Wizards in Vegas — Death Row DC Comes to Sin City | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards in Vegas — Death Row DC Comes to Sin City

Updated: July 13, 2017

[Daniel Ochefu wearing a Death Row DC shirt to Washington’s summer league game versus Chicago. Photo – A. Rubin]

If you spend too many days inside the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion watching summer league games, you can start to lose touch with reality. Days blend together, your mind clouds, cognitive abilities diminish and it’s easy to forget there is a great big world out there that does not include Georgios Papagiannis .

So, when I saw Daniel Ochefu wearing a Death Row DC t-shirt before Washington’s third summer league game against Chicago, it was a jolt back to reality. It helped place the Wizards summer league team within the proper context of the larger issues facing this franchise. The reality is that Washington is in the midst of a Battle Royal at the top of the Eastern conference and without any draft picks from 2016 and 2017 it’s likely no one from this season’s summer league team will help the Wizards throw the Celtics or the Cavaliers over the top rope in May.

That’s really the big takeaway from the first three games in Las Vegas. The fate of the 2017-18 Wizards hinges on three things: (i) continued good health; (ii) in-house improvement; and (iii) the success of the front office’s low budget free agent signings. The summer league cavalry is not walking through that door.

The Real Death Row DC Arrives

[Markieff Morris arrives for Wizards summer league game versus Chicago on July 11, 2017. Photo – A. Rubin]

Shortly before Game 3, Markieff Morris arrived at Cox Pavilion and greeted the D.C. contingent. After the game, he joined the team under the stands for the post-game breakdown. Former Hawks forward Paul Millsap was also at UNLV with his new team (Denver). No word on whether they met.

John Wall sat court-side for Game 3 and newest Wizard Tim Frazier joined the team for the second straight day.

Missed Connections

In the first half of the Wizards third summer league game versus Chicago, the Bulls were inbounding the ball under the Wizards basket. Wizards coach Chad Iske yelled from across the court for Chris McCullough to keep his eye on the ball and his man, No. 8 pick Lauri Markannen. The message did not get through. McCullough turned away from his man and the in-bounder whipped a pass along the baseline to a wide open Markannen for an easy 3-pointer. It’s the little things that make a difference in summer league.

Markus Keene Turning Heads

As I discussed with Ben Standig on his Locked On Wizards podcast, I am intrigued by Markus Keene. His shot is smooth and you just have the feeling it is going in every time the ball leaves his hand. It’s basically the opposite of the feeling you get when Marcin Gortat attempts a baseline fadeaway.

It’s just so refreshing to have a knock down shooter on the summer league team. He’s like a mini J.J. Redick. And he can do more than just shoot. He’s a willing and crafty passer and is not afraid to drive to the hole.

Still, you have to question whether his size will be a problem in the NBA. I don’t want to be accused of height-shaming, but it is possible Keene’s 5-foot-9 listing is on the generous side. His ceiling might be a situational threat against guys like Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio who are not scoring threats, or shorter point guards like Patty Mills.

But hey, give him a training camp invite and let’s see where it takes us.

Danuel House Not Going Back to Back

At this time last season, House was bulldozing his way onto the front office’s radar with inspired summer league play. He was knocking down 3’s, scoring in transition and playing like a man possessed. His performance earned him a partially guaranteed contract, a training camp invite and — eventually — a spot on the roster.

What a difference a year makes. House only played a total of 27 minutes in the Wizards first four games (receiving a DNP in Games 2 and 4).  He started Game 3 but did not take advantage of the opportunity. He shot 0-for-7 FG (0-for-2 3PT) in 18 minutes and could not finish on his drives to the rim.

Unfortunately for House, his chances of rejoining the team this season are extremely slim if he is not consistently knocking down jumpers and his shooting numbers through the first four games were not good: 1-for-12 FG (0-4 3PT).

Summer League Hyperbole

You know that video of Draymond Green switching onto all five Portland players on one play? Well, Michael Young produced a mini-version against Chicago. Young started the play on 6-foot-6 forward Dejan Todorovic then switched onto 7-foot center Amida Brimah before closing out to contest a 3-pointer from guard Brady Heslip.

While Young may not have gone full Draymond, the play highlighted his defensive versatility and awareness. However, his offense remains a question mark and the NBA game has evolved to a point where simply being a competent defender is not enough to earn minutes. Young needs to significantly improve his ball handling and jumper or else his ceiling will be Dominic McGuire 2.0.

Oubre Up for Bid

Kelly Oubre’s jersey was put to good use for a charity auction. Not sure how high the bidding is but it may be open until the end of summer league on July 17. Text NBASUMMER to 52182 to bid.


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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.