Now that the Wizards have returned from Summer League, here are some notes from a solid showing in Las Vegas this summer.
Reminder: Summer League is a tiny sample size and competition varies by the game. We cannot take too much away as far as conclusions, but rather, determine some observations.
Hachimura stars in Summer League debut
One of the most anticipated debuts of all of 2019 Summer League was Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura. The 21-year old was impressive, especially in the team’s fourth game when he scored 25 points to go with nine rebounds and two blocks against the Hawks. Hachimura rested in two of the five games, but averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 50.0% shooting from the field. He was able to score from inside effectively, create and knock down from midrange, and even hit a pullup 3-pointer against the Hawks. His defense improved dramatically throughout the week, highlighted by a few statement blocks.
The No. 9 overall pick came in with high expectations, especially with an entire nation watching him. There were 61 Japanese media members covering Summer League, mainly featuring Hachimura, Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe, and free agent hopefuls Yudai Baba (Mavericks) and Makoto Hiejima (Pelicans). Now, his attention turns to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where Hachimura will lead the Japanese national team ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Brown Jr.’s leadership and growth
Heading into his second Summer League in his hometown of Las Vegas, Troy Brown Jr. wanted to further prove why he’s one of the best young players in the NBA. The 19-year old saw meaningful rotation minutes in the last month-plus of the 2018-19 NBA season, but he wanted to play Summer League again and lead the 2019 team. He started the summer off with a bang, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 points in a win over the Pelicans. In two full games, Brown averaged 17.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game before getting hurt in the third game. The former No. 15 overall pick did not play in the final two games. He seemed to get his point across, showing growth in his playmaking ability and especially showing his leadership. Brown organized a team dinner, brought his barber in for the team leading up to their first game, and was very vocal in practice and on the court. Of note, Brown and Hachimura have already built a strong bond.
Late additions from the Lakers trade
After the Anthony Davis trade became official, the Wizards were able to bring Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones over to their Summer League team. Wagner was given lots of playing time and showed his potential in the team’s final game against the Knicks, posting 20 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. He struggled a bit around the rim in four appearances, but Wagner had not played much five-on-five in months. Bonga also received ample action when he joined the team, demonstrating his ability to get to the rim and show flashes of how his size will make him a dynamic defensive player. Jones, one of the statistically best rebounders in NCAA history, did not play as much as Wagner and Bonga, but the Wizards can already tell he brings advanced rebounding skill for his position and max effort.
• Admiral Schofield and Justin Robinson both signed their contracts with the Wizards over the weekend. Schofield will likely spend most of his time with the Wizards, while Robinson will likely serve as the team’s third point guard and play plenty with the Capital City Go-Go.
• Garrison Mathews officially signed his two-way contract while in Las Vegas. He’s one of the best shooters in this rookie class, and he’s not afraid to shoot the ball. His 6’7” frame also gives him dynamic defensive potential, especially considering how active he is crashing the boards and playing up on his man.
• Issuf Sanon, who was picked 44th overall last year by the Wizards, showed growth year over year. He did not play in the team’s last game because he flew 20 hours to Tel Aviv, Israel to play for the Ukrainian national team against Serbia. After arriving two hours before gametime, Sanon dropped 30 points in a way for Ukraine.
• Tarik Phillip, who was signed on the last day of the 2018-19 season, showed consistency on both ends of the court for the Wizards in Summer League. He made 10-of-19 (52.6%) of his shot attempts, and it will be interesting to watch what happens with the hard-nosed guard.
• Troy Caupain Jr. was a two-way player for the Magic last season, and he showed why he will likely earn another during the five games. Averaging 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, Caupain made a big impact in the Wizards’ two wins and was one of the team’s best playmakers throughout minicamp and Summer League.