I'll start this post off by admitting from the start that I am a complete homer. I love the Wizards, Redskins, Capitals and Nationals and at the beginning of each pro sports season I'm always looking for the positive signs to help me stay emotionally involved through what can be trying seasons as a fan.
That said, I believe I have a responsibility to paint an accurate picture for anyone who reads our articles at Wizards Extreme, as long as you the reader can accept the fact that I'm an optimist and hate dwelling on negatives.
What I've seen from this team, even towards the end of last season has been a commitment to continually get better and to become a closer unit. That commitment got stronger when Ted Leonsis officially took control of the team and reached an excitement high when we landed the 1st pick in the draft.
From that point on all I've seen through the first practices of the summer all the way through the NBA Summer League and then into the preseason is a team that is closer in terms of team chemistry than it had been the entire time I covered them last year.
These guys seem to genuinely enjoy being around each other and almost give you the impression that they are willing to do whatever they have to for the good of the whole. Again, I'll reserve full judgement until we get to see them get going full speed in the regular season but given what I've been able to see so far, there is reason for optimism this year Wizards fans.
I'm not ready to declare the Wizards a playoff team by any stretch of the imagination, but we just might have the right mix of veterans, rookies and role players to continue getting better every game, every practice and ultimately putting a product on the floor that the DC area and Wizards fans everywhere can be proud of.
What I saw at practice the other night did nothing but help me feel even stronger about what this organization is trying to do and the best part about it is that the players are buying in.
I'll let the videos speak for themselves but the players are saying all the right things, they look to be working out hard, staying after practice and more importantly, they seem to be enjoying the game.Roughly a couple minutes after we entered the practice court at the Verizon Center on Thursday night, Flip Saunders asked his team to pair up and shoot 25 - 18 footers followed by 25 free throws.
Our 2nd round pick, Hamady N'Diaye blurted out, "Booker!, Book...let's go", Andray Blatche quickly grabbed Yi Jianlian reminding me of the harmony between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour.
What I was even happier to see was that media target #1 Gilbert Arenas and John Wall didn't need to say a thing as they both got up from the stairs they were sitting on, walked over to Sam Cassell and commenced to work their drills together.
Below is some footage that doesn't require you to be a rocket scientist to figure out there is an obvious bond growing between our two Alpha males and we all know this team will go as far as Batman and Robin can take them.
Again, the optimist comes out in me but the more I see Arenas and Wall interact on and off the court the more confident I become in how well this dynamic duo can work together. I mean who didn't get excited about the 3 minute Arenas/Wall spurt that included...
For those who have not had the chance to see Wall in person yet, the kid has an absolute infectious smile and personality, you know, the type we used to see all the time from Gilbert. Hell, I haven't seen Flip smile this much since he found out the season was finally over last year.
(I love how Flip looks back to see if the ball goes in at the end)
There were some other positive signs from practice too including:
Josh Howard putting in some work with no signs of discomfort or pain
(Don't concentrate on the dribbling or the shots - remember torn ACL)
Flip Saunders chilling under the basket watching his bigs do some drills
And last but not least, we caught 5 minutes of Flip doing drills with Dray and Wall which ended with something that should make all Wizards fans happy as well as the scout on twitter who had something to say about Andray's conditioning
If you have any questions regarding practice or the article above, feel free to leave a comment below and we will do our best to respond in a timely fashion.
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