it counts for real. We invited Kyle Weidie, founder of Wizards blog Truth About It, to answer three questions in preparation for tonight’s game.
1. At this point, how good is Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal?
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: Brad Beal is certainly no Dwyane Wade, whom some, including teammate Martell Webster, have compared him to — Wade’s arms are 2.75 inches longer (6-10.75 wingspan to 6-8), and Wade is noticeably more athletic. Beal’s athleticism is more deceptive — Beal had a 33-inch no step vertical before the draft; Wade 31.5 — and his calmness and maturity are what’s more visibly noticeable on the court. People quickly point out that he’s just 19 when shedding praise on him for these qualities, and I still think his overall solidness is underrated. But maybe my judgmental pendulum is just reeling from the Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young days. Beal’s biggest challenge is his height (he measured 6-3.25 without shoes before the draft), but all things considered, I’ll take it. He’s got a wide body (all four of his brothers are big football players), he’s tough (he was trained as a youth by attacking the basket against those brothers), and so he’s pretty damn good at getting to the free throw line, already. I suspect that Beal needs to learn how to eat better like a supremely conditioned athlete, and thus he could probably use some more lift on his jumper (also via that height thing), but otherwise, it’s only a matter of time until Beal elevates himself to a co-face of the Washington franchise alongside John Wall.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: For a rookie, pretty damn good. His shot is every bit as legitimate as predicted and his off the ball movement is great. He and John Wall will be a dynamic combo.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Honestly, I have no idea. I only asked this question because I know Kyle and Graydon have both seen Beal play so far this preseason. From what I’ve seen, I like his style. I’m a firm believer that if you can shoot in a variety of ways, you’ll have a home in the NBA for a long time.
2. How good of a player is Jan Vesely going to be in the NBA?
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: Jan Vesely can be a very solid role player — perhaps the first big off the bench or even a starter given the right surroundings — but he’s got a long, long way to go. So far this preseason his confidence has taken a hit. The improved jump shot that got Wizards fans excited during the summer league hasn’t really been seen, and instead, he’s missed a ton of bunnies at the rim. Some games he’s taken a step back, some games he’s improved, but I think the ultimate result is that he will find himself further down the bench when the season starts. That doesn’t mean Randy Wittman won’t find time to play the sixth overall pick in 2011, but I imagine Vesely has to show that he believes in himself more, show some more aggression, before that happens. Vesely is still one of the team’s best big man pick-and-roll defenders, and he certainly has a nose for rebounds (he pulled down 11 against the Heat in 23 minutes). So, despite John Hollinger’s skewed assessment of Vesely’s lacking basketball instinct (and sure, the kid has a lot to learn), I think he has a much better foundation than people think. Foundation worthy of a sixth pick? Certainly debatable. But if Vesely turns into a very solid, and athletic (I’m not sure there’s ever been a white Euro with his combination of size and athleticism) role player for five to six season to come, the high draft pick used on him will have been worth it to me.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: From what I’ve seen, Vesely may end up being somewhat of a disappointment. His defense seems suspect and he lacks the athleticism some claimed he possessed. But he’s still got time to prove his value.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: I hope so. As Kyle said, we don’t see too many Euro players come over with the type of athleticism that Vesely has. Traditionally, they’re the highly skilled players who don’t move well, especially when we’re talking big men. But he seems to have the same problems many American-born hyper-athletic players have, where he relies too much on that athleticism and hasn’t yet developed the rest of his game. I hope he figures it out, for his girlfriend’s sake.
3. Will this be the closest thing we’ve seen to a regular season game in the preseason?
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: In the Wizards’ interest, I hope not, as they will be without John Wall, Nene, and Kevin Seraphin tonight — three of their top six players. Wall won’t be back until December, we are guessing, and Nene and Seraphin have undetermined time-tables — they could be ready on opening night, they could miss a week or so into the season. Otherwise, Wittman is still trying to determine his rotation, much less who the Wizards will cut before the October 29 deadline, so I would expect another relatively even doling out of minutes on the Wizards’ part tonight. From San Antonio’s end, on Monday I asked Wittman, in facing quality teams like the Heat and the Spurs over the last two preseason games, if it added anything extra to Washington’s preparation for when the games count. Wittman said he didn’t think Miami would be too concerned about their rotation since they are a veteran team — Miami started Wade, LeBron and Bosh and took the game rather seriously in Kansas City on Wednesday, although LeBron went to the bench early for rest. And for the Spurs? Wittman said: “Who’s to say we’re going to see Tim Duncan at regular game minutes? I doubt it. Parker? Maybe Parker. Ginobili? I doubt it. I know Pop well enough, he don’t give a shit about rounding out his preseason thing.” Likely well stated by the Wizards coach.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: From what some of players said, that would seem to be the case. But would anyone really be surprised if Pop held the vets back?
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: All signs point to yes for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili said he wanted to play around 30 minutes to get his legs under him, and I’d imagine Tony Parker feels the same way. Pop has also mentioned playing fairly normal rotations to get ready for the start of the regular season. So we know what that means: get ready for a lot of Josh Powell and DeJuan Blair tonight.
[Update: It looks like Manu is out tonight with "back spasms." Welp.]