Wizards Summer NBA League Notebook: Game 1 vs Hawks
Various notes from the Wizards’ first summer league game, a 102-82 loss to the Atlanta Hawks… But first, a video featuring Sam Cassell, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, and Chris Singleton…
Rest in Vegas?
One thing to consider: the Wizards probably landed close to 2:30, 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time in Las Vegas on Friday morning; they had to turn around and play at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
“First thing we’re going to do is get our rest. The flight got kind of delayed last night — but it’s still not an excuse — you know we got in kind of late. We’re trying to get our rest and come out and compete, and the biggest thing we did today, we didn’t compete like we wanted to.” —Shelvin Mack after the game
We will certainly see what “rest” entails … the Wizards don’t play the Houston Rockets in their second game until 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
Where The Bigs?
Another thing to consider: with a starting lineup of Mack, Bradley Beal, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and Shavlik Randolph, the Wizards don’t really have the mass to serve as a rebounding second line of defense in the paint. Big Garret Siler started the second half in place of Randolph, and I couldn’t tell which was harder for him, breathing or moving his feet to defend screens. Another so-called center on the roster is Kim Tillie, who seems incapable of impressing past mere hustle. And then there’s the 6-foot-9 LaRon Dendy (listed as a center), who didn’t play on Friday and is the only undrafted rookie on this summer’s squad.
But maybe the Wizards don’t need a center (in summer league). With the current, real roster and its established bigs, Washington’s ability to field anyone decent at the 5 in Vegas certain has its limits. Still, if the Wizards expect to progress in subsequent games, one of these guys will have to play with a chip on their shoulder and dominate the glass — not sure that’s going to happen.
Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas just might have his way on Saturday like he did against the Toronto Raptors on Friday (29 points, 11-for-13 FGs).
Running From The 3 Spot
One of the more interesting comments, to me at least, was something that Sam Cassell said about Chris Singleton (31 minutes, 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 5 turnovers), more specifically, about the 3 position. Actually, it was a “rule” that Cassell gave Singleton:
“I gave him a rule. I said, ‘You get a rebound, you push the basketball.’ And he did an excellent job at that, we never saw none of that last year. This year I think coach Wittman wants all 3s to push the ball any opportunity that they get.” —Sam Cassell
So, when you perhaps see Singleton or Trevor Ariza grab the ball and go next season, without immediately giving it up to John Wall, don’t be baffled. Now, obviously if Wall is positioned for an outlet (and open), passing him the ball is a more efficient way to get down the court. But defenses expect the ball to end up in Wall’s hands so he can turn on his jets, and they prepare for it. So for the Wizards to truly be a running team, positions 1 through 3 must have the confidence to push the rock if needed.
Real Deal Beal
One goal of this game seemed to be to run a lot of action for Bradley Beal (22 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks) … all the different types of screens and more. (He also played a game-high 34 of 40 minutes.)
“You know, he’s our shooter, so when he’s on the court, with me being a point guard, I figure I got to give him the ball in position to be successful like coming off of pin-downs or little things like that,” said Shelvin Mack.
Beal did admit to getting “brain freeze” with his attention span escaping him on a couple of plays. I also noticed him getting into his off-ball movement a bit too early a couple times, before the screener was set and the play developed, but that could be more due to team-wide timing issues.
There were a ton of encouraging signs from Beal, but I most admired his ability to get to the free-throw line, where he went 9-for-10 (one of those makes was a technical). Beal on his attacking thought process:
“That’s what you’re supposed to do when you go to the hole, but at the same time, you shouldn’t think about getting a foul. Just go up there, try to make a layup and try to finish as strong as you can. That’s what I tried to do today, and I tried to draw fouls and get to the line.”
Looks like his trips to the gym as a kid, driving and bouncing off his football-playing brothers, will continue to pay nice dividends.
Added bonus: Beal appeared to be wearing his same draft night Wizards hat right after the game.
Tomas Satoransky (15 minutes, 4 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers) got more run at the point than I expected, and Shelvin Mack often played off the ball when both were on the court at the same time. In the first half Satoransky looked more than a step slow compared the competition, and oftentimes he seemed like too much of a pass-first point guard, executing predictably and without much authority.
When I spoke with him after the game, he twice mentioned how the style of game is different in Europe; in the NBA, there’s less movement, and thus more space, which can bring different types of movement, according to Tomas. Satoranskly admitted that he’s got a lot of things to improve upon, so stay tuned, Wizards skeptics.
The advice Satoransky says that Sam Cassell gave him: “Just do what I did in the practice. I had a couple bad turnovers, which I didn’t do in the four days in the camp. Just be aggressive, run the team, and make the right passes.”
Jan Vesely missed some dunks and committed a lot of fouls — 10 of them! (which is the summer league limit) — but he’ll be alright. In 31 minutes he finished with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers. The three jumpers he hit looked smooth and confident. Jan will need to better balance aggression and the pace of the game over the next four contests.
I also wrote a quick piece about Bradley Beal’s debut for ESPN Daily Dime… check it out.