The Wizards’ struggles in Summer League are symptomatic of bigger issues with developing talent

Don’t blink, because if you did, you would have missed the Wizards’ Summer League play in Las Vegas just this past week. Washington went 0-3 in league play, got bounced in the first round of the Summer League Tournament, and then lost their consolidation game.

It’s important not to focus solely on the team’s uninspiring 0-5 record as Summer League rosters are a hodgepodge of rookies, younger talent, G-League players, and players playing professional ball overseas. And coaches aren’t running things in an effort to win games, they’re focused on putting players in positions to grow and develop, even if that means struggling during games.

However, when you get past the record, the lack of talent that the Wizards put on the floor is just as eye-opening and is a microcosm of team’s struggles to develop talent outside of the can’t-miss players the Wizards took with top-three draft picks.

This Wizards’ Summer League roster featured four players who spent time on the regular season roster last season: Sheldon Mac, Chris McCullough, Daniel Ochefu, and Danuel House. It also included two players – Michael Young and Devin Robinson – who will factor in the future as the team’s two-way players.

Of these six guys, Mac was the only one who looked like a legitimate NBA player. He was overpowering in attacking the hole and averaged 13.2 points per game over the tournament. His jump shot isn’t a thing of beauty yet, but he made up for it by overmatching defenders with his size.

Mac’s performance was very reminiscent of Kelly Oubre’s 2016 Summer League efforts, as Mac was the clear leader of this team. Sometimes he forced the issue, but that’s what you want to see, since he’s the player who has the best chance of being asked to create offense for the Wizards next season.

Daniel Ochefu raised some eyebrows with his play too. He wasn’t as flashy or nearly as athletic as Mac but was able to muster 7.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in just 21.2 minutes of action per night. Ochefu showed some bounce that we hadn’t seen before and some nifty post moves that generated easy baskets for himself and others, as he shot a very impressive 70 percent from the field in the tournament and averaged 1.6 assists per game out of the post.

However, when he was matched up against the up-and-rising talent in Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat, Ochefu turned in his worst game of the tournament while Adebayo put up a rock solid 16 point, 7 rebound performance.

Even with Ochefu’s solid play, he’s in a poor situation as he’s currently the third or fourth center (if you consider Jason Smith a center) on the Wizards’ roster. So even though he showed some promising signs, he’s still low on the pecking order for this upcoming season.

Chris McCullough, the Wizards’ “first round draft pick” is far from a finished product entering his third NBA season. There’s no denying his athleticism is second to none, but that’s where the buck stops. He only shot 29.2 percent from the field and struggled on the defensive end, especially with more physical players.

His struggles were best exemplified when the Wizards played the Chicago Bulls in the third game of league play. McCullough was overmatched against Bulls’ rookie Lauri Markkanen. He knocked down some early threes which stretched McCullough out of his defensive comfort zone, and then used the spacing he gained to push the third year player around on the glass, as he grabbed four offensive rebounds in that game.

McCullough has the tools to become a solid NBA player, but this Summer League tournament was an indication that he still has a long ways to go. If he truly was a rookie, that would be understandable, but it’s harder to stay patient with a player going into their third year, especially as the team has to make a decision on whether or not to pick up the team option on the fourth year of his rookie deal for next season.

Michael Young averaged 9.4 points per game and showed that he can be a physical presence on the offensive end while finishing in traffic, but still has to work on his jumper before he can be a serious NBA threat. Devon Robinson has an even longer way to go. He is a very bouncy player with a jumper that might be even worse than Chris McCullough’s, but he still has time to grow.

So why does this all matter?

For starters, this shows that the Wizards have very little young talent to develop on their roster. As mentioned, Sheldon Mac was the leader and far and away the best talent on the roster but outside of Mac, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. The lack of draft picks from previous seasons looks to be catching up as not one player on the Summer League roster was drafted by Washington. Some of the other guys might be interesting if they can develop, but it’s harder to do that properly when you don’t have your own G-League affiliate where you can manage player development.

The Wizards have had their troubles drafting outside of the obvious, top-three picks they made and have failed to turn young talent taken later in the draft and develop them into productive players. Those struggles came full-circle this summer with the lack of talent on display in Las Vegas.

Yes, it’s just Summer League, but the team’s struggles and lack of talent that was evident on this team’s roster just reiterated three areas that the front office has struggled with for years: keeping draft picks, hitting on draft picks, and developing young talent.

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Wizards vs. Hawks final score: Washington comes back from 17 point deficit to win 71-60.

After looking dead in the water, the Wizards come back from 17 points down to beat the Hawks 71-60 Thursday afternoon in the second round of the Las Vegas Summer League Tournament. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored a game-high 22 points while Danuel House added 15 points, 12 of which coming in the fourth quarter.

This game was a tale of two halves.

The Wizards were sleepwalking through the first quarter as they missed their first six shots of the game. It took them 3:30 for the team to get on the scoreboard.

The Wizards were equally as unimpressive to start the second quarter missing 12 of their first 13 shots to start the period as the Hawks opened up on a 15-3 run. Even with the slow starts to the first and second quarters, the Wizards were down just 12 at halftime, 37-25.

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Wizards flipped the switch led by Oubre who scored eight points in the period. The Wizards clawed their way back and trailed by just 3, 48-45 entering the fourth quarter.

Danuel House took over in the final quarter, scoring the first eight points of the quarter for the Wizards to help them get in front and pull away. Kelly Oubre hit a three-pointer at the 50 second mark to put the game away and help the Wizards complete the comeback and win 71-60.

The Wizards will take on the winner of Thursday night’s Bulls vs. Mavericks game.

The Great

 

Danuel House -€” House was the second-highest scorer on the team with 15 points on 3-8 shooting (12 coming in the fourth quarter). He stepped up when the Wizards needed him most and the rest of the team fed off of his play. He may not claim a roster spot, but House is working his way into an invite to training camp at the very least.

The Second Half – The Wizards outscored the Hawks 46-23 in the second half.

The Good

 

Kelly Oubre Jr. -€” The stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story. Oubre scored 22 points to go along with six rebounds today. Oubre was 3-6 from three-point range and once again, looked very confident in rising up from distance. However, when the Wizards were in a bit of a scoring drought, Oubre put his head down and tried to force the matter, which didn’t go so well. He turned the ball over four times and got blocked several times at the rim.

He salvaged all that with a three-point dagger with just under a minute remaining.

Nate Wolters -€” He seemed to hit floaters in the lane or would knock down jumpers from 10-15 feet out when the Wizards were in a bit of a scoring funk. He didn’t do anything flashy but had key baskets when it looked like the lead might get out of hand.

The Bad

 

Aaron White -€” Aside from his dunk late in the fourth quarter, White was a non-factor once again today. He shot just 2-8 from the field and has a knack for disappearing.

The First Half –€” The Wizards had more turnovers (10) than made field goals (7) in the first half on just two assists.

Wizards vs. Nets final score: Jarell Eddie hits a game-winner to lift Washington to 87-85 win

Jarell Eddie scored a layup in transition with .1 seconds remaining as the Wizards came back to beat the Nets, 87-85 Tuesday afternoon in Summer League action. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jarell Eddie were the high scorers for the Wizards contributing 16 points apiece. Danuel House chipped in with 13 points as the Wizards won their final game before tournament play.

The Nets kept the Wizards at bay for much of this game as they led 66-60 entering the fourth quarter. Shawn Dawson and Danuel House started the fourth quarter with two rim-rattling dunks less than one minute apart.

The Wizards chipped away at the lead tying the game at 85 on an Aaron White dunk with just 15 seconds to play.

On the next possession, Jarell Eddie stripped Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and put in the breakaway layup on the other end to seal the victory.

The win lifts the Wizards to 2-1 in preliminary play. They will find out who they face in the tournament on Tuesday evening.

The Good

 

Jarell Eddie -€” Aside from his game-winning layup, Eddie had a very nice game scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting. Eddie showed he is more than just a three-point shooter as Eddie curled off screens for mid-range jumpers and was able to get to the hole at times too. Eddie had a couple of open looks but went just 2-6 from three-point range this afternoon. It’s pretty clear that if the Wizards don’t sign Eddie, there will be other NBA teams interested in signing him.

Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre also scored 16 points this afternoon on 5-13 shooting. Oubre hit his first three-pointer of the game but went just 1-7 the rest of the way. Oubre was in attack mode all game as he was able to finish at the hole and get to the line knocking down 4-5 free throws. He was fearless in attacking the rim and seems much more confident in his jump shot even though they didn’t all fall. Oubre also had six rebounds and three assists to stuff the stat sheet.

The Bad

 

Kelly Oubre Jr. -€” At times Oubre was a bit out of control today. Oubre, who doesn’t lack confidence, often drove all the way to the hole in transition or semi-transition when he would have been better suited pulling up for a 10-12 foot jumper. Too often, he’d take the ball all the way to the hole but there were big men waiting for him. In addition, Oubre had issues staying in front of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who scored a game-high 19 points. Oubre gambled a tad too often on defense and often got caught reaching evidenced by his seven fouls (Players are allowed to commit up to 10 fouls in Summer League play). Still, there’s no need to worry, all of this can be fixed.

Free-Throw Shooting -€” The Wizards regular season free-throw shooting woes spilled into this game as the team shot a forgettable 57 percent (12-21) from the charity stripe.