The Washington Wizards began Training Camp Saturday morning at the Patriot Center, at George Mason University, in Fairfax, VA, where they'll practice until Wednesday, October 2. With high energy and a condensed practice, new teammates and old alike traded shots and jokes--including some at the expense of an impaired Chris Singleton--but a new injury, this time suffered by rookie forward Otto Porter, Jr., continues what seems like a Washington tradition.
"It occurred recently," said Porter after practice. "I was just playing and [I felt something] twist. I'm going to take it day-by-day, see how it feels. I'm just going to do what my trainers tell me to do." According to Head Coach Randy Wittman, Porter slipped on the court and suffered a hip flexor. The injury didn't keep Porter out of action--he could be seen isolated, shooting mid-jumpers, and practiced some no-contact defensive drills--but the injury complicates Washington's small forward rotation.
With Singleton (fractured foot) and Emeka Okafor (herniated neck) out for at least six weeks each, the Wizards will need a lot out of re-signed forward Martell Webster. While Porter could still practice in a limited fashion, third in line Singleton could only watch. He stood on his good foot, watching the new group of Wizards, while balancing himself on crutches. At one point, Glen Rice, Jr. came over to Singleton and took his crutches away from him and crossed them on the floor, as Singleton looked on incredulously. "He doesn't know what he's getting into," joked Singleton, when asked about the treatment.
Not to be out done, the news of Webster's one hour and forty-three minute naps--courtesy of CSN's Chris Miller--sparked an interesting conversation between John Wall and Webster. "I probably take a six hour nap. I don't take naps," said Wall. "He's really strange. Look at that," said Wall, as he looked at Webster on the court. "Shoot and drinking his little bottle. Nobody does that." When asked about Webster's "new look," Wall added, "He looks old. Like an old man. Old Asian man. You know how they make them grumpy faces, with the wrinkles?"
"Remember when I was in L.A., John? How did I play that night?" said Webster, when asked about the nap controversy. "You picked up in the second half," said Wall after a slight hesitation, which broke laughter throughout the Patriot Center.
Saturday's practice did not offer a whole lot on the backcourt play of John Wall and Bradley Beal--which will likely be something positive to focus on this season, knock on wood--but Nene looked to be in good playing shape. While Porter shot mid-jumpers on his own basket, Nene matched jumpers with Pops Mensah-Bonsu and D'or Fischer. Al Harrington shot on the same basket, lofting up three-point attempts before coming in for free throws.
Nene looked good on his shot, stepping off one foot on mini-fades, working on streaks. His rhythm looked good, and he'll need to keep it up. The Wizards will need Nene to be an offensive force more than ever this season if they hope to stay competitive without the services of Okafor inside.
On the far left, Jan Vesely practiced with Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. Booker, indeed, has the best stroke of the three--Vesely often comes up short and lacks a strong backspin on his shot--but the important thing for the Wizards is "confidence." Every shot Vesely made, Wall--who was sitting at that point--cheered Jan on. "I see you Janny," teased Wall from the bench. When Wall got up, he walked stiffly. Everyone on the roster needs some time to get to that elusive "mid-season" form.