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Grading every player on the Wizards’ Summer League roster

A deep dive into the high’s and low’s of Wizards players at summer league

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
Bilal Coulibaly improved as the NBA Summer League went on.
Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

Following a five-game summer league in Las Vegas, there’s a lot to discuss. The Washington Wizards went 2-3, with wins coming against the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some big names showed up and showed out, including a bounce-back summer league for last year’s lottery pick, Johnny Davis. The Wizards’ first round selection in this year’s draft, Bilal Coulibaly, also flashed his potential.

With Summer League now wrapped up, it’s time to assess the performance of every player, from first-round picks to potential G League additions. Each player will receive a letter grade for their performance, as well as some things they need to work on.

The starters, or primary players, will receive a more detailed analysis. I feel like you guys will be more focused on the main guys. But for those that also wish to read up on some of the lesser known players, those will also be listed below. Enjoy!

Johnny Davis: B+

Last year’s summer league was a massive disappointment for Davis. He shot 29 percent from the field, 33 percent from three, and averaged just 8.3 points per game. He lacked confidence and looked like a deer in headlights amongst other draftees. It all seemed to turn for JD this summer league though, where he doubled his point total from 8.3 to 16.3, ultimately leading the Wizards in scoring.

Looking at his numbers, you would think his grade is too low. However, with him being drafted top-10 last year, coupled with how poor his rookie season was, factored into the drop in grade.

Shooting is still a struggle for him. His shot isn’t there yet. It seems like he works really hard to get to his spots, and even then, he still struggles to get off good looks.

But here’s one thing I will say: His defense is NBA-ready. Switchability is a terrific asset to have, and Davis already has it equipped. He can defend guards and forwards, which should help him find minutes. If Davis buys into his role as a tough defender, while becoming a more reliable player on offense, he could anverage around 8-10 points per game. Davis’ playing time will come.

Bilal Coulibaly: B

It’s difficult to judge Coulibaly at this stage of his career, being that he should be entering his freshman year of college. Nonetheless, he did his thing in Vegas. He improved throughout the Summer League, increasing his scoring output and upping the defense.

Most impressive was Coulibaly’s 2.3 blocks per game, tops amongst guards. He even had a 4-block game against OKC! Coulibaly displayed tremendous instincts on that side of the ball, always rotating to the correct spot and being ready to make a play on the ball. This combination of athleticism and defensive skill is what lead to the Wiz moving up to take him.

A couple negatives:

  • His handle is too high and not tight enough. He often loses the ball and never seems to have total control.
  • His shot needs a ton of work. Shooting 22 percent from three won’t cut it. Not that big of a deal considering he’s only 18 and isn’t labeled as a deadeye shooter, but still something to monitor and improve on.

Overall, loved what I saw from the 18-year-old rookie in summer league.

Tristan Vukcevic: C+

At first glance, this looks harsh. Understandable to think that. Although Vukcevic showed out in games 1 and 2, his play thereafter was subpar. He showed an ability to stretch the floor as a shooter, but was inefficient, making just 23 percent of his threes.

His rebounding needs improvement as well. Often times he would get bodied on the boards. Tristan has to be stronger on the glass to secure a roster spot.

Offensively, his game is legit. Knocking down a few middy’s and deep balls helped his case. However, I’d like to see him work out of the post more. That’s an aspect of his game that’s not there yet.

FYI: Vukcevic was just loaned out to a new team overseas, which could mean his move to D.C. will have to wait. That might be a blessing in disguise. It would give him another year to get better against solid competition before making the transition to the NBA.

Ryan Rollins: B+

I’m gonna get some flack for this grade being as high as it is, but who cares. Rollins, a second-year PG who came over in the Jordan Poole trade, displayed impressive court vision. His 5.0 assists per game lead the team, good enough for a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

One thing that plagued Rollins was ball control. He turned it over too much, and was overall sloppy with the ball in his hands. He needs to clean that up in order to see playing time. I still foresee him as the third-string PG, behind both Tyus Jones and Delon Wright to begin the year.

Patrick Baldwin, Jr: C+

A last second addition to the Poole trade, Baldwin has tremendous upside. At 6’9 with a smooth shooting stroke, Baldwin can rise above defenders with ease. I believe he has the ability to become a Michael Porter, Jr.-type player for the Wizards if he develops.

As for his summer league performance, it was up and down. Although he had moments that got me excited, his overall production lacked substance. Yes, he made some threes, but his 27.3 percent three-point percentage shows his inefficiencies. That percentage HAS to go up if he wants to crack the rotation.

One glaring positive was his defense. Baldwin blocked a ton of shots, and disrupted many others. His length enables him to defend the paint quite well, something I didn’t expect when we acquired him last month.

Xavier Cooks: B+

The fanbase is divided on this man, and I understand why. Although Cooks is technically entering his “rookie” year, he’s 27 years old. With the Wizards taking a more youth-centric route, giving older guys like Cooks playing time over their own draft picks can be a tough watch. However, he did have himself a solid summer league.

In just 20 minutes per game, the Australian forward posted 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds on an impressive 64 percent shooting. He is in his prime and competing against much younger players, but Cooks is doing what’s expected of him.

He was active on the glass, got to every 50/50 ball, and played his role very well. Now, don’t get me wrong. A lot of his points came in garbage time, but nonetheless, he can be a great glue guy for the Wiz.

Quenton Jackson: C-

Summer League did not start off great for last year’s feel-good story in Washington. Jackson came out pressing. He forced his shot in game 1, trying to do too much. This energy carried over for most of summer league, leading to inefficient shooting splits. Jackson shot just 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from three.

Despite his offensive struggles, Jackson defended his ass off. Always in the right spot, and always moving his feet. It was truly impressive to see him lock guys up every game. If it were up to me, Jackson would get a two-way spot where he starts the season with the Capital City Go-Go. Lots of athleticism and raw talent, but still needs some time to develop offensively.

Jules Bernard: B-

After being traded to the Go-Go last season, Bernard caught fire. He lead the team in a ton of offensive categories while taking them to the playoffs. He holds his hat on his three-point shot, and man did he bring that jumper to Vegas.

Bernard shot a scorching 62.5 percent from deep in Vegas! The guy simply couldn’t miss. What I liked most is that he showed other elements of his game as well, such as driving to the rim and finishing through contact.

I still think Bernard lands in the G-League, but he may have played his way into a two-way contract instead of a standard G-League deal with his summer league performance.

Dejan Vasiljevic: C+

C+ is the perfect grade here because Vasiljevic had one really good game, and one really bad game.

Against the Thunder, he dropped 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from three. Then, against the Chicago Bulls, he shot 1-of-11 from the field and made no threes.

There’s no denying that Dejan can shoot. However, he needs to be more consistent if he wants to stick in the NBA, especially when his defense is subpar. Although he had a great game vs OKC, I doubt he gets one of the two-way spots in Washington.

Donovan Williams: B

Williams only saw significant playing time in two of his four appearances, so I’m gonna grade him on those.

My thoughts: I like him. He’s got some bounce and athleticism to his game that I enjoyed watching. The deep ball is something he needs to work on, especially at the shooting guard position, but his ability to pressure the rim might earn him some time in the G league. Would’ve liked to see some more playing time for Williams, but overall liked his performance.

Kyle Alexander: A-

If I could give Alexander an NBA 2K badge, it would be glass cleaner because he’s relentless on the boards. He clears out the lane every time the ball goes up and comes down with the rebound. Even on offense, he’s active on the glass.

Alexander’s activity and effort was infectious, which will earn him playing time wherever he goes. I also liked his post game. He has great touch around the rim to sink floaters and short hook shots.

D.J. Stewart: D

Stewart is athletic and has nice handles, but his overall game didn’t impress me. I saw a lot of forced shots and ill-advised drives. Maybe that was due to limited playing time that made him feel like he had to press, because in the one game he did get time, his shot selection was much better.

Osun Osunniyi: B

I wish we got to see more minutes from Osunniyi. He played in just two games, and didn’t get much playing time in either. When he did play, it turned out as expected: rebounds and put-backs.

If you want a traditional big man, Osunniyi’s your guy. He runs the floor well and is efficient. One negative was foul trouble. Picked up four fouls in 16 minutes against Chicago. Needs to clean that up.

After an eventful summer league, I’m happy with the results. Washington’s two recent Top-10 picks, Davis and Coulibaly, played better every game. The two players from the Jordan Poole trade, Baldwin and Rollins, looked like they can contribute this year. And a couple guys played well enough to possibly earn two-way spots.

The Wizards may be rebuilding, but that doesn’t mean they have to be bad. There’s a ton of young talent being inserted into the next season’s team, and I’m excited to see it.