At times, an NBA Summer League match can be not too far off from that typical pick up game at the Y. That’s exactly what it looks like when you get a flock of professionally inexperienced players bunched together for an organized basketball game after just a few practices. And I could even bet one or two players on the roster haven’t even been able to fully pronounce “Sundiata” yet. Sloppiness, dysfunction and unfamiliarity amongst rookies and big dreamers are some of the few lowlights we media and fans are forced to spectate, but nonetheless, it’s very necessary.
Yesterday was opening day for the Wiz Kids summer camp and some of those lowlights were on full display. With plenty at stake for the players on the floor, observers like us had plenty to scout. What will ever become of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton? How will Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Jr. fare in their semi-NBA debut? Which no-namer will catch our eye first?
The Wizards faced the Warriors in their first game in Vegas and the result was typically #SoWizards as the teams combined for the lowest point total in Summer League history at 108. The Wizards lost the game 56-52 after a few mishandled passes in the final 18 seconds denied them even a shot to win or tie. But just like preseason games, the final outcome isn’t the focal point when watching Summer League action. It’s all about individual, and that’s what we’ll break down, starting with the Summer League vets…
Singleton came out the gates seeming like his head was still at the Bellagio, looking out of sorts and misplaced. He quickly gathered himself and recovered to have a solid outing, finishing 4-for-9 from the floor for 13 points to lead the team. His defense was aggressive and his offensive awareness sharpened a bit as the game progressed. He ran a few plays we hadn’t see him play often, specifically the few perimeter shots he took coming off curls and such, but some of them to no avail. On several broken plays, Singleton was able to recover and put the ball in the basket. He also pulled down four boards and shot 5-for-7 at the free throw line.
It wasn’t as good of a showing as we expected for a 3rd year summer leaguer, but I expect (aimlessly hope) Chris to be more poised and in tune with the flow of the game as the week goes on. As long as his defense remains staunch, that’s where his confidence roots from, allowing him to be effective in other facets of the game as well. He needs to develop some sort of leadership role on the team being it his 3rd year and the only player besides Jan Vesely who has had a solidified spot on the Wizards regular season roster. Speaking of…
If this were a normal regular season game, we’d be touting Jan Vesely for a the next week for his performance in yesterday’s game. Not that it was outstanding or anything, but simply because he was half the bonehead he usually is.
Bonehead Jan: finished with six fouls, played soft on loose balls and mishandled a few passes cutting to the rim.
Not so bonehead Jan: didn’t look as clueless on the court as he normally does. He jumped on the glass often, finishing with seven rebounds. Jan shot the ball well, too, making three of his four shot attempts, including a a few dunks and a turnaround jumper?! He also didn’t commit 10 fouls.
Let’s just hope he set all the tummy butterflies free after this first game. Starting at 2-guard, Otto hit a few shots early in the game, but found great difficulty finding his touch the rest of the way. He finished shooting just 3-for -13, but in his defense, this wasn’t the best game to measure Otto’s production as the mass dysfunction on the court and lack of structure clearly affected his game. Coach Sam Cassell called for Otto’s increase in aggressiveness after the game.
“He’s got to be more assertive. He’s got to find some of his own offense sometimes on the court.”
Cassell feels that whether Porter plays the 2 or the 3, it’s the same position in the Wizards offense which requires the player to initiate offensive opportunities on his own.
GLEN RICE, JR.
Glen Rice also struggled from the floor, shooting just 3-for-12 from the field. Two of those three baskets came from long range. Rice clearly displayed his lack of fear in shooting the long ball, attempting a total of seven for the game, including a stretch late in the game where he took three straight 3-point shots. Rice also showed his ability to break away from his defender, evading him with a nice pump fake and finding a clear path for a dunk. Like Porter, Rice was also surrounded by subpar talent which deterred him from making smarter plays.
THE OTHER GUYS…
Sundiata Gaines, another veteran summer leaguer, had a forgettable outing. Gaines, who started at point guard for the Wizards, finished shooting 1-for-5 from the field, missing three of four free throws, had three turnovers and finished with just three points. He took several ill-advised shots, initiated some bad play-making and was simply awful.
Marquez Haynes caught my eye early in the game. It wasn’t anything remarkable, but I enjoyed his pace and assertiveness bringing the rock up court. A standout at University of Texas-Arlington, Haynes has a knack for making plays off the dribble and that was what I foresaw in his brief stint on the floor yesterday. He finished with six points and six assists in 20 minutes of burn. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of him in action in the next few days.