The Washington Wizards conducted ‘Day 2’ of Training Camp Sunday at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, and with another day came another minor injury. After an intense first day of condensed practice, Trevor Booker played a limited role during day two due to persistent trouble with his right knee.
“I had a treatment about…three weeks ago, shockwave therapy. I’ve been building up from then,” said Booker, regarding the injury. “I think I might have started to pick up too early. My knee got a little sore. It’s feeling pretty good right now. I talked to the doctor today and he said it’s looking good, and just take it day-by-day.”
Booker could be seen practicing with Jan Vesely, exchanging jumpers. He looked okay yesterday, and looked okay today, but if his injury proves difficult to treat the Wizards will have to consider slowing his pace over the next couple of days. As for Vesely, the Czech forward still exhibits some of that rookie frustration after a missed shot, but he’s getting closer to that level of “confidence” needed in the eyes of Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman.
“He’s (Vesely is) going to get to that point,” said Wittman after practice. “It takes young guys some time. They beat themselves up. I was watching film before we came here of last year’s Training Camp, and every shot Bradley Beal missed in this gym he sunk and put his head down. I brought him into my room and showed him that, and he just laughed and said I can’t believe–and that’s just a matter of confidence in yourself. Bradley was scared [expletive] last year at this time.”
“Jan–I see whether he makes a bad play or not you don’t see the reaction from him. That’s positive,” continued Wittman. “This summer was a good summer for him. Not only the success he had, but the team had success, the best that they’ve done in the EuroCup in many years. That all worked together, I’m glad that happened the way it did.”
It’ll take more than just confidence, however, for the Wizards to find the Playoffs this season, as is the expectation for the franchise from the top down. On paper, Washington is missing one component, a high level big inside, and the early season loss of center Emeka Okafor doesn’t help. Coach Wittman, however, believes he knows the answer, at least from a place of having the right mindset and as guided by John Wall at point.
“To take another step–making the Playoffs–this group as a group has to come together and be able to coach one another, and fix things on the floor instead of waiting for a timeout,” said Wittman after practice. “Fix it, talk to each other, critique each other, help each other. That’s what this team needs to get to. If somebody needs a pat on the back or somebody needs a kick in the rear end, when you get to that point in the locker room, that’s where you really grow and bond as a team. All the good ones have that, and we didn’t last year.”
The asterisk to any good plan is injury recovery time, and with Okafor and Chris Singleton out indefinitely and Porter (hip) and now Booker day-to-day, Washington will need to fight through. One benefit of this camp is the lack of two-a-days, meaning no night practice. The disadvantage is a lack of scrimmage time. When interviewed this afternoon, signee Al Harrington wasn’t quite sure if he was pronouncing Vesely’s first name, “Jan,” right. Washington didn’t have as much changeover this summer as they have in the post-Gilbert Arenas past, but they’re going to need to make the most out of this preseason.