The Washington Wizards' 2012 NBA Summer League schedule is over. They ended up going 3-2, winning games against the Rockets, Grizzlies and Bucks while losing to the Hawks and the NBA D-League Select Team. Of course, wins and losses don't really matter out in Vegas, since it's all about player development from the top guys on the roster. Coaches don't coach to win; they coach to see what they have in their players.
On that front, how did the Wizards do? Let's grade the top players.
BRADLEY BEAL: B/B+
The Beal we saw out in Vegas pretty closely mirrored the Beal we saw at Florida. On the plus side, he found ways to make an impact beyond scoring, whether it was as a playmaker, rebounder, driver or defender. He stayed within the Wizards' team construct at all times, which endears him to a coach because they never have to worry about changing their gameplan to get him going. I was also really impressed with his skills around the basket, in particular his ability to draw fouls. He won't average nine free throws/game like he did in the first three games, but if he can manufacture some points that way in the pros, he'll mask poor shooting games.
Alas, his jumper remained so-so, and I think Summer League provides some clues as to why. I think his release is sometimes too choppy, particularly when someone closes out hard on him. His size also hurt him a couple times coming off pindowns, and that won't change in the pros. I also didn't really like his defensive effort in the final game against Doron Lamb. He was a bit too casual chasing him around screens, when, in earlier games, he worked much harder. Perhaps fatigue played a role -- while many teams play five games in six days like the Wizards, none did so while the other teams were fresh.
All in all, it was a decent performance that showed he belonged, but failed to show that he stood out. I've always figured Beal would be more steady than spectacular, so this isn't a huge problem to me. Clearly, he showed that he can be used in a variety of ways, and the Wizards need that kind of multi-dimensional player. That said, I agree with David Thorpe: he's good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing ... yet. I would like to eventually see him become great at something.
Key word: eventually. For now, he's fine how he is. I just don't want to see him pigeonholed by the team. I was encouraged by how much pick and roll they had him run in the final game. That demonstrated that they're willing to give him chances to expand his game.
Question to consider with Beal: do you guys think it might be good for his long-term development to have him come off the bench, lead a second unit and be asked to play like James Harden? Harden plays a lot with reserves in part because they give him the ball, run many pick and rolls and let him go. I think this has aided his development and made him a more aggressive player. In essence, this was how Oklahoma City beat the passivity out of his game. I wonder if a similar strategy would suit Beal well.
CHRIS SINGLETON: B-/C+
This was clearly an experimental five games for Singleton. After spending all season as an inactive perimeter shooter that wasn't even that great at that skill, Singleton tested out his all-around game a lot. He was assertive driving to the basket and especially active dribbling in the open floor. I endorse his way of playing, because there's no time better than Summer League to test your limits.
That said, he's still not there yet. His drives were awkward, and only occasionally did he display the kind of strength to power through contact. His ball-handling was very shaky in the open floor, and he wasn't all that great in his man-to-man defense. He did some things well -- he fought, played very good help defense and shot that ball decently -- but it looks like he's still not quite sure what he wants to be.
My advice to Singleton: look at what Tobias Harris did yesterday, get more lower- and upper-body strength and try to replicate that in the more limited minutes you'll get this year.
JAN VESELY: B-/C+
The good news: the jumper is getting there. It's a long, slow process, but I've heard some of the things the Wizards are trying to do and will plan on writing those up in a separate post. Given what I've heard, I at least liked that Vesely seemed to be consistently following directions. I am confident he will improve his jump-shooting over time.
Otherwise, it seemed clear that Vesely is in the middle of some sort of body transformation. He looked much bulkier, and while I understand the reasons why, it affected his play out here. Not only did he miss dunks because he didn't have the same explosion he used to have, but he struggled on the glass and continued to have foul issues. I hope the end product of Vesely's body transformation works out, because given what I watched in Summer League, I'd be concerned that he added too much bulk too quickly.
SHELVIN MACK: C
Mack's playmaking issues have been well-documented during games. I'm not surprised the Wizards are looking for another backup point guard, because I would be too.
The problem is that Mack really hasn't shown much development in his game since the end of the season. He didn't really look any quicker, he wasn't hitting more shots and he didn't look more explosive around the basket. His layups were still mostly being attempted after he came to a full jump stop and elevated off two feet. He can't keep doing that against NBA athletes. He also had 17 turnovers to 12 assists, which isn't very good.
On the bright side, he continues to be very good defensively, and I think he had his best game in the finale.
TOMAS SATORANSKY: B
To be honest, I thought he'd play a lot worse, but after some issues adjusting to the speed of the game in the opener, he generally took better care of the ball than Mack and made the team more dynamic offensively.
A couple issues: he was not very good defensively, and he still used too many dribbles and time to create looks for himself and his teammates. At his height, I'm not sure there's much he can do to become quick enough to guard NBA point guards. The too many dribbles thing, though, can be improved.
All in all, though, he exceeded my expectations.
BEST OF THE REST
- Shavlik Randolph gave a nice effort and may have earned himself a training camp invitation somewhere, but I think he's too limited around the basket to be a serious NBA player.
- Earl Calloway provided some nice minutes at the point. He wasn't really spectacular on either end as a playmaker, but he took pretty good care of the ball and knocked down some shots. There's a reason he's a starting point guard in the best league in Europe. His NBA chance might have already passed him by, though.
- I actually really liked what I saw from Jeff Brooks throughout Summer League. I'm not sure if he's a 3 or 4, but he was very athletic and showed nice touch on his jumper. He should catch on somewhere. If I had to pick one guy from the squad not already on the roster to invite to camp, I'd pick him.
- Steven Gray was advertised as a shooter, but he didn't shoot all that well. Don't think he's an NBA player.
- Garrett Siler, clearly, is what he is. If he got in better shape, he'd be in the NBA already, but he won't.
- Nobody else really did much of anything.
Who impressed you, and who has more work to do?