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The rules of NBA Summer League analysis and how we should apply them to the Wizards

Most importantly, don’t get caught up too much with whether a player did very well or not.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards
What should you take from Caleb Homesely’s summer league performance for the Washington Wizards?
Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The First Rule of NBA Summer League is to remember: It’s just summer league. It doesn’t mean much of anything.

The Second Rule of NBA Summer League is to remember: It’s all Small Sample Size Theater, so in addition to not meaning much of anything, it really doesn’t mean much of anything.

Take, for example, Wizards’ first round pick Corey Kispert. He shot an abysmal 30.4% from three-point range in summer league. BUST! BAD PICK! SOME OTHER THIRD THING THAT’S HIGHLY NEGATIVE!

Or, think about it like this: with two more makes — half a made three per game — he’s 9-23 and a well-above average 39.1%.

Or look at Jaime Echenique, the F/C from Wichita State. He got three steals in just 37 summer league minutes, which is an outstanding steals rate. Burgeoning ball hawk? Probably not — he managed just 37 steals in 1294 career minutes with the Shockers.

With that preamble, am I going to wade into the stats? Of course I am. It’s the summer, and what else is there to do, production EKGs? Spoiler: those are coming later.

That said, even with the understanding that there’s not much to take away, generally speaking, teams want their guys to play well in any setting, including summer league. And, certain things may show in the numbers that warrant close observation when the player comes to training camp and begins regular season play.

Back to Kispert, there’s no reason to be concerned about his shooting. He’s an outstanding shooter, and he’s likely to excel in that area at any level. Want to worry, look at everything else — anemic rebounding (4.5 per 100 possessions vs. a summer league average of 9.6), 0.9 assists (league average: 4.3), and well-below average steals and blocks. He did commit lots of turnovers (4.1 per 100 possessions — league average: 3.5).

The low shooting percentage can be dismissed as crappy guard play. Bad rebounding, no playmaking and a complete lack of defensive presence? That could signal something worrisome. Or not. Keep in mind that first rule — it’s just summer league.

Want another potential worry point? Isaiah Todd, the team’s other draft pick, was terrible. Shot poorly and didn’t flash much in other skill areas. He did manage to block a few shots.

There was much buzz about G/F Caleb Homesely and the reasons why kinda-sorta show in the numbers. He shot well by summer league standards (just 31.6% from three, but just two more makes would have had him at 42.1%) and did a decent job scoring. But, he was also below average in rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers. Overall, he rated below average in summer league. That doesn’t suggest a future rotation player, though he likely flashed enough to at least get a look in training camp.

Below are summer league scores using a shaved down version of my Player Production Average metric. Omitted are the accounting for defense, the role adjustment and degree of difficulty factor, primarily because no one seems to publish the numbers in a useful format. The NBA, oh so (non) helpfully publishes averaged team-level data and player stats without team names.


PPA is designed to give credit for the good things players do (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defense) while dinging them for the bad (poor shooting, bad defense, turnovers, fouls) — each in proper proportion. In PPA, 100 is average, higher is better, and replacement level is 45.

2021 Wizards Summer League PPA

Jaime Echenique 4 37 272
Jordan Goodwin 4 76 216
Austin Hollins 4 54 215
Jay Huff 4 71 101
Mason Jones 4 76 89
Marques Bolden 3 38 88
Caleb Homesley 4 105 81
Xavier Rathan-Mayes 4 69 58
Aubrey Dawkins 3 53 21
Dewan Hernandez 3 41 0
Asante Gist 3 21 -21
Isaiah Todd 3 74 -37
Corey Kispert 4 106 -42

Keep in mind, these scores are for summer league only. MIN is total minutes played during summer league. Kispert led the team with 106 minutes — about 20% of my usual cutoff for including a player in full-season statistical analysis.