Washington Wizards: 3 Takeaways from 97-86 preseason loss to Detroit Pistons

Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wass/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Thomas Bryant. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wass/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 3
Washington Wizards Troy Brown Jr.
Washington Wizards Troy Brown Jr. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Takeaway #1: Three spot is truly wide open

The Washington Wizards came into the preseason with four of their five starting spots locked up. After two preseason games, we don’t seem much closer to figuring out the fifth and final spot, though. All signs point to the small forward competition being wide open.

Entering the second preseason matchup, Scott Brooks said rookie Deni Avdija had a “good chance” of being the team’s starting three. It was a statement that made sense after Avdija was perfect from the field on six shots in his preseason debut. However, Avdija didn’t get the start vs. the Pistons. Isaac Bonga — last year’s regular starter at the three — was first on the court.

Avdija wasn’t quite as impressive in his second showing, but he didn’t do anything to limit his skyrocketing expectations. Avdija showed confidence and composure, finishing through contact on more than one occasion and making a few defensive plays, too. However, he made just three of his eight shots, none of his four three-point attempts. All in all, though, Avdija was solid; seven points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

But did he do enough to separate himself from the rest of the pack? Probably not. Bonga finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. He also made two of his four shots, a welcome sign for Bonga, who will need to show more three-point prowess this season.

Although Bonga started over Avdija, the two played nearly equal minutes. Bonga played 33 minutes while Avdija played 32. The competition is still wide open, but Bonga and Avdija look like the favorites for now.

Don’t forget about Troy Brown Jr, tough. Brown has been the highest scoring small forward candidate through the first two preseason games (28 total points) and has shot 66 percent from three (three attempts each game).

They’ll all have one final chance to prove they’re starter material in the final preseason game. Given how this competition has played out, though, the starting small forward on opening night might not necessarily keep his spot for long.