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Deep dive into the Wizards 2023 summer league

More than you ever wanted to know. Way more.

2023 NBA Summer League - Oklahoma City Thunder v Washington Wizards
Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Summer League is at an end (except for the semi-finals and finals), and...well...if you spent as much time as I did watching the games, you’re probably pining for real NBA action.

An illustration of the differences between summer and regular season competition:

  • SL eFG%: 49.7% vs. RS: 54.5%
  • SL 2pt%: 51.1% vs. RS: 54.8%
  • SL 3pt%: 31.7% vs. RS: 36.1%
  • SL FT%: 72.0% vs. RS: 78.2%
  • SL TOV%: 17.0% vs. RS: 13.4%
  • SL ast/tov ratio: 1.3 vs. RS: 1.9

Offensive efficiency this summer was 100.8 points per 100 possessions — 14.0 points below the regular season league average last season. If you watched a reasonable sampling of games, you know that efficiency difference is not because of superior defense.

I’ve run some numbers, and I’ll share some observations and thoughts below. There are major limitations because of the tiny sample size and helter-skelter style of play, as well as gaps in the data. For some weird reason, none of the usual (or unusual) sources for NBA stats thinks it’s worth publishing morsels like opponent data. Or even team data, except chopped and averaged in ways that are a) a pain to work with, and b) borderline useless.

Why bother? I see a few worthwhile reasons:

  1. Watching games is an even smaller sample size than the available stats, unless of course you literally watched every second of every summer league game.
  2. The “flashes” we all want to see when watching summer league may not be an indicator of overall performance. We watch Bilal Coulibaly, for example, make some nifty passes and think it’s a sign that he can be a good player while overlooking or ignoring the bad turnovers he sandwiched around those passes.
  3. Most of us at some point will fall into the trap of seeing what we expect to see. For example, there was lots of online chatter about Patrick Baldwin Jr. being an excellent shooter. That may turn out to be true someday, but in summer league, he was 6-22 from three-point range.
  4. It’s always worth comparing a player’s performance to his competitors. This is true even for summer league where the style of play is sloppy and bigs often have a challenge wresting the ball from their perimeter teammates. Everyone in summer league is dealing with a similar environment, and we can use observations from watching the games to consider contextual reasons for good/bad/in-between performance.
  5. It’s the summer, what else are we going to do until training camp?

Let’s get to it. If I was in the Wizards front office, I’d be a little disappointed with what I saw in Las Vegas. They didn’t publicly articulate their goals, but...if it was me...I’d have wanted to see quality play from one or more of the youngsters they have to be hoping will be able to fill meaningful roles. That would mean Bilal Coulibaly, Johnny Davis, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins and Tristan Vukcevic.

While each had some positive moments, they also each had negative ones as well. Their overall performances — compared to their peers participating in summer league — were on the low side of average. That’s not particularly worrisome, all have the potential to improve, play better and earn roles. But it’s yet another summer where none of Washington’s “young guns” popped out in comparison to other young players around the league.

A few thoughts on each of these guys, in order of total minutes played:

Coulibaly — Impressive athlete and defender. He averaged 3.5 blocks per 100 possessions in summer league. On offense...he has a ways to go. His offensive efficiency relative to league average was -10.4 (points produced per possession x 100). He averaged 3.1 assists and 3.9 turnovers per 100 possessions. His summer league PPA (where average is 100 and higher is better): 57.

Davis — A class summer league Rorschach test. Was he better than last season and last summer? Sure. Was he good? Eh. Let’s start with the good: 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals per 100 possessions. He shot 42.9% on threes (though only on 14 total attempts — he started 3-10 and hit 3-4 in the final game) and 83.3% from the free throw line. His defense was good overall, as it was last season. The not-so-good: 5.0 fouls per 100 possessions, which is a) a lot, and b) about how often he fouled last season in his NBA minutes. He also shot 40.4% on twos and couldn’t get to the free throw line. His relative offensive efficiency was -6.5. More subjectively, he didn’t have the burst or craft to get by defenders, and he lacked the strength or vertical lift to finish over them. SL PPA: 93

Baldwin — Disappeared for long stretches — just 12.7% usage rate. He connected on twos (55.6%) but laid bricks from deep (27.3%). His defensive rebounding and assists were good (9.0 and 4.0 per 100 possessions, respectively), and he blocked 2.2 shots per 100. Overall, he looked slow-footed for an NBA forward. His standing reach at the 2022 combine was about the length of a center, and I more than kinda think that could be his best position in the NBA. SL PPA: 92

Rollins — He was an intriguing player in my draft evaluation, but holy crap his summer league performance was a mess. He shot badly (and a lot) — an 43.6% efg on 26.6 field goal attempts per 100 possessions. Yikes. On the other hand, he dished 9.7 assists and came up with 4.4 steals per 100 possessions. On yet a third hand, 4.8 turnovers and 9.2 fouls per 100 possessions. That’s...absurd. His relative offensive efficiency was -7.3. SL PPA: 80.

Vukcevic — Coming in as the team’s second round pick, Vukcevic the question was whether he could do enough other stuff to go along with his three-point shooting. Naturally, he was a walking brick (43.6% efg, 23.5% on threes), and he hit the glass (13.7 rebounds, including 4.2 on the offensive end), and he produced steals and blocks (2.1 per 100 possessions of each). He also had a staggering 4.7 turnovers and 5.3 fouls per 100 and his relative offensive efficiency was -4.6. Somehow, his SL PPA: 102

Lest you think I’m being too negative in my assessment, compare this group with some of the more successful summer league players like:

  • Keyonte George, UTA — +23.9 relORTG, 41.8 points and 12.2 assists per 100 possessions, 65.9% efg, SL PPA: 301
  • Adama Sanogo, CHI — +32.2 relORTG (on 20.1% USG), 26.6 points, 21.9 rebounds, 3.7 steals, and 2.6 blocks per 100. SL PPA: 292
  • Jabari Smith Jr., HOU — +25.6 relORTG (36.2% usg), 52.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists per 100. SL PPA: 260
  • Chet Holmgren, OKC — +14.8 relORTG, 33.0 points, 15.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 5.6 blocks per 100. SL PPA: 220
  • Hunter Tyson, DEN — +35.2 relORTG, 34.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists per 100. SL PPA: 249

I could go on with the likes of Hunter Hale, Duop Reath, Jared Butler, Keon Ellis, Isaiah Jackson, Jaden Springer, Dominick Barlow, Tari Eason, Javon Freeman-Liberty...The point here isn’t that the Wizards should have picked some of these guys — in some cases they weren’t available when it was Washington’s time to pick. Rather it’s that there are always young players who have a great showing and demonstrate major promise in summer league, and once again the Wizards don’t have someone in that group.

In my overall evaluation of summer league, I think Coulibaly showed at least the framework of a successful NBA player. Super athletic, high motor, defends. He needs work on his shooting, ball handling and decision-making to reach the high-end production his athletic tools suggests are possible.

Beyond him, I’m pretty dubious there’s anyone on the summer league roster they should expect to fill a rotation-level role by the time they’re good. Maybe Vukcevic in a year or two. Maybe Baldwin, if he can actually shoot. Maybe-maybe Davis if he can be a 40% three-point shooter.

Wizards 2023 Summer League PPA Scores

  • Xavier Cooks — 255
  • Kyle Alexander — 184
  • Dejan Vasiljevic — 131
  • Jules Bernard — 118
  • Quenton Jackson — 111
  • Tristan Vukcevic — 102
  • Johnny Davis — 93
  • Patrick Baldwin Jr. — 92
  • D.J. Stewart — 88
  • Osun Osunniyi — 80
  • Ryan Rollins — 80
  • Bilal Coulibaly — 57
  • Donovan Williams — 24

Now let’s take a look at top performers around the league, per possession x 100 (minimum of 50 total minutes):


  1. Keyonte George, Utah Jazz — 301
  2. Hunter Hale, Phoenix Suns — 294
  3. Adam Sanogo, Chicago Bulls — 292
  4. Duop Reath, Portland Trail Blazers — 272
  5. Braxton Key, Dallas Mavericks — 269

38. Kyle Alexander, Washington Wizards — 184

relORTG (usg of 20% or more)

  1. Hunter Hale, PHO — +40.4
  2. Hunter Tyson, Denver Nuggets — +35.2
  3. Adama Sanogo, CHI — +32.2
  4. Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers — +29.2
  5. Duop Reath, POR — +28.1

28. Jules Bernard, WAS — +11.1


  1. Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets — 52.9
  2. Keyonte George, UTA — 41.8
  3. Hunter Hale, PHO — 40.5
  4. Orlando Robinson, Miami Heat — 38.7
  5. Jared Butler, Oklahoma City Thunder — 38.7

25. Jules Bernard, WAS — 32.4


  1. Oscar Tshiebwe, Indiana Pacers — 26.8
  2. Reggie Perry, GSW — 26.5
  3. Khalifa Diop, CLE — 22.1
  4. Adama Sanogo, CHI — 21.9
  5. Isaiah Jackson, IND — 21.7

43. Tristan Vukcevic, WAS — 13.7


  1. J.D. Davison, Boston Celtics — 13.1
  2. D.J. Carton, Minnesota Timberwolves — 12.7
  3. Jared Butler, OKC — 12.6
  4. Keyonte George, UTA — 12.2
  5. Jamaree Bouyea, MIA — 12.1

14. Ryan Rollins, WAS — 9.7


  1. Quinndary Weatherspoon, Orlando Magic — 6.1
  2. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons — 5.9
  3. Omari Moore, Milwaukee Bucks — 5.8
  4. Keon Ellis, Sacramento Kings — 5.6
  5. Cam Whitmore, HOU — 5.3

10. Ryan Rollins, WAS — 4.4


  1. Greg Brown III, Philadelphia 76ers — 7.4
  2. Jontay Porter, CHI — 7.2
  3. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs — 7.1
  4. D.J. Wilson, ORL — 6.4
  5. James Nnaji, Charlotte Hornets — 6.0

22. Bilal Coulibaly, WAS — 3.5


  1. Yuri Collins, GSW — 9.8
  2. Kobe Bufkin, Atlanta Hawks — 9.4
  3. Quindarry Weatherspoon, ORL — 9.0
  4. Yago Dos Santos, CHI — 8.8
  5. Jaden Ivey, DET — 8.5

34. Jules Bernard, WAS — 5.7


This is total points added by the player during the summer league, calculated by (individual ortg - league average ortg x player’s total possessions used).

  1. Hunter Tyson, DEN — +23.5
  2. Javon Freeman-Liberty, CHI — +16.7
  3. Orlando Robinson, MIA — +14.4
  4. Ousmane Dieng, OKC — +13.8
  5. Jabari Smith Jr., HOU — +13.4

58. Kyle Alexander, WAS — +5.7

And the bottom of the “leader board”

252. Kobe Bufkin, ATL — -24.2

251. Jordan Hawkins, New Orleans Pelicans — -23.6

250. Brandin Podziemski, GSW — -20.9

249. Jarace Walker, IND — -16.9

248. Blake Wesley, SAS — -16.6

214. Bilal Coulibaly, WAS — -5.6