Summer League Day 1 – Wizards Suffer Ugly Loss to Cavs | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Summer League Day 1 – Wizards Suffer Ugly Loss to Cavs

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Updated: July 7, 2018

 

[Washington Wizards summer league coach Ryan Richman leads a huddle during July 6, 2018 game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo – A. Rubin]

One of the unintended consequences of Ernie Grunfeld’s penchant for trading and selling draft picks is that the Wizards summer league teams have been disappointingly boring.

Not this year. The Wizards finally used both their draft picks (Troy Brown, Issuf Sanon), picked up a promising young player off waivers (Thomas Bryant) and brought back last season’s two-way player (Devin Robinson). The Wizards even got to play against a top-10 pick in their opening game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers (Collin Sexton, No. 8).

Theoretically, this should be Washington’s most exciting summer league team in years. I say “theoretically” because I wrote that introduction before I actually entered the Cox Pavilion and watched whatever it is you would call the Wizards first game.

Washington played the first half like a third-grade team without a point guard. Each offensive possession ended with a turnover worse than the last. Passes flew out of bounds, off of feet, off of backs and sometimes directly into the hands of the opponent. The Wizards were stuck on 10 points well into the second quarter and even with a (relatively) more successful second half, they only managed 59 points for the entire game. I’m not sure how they did it, but Washington committed 25 turnovers in 40 minutes of play.

Luckily, wins and losses don’t matter in summer league, and individual player performances are far more important to the Wizards organization.

Speaking of the Wizards organization, all the big guns were out in full force in Vegas. Ernie Grunfeld, Scott Brooks, John Wall, Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre and (reportedly) Austin Rivers attended the first game. Some guys looked happier than others.

https://twitter.com/WashWizards/status/1015417052171911170

[Ernie Grunfeld and Scott Brooks at the Wizards July 6, 2018 summer league game. Photo – A. Rubin]

So, without further ado (and with all the usual reminders not to take summer league too seriously) let’s get to some Instant Analysis of the Wizards and few other notable players from around the league.

Wizards

Troy Brown, Jr.: Troy Brown’s summer league debut was a lot like Kelly Oubre’s — at least on the offensive end. For a guy who is supposed to be the anti-Oubre, Brown forced a lot drives into traffic that ended with a block or a turnover (6-for-14 FG, five turnovers). To be clear, this is only one game and I am not saying the two are similar players, just that Brown and Oubre had similar troubles adjusting to the speed of quasi-NBA games in their debut.

I expect Brown to improve exponentially as the jitters wear off and he becomes more comfortable on the court. Brown was more or less as advertised in his 27 minutes on the court. He’s not a great athlete but showed poise and an awareness at the defensive end that is often lacking at summer league.

In short, Brown continued the long line of nondescript summer league debuts for Wizards rookies, from Oubre to Bradley Beal. However, the last rookie to make a splash for Washington was Glen Rice, Jr. So maybe that’s a good thing.

Issuf Sanon: I can confirm that Issuf Sanon exists. That’s about it. Despite the fact that Washington’s point guard play was comically bad in the opening half — committing turnover after turnover — Sanon never got in the game. I assume this was by design. The Wizards have a history of spreading out summer league minutes so that some guys play heavily in the first couple games and then not at all by the end of the week. Hopefully, it was pre-determined that Sanon would get a DNP on Day 1, no matter what point guard atrocities were being committed on the court.

Devin Robinson: Robinson returned to the Wizards summer league team with a completely different mentality than his debut last season. From the opening tip, he attacked the offensive rim with aggression. His most impressive play may have been an unsuccessful offensive rebound attempt early in the game. He bounced off the floor like it was a trampoline and rose well above the rim. He also had a thunderous dunk in the opening minutes.

He was definitely forced the issue on offense, but that’s par for the course in summer league .  Robinson played exactly like a guy who spent last season in the G-league and wants to show his coaches that he is ready for the majors.

Robinson is still skinny but looks noticeably stronger on the court. I’m not sure if he’s put on that much weight or if it is just his increased confidence. His jumper is still shaky (4-for-11 FG, 0-for-2 3PT) and that will most likely be the biggest issue that keeps him from joining the varsity squad. At one point in the first half Devin unintentionally banked in a jumper, giving a Jordan-esque shrug as he backpedalled down the court.

Thomas Bryant: Bryant is active on and off the court but he did not do anything particularly well. He did yell at his teammates from the bench to talk on defense as Cleveland brought the ball up the floor, so that’s good. Usually, the Wizards don’t yell at each other on defense until after a basket is scored.

Around The League

Collin Sexton, Cleveland: If you just looked at the box score (4-for-12, 0 assists), you’d think Collin Sexton had a poor summer league debut. You’d be wrong. Right from the opening tip, it was clear Sexton was playing at another level. He was the fastest guy on the court and his game could best be described in one word: smooth.

His handles are not at Kyrie Irving’s level by any means, but the ball seems like an extension of his arm when he’s dribbling. He was able to get anywhere he wanted on the court and he made some great passes once he got there. He laughed off ball pressure, got to the rim with ease (6-for-6 FT) and played with confidence and a bit of swagger. I have no idea how he ended up with zero assists, but I expect some big games from him this summer.

Robert Williams, Boston: Williams came off the bench in his summer league debut, presumably as punishment for missing his introductory conference call and first practice with the Celtics. His first few minutes on the court were unremarkable. He was moving well on offense but never touched the ball and was not impacting the game at all on either end of the court. I was beginning to wonder why he was in the mix for the Wizards at the #15 pick in the draft.

Then Williams caught the ball under basket and quickly rose up for a powerful dunk. Then he hit a smooth step-back jumper. Then he skied for a defensive rebound. Then he showed nice touch on a shot-clock-beating floater (it missed, but still). In just a few short minutes, he showed all the physical tools that caught the eye of scouts. He’s still raw, he still has off court issues and he was quite winded after a few minutes of play, ending the first quarter with his hands on his hips. But you can at least see what made him so intriguing on draft night, despite the red flags.

Chris McCullough, Philadelphia: Am I really going to do this? Sure, why not. You may remember McCullough as the throw-in to the Nicholson-Bogdanovic trade. The Wizards front office predictably called him the first round pick they never had. He’s still the first round pick they never had.

McCullough started for the 76ers and flashed the same subtle irrelevance that he did during his brief stint on the Wizards. He bricked a 3-pointer, got blocked at the rim and committed a couple fouls. He finished his 12 minutes on the court missing all six of his field goal attempts.

Furkan Korkmaz, Philadelphia: I sort of remember seeing this guy’s name on the 76ers roster last season. He made sure I would not forget his name on Day 1 in Vegas. Korkmaz started the game by hitting a 3-pointer. Then a few possessions later he hit another 3-pointer. He is not a particularly athletic guy, but he’s crafty. Like a smaller Hedo Turkoglu.

He caught the crowd’s attention and when he hit another three-pointer a couple minutes later there was a little buzz in the crowd at Thomas & Mack. One of the fun quirks of summer league is when an unknown player gets on a roll and a groundswell of support starts building in the stadium. It’s like when a 15-seed takes an early lead in a first round game and the previously disinterested crowd starts to pay attention. As the points keep coming, they start to adopt the underdog as their own.

He re-entered the game in the second quarter and quickly scored a four-point play. Unfortunately, I had to switch gyms for the start of the Wizards-Cavs game so I missed the rest of the Furkan show. When the curtain fell, Korkmaz had dropped 40-points on 10-for-18 FG (8-for-14 3PT) and 12-for-15 FT and cemented his place in the lore of summer league.

Mikal Bridges, Phoenix: I only saw the No. 10 pick play for a few minutes, but he didn’t miss a three-point shot shot while I was there. He finished 5-for-6 (4-for-5 3PT) and looked real confident on the court — with good reason.

Lakers Fans: The Los Angeles Lakers takeover of summer league reached an apex last season when tickets sold out for Lonzo Ball’s Saturday night debut. Even without any notable players on the court, they are still out in full force this season.

 

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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.