Beal wants to be a playmaker in year two
The Wizards opened training camp over the weekend with the 2013-14 season tipping off on October 30. Before the regular season opener at Detroit, J. Michael and Ben Standig will examine several notable topics, including...
Countdown to tip-off question 6: More in need of a strong camp/preseason, Kevin Seraphin or Jan Vesely?
J. Michael: Seraphin.
Vesely already has shown promise in the Las Vegas summer league and at Euroball where he has been more fluid offensively.
Seraphin hasn't been in game situations yet. He spent the summer in D.C. training with the Wizards' staff and bypassing the French national team.
The herniated disk injury to Emeka Okafor makes it more urgent for Seraphin, his backup at center, to show well. It's the position where the Wizards have the least depth.
While Vesely is 6-11 and can play some center if the Wizards go small, he doesn't appear to have the strength to guard the position for long stretches.
Coach Randy Wittman told me that he is optimistic that Seraphin will make the biggest leap in improvement when the season starts. The pressure is on.
Seraphin has to diversify his offense, be more decisive and not take the air out of the ball when he gets it in the low post. He also has to be better on defensive rotations where he seems a step slow at reading and reacting.
Defense is the biggest drop off the Wizards will have without Okafor in the paint. The spot is there for Seraphin if he can seize it. If he doesn't it'll likely have major implications for him long-term, too, as Okafor becomes a free agent at the end of this season.
Ben Standig: Jan Vesely had a rocking summer with strong showings at the NBA Summer League and Eurobasket. Regardless, he remains involved in a two-part of a numbers game. Part one, can he crack Washington's 9-10 man playing rotation. Part two, has he showed enough for the Wizards to exercise his 2014-15 option.
Start with the rotation. Nene and Okafor start at power forward and center respectively with Kevin Seraphin serving as the primary big man reserve. Al Harrington's stretch-four capabilities ensure him minutes if healthy. Wittman will use small-ball lineups with Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster on the court together.
That doesn't leave many minutes for Vesely, Trevor Booker or Chris Singleton when he returns from a foot injury. Now, Vesely's athleticism provides John Wall a fine fast-breaking wingman. The 6-foot-11 forward's hops allows him to defend - and attack the rim. His basketball instincts as a passer and defender remain underrated.
All of that must translate on the court during camp and preseason games. Last season, even when dealt with a shorthanded roster, Wittman showed limited confidence in using Vesely, certainly not when other offensively limited players occupied the court.
No doubt Seraphin received Randy Wittman's wrath on a regular basis last season. There were ill-advised decisions when double-teamed, there was lack of defensive rebounding. There is also no doubt that with Emeka Okafor's current neck injury and the constant threat of Nene going down, the 6-foot-11 Seraphin has a secure role in Washington's rotation. Last season Seraphin played in 79 games. Without any major injuries, Vesely played in only 51.
Whatever his own challenges - and there were plenty last season - Serpahin can score. That part of Vesely's game remains a work in progress. The Wizards have until the end of preseason to determine whether the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 Draft has made enough progress to justify exercising his 2014-15 option worth $4.5 million. In theory Vesely has an entire season to earn playing time. It's possible he has just this preseason to prove worthy of the franchise investing in him beyond this campaign.
Question 2: Will John Wall make the All Star team?
Question 4: Harder to replace, Nene or Emeka Okafor?