It could have been much more of a blowout, but at least the Wizards won their first Summer League game tonight. They looked really good for most of the game, except for a stretch in the late third and early fourth quarter where they got a bit overconfident and sloppy. Cleveland ended up tying the game at 84, but the Wiz took the lead for good when Blatche hit a big reverse layup off a pass from Crittenton that drew oohs and aahs from the 10s of people assembled at Thomas and Mack Center. The Wiz then caught a break when Javaris went well underneath a screen, giving Jamont Gordon a wide open three that he front-rimmed.
The defense definitely needs to pick up, but you have to love how well the team played offensively, running off missed shots extremely well and running solid sets all day. The former is significant to me because Flip Saunders' teams have traditionally been really slow-paced. It's Summer League, so we shouldn't make too much of that, but I liked how they seemed to emphasize pushing the ball.
Some individual observations:
- Nick Young looked really good coming off screens for the most part. It's clear he still has work to do, as many of his points came from the same type of stuff he used to do, but he's clearly making a lot of progress. I also liked that he was able to compete throughout the game.
- Andray Blatche was much better after the first quarter, after which Don Zierden, Dominic McGuire and Nick Young spent tons of time talking to him in the timeout. He clearly looks like a man among boys, but that's to be expected. He also had some really interesting things to say to me and Dan Steinberg about how the new coaching staff is treating him as compared to the previous regime. I'll try to have that posted later tonight.
- JaVale McGee did not have a strong game. He still looked weak on defense and his weakside defensive rotations were still pretty spotty. On offense, I was surprised to see him shoot so many jumpers. Some were set plays, but it's interesting that the Wizards seem to want to use him in the high post rather than the low post. I'm not sure that's the best strategy.
- Javaris Crittenton was pretty under control and the offense functioned better with him in the game, but he also shot a couple too many jumpers and didn't play great defense
- Josh Heytfelt and Alade Aminu both looked pretty good in limited minutes. I was surprised by Heytfelt's defensive IQ and offensive game close to the hoop. I always envisioned him as a no-defense, pick-and-pop guy.
- Tyrese Rice dribbles a lot