The Reaction: Wizards Summer League Game 3: D-Leaguers Brought Their 'A' Game
The Wizards got handled by the D-League Select team on Sunday night, losing 85-78 and falling to 1-2 in summer-league play. TAI’s Markus Allen (over broadband from afar) and Kyle Weidie (on location in Las Vegas) take you through The Reaction.
… But first, Chris Singleton climbs into a new galaxy. It must be the shoes.
Nope, the MVP is not going to Bradley Beal, again, even though his 20 points led the Wizards in scoring, again. Instead, it’s reserve Earl Calloway. His stat line won’t wow
you — as a point guard he had zero assists and four turnovers in 24 minutes off the bench — but stats don’t always reflect a court general’s ability to make things happen. Most notably, Calloway’s 3-point shot was nicely falling, as he finished 4-for-6 from deep (4-for-10 on FGs overall); he also managed to grab six rebounds. In a game where the weary Wizards (from four straight days of mini-camp, a late flight to Las Vegas, and then three straight games), were out-hustled by an intense and aggressive D-League Select team playing in their first summer league contest, Calloway’s play helped keep Washington alive.
Sam Cassell on Calloway and the Wizards’ backup point guard situation:
“He deserves to play, makes shots. Also, we want to see if he can run the ball club. We’re looking for somebody who can run a ball club. You know, we got John Wall, but after John Wall, we gotta figure it out, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Shelvin Mack finished well (6-for-13 FG), but there just haven’t been any moments in the summer league where you can see he has taken a big step forward. He had more turnovers (5) than assists (2), and struggled handling the ball under pressure, which Randy Wittman has previously said he needed to work on. He had a few layups and plays at the end of the game that helped pad his stats, but overall Mack needs to improve his game as a distributor if he is going to be the backup point guard for a possible playoff team.
“This is the first time Shelvin has played this position. It’s like taking a fastball pitcher and trying to make him throw a knuckleball. He can get it, but, hey, it’s going to be difficult. But he’s geting a lot of on-the-job experience… He’ll be fine, he’ll be fine, you know, once our veterans come and help him out a little bit better, he’ll be fine.” —Sam Cassell
Bradley Beal once again showcased his athleticism by driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line, where he was 7-for-8 (28 total attempts, 21 makes from the line over three games). Although his jump shot wasn’t falling, it was an encouraging sign to see that he can find alternate ways to score. Beal is truly a versatile player. He logged the most minutes of any player on the court (which may have played a role in his poor long-range shooting), yet was still active on the boards (six rebounds) and was a presence on defense. On a night in which the entire team was clearly fatigued from three games in three night, Beal finished strong, and even took a charge. These are the moments that truly define him as a player.
That game was … a tale of two different teams.
The scrappy D-League Select team pressed on their first defensive possession, forcing four early Wizards turnovers (three from Mack alone), and darted out to a 9-0 lead before Cassell took a timeout. Even the D-League coaches, led by Eric Musselman, Connor Henry, and former Wizards assistant coach under Eddie Jordan, Phil Hubbard, were constantly up and out of their seats, prodding their players, and getting on the referees. Make no mistake, this summer league is their Super Bowl. And even though the crowd was very sparse for the late matchup in the Cox Pavilion (while the marquee Hornets-Blazers matchup got started in the adjacent Thomas & Mack Center), people will start to recognize the D-Leaguers, who are set to take on the Cavaliers, Bucks, Suns, and Timberwolves in the coming summer league days.
“Like I told our guys in the locker room, ‘Them guys want to be where y’all at. They want to be in somebody’s NBA camp.’ Unfortunately they didn’t get invited, but that’s not a bad team down there. They’re big, they play hard, and they understand what it takes to win basketball games.” —Sam Cassell
After the Wizards won the second quarter, 21-9, to go into half up 37-28, the D-Leaguers out-scored Washington, 33-15, in the third quarter and tried not to look back (even though the Wizards did their best to extend the game in the fourth quarter).
“As a basketball player, you got to learn mentally how to fight fatigue,” said Cassell. “Fatigue is a feeling. It can be a good feeling, or it can be a bad feeling. That third quarter, it was a bad feeling.”
The Wizards will get Monday off before closing out the summer league on Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies at 3 p.m. and then on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks at 1 p.m. (both times Vegas).
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)