The NBA Summer League season has finally concluded for the Wizards, as the team played the minimum five games before ultimately getting ousted out of the loser’s bracket by the New Orleans Pelicans. So what did we learn from this year’s camp? Did the veterans Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton offer any remaining hope after their third summer campaign? Which non-roster hopeful caught our eye the most? These assessments are all part of a vital phase for the team leading into training camp in a few weeks, and we’ve got our thoughts laid out right here…
1. Who was the MVP and LVP of the Wizards Summer League?
Abdullah: For the entire summer we were cast under this outrageous spell of a productive Jan Vesely so it’s simply fair to crown him as most valuable. Playing in his third summer league, and against some players that will probably never don an NBA jersey, Jan naturally morphed into the player that we all yearned for when he was chosen as the Wizards’ top pick in 2011. Despite the occasional #SoJan moments, we definitely saw improvements in various facets of his game. His general awareness on the floor had improved as did the timing of jumps and his assertiveness at the rim and on the glass. He played smarter defense which led to fewer fouls. These were all areas of Vesely’s game that have been grave concerns since he was drafted and for him to display a nearly 180 degree improvement is enlightening for all of us.
The LVP for me has got to be Sundiata Gaines. Gaines, like Vesely and Chris Singleton, was one of the only players that had some ample NBA experience. However, in this year’s Vegas campaign Gaines shit the bed and shit himself out of the starting lineup. Gaines, a historically a terrible shooter (from the field and the FT line), wouldn’t seem to care about his lack of skill in that area, as we saw him pull up J’s much more than we’d ever want. He was erratic with the ball, coughing it up numerous times coming up court, and struggled to get around his defenders. Gaines was eventually pulled from the starting line up for Marquez Haynes.
Joe: I caveat my selection for MVWP by saying this is like choosing the best tasting beer but you can only choose between Miller Lite, Bud Lite and IceHouse. Nobody blew me away at this years Vegas Summer League and that’s not a good thing for anybody who was hoping to see two players in particular who should have shined.
Jan Vesely n my opinion was the best player on the court for Washington this week but in no way played up to the potential he should be playing consistently enough for anyone to be re-thinking his role on this team come November when guys who will be playing in 30 and under rec leagues won’t be his competition.
Another 2011 draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, who was one selection higher than Jan didn’t do Honza any favors by posting an 18.8PPG, 10RPG and +21 stat line while our own Dunking Ninja had a more pedestrian looking 11.6PPG, 6.8RPG and +15.8 line.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not killing Jan but what Wizards fans needed to see in my opinion was much more of the Game 3 Jan than they saw of the Games 1/2 Jan. But like Ernie and Coach Wittman both said in their interviews with NBATV, he has to show more consistency and confidence at all times, not just in spurts.
My LVP of Summer League was Sundiata Gaines. Talk about wasted opportunities. On a team like the Wizards where you have a chance to outright be the PG for 5 games and show to the rest of the league that your visits with NGC Cantù, Idaho Stampede, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, BC Armia Tbilsi, Fujian Xunxing were all a fluke, and you go 1-5 from the field, miss 75% of your free throws, commit 3 turnovers and score 3 pts in your first game, you wasted an opportunity.
Look, I wasn’t exactly expecting Sundiata to come in and put the world on fire but from a guy who has played in over a 100 NBA games he should have been able to come in and manage this team better than he did. You know what they say though, one man’s faults are another man’s opportunity and Marquez Haynes smartly took advantage of that open door.
I don’t think he’ll be on this roster but Haynes did exactly what I thought Gaines would do and he could have very well played himself onto an NBDL team and a chance to be called up later in the by someone later in the year.
Trevor: For MVP of the Summer League, I have to give it to, believe it or not, Jan Vesely. There were stretches during SL where Vesely was not only the best player for the Wizards, but the best player on the floor. He was confident and at times dominant in the paint. He played more like what you would expect out of a 7 foot guy with athleticism who was the 6th overall pick. He shot 58% from the floor, which is much more in line for what you should expect for a guy who gets most of his scoring opportunities near the rim. For me, Vesely is easily the Wizards MVP. Now let’s see if he can carry over that confidence to the real season.
Sadly, I have to go with Otto Porter as the LVP. This is mainly because he was injured and played sparingly in 2 games and sat out the last game, but that is not the only reason. I know he was hobbled by a hamstring injury in game 3 and 4 (and possibly game 2), but even when he was on the floor it was a mixed bag. He made some solid plays here and there but then also made several mistakes and missed easy close range buckets. Wizards fans never really got to see anything spectacular out of him, which one would hope out of a 3rd overall pick. Just because I picked Porter as the LVP doesn’t mean much. The Summer League is the worst type of basketball for a player like Otto. Once that hammy gets right, he shouldn’t have any issues fitting in on a team that has a better offensive scheme and will use his strengths.
2. Out of the non-roster players, who would you most like to see at training camp?
Abdullah: I’ve been on the Marquez Haynes wagon all summer long and I’m not getting off now. Haynes displayed good poise and discipline playing the 1 for the Wizards and it was good enough for him to land a spot in the starting rotation midway through the tournament. The Wizards’ offense seemed much more controlled and fluid with Haynes at the helm. Coming out of college, Haynes was known for his ability to make plays off the dribble, and with the Wizards I definitely saw why. With the ball on the floor, Haynes showed the ability to make quick, efficient plays even when double-teamed, whether it was evading the defenders himself, or making a pass to an open teammate. He’s not much of a scorer as he is a facilitator, but that in itself could pay some solid dividends for a Wizards team that’s been known to be injury prone and scarce at the point guard position. Although Eric Maynor has filled the position of John Wall’s backup, the position can still field some more insurance. Haynes could be that guy.
Joe: Out of the team I saw the one guy who is non-roster that I want to see more of is Devin Booker. Trevor’s younger brother needed to get some of those Chris Singleton minutes in Vegas to show us more of what he’s got, or perhaps Ernie and company already know and didn’t want to put him on display for the rest of the league to see — wishful thinking of course.
In all seriousness though, considering the Wizards need for good, physical front court players I’d love to see the younger Booker get a shot at cracking the roster, especially considering I think a trade is coming that is going to get the Wizards well below the 14 players they currently are carrying.
Trevor: If I had to pick one non-roster guys to invite to training camp, it would be Dennis Horner. He didn’t get a whole lot of run during the first 2 games, but in just under 18 minutes in game 3 he came out on fire. He went 6-8 from the floor, including 3-4 from long range. It was just one game and obviously guys can catch fire at any time, but he was able to show deep range for a team that is in need of such tool. Everyone knows the team is looking for a stretch 4 type player, and Horner has good size and good shooting ability.
3. What stood out to you the most when watching Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Jr.? What aspect of their game do you think they need to improve on the most?
Abdullah: Although Summer League assessments can become irrelevant as soon training camp starts, they still offer that initial look that allows one to have an idea of what’s to become. Otto Porter’s summer league experience was certainly a forgettable one, before and after he was shelved for the hamstring issues. While Porter did show a bit of his strengths on defense, his offense was what alarmed us the most. He struggled with his shot, often times failing to square up properly. At times struggled breaking through screens and often struggled with his ball-handling, due mostly to his habit of high dribbling. His body strength remains in question and something that certainly needs to develop as he continues his preparation for the NBA, so I fully expect that from him as training camp looms.
Glen Rice, Jr. showed flashes of his range and shooting skills, but not nearly as much as I personally hoped for, being a huge fan of his father growing up. However, what intrigued me the most about Glen’s game was how efficient he was in other areas of the floor. Rice showed that besides being productive on the perimeter, he’s got the ability to make some noise in the lane as well, being a solid rebounder and finisher at the rim.
Joe: Man, I just sound like a complaint board here but I didn’t get to see anything out of Otto Porter Jr. that made me feel one way or another. At the end of the day I’m happy with the Wizards selection of Porter, I believe he is going to be a solid NBA pro and more than just a contributor for years to come but to say that his hamstring injury and lack of playing time was anything less than a disappointment would be a lie. I wanted to see him on the court and with no particular interest at the shooting guard position and right as we were getting glimpses of his real game at SF, he got shut down. If you know the history of this organization and many of you do, their is plenty of reason for concern when it comes to players, their injuries and our ability to rehab them in a responsible and timely fashion.
Glen Rice Jr. had a tough start but finished strong. Washington really needed him to be better than he was in the game against the Grizzlies, but it wasn’t solely on him to be carrying the team. I like his aggressiveness, I like his athleticism, and I think he has a great shooting stroke. Much like Beal or any other “shooter” for that matter on the Wizards last year, when you don’t have a solid PG to get you the ball you’ll never look as good as you could with a premiere PG. Once Rice Jr. gets a taste of running the floor with Wall dishing it to him I think we will continue to see the things that made so many people high on him and the reason he believes he should have been a first round pick.
Trevor: Summer league is always so hard to analyze. Guys will dominate who won’t go on to contribute in the league and other guys won’t do much at all and then go on to be very solid contributors in the NBA. In terms of Otto Porter, the Summer League style is not beneficial to his game at all. He should look much more comfortable surrounded by professional players where his bball IQ and team first attitude will be maximized. Nothing really stood out to me one way or the other in regards to Porter, other than I wish he would have been a bit more assertive on the offensive end.
Glen Rice Jr. is much more of an all-around player than I knew. I think he is going to turn out to be a great pickup by the Wizards. If they use him right, he can be a very solid second team guy. He has the ability to score both while attacking the basket and spotting up outside, and he displayed good vision averaging 3 assists over the last two contests. Besides being an all-around contributor, I think the thing that stood out to me was his athleticism. This guy can really get up quickly in the lane, as evidenced by some big time throw downs in Vegas.