The Wizards enjoyed their first look at Russell Westbrook, who made his preseason debut Saturday night, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. He contributed eight points, seven rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes and helped Washington outscore the Pistons by 11 points while he was in the game.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks was encouraged after watching Westbrook and Bradley Beal on the court together for the first time in a game situation.
“I like the fact that they were looking for other players, not just playing back and forth,” Brooks said. “Russell’s going to find whoever’s open; he’s going to make the right play. And Brad’s the same way.”
There’s more from Washington, D.C.:
- First-round pick Deni Avdija is making a strong bid to be the team’s starting small forward on opening night, Wallace adds in the same piece. The 19-year-old got his second preseason start Saturday and played 32 minutes. “He’s definitely working his way to being a starter one day,” Brooks said. “Don’t know when that will be; it might be Wednesday night. He’s playing hard, he’s tough, he has great size, and he’s going to make us a better team. … He’s making a good case (to start) — there’s no question.”
- Point guard Raul Neto has been a surprising standout during the preseason, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 28-year-old was brought in to improve the defense, but he scored 34 points in three preseason games. With Ish Smith as the primary backup to Westbrook, the Wizards may consider using Neto at shooting guard, Hughes adds. He played there for a while Saturday, taking minutes that normally would go to Jerome Robinson and Garrison Mathews.
- With seven international players on their roster, the Wizards are tied with the Mavericks for the most in the league, Hughes writes in a separate story. In addition to Avdija, who is from Israel, and Neto, who hails from Brazil, Washington has Rui Hachimura of Japan, Davis Bertans and Anzejs Pasecniks of Latvia and Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga of Germany. “Those seven guys have the attributes we look for, not the passports we look for. It doesn’t really matter to me where you’re from,” general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “If there’s talent all over the world, it’s your job to go find it. It’s never intentional.”