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Wizards open preseason against Knicks
Basketball is back in the nation’s capital, with the Wizards tipping off the preseason on Monday against the Knicks. Led by two-time All-Star Bradley Beal, this will be the first look at Washington’s 2019-20 team. The Wizards have been together since Labor Day weekend, getting in workouts and beginning training camp last week. Monday marks a week of four preseason game for the Wizards, with three coming at home.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Davis Bertans, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Knicks: G – Elfrid Payton, G – RJ Barrett, F – Marcus Morris, F – Julius Randle, C – Mitchell Robinson
Wizards: Isaac Bonga (left knee soreness – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out), Troy Brown Jr. (left calf strain – out), Ian Mahinmi (right Achilles strain – out), Isaiah Thomas (left thumb rehab – out), C.J. Miles (left foot rehab – out)
Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr. (lower back strain – out), Reggie Bullock (neck – out), Damyean Dotson (right shoulder – out), Kadeem Allen (strained right foot – out), Amir Hinton (personal – out)
Projecting the starters
Head coach Scott Brooks has reiterated that the only sure starters right now are Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant, with point guard and the two forward positions still up for grabs. During training camp, Brooks said Beal is not expected to play in all of the preseason games. Based on the probable starters in the team game notes, Ish Smith, Davis Bertans, and Rui Hachimura will get the first opportunity to earn those spots. Barring something unforeseen, Smith will almost certainly start at point guard come October 23, while Bertans and Hachimura seem to have the upper hand heading into the preseason. Bertans and Hachimura both have size; Bertans is a major threat from the outside, while Hachimura can score from all over the court.
Battle for minutes begins
Mainly due to injuries, there are plenty of minutes to be had. The Wizards will likely be without five rotation players for the preseason, as the word “opportunity” has taken over the MedStar Wizards Performance Center. Brooks reiterated that he will choose to only play certain players for each preseason game, as the team looks to solidify its roster at the end of the preseason. These games are big opportunities for Jordan McRae, Justin Anderson, Justin Robinson, Chris Chiozza, Phil Booth, and Jemerrio Jones to not only earn roster spots, but also earn minutes on the Wizards. Those who do not make the team are expected to play for the Capital City Go-Go, with plenty of opportunity to earn a call-up to the Wizards as the season goes on.
Hachimura, Schofield make preseason debuts
All eyes will be on Rui Hachimura as he plays his first game on the floor at Capital One Arena. As aforementioned, Hachimura is expected to start, and should be able to play significant minutes this season for the team. The entire country of Japan will be tuned in on his debut, as Hachimura has become one of the nation’s most famous people.
Admiral Schofield will also make his preseason debut, and should also get the opportunity to play heavy minutes during the preseason and beyond. With injuries to Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles, expect Schofield and Justin Anderson to play a lot in these preseason games. The Wizards are still figuring out what position Schofield fits best, but he’s a winning player who can contribute in a variety of ways.