The Washington Wizards exited their first week of preseason action with a 2-1 record and added a few more followers to a growing bandwagon. It’s preseason, so grading Washington’s win-loss record in meaningless games must center on the performances by its young players. And what rookie John Wall and a few other young Wizards showed could be a sign of what is to come The AFRO highlights this week’s standouts from the Wizards preseason action.
 

Wall to Wall

Wall broke out a 21-point, nine-assist, four-steal performance against the Dallas Mavericks in the Wizards’ opener on Tuesday, flashing the kind of abilities that made the now 20-year-old the top overall pick in June’s draft. He failed to dazzle in Washington’s following games against Cleveland and Chicago but still, his week averages of 14.6 points, eight assists and 2.6 steals per game would make him All-Star caliber if this was the regular season. His speed and quickness are already legendary and his in-game enthusiasm pushes him into the type of entertainer that will surely get Washington some much-needed camera time this season. Several within the organization have been calling him the “next great thing” and his week justified the labels.
 

The Chinese Connection

The Wizards’ home, the Verizon Center, sits a block away from Washington, D.C.’s historic Chinatown. If new Wizard Yi Jianlian continues to play at a high level, you can expect to see a growing Chinese contingent of supporters that could multiply the team’s fan base by the millions both nationally and internationally. The team, and its Chinese followers, love Jianlian and it’s easy to see why. The seven-foot reserve averaged 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks throughout the week in limited action, flashing a very unique combination of talents in the process. He offers the Wizards size, rebounding and three-point shooting and he’s infatuated the organization so much that Washington is reportedly working on a contract extension for the 22-year-old. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Friday that the club is working on an extension for Jianlian that could be reached as early as Nov. 1. Jianlian’s youth and multiple skills set could make him a future fixture in the District.

JaVale, the Variable

The Wizards have a center in JaVale McGee who can amaze you at times—like he did Tuesday against Dallas with 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks—then he’ll come back and bore you—like he did in the following two games: 10 points, 11 rebounds, no blocks in both games combined. McGee has the defensive ability to put Washington amongst the top half of teams in the league; he just has to be more consistent. His effort and focus waned throughout the week as Washington explored their smorgasbord of scoring threats, limiting his shot attempts (only 5.6 attempts per game). McGee isn’t a point-producer, but he can rebound and block shots at an elite level. If the 22-year-old can focus solely on his role then Washington has a chance to surprise once the regular season begins on Oct. 28.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO