Five observations from Wizards' preseason win over Pistons, including big nights from Wall and Beal

Chase Hughes
NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards continued their preseason schedule with a 102-97 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Wall and Beal did their thing.

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The preseason should probably be over now for John Wall and Bradley Beal, as on Wednesday night they showed yet again they are ready for the real games to begin.

Beal and Wall were both sharp and took advantage of the Pistons' weak backcourt with strong offensive games. Wall had 32 points (12-for-23 FG), nine assists, five rebounds, three steals and a block in 31 minutes. Beal added 17 points (6-for-11 FG), three boards and a block.
The best news for either of them on Wednesday was that Wall has found his three-point stroke. He began the preseason 0-for-7 in his first two games, but since has gone 5-for-13, including 3-for-7 against the Pistons.
Wall shot a career-best 37.1 percent from three last season on 4.1 attempts per game. If that pace is sustainable, the Wizards could be one of the best three-point shooting teams in the game. 

The Wizards want Wall, among others to cut down on his midrange attempts. Ironically, it was his fadeaway long two that sealed the win with 3.4 seconds left in Detroit.

2. Smith made his mark.

This season is going to be a big one for Jason Smith, as he is in a contract year and coming off a 2017-18 campaign in which his role was significantly diminished. On Wednesday, we got our best indication yet that Smith is gearing up for a bounceback year.

Smith (14 points, six rebounds) was called off the bench early when Ian Mahinmi stacked three fouls in just four minutes of play. He quickly made an impact, first with a corner three and then a series of plays throughout the first half including a block of Luke Kennard's floater, a nice putback off a Rivers miss and a clean finish off a Tomas Satoransky bounce pass from the elbow.

If everyone is healthy, it won't be easy for Smith to earn minutes this season and last year inconsistent playing time prevented him from developing any sort of shooting rhythm. But if Smith plays like he did in Detroit, he could earn some chances along the way.

3. Oubre was better.

Through the first three games of the preseason, Kelly Oubre Jr. appeared to be a little out of rhythm, particularly on the offensive end where he committed a series of ill-advised turnovers. Though he had another rough shooting night (1-for-6 FG, 0-for-4 3PT), he was noticeably better in his decision making both on and off the ball.

Oubre had a nice steal in the first quarter when helping off the ball. He then made a running floater down the baseline on the other end. In the second half, he used his freaky-long wingspan to close out on Reggie Bullock and block his corner three attempt.

One thing that stood out about Oubre's night is that he appears to have the green light to take the ball up the floor off his own rebound, much like Beal and Otto Porter Jr. Maybe the leash will shorten in the regular season in that regard, but Oubre looked comfortable starting the fastbreak and even when he was forced to rely on his right hand.

Oubre's line wasn't super pretty. He had two points, four rebounds, a block and a steal. But Brooks insists he can live with Oubre lacking offense on a given night if he plays smart and within the system. Wednesday was an example of how he can impact a game without scoring.

4. Keef and Bryant returned. 

Dwight Howard remains out with a lingering buttocks injury, but the Wizards got two big men back on Wednesday. Markieff Morris was a gametime decision after sitting out Monday's win with a sore abdomen. And Thomas Bryant was cleared after spraining his ankle and hyper-extending his knee, also on Monday against the Knicks.

Though neither injury was considered serious as time passed on, it's nice to get confirmation that the two of them are going to be alright. Morris, in particular, is very important to the Wizards and even more so with Howard out. Also, the fact his abdomen was bothering him was troubling, given he had sports hernia surgery last summer.

5. Mahinmi's fouls.

So, Mahinmi's fouls that brought Smith off the bench early didn't stop after that. He had five fouls through 12 minutes of play, somehow topping the five in 18 minutes he accrued on Monday.

Mahinmi had a big problem staying out of foul trouble last season and those troubles may be magnified very soon. If Howard isn't ready to start the season, Mahinmi will be the starter and he can't rack up fouls like this or else it will put head coach Scott Brooks in a difficult spot.

The quicker Mahinmi gets in foul trouble, the quicker Brooks will have to turn to Smith or an unproven small-ball lineup, and some nights those will not be ideal based on matchups.

If games go like Wednesday, they will be in deep you-know-what. Mahinmi had five fouls and so did Morris Smith fouled out in 26 minutes. Good luck to Brooks if that happens in a non-exhibition game.


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