Wizards wrap up training camp

October 9, 2012

The Washington Wizards completed training camp Tuesday with many of the same questions they had at the start of the week-long two-a-days, including uncertainty at point guard and what the regular rotation will be in the crowded front court. But they got back two ailing players for their last day of workouts at George Mason’s Patriot Center.

Wizards Coach Randy Wittman indicated he continues to evaluate whether Shelvin Mack, A.J. Price or Jannero Pargo will start at point guard in place of John Wall, who is out eight weeks because of a stress injury to his left patella. Mack had seven assists without a turnover in Sunday’s 100-98 road loss to Charlotte, but playing time at the position remains in flux as the Wizards get ready for Thursday’s preseason home opener against the New York Knicks.

“We’ll see that more in games,” Wittman said when asked about clarity at point guard. “This game is played five-on-five, and we’ll see that as we see these last seven games of the preseason and really get a better feel for that.”

In his second year in the league, Mack clearly has benefited from his first NBA training camp following last season’s lockout. Wittman said Mack is playing with more confidence and an understanding of where the ball needs to go in the flow of the offense. Price, meantime, had one assist and five turnovers against the Bobcats, and Pargo was unavailable because of an abdominal strain.

“That was one of my priorities, just taking care of the ball,” Mack said. “But overall it’s a team game. We didn’t come out and play the way we wanted.”

Pargo was back on the practice court Tuesday following a day off Monday, as was forward-center Emeka Okafor. Both players missed Sunday’s game, although Okafor sat out to rest. Forward Trevor Booker, who also did not play against Charlotte, remained on the training table during practice to receive treatment on his sore left hamstring.

Booker is among the many players competing for minutes in the front court, where offseason acquisition Trevor Ariza appears in line to start at small forward. The picture at power forward and center is less clear, especially with Nene out indefinitely while recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Nene was the starting center after joining the Wizards in a deal at the trade deadline last season.

Okafor is a candidate to start at center, where Kevin Seraphin also plays. Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, meantime, are in the mix at power forward. Vesely stood out against Charlotte for his five fouls in 26 minutes while shooting 1 for 5. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft added seven rebounds, including four offensive.

“Training camp is for a week yet,” Vesely said. “There’s no role for me, and I try to put everything in the game and play hard every moment on the court. That’s my goal right now, and we will see in a couple of months what the role will be in the team.”

Wittman also stressed Vesely’s need to be smarter in that regard and to play with energy and enthusiasm at all times. He also mentioned Singleton’s fouling issues in the wake of the 2011 No. 18 overall pick’s five personals in 15 minutes 18 seconds against the Bobcats.

“Young guys that are aggressive have to learn to play aggressive,” Wittman said. “There is a way to do it. That’s a teaching process that we’re going through. Both of them.”


Second-year point guard Shelvin Mack is competing for starting playing time at the position while John Wall is out. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

 

 

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering many local and national beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He joined The Washington Post sports department in 1990 as a member of the high school staff and worked as a copy editor and assignment editor for almost 19 years.
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