Make no mistake about it, this latest Bullet team is the apple of coach pick Mottas eye. Even a handful of nagging training camp injuries can't dampen his unabashed enthusiasm.
"I'm just as excited as I was before we came to camp," he says. And then he launches into an explanation of how the club will be a dynamic, enthusiastic outfit capable of holding its own against any NBA team.
Motta has to be optimistic. The squad has been restructured in the 16 months since he was named coach in a manner to suit his wishes. It's no longer the club that caused K.C. Jones' departure as head coach. It's Motta's creation rebuilt with eight new faces since the end of the Jones era.
"These are great people," Motta explained, "they are fun to be around. I'm encouraged by their spirit, by the way they got along. Training camp was a pleasant surprise in that way."
But training camp also was unsuccessful from a playing standpoint Motta badly wanted to put on a good show last Thursday against the 76ers and he wants to burst from the gates like gangbusters in the season opener against Detroit Friday night in Capital Centre. But those nagging injuries have messed up that as the Bullets lost their last five prescason games.
"I admit things aren't as far along in the master plan as I had hoped," Motta said, "but I'm not that upset. This is a long season, and with one week left before we start, we can catch up in practice fast.
"Even with the little I've seen of some of the players, I'm happy. They've shown me enough to know that we are going to run as well as anyone in the league and we're going to score a lot of points."
The most serious of the injuries is to Phil Chenier, who is just now starting to play after being sidelined by a lower back strain. He probably will be used as a reserve until he is in shape. Bob Dandridge (knee) and Tom Henderson (ankle) should be close to full strength by Friday.
"When we have our timing down, we will take off," Motta said. "The public is going to like this bunch."
The public wasn't particularly happy with the Bullets at the end of last season. Fans stayed away in bunches while Washington was embarrassed in a six-game playoff loss to Houston.
What made the defeat especially hard to take was that the Bullets won the first game on Houston's home court and still couldn't capture the series.
Memories of that playoff downfall overshadow what Motta sees as the encouraging aspect of last year, which was marked by player unhappiness, trades and a horrible start.
The club still finished with a 48-34 record, sixth best in the league and just five victories less than Los Angeles' 53, tops in the league.
The addition of Dandridge, the former all-star at Milwaukee, is supposed to reduce the odds of a similiar collapsthis season. Indeed, Motta sees Dandridge as some sort of super catalyst for whole bunch of changes within the team.
"Bobby gives us the small forward we need," he said. "He gives us an added scorer. He gives us experience. He helps us in our matchups defensively. And he is the perfect complement for Elvin Hayes."
That last point is particularly significant. Hayes remains the team's outstanding talent and also its most controversial figure.
He wanted to be traded after last season, then changed his mind. Club officials toyed with getting rid of him, then decided to work on surrounding him with players like Dandridge who can ease his belief that he has to do it all himself.
Hayes also will be helped by the development of second-year man Mitch Kupchak, the enthusiastic one who is a threat to break Dave Cowen's unofficial NBA record for diving at loose balls.
Fans might expect too much from Kupchak too fast after his marvelous effort against Houston in the playoffs, when he was by far the best Bullet. He will have many outstanding nihgts, but he still is learning and will develop better consistency with more experience.
Still, his presence will allow Motta to give Hayes more rest.
"Mitch will play all three frontcourt spots," Motta said. "He'll get his minutes and he'll give us flexibility."
Some thought Motta would put Kupchak at center in place of veteran Wes Unseld, but Unseld's spirited play during exhibitions combined with Motta's belief that Kupchak has the perfert attitude to handle a sixth-man's role convinced him to keep Unseld as a starter.
Unseld, who reported in great shape, has responded to Kupchak's challenge in the only way he knows how - with crisp outlet passes reminiscent of the Bullets' 1974-75 season and with consistent rebounding and bone-crushing picks and screens.
He would be limited coming off the bench, but as a starter, he is the wheel that turns Motta's disciplined offense.
That offense, so often reduced in the past to a two-man output from Hayes and Chenier, supposedly is going to have more balance this year.
"If things function right, we are going to get points from Dandridge and Kupchak, and Larry Wright, too." Motta said. "That's the point of everything we've done in the past year. We've brought in people so Elvin and Phil can have the kind of help they need.
"If two people are doing all the scoring, something won't be happening right."
And if Chenier goes through one of his occasional shotting slumps, Motta has confidence that his jitterbug little man, Wright, can adequately take up the slack.
"I will use a three-guard rotation," Motta said, "and all three guards will get a lot of playing time, probably 98 per cent of what's available.
"Even though Tommy Henderson was with us for half a season, he'll be better just by going through training camp. With him and Larry, our fast break has to take off."
Henderson, the high-speed playmaker, could play as much as 40 minutes a game as he tries to make the Capital Center faithful forget about Kevin Porter, the last Bullet guard who could successfully deal with Unseld's outlet tosses.
It is another question, however, whether any of the guards can provide defense that is steady enough against the best of the league's backcourt combinations.
Motta says he will use at least three or four players off his bench. Once past Wright and Kupchak, he has rookie Greg Ballard and Kevin Grevey, both of whom have been decent in training camp.
Ballard, a 6-7 strongman from Oregon, is not flashy but he is solidly schooled in fundamentals and the Bullets like his court sense. They are convinced he'll improve with added confidence once he realizes he can survive a full circuit around the league.
Grevey has spent much of training camp at guard, learning how to defend against the likes of Pete Maravich and Dough Collins. Although Motta says he expects him to play most of the time at forward. Grevey has shown he can move to the backcourt in an emergency, which increases his value to the team.
The NBA has agreed to hold to a 12-man roster this season and let the 11-man limitation go to an arbitrator. Thus the other roster spots will go to Joe Pace, who was on the brink of being eliminated two weeks ago but has played well enough in exhibitions to survive, and guards Coniel Norman and rookie Phil Walker.
"Things have changed 100 per cent cent from this time last season," Motta said. "We were really discouraged. Nick Weatherspoon and Truck Robinson were unhappy and Dave Bing was our playmaker.
"Now no one wants to be traded. They want to be professionals and play the game and play within the team concept. We match up well now against everyone, except maybe Philly and Los Angeles, both of whom we couldn't handle last year."
If Motta can avoid the same type of awful start as last year and if he can limit the internal bickering, the Bullets could put on an impressive stretch drive against Houston, the team Motta feels should be favored to win the Central Division.
Of Washington's last 28 games, 18 are at Capital Center. And at home, even lopsidedmatchups seem to even out.