Day 6: Sights and Sounds of Vegas Summer League — The Rookies, Wall, and Grunfeld | Wizards Blog Truth About

Day 6: Sights and Sounds of Vegas Summer League — The Rookies, Wall, and Grunfeld

Updated: July 16, 2015

[Grandpa Wittman keeps an eye on his kids.]

[Grandpa Wittman keeps an eye on his kids.]

The Washington Wizards entered the NBA Summer League double-elimination tournament as the 20th seed—out of 24—and faced the 13-seed Utah Jazz in the first round. The Wizards caught a break, as Utah rested their two best players, Dante Exum and Rodney Hood.

Washington’s summer league team has taken on the personality of its regular season big brother. The team looked awful in the first two games and squeaked out a victory against a winless Dallas squad in its third game. However, when the playoffs started, the team looked completely different. It was like night and day. The Wizards jumped on the Jazz early, taking a 33-18 lead after one quarter, and the game was never really in doubt after that … except for a very regular season Wizards-like mini-meltdown in the fourth, when Utah trimmed the deficit to single-digits before Washington pulled away late.

After the game I spoke to the Wizards’ rookies and two things were clear:

  1. Kelly Oubre, Jr. wants a summer league championship; and
  2. Aaron White is not pleased with his play.

Kelly Oubre, Jr.

After the game, Randy Wittman pulled Oubre aside in the hallway for an impromptu coaching session. Wittman was demonstrably waving his arms and pointing in a manner worthy of the nickname “Koko.”

Adam Rubin: Wittman was talking to you after the game, was he talking about defensive assignments?

Kelly Oubre: No, he was talking about plays on the offensive end when teams send two guys at me, trying to make the right plays for the guy that’s wide open. There were a couple times where I tried to attack the rim and tried to go over two guys, and that’s not a smart play. I definitely need to start being the best player I can be, and making the right plays is important.

AR: Some rookies in summer league will take off a game or two throughout the week. Do you want to play in all summer league games?

KO: My hand hurts bad. I’m not going to take off a game. I want to win a championship.

AR: When did your hand start hurting?

KO: I fell on it yesterday, actually, but I’m all good.

AR: Did you get treatment for it?

KO: Most definitely. I’m good. So there’s nothing further to talk about about that.

Aaron White

Adam Rubin: Has your experience in summer league given you any indication about what you want to do after this coming year, in terms of going to the NBA or going to Europe?

Aaron White: I’m trying to get my feet wet, trying to get used to the game. With the roster and stuff, that’s an option go overseas and that’s kind of what me and my agent are looking at along with the Wizards. We talked about that pre-draft—before they drafted me—so that’s kind of what the overall plan is, depending on what shakes out. It’s not definite right now. I wouldn’t say that my play is indicating that, it’s more so the situation with the roster.

White gave a candid assessment of his play in Vegas so far: “I have not played well here” and opined that he could use some time overseas to develop:

“I would love to stay here in the NBA, but at the same time I know that for me it’s a bigger picture. If I am going to get better by playing overseas, that’s what I want to do.”

AR: What has the coaching staff told you about what they want to see, what you should focus on? Have they given you any pointers?

AW: No, they haven’t really talked about it. They want me to shoot the ball when I am open. Right now I just need to see the ball go through the hole, to be honest. I’ve gotten some good looks that haven’t dropped. I finally got to the free throw line tonight but I just haven’t really played that well. I haven’t been playing my game. But the good thing is we are starting to win so that’s what I’m happy about. I’m just trying to learn and grow and continue to get better.

John Wall Offering Support

The Wizards have not had much team support in Vegas. Garrett Temple, Drew Gooden, and Alan Anderson made cameos in Vegas, the last two for the purpose of taking physicals and signing contracts (Temple exercised his player option for next season back in June). Bradley Beal was a no-show, Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter are in Poland, and I am not going to research Instagram and/or Twitter to find out where the rest of the Wizards are.

However, one player has been very visible on UNLV’s campus: John Wall. Wall sat courtside for the past two Wizards contests and circulated with the team before and after games.

After Washington’s playoff win in the Cox Pavilion, Wall walked across the concourse to the Thomas & Mack center to watch Karl-Anthony Towns. Wizards Team Services Manager Jackie Miles was working overtime in Vegas taking care of the team and chaperoning Wall throughout the arena.

On the visitors’ side, Utah Jazz forward (and former Washington fan-favorite) Trevor Booker sat inconspicuously in the corner of the stands to watch the Wizards-Jazz game.

Ernie Grunfeld Doin’ Work

Ernie Grunfeld was circulating between the two gyms prior to the Wizards-Jazz game and caught up with Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie, and those are just the two I happened to see. Vegas is a breeding ground for rumors.

There is still a lot more to come from Vegas…

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Oleksiy Pecherov, a breakdown of the 2015 NBA Summer League Table Tennis tournament to benefit St. Jude’s, and much more.

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.