This Wizards lost their second summer league game against the Nuggets, and as a unit, they did not look good. But Ernie Grunfeld’s not sweating. He’s probably sitting poolside at the Hard Rock, requesting that the waitress blast some Skynard “Simple Man” over the sound system while he snacks on a cucumber and plays it cool in the 108 degree Vegas heat.
But should the Wizards’ Pres. of B-Ball Ops. (GM) be breaking a sweat over what he’s seen so far in Sin City?
On one hand, as we keep telling ourselves, it’s just a summer league game. The roster players out there will be playing vastly different roles come the regular season. They will be asked to do specialized acts and play within themselves, leaving the bulk of the scoring/defensive/creating duties to the ‘big boy’ players.
On the other hand, Grunfeld must be wondering, “are we really depending on JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Dominic McGuire (who might be counted upon to play the four spot) to be key cogs, supporting the efforts of Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison down low where the dirty work is done?”
The poolside recliner just got a little sticky on his backside and beads of sweat started percolating on his garments. Grunfeld can’t be that comfortable with his current team.
One might expect the ‘veteran’ Wiz kids to be playing well together, to know each other’s games … at least like an “okay” oiled machine if not well. After all, the youngins (sans McGuire and Crittenton) have made videos together, among other “team building” activities.
Uhh … not exactly. With Javaris taking a seat in game two, the quartet of McGee, McGuire, Blatche, and Young combined for 12 of the team’s 19 turnovers en route to shooting 32% from the field in a 77-70 loss to Denver’s summer squad.
Blatche got his ‘Antawn Jamison Numbers’, scoring 27 points and pulling down 15 boards to go with two steals and three assists (which accounted for 37.5% of the team total). But in going 11-21 from the field, many of his missed shots came via ill-advised jumpers … par for the course for Blatche I suppose. When he did perform work in the paint, he had the hardest time finishing strong. Yes, he occasionally earned trips to the free-throw line (5-7 in his 27 point effort). However, those were mostly the result of him trying to finishing a shot while contorting with athleticism, or haphazardly barreling into the defender (sometimes they called him for a charge, sometimes they didn’t). For once (or twice, or thrice), I’d like to see Blatche take the ball through a guy’s nose on his way to the rim.
Young followed up his 36 points in the first game with 17 … but 10 of those came in the first quarter. After that, he must have been doing a Lance Burton impression, helluva disappearing act by the kid. He’s also sharing the ball in Oleksiy Pecherov proportions, picking up exactly zero assists in about 69 minutes over two games.
McGuire, it just wasn’t his night. He was caught up trying to be someone he’s not. Pull up jumpers, trying to handle the ball … six turnovers and 1-7 from the field later probably left the Taser in search of the nearest Vegas hypnotist to erase the game from his mind. I’m going to give D-Mac a pass on this one since it was his summer league debut.
That leaves us with McGee. I’m not sure what’s going on in that Transformer head of his. Perhaps an unexpectedly solid rookie season has him too boosted and mentally overwhelming himself. He did manage to snag eight boards and swat five shots, but those should come easy considering the competition. And not all his blocks were that great. At one point, McGee made a nice block on Richard Hendrix under the basket, but went flying away from the action afterward. Hendrix simply recovered the ball for an easy bucket.
The most disturbing part is the kid thinks he should shoot every time he touches the ball. The 3-12 from the field, three turnovers, and five fouls clearly leave a ton to be desired.
McGee attempted to hustle and run from the start, but looked winded later in the game. He made wholehearted attempts to establish position in the paint, but sometimes showed frustration when he didn’t receive the ball. And when he did, a love affair with the fadeaway jumper became hot and heavy. Putting on weight is great, but it doesn’t mean much without the mental game of using leverage, spacing, and positioning a la Darius Songaila. End of story, someone needs to grab a GPS, locate the lost McGee, and talk him into slowing himself down.
“Erratic” and “ugly” are two descriptors I used several times when taking notes on the game … and the DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg stole the words right from my typing fingers (or at least posted his game recap before I did).
No matter, it’s just a summer league game, right? Well, if this is supposed to be a showcase of things to come from the Wizards’ youthful depth, and if I’m Mr.Grunfeld, I’m doubling up on the deodorant and calling/texting/twitter Fabricio Oberto’s agent a couple more times.