John Wall is the engine that make the Washington Wizards go, but head coach Scott Brooks wants to manage his playing time very carefully in the early portion of this season. Wall had procedures done on both knees in the summer and will sit out Saturday night against the Orlando Magic with it being the second game of a back-to-back.
To begin the season, Trey Burke was filling the backup point guard duties. In the first three games, he averaged 2.8 points, one rebound and 1.3 turnovers in 11.8 minutes per game. In their game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Burke committed three turnovers in six minutes.
Needless to say, head coach Scott Brooks was quick to pull Burke out for the remainder of that game. Now Tomas Satoransky has emerged as the next best option behind Wall, and it was announced Friday night that the rookie will get his first start against Orlando:
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Brooks seemed somewhat hesitant to give Satoransky playing time in the first few games, but in the game against the Raptors, Satoransky got 10 minutes in large part because of Burke’s struggles. Satoransky didn’t put up impressive numbers for the box score (just two points, two assists and two rebounds), but he made good decisions and played with great effort and toughness that the Wizards’ bench desperately needs.
The Wizards finally earned their first win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The bench rotation continued their struggles, but Satoransky earned 22 minutes of playing time compared to Burke’s seven. In those minutes, the youngster compiled four points, three rebounds and one assist. His length at 6’7″ helped him distort many of Dennis Schroder’s shots around the basket, and it allowed him to make up for a lack of elite lateral quickness.
It’s not a total surprise, but seeing Satoransky gain Brooks’ confidence this quickly into the season is a good thing in terms of his growth. The bad part of this situation is that Burke continues to struggle to earn both his coach and his teammate’s confidence. In the season opener against Atlanta on Oct. 27, there was obvious confusion with the Burke-led second team. Following the game, players stated that they failed to hear what Burke was calling, and Brooks noted that he had to take more control of the offense.
Trading for Burke was part of a revitalization plan after a couple of rocky years in Utah. Before the season, it seemed like a perfect situation for Burke, but he has yet to prove otherwise.
The Wizards have always been a terrible team without Wall in the lineup. Even when he does play, leads often disintegrate quickly when he goes to the bench. As they’re set to take on the Magic (2-3), all eyes will be on Satoransky as he makes his first NBA start and tries to admirably fill in for Wall.
After the win over the Hawks, Bradley Beal told CSN Mid-Atlantic about how both point backup point guards need to be ready for their increased playing time:
“Trey (Burke) and Tomas got to step up as well and lead us as point guards.I just got to be aggressive, play my game. Not take over and feel like I’ve got to do everything. I can’t do it by myself.”
Satoransky will get the first crack, and hopefully he can step up.