Washington Wizards: Takeaways from their first preseason game

Washington Wizards (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Washington Wizards (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

As we welcome the fall season, Washington Wizards fans welcomed several new faces in the first preseason matchup against the Houston Rockets. Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Aaron Holiday who joined the Wizards this offseason after a blockbuster five-team trade that sent former MVP Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers played significant minutes well into the fourth quarter.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who hasn’t seen the floor in well over a year after partially tearing his ACL in just his third game last season, was inserted into the starting lineup. Dinwiddie was included in the five-team trade that brought six new faces to Washington including former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and rookie Isaiah Todd.

What should we make of the performances of the recent additions and the new-look Wizards squad after just their first preseason game? To start off with, Spencer Dinwiddie for one seemed to regain the athleticism and explosiveness he had before the injury.

Fastbreak is a major staple of the Washington Wizards offense

In a fastbreak sequence, Montrezl Harrell blocked a Jae’Sean Tate layup drive, which Kuzma recovered. Dinwiddie didn’t stand and wait for the ball to come to him but instead took off, which. Kuzma then found him in stride on the break. Dinwiddie quickly crossed inside towards the hoop, sending Daniel Theis in a blender, immediately drawing help from Kevin Porter Jr. who wanted to prevent an easy basket at the rim. This led to him making an easy pass to Bradley Beal wide open for three.

The Wizards were number one last season in points scored in transition averaging 24.9 ppg on the break with Russell Westbrook mainly pushing the break. The Wizards were also top-five three out of the five last seasons prior to Westbrook with John Wall and Beal pushing the pace with the two seasons out of the top five being a result of an injured Wall.

Tonight however they only had six fastbreak points but if they can maintain the consistency of previous years, it will be a big plus.

Moving forward and looking at the bench Aaron Holiday was a pleasant surprise scoring 17 points. He made his mark inside and outside, knocking down two threes and getting six tries at the free-throw line.

The Wizards will be needing plenty of help from their bench. Holiday will be having a major role increase from his time in Indiana because of a lack of depth at the guard position this season, with him and Raul Neto figured to be the only guards coming off the bench this season. The Wizards will be looking to him, Davis Bertans, and Harrell to provide a scoring punch off the bench this season.

Harrell was relentless on the boards hauling in 11 but struggled to finish. He did however match Holiday in free throws. Harrell has shown the ability to consistently score off the bench but my question with him is can he get back to his 19-20 sixth-man of the year self after a lone season with the Lakers that saw his performance dip.

One area that remained consistent in the first preseason match was the Wizards’ poor shooting from three and their inability to defend the three. Washington drafted rookie Corey Kispert 15th overall to boost the 26th ranked three-point shooting offense to a respectable clip.

Kispert neared the 50-40-90 club and scored 18.6 ppg in his final season at Gonzaga. Kispert was inserted into the starting lineup against Houston after strong training camp performances that had his teammates raving and looking forward to dimensionality he can provide with his ability to help the team space the court.

Caldwell-Pope was out due to a dental procedure. Kispert provided a solid performance in his absences, scoring 12 points but struggled to consistently knock down his threes. He was 2-of-6 from deep.

The Wizards matched 31 3-point percentage from last season with their leading 3-point shooter the past two seasons, Davis Bertans, going 1-for-6. Todd, who was brought in through draft this offseason made strides as a shooter his lone season for the G-Leauge Ignite, missed all three of his three-point attempts.

Todd, who was drafted 31st overall, was able to knock down midrange jumpers and space out to the three-point line for the Ignite. He will be able to get minutes off the bench if he can show consistency in his shot.

Washington struggled to run Houston off the 3-point line with Kevin Porter Jr. leading the way for the rockets with 50 percent from three and 25 points from the field. The team as a whole shot 39.5 percent from the floor. The Wizards’ next preseason game will be at home against the New York Knicks on Saturday.