In quotes: Wes Unseld Jr. on training camp goals, the Wizards' roster and more
On Friday, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. spoke with the media, discussing the opening of next week’s training camp, his expectations for the upcoming season, getting reacclimated to D.C. and much more.
Unseld Jr., who was hired in July after spending the last six seasons with the Nuggets, enters his first training camp as an NBA head coach. He says he’s still settling in to certain elements of the job, but that the on-court action feels just as comfortable as it always has.
UNSELD JR.: “The basketball part has been great. You’re on the court, you’re in your element, you’re starting to implement things as you go. You see the response and the positive rapport you deliver with players on the court. All those things are transitioning, moving in the right direction. It feels natural. It’s a good feel.”
For each team across the NBA, training camp brings with it something that had been lacking from the 2020-21 season: abundant time for practice and development. Unseld Jr. and the Wizards staff plan to take full advantage of that time leading up to the start of the season.
UNSELD JR.: “Having that extra time is going to be a benefit to us…It doesn’t have to be two hours of grind-it-out practice twice a day. You can also pick out a segment in that first practice that can just be teaching. We need that. You teach, you shoot, you script, you move your guys around, you get them up and down a little bit – then the evening sessions you get the opportunity to be a little more competitive, do competitive drills, play live scrimmages and get a real sense of if there’s carryover from the morning session.”
Unseld Jr. says his primary goal for the team over the next couple weeks is getting this collection of players and coaches, a group loaded with new faces at every level, acclimated with one another on the court.
UNSELD JR.: “It’s a new group – essentially a new team. Having those guys on the floor together, whether it’s drills or open run, getting the opportunity know each other on and off the court, but also developing an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, where a guy likes his shots, what kind of actions does he prefer – some of the simple details. What box does he like to post on? All those little things you pick up as a player…We’re just allowing guys to feel it, play together and learn each other.”
UNSELD JR.: “The flexibility and depth is really exciting. You have so many options. You can play small, you can play big, you can bump guys down, you have multiple ballhandlers who can create and finish. Obviously the amount of shooting we can put on the floor is a tremendous dynamic to have. It gives you a lot of flexibility. It also allows you defensively to do a lot of things. You’re going to have the mobility to fly around, you can switch. It gives you a lot of options to play with.”