“He don’t have no pressure, he’s not the savior. He’s a beast under pressure. But he don’t have no pressure. We want Bradley Beal to come in and be Bradley Beal. We’re not telling him to come on and lead us into the playoffs. We want him to come in and make some jump shots, play some solid defense… go from there.”
—Sam Cassell, July 2012 Summer League
Cassell’s statement diffuses expectations, but it’s true. Bradley Beal is just a piece. The Washington Wizards now have several nice pieces, but none of them are saviors. Not even John Wall.
Wall is the face of the franchise — every team needs a face — and maybe Beal’s face will shine next to Wall’s on the top billing one day. But the Wizards don’t have a star. Not a single All-Star on the roster. Not yet.
One up, one down. The Wizards looked good at times, in spots, but not often in a 20-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks (102-82) in their Las Vegas Summer League debut. For your perusal: the box score via NBA.com.
The Washington Wizards faithful got what they came to see. No; not the Wiz getting throttled by the Hawks in Washington’s first Summer League contest — but Bradley Beal. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft dropped 22 points on 6-for-14 shooting (1-for-3 from 3-point range) in his first televised game as a pro. (His first field goal attempt, a transition layup, was blocked.) When he wasn’t finding space off ball screens, Beal was slashing into the paint for points and earning trips to the free throw line, where he missed just one of his 10 attempts. It’s easy to talk about the rookie’s versatile skillset at the two guard (handles and scoring instincts), but he really impressed on the defensive end of the floor. Beal is long, he’s quick, he’s disciplined, and he’s tough. And the best part about it: Bradley Beal is a Wizard.
The Washington Wizards concluded their pre-Summer League mini-camp this week after seven practices and a scrimmage at the Verizon Center practice court facility. As the Wizards prepare for their first summer action since 2010 due to the lockout, intriguing story lines are plentiful.
Is Bradley Beal the Real Deal? (22 solid points in his summer debut isn’t shabby.)
Will Jan Vesely expand his offensive game? (Summer League jumpers! Three of them! But, he fouled out with 10 fouls.)
Can Chris Singleton bounce back from a disappointing rookie season? (Still seems to lack instinct and confidence on offense, but took out some aggression in the second half and scored 20 total points.)
Does Steady Shelvin Mack have what it takes to be a legit NBA point guard? (Defense is there, but lack of quickness could hinder him as a scorer.)
Who is Tomas Satoransky, exactly? (Certainly not the quickest initiator of offiense.)
Can anyone else on the roster make a splash to earn a training camp invite? (Long shots to be determined….)
“I didn’t expect it,” said teammate and fellow Czech Jan Vesely on Monday from Wizards summer mini-camp, “but am very happy that he’s here and that we can play together.”
Satoransky has actually been stateside plenty — attending the pre-draft combine in Chicago; workouts with the Cavaliers, Bucks, Warriors, and Wizards before the draft; training in Los Angeles under the guidance of his agency — but now he’s here for competition.
Vesely is excited to play with his basketball buddy of the last six years, practically giddy at the thought of unleashing the duo’s built chemistry on the Las Vegas NBA Summer League. (Well, as giddy as Jan can get under his American media shell.)
“He likes to pass the ball, he likes to find open guys, especially on the alley-oops,” said Jan when asked to describe Satoransky’s game, that last part with a bit of a smile. “He can run and he can dunk.”
Couple of reports on the Wizards summer league roster:
Via HoopsHype, Gray will be a Wizard in Vegas. Gray might best be described as a west coast, guard version of Etan Thomas, right down to the hair (at least in college). A feature by Dana O’Neill on ESPN.com tells of his Pacific Northwest, granola upbringing, his acting in college at Gonzaga, and his trip to Africa as part of a leadership program. In 2011, Gray and the Zags were taken down by The Jimmer and BYU in the NCAA Tournament; Gray had 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting and seven assists. Gray spent his “rookie” season in Latvia with up-and-down numbers.
FWIW, some Latvian stats: 44.3% on 3-point field goals with averages of 12.3 points and 24.5 minutes in 15 EuroChallenge games; 33.7% 3P, 10.9 points, and 21.4 minutes in 18 Baltic League games; and 46.5% 3P, 9.9 points, and 20.3 minutes in 23 Latvian League games.
[stats via eurobasket.com] Read more »
Time to dig into the archives and post some unseen summer league photos.
John Wall, determined to get to the hoop.
What I like about Wall’s game is that you can pick up more elements of discipline than you can from most other young point guards. Again, I’ll reiterate that turnovers, more than his jump shot, is the foremost issue Wall will have to address. But most of his turnovers are not the result of him trying to be ‘cute’ (just sometimes, if not rarely), but rather from him getting used to how to handle his own speed, the increased pace of the game and competition, and where his teammates best want to receive the ball. But in the beginning and in the end, attack he must … with both discipline and instinct.
I feel like Trevor Booker is one of those giant flying sharks and is targeting an attack on his prey … the rim.
Lester Hudson acquired the nickname “Mini-Vinnie” from Washington Wizards team personnel while playing for their summer league team in Las Vegas … as in Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. The great Detroit Pistons bench player is listed at 6’2″. Hudson’s pre-draft measurements list him at 6’1″ (other “official” listings boost him up to 6’3″). We’ll call it about even. The combo-guard is still trying to latch on with an NBA team, but the Memphis native has already accomplished far beyond what was ever expected of him.
Hudson’s story comes from the same setting as Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The former gym class star, where he was discovered in ninth grade, not playing organized basketball, comes from a tough neighborhood in the Home of the Blues. “It’s hard coming out of Memphis because most everybody is from the projects and struggling trying to make it,” he told me after the last Wizards summer league game.
Maybe a rich, white family didn’t take him in, but Hudson did have a coach, Andre Applewhite, who fought tooth and nail to get him to overcome his academic struggles as a kid. Having repeated the ninth grade and already 19-years old, he was declared ineligible for his senior season of high school after playing just one season of competitive basketball as a junior. Hudson tried to stick around for class, but eventually dropped out of Memphis’ Central High without a diploma. This according to a December 2007 profile of Hudson by the Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell, the same writer who authored the most accomplished profile of John Wall to date.
Applewhite then pushed Hudson to Southwest Tennessee Community College, where he had to earn a GED during his first semester to keep attending. Hudson didn’t graduate from Southwest Tennessee CC, which ultimately forced him to sit out a year before he could play for a D-I program. Obviously some schools backed off recruiting him because of this. Hudson eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee-Martin, where he turned 23 before ever stepping on the basketball court.
[Jerome Randle, meet Omar Samhan. He's now going to box you out.]
Thinking about summer league, and I have more posts to come regarding, but if there’s a regret I’ve paid for, it’s not talking to Jerome Randle. He’s fun to watch. He’s nice (in a basketball handles sense). He’s 5’9.25″ without shoes.
And I honestly believe he’ll be in the NBA someday (he was also the 2010 Pac-10 POY, BTW). Out of him I saw flashes of a jumper, aggressive defense, and the ability to lead a team. If he improves in each of those areas, especially the jump shot, my belief will come true.
In lieu of all that, I present some pictures of Jerome Randle, performing sweetness. Read more »
[Cartier Martin shoots a jumper near the onlooking Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders.]
One thing I’ll take from being around Cartier Martin is that he’s an earnest guy. No frills. No shadowing of his persona. Just a guy named Cartier.
He was out there communicating with his summer league teammates, trying to be leader … not because such acts make him look good, but because they make the whole team look good. This point was driven home when I spoke with Martin about what he would’ve done differently since pursuing a pro career after college.
“I picked up the work ethic kind of late,” he readily admitted, something many players wouldn’t be so willing to shed light upon. He said it took being away from his family and the unideal pursuit of basketball money overseas to realize that he needed to work on his intangibles.