Wizards Rookie Dinner
While out in Vegas for Summer League, the Monumental Network crew went out for an exclusive trip with rookies Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Jr. The two were joined for dinner by Bradley Beal, who went on this same expedition last season with Tomas Satoransky when they were the rookie class and playing on the Summer League team. John Wall joined them for lunch last season, so Beal decided to do the same this time around.
The young wizkids bonded over some chicken, rice, & ribs at PF Changs, which was Rice Jr.'s first visit to the chain restaurant. Despite some mixed reviews over a few of the dishes, the overall vibe was a good one as the threesome shared some laughs over dinner.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
Nothing beat seeing the reaction of Porter and Rice Jr. when they watched John Wall's infamous first pitch at the Nats game for the first time. Although we let them know Wall redeemed himself last season, they said they'll still have to get on him when they get together again in the fall.
With two Missourians in the room (Beal & Porter), the geography of Missouri was actually a topic of discussion, with Porter defending his hometown of Morley. As a non-Missourian, I wasn't aware of the Bootheel, but apparently this part of Missouri is known for producing a more traditional Southern and country culture. Porter claimed that Morley was north of the Bootheel, but Beal wasn't buying it and labeled him a part of this region. Beal hails from St. Louis, which is considered more Midwestern than Southern, so he gets a pass from being labeled a "country guy". He spoke with the media earlier in the week about Devin Booker being the most "country guy" out here, so this is something he seems to be an expert on. Some guys will embrace it, some guys don't like the label, it just depends on who you ask.
After dinner, the trio strolled the Vegas strip and chatted some more, learning more about each other while throwing in some jabs here and there. Nothing like building some chemistry in July.
Some other notes from the dinner:
- Porter won the award for best chopsticks user, as he said he learned some techniques when he went to China with Georgetown men's team a few years ago.
- Rice Jr. was fascinated by lettuce wraps
- All three cleaned their plates eating the Changs Spare Ribs
Summer League Recap Summer League is over for the Wizards, but we still have 1 game left today to see who will be the first ever Las Vegas Summer League champions. The Warriors and Suns will play tonight for the title at 9pm on NBATV. The Warrios will try and win their 14th straight Summer League game, which is pretty remarkable with so many revolving pieces to the roster.
But let's get back to recapping the Wizards.
The team began with a four day mini-camp at Verizon Center and then one final practice in Vegas before games began. In the opener vs. the Warriors, the teams combined for the lowest total points ever in a Summer League game (108) which on the bright side means the Wiz played good team defense, but they also struggled to shoot the ball. They had a lead in the final minute, but let it slip away and ended up losing 56-52. The team would improve each day in the preliminary games, culminating in a 97-69 thrashing of the Nuggets on Tuesday night, which was by far the team's best game of the week. Jan Vesely had a coming out party in the game, looking as confident as ever and showing both a post-up game and a mid-range game. He went 9/11 from the floor and finished with 18 points, which was a high for any Wizard during Summer League.
After the Wizards wrapped up preliminary games, they entered the tournament with a 1-2 record and the #12 seed. This had them playing the Grizzlies in the first round on Wednesday. Unfortunately their tournament was short-lived as they fell 90-83 to the Grizz and this would eliminate them from Summer League play. However, they played in a consolation game on Friday against the Pelicans and would end up beating them 78-77 before departing Vegas. This left them with a Summer League record of 2-3.
As already mentioned, Jan Vesely may have shown the most over the week as he averaged 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 58% over the five game period. More than the stats, it was Vesely's confidence that looked to be back and he even admitted that he got back to having fun. This may be the most important aspect of his game as he will freely admit that he needs to enter the 2013-14 season with confidence if he wants to be a part of the rotation. He showed some new parts to his game out here in Vegas, including scoring out of the low post which is something we would rarely see him attempt in the regular season. The sample size is small and there are not NBA level big men playing here, but hopefully this will give his confidence enough of a boost to get him going when training camp begins in October.
We also saw some flash from 2nd round pick Glen Rice, Jr., who proved that he could score from both the perimeter and at the rim. He displayed a sweet stroke from outside and seemed to get better each game, finishing Friday shooting 3/4 from downtown. He also threw down a few monster dunks and displayed an incredible amount of athleticism when attacking the glass. He mixed in a few floaters as well and really looks like a well polished offensive player. Now the question will be can he do it against really good defenders at NBA level and can his defense be good enough for him to get minutes off the Wizards bench.
One thing that was unfortunate during Summer League would have to be Otto Porter who only played in a little over two games because of a tight hamstring. It's not a serious injury and he should be fine in a few days, but the team wanted to be extra cautious with the #3 pick. In the games he did play, he never really took over on offense like some thought he may and he never could really find a rhythm shooting the ball. He actually hit his first two shots on Day 1, but struggled offensively after that. To be fair, the sample size was so small it's hard to really critique anything more and Porter admitted that he was trying to learn the new offense. The NBA game is so much different than how the spacing of the Princeton offense works, which Porter played in college, that it may take some time for him to get comfortable at this level. We'll wait and see how he fits in with his real teammates come October for camp.
Chris Singleton may have been the most consistent Wizards throughout the week as he scored in double figures in four of the five games. He also pulled down over six boards a game and played solid defense all week long. He never really took his game to the next level and dominated, but was more a consistent solid player in each game. Like Vesely, he will be fighting to find a spot in the rotation come October which should make for a very competitive camp.
For the non-roster guys, I was most impressed with Marquez Haynes, who worked his way into becoming the starting PG and played relatively well in that role. He also showed an ability to get to the rim and showed good body control when soaring to the rim. He could be a guy that gets looked at for a training camp invite either with the Wizards or another NBA team.
Stay tuned for a special feature on Porter, Rice Jr., and Beal in Vegas coming soon!
#WizPelicans - July 19
6:40pm: The Wizards closed out Vegas Summer League on a high note with a 78-77 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans tonight. Despite Otto Porter missing his 2nd straight game with a tight hamstring, the team played well enough to get their second victory of the week. That will put a bow on Vegas Summer League for the Wizards, who leave with a record of 2-3.
The game was tight right until the end, when the Wizards were forced to make one final stop with a three point lead (77-74) and just seconds left. They came through when they needed to, forcing a Darius Miller miss and securing the rebound. Dennis Horner would make 1/2 free throws giving the Wiz a four point lead (78-74), which would be crucial because of a miracle half-court shot at the buzzer from New Orleans. Thankfully, it meant nothing and the Wiz came out on top.
Some good things from tonight: We saw Sundiata Gaines play by far his best game of the week as he led the team with 15 points on 5/8 shooting.
We saw Glen Rice, Jr. continue to display a sweet stroke from the perimeter (3/4 3-point shooting) and throw down a monster one-handed slam. He finished with 14 points, four boards and three assists. He also showed some great defensive instincts and proved to be a very capable perimeter defender when he asserted himself.
Chris Singleton led the team with seven rebounds to go with his 11 points as he put in another solid performance. Nothing overwhelming for Sing, but he did put in a solid effort and has been pretty consistent this week.
Jan Vesely played well in the first half, but then had to leave the game with a bruised left knee. He finished with nine points and five boards in 17 minutes of action.
Here is some postgame video:
I will be back for a full recap of the Mini-Camp and Summer League along with an exclusive piece on Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. and Bradley Beal's lunch out here in Vegas. Look for it all on Monday right here on Monumental Network and on WashingtonWizards.com!
3:00pm: Checking back in from the Thomas & Mack Center for the Wizards Summer League finale. This will be our last look at many of these guys before they depart Vegas and continue their basketball careers.
Otto Porter will again sit out today as he is bothered by a tight right hamstring, which forced him to sit out Wednesday's game against the Grizzlies. From everyone I've talked to out here, including Otto himself, it's nothing to be alarmed about and more precautionary than anything. If this were a regular season game he may be able to play, but because it is Summer League the team will be extra careful with the #3 overall pick.
Because this is the finale, this will be our last look at the Wiz regulars before we see them again for training camp in October, so hopefully they will leave us some good lasting memories. Vesely played his best game on Tuesday night, scoring 18 points on 9/11 shooting and then played a decent game on Wednesday despite turning the ball over 6 times. If he plays well again today, it would certainly bode well for his NBA confidence before he starts playing for the Czech national team in the EuroBasket games at the end of the month.
Also looking to see how Glen Rice, Jr. and Chris Singleton finish off the Summer League. Both have played well in the four games, but a strong finish would give them each a good boost of confidence before they get ready for camp.
Besides the regulars, the guy who may be having the best Summer League has been Marquez Haynes, who spoke with Casey Phillips in today's Courtside Report:
We'll be back to break down the game and provide postgame video along with closing thoughts after the game. Join in the Live Chat to discuss the game as it happens and remember to use #WizPelicans and #WizSummer when tweeting!
The game can be seen on CSN
#WizGrizzlies - July 17
6:45pm: The Wizards battled tonight, but came up on the wrong end by game's end and fell 90-83 to the Memphis Grizzlies. This means that they are eliminated from the tournament, but will play a consolation game on Friday at 6:30pm ET against the New Orleans Pelicans. After that, the team will depart Vegas and Summer League will be in the books.
As for today's game, it was a game of spurts. The team played well in spurts, but also went on droughts that eventually cost them. They ended the first half playing their best basketball of the game, being aggressive on defense and scoring often in transition. They made a run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to four, but never could get closer than that and lost by seven.
The positives we saw tonight came from a few of the regulars. Sing was aggressive, especially early on scoring 10 points in the first quarter. He finished the game with a team-high 16 points on 6/9 shooting to go along with his five boards. Jan Vesely wasn't quite as good as he was yesterday, but still finished the game with 15 points and nine boards. However, he did also finish the game with six turnovers, so that's something he'll want to clean up on Friday.
Glen Rice, Jr. also played well on the offensive end, again showing his athletic ability with some bigtime dunks and acrobatic lay-ins around the rim. He's tough to defend and I'm looking forward to see how he fits in on the real team in the fall.
Here is some postgame video from the guys:
Glen Rice, Jr:
The team could have practice tomorrow, so we'll wait and see what the schedule looks like and then plan accordingly. Will check back in with some more tidbits from Vegas later.
2:45pm: Checking in from the Thomas & Mack Center out here in Vegas. This is where UNLV plays their home games and is a much bigger venue than the COX Pavilion, where the Wizards had played their previous three games. The Wizards did conduct their scrimmage here on the Thomas & Mack floor on Monday, so it's not the first time they have played on this court. Will be interesting to see how the different atmosphere has an effect on the game, as this venue is much larger and the crowd will be more dispersed. In the COX pavilion, the crowd is right on top of the action and it's a small venue that has an intimate feel.
As we've mentioned a few times already, this is the beginning of tournament play as all the teams have been re-seeded. Today, teams seeded 11-22 play each other to see who will move on to Thursday, where teams seeded 1-10 wait for their opponent. If the Wizards win today, they play Charlotte tomorrow at the same time. If they lose today, they will be eliminated from tournament play, but will play a final consolation game on Friday at the same time.
If the Wizards win today and tomorrow, they will have Friday off and play in the quarterfinals on Saturday. If they win tonight and lose tomorrow, they play a sixth game on Friday before departing Vegas.
A lot of scenarios, but we'll be here to keep you updated on the latest as results unfold. The Live Chat begins at 6:30pm ET as we get ready for #WizGrizzlies. Looking forward to seeing how Vesely responds to yesterday's big game and how the team comes back after scoring 97 points less than 24 hours ago.
Otto Porter has not been officially ruled out, but I don't expect him to play tonight as the team will rather be cautious with his tight hamstring.
We'll be back with more for postgame... See you in the Live Chat
7:00am: I wanted to come back and break down the tournament structure, because it is new and can be a little confusing.
By winning last night and winning each quarter, the Wizards actually shot up to the 12 seed, which means they will play the 21st seeded Memphis Grizzlies at 3:30 local time, 6:30 eastern time later today at the Thomas & Mack Center. The seeds don't really mean much, after all there were only three games played, but they are in place for the tournament structure to take shape.
What happens if the Wizards win?:
If the Wizards win, they will play their fifth game on Thursday at 6:30 ET, 3:30 PT against the Charlotte Bobcats, who are the 5 seed. It also guarantees that they will play a minimum of six games, because should they win tonight, they will then either play again on Thursday and Friday, or Thursday and Saturday.
What happens if the Wizards lose?:
If the Wizards lose tonight, they are eliminated from the tournament, however they will play a fifth and final game out here in Vegas on Friday in a consolation game. The opponent is still TBD because it will be determined by the winners and losers of tonight's games, but we will know that by the end of the day.
Should the Wizards win their next two games (tonight vs. Grizzlies & tomorrow night vs. Charlotte), the Wizards would then have Friday off and be in the quarterfinals on Saturday night. The tournament then becomes fairly simple, win and move on, lose and you are out.
Will be back with more later today from the Thomas & Mack Center
#WizNuggets - July 16 1:00 am: Well that was certainly a different team we saw than the previous two games. After scoring just 52 points on Saturday and then 69 on Sunday, the Wizards came out and put up 97 on Tuesday night, a high mark out here in Vegas for the Summer League. A 97-69 thrashing of the Nuggets and 54% shooting had to feel good for this Wiz squad, who had really struggled to shoot the ball over the first two games.
The story has to begin with Jan Vesely, who came out aggressive from the start and had one of his better games of his NBA career, even if it was only in the Summer League. With Ves, it's about confidence, which he, his teammates, and the coaches have alluded to on multiple occasions. When he plays with confidence, he's a different player. On Tuesday night, he played with plenty of confidence, shooting 9/11 from the floor and scoring a game-high 18 points. He was scoring in all sorts of ways, pullup jumpers, out of the low post, in transition, dunks, it was all working for Ves. He said he felt good before the game and then after the game he said he was finally able to have fun while playing. Here is his postgame interview:
While Ves may have stole the show, there were plenty of good performances to go around. Four other Wizards scored in double figures, including Glen Rice, Jr. who had 13 points making his first start of the Summer League. He came out in the second half and went right to work, scoring a quick 7 points which put the game out of reach and allowed the Wiz to cruise into victory. Rice showed an ability to score around the rim and from outside and was really aggressive in the second half as the Wiz go-to scorer. He said shots were just falling in the 2nd half, but there certainly seemed to be more of an assertiveness from the rookie. Here is his postgame interview:
Chris Singleton was aggressive on the glass and finished with a team-high 10 boards to go along with his five assists and four points. He was also a +16 when on the court.
Otto Porter only played six minutes and then came out of the game with a hamstring injury. He did play well in his limited action, but the tightness in his right hamstring caused him to miss most of the game. He is day-to-day and could be held out of Wednesday's game as a precaution.
The Wizards also saw some nice performances from some of the Summer League invitees, as Dennis Horner scored 15 points off the bench on 3/4 shooting from the perimeter, Devin Booker played well and finished with 11, and Ryan Thompson finished with 10.
Here is postgame video of Sam Cassell, who said he was satisfied with the effort:
And Otto Porter gave an update on his injury:
We'll be back with more on the tournament in the morning, but mark down 6:30 pm ET Wednesday as the Wiz next game as they take on the Grizzlies at Thomas & Mack.
6:45 pm: Back at the COX Pavilion where we are watching the end of the Bulls-Blazers game before #WizNuggets gets started. Both teams playing very hard and trying to get the win before we enter tournament play tomorrow. Once this game ends, we will have about 20 minutes before the Wizards game gets started, which will be the final game of the night here at COX. We probably won't know who or when the Wiz play tomorrow until after all games are finished tonight, but we do know for sure that they will be playing.
We do know the fourth game will be tomorrow (Weds) regardless of the result of tonight's game. After that, the tournament works as follows: If the Wizards win on Wednesday, it will guarantee that they play a minimum of six games while out here in Vegas. With a win on Wednesday, they would then play again on Thursday. If they win on Thursday, they would have Friday off and enter the quarterfinals on Saturday. If they win on Wednesday, but lose on Thursday, they would play in the consolation game on Friday. Still a lot of scenarios, so we'll keep you posted with the latest tournament info as we know more. Until postgame, join in the Live Chat on WashingtonWizards.com
A Scrimmage vs. the Raptors - July 15 2:00 am: Click here for photos of today's scrimmage and check out a few video clips below. Video was only allowed in for the end of the scrimmage, so just a few clips for today.
Chris Singleton spoke a little bit about the scrimmage and about the team's overall play so far in Vegas:
Some other notes heading into tomorrow's game.... Now that the Wizards are 0-2, it nearly guarantees that they will be seeded somewhere between 11-22, meaning they will play their fourth game on Wednesday. Consider Wednesday like a play-in game to continue in the tournament, which technically begins Wednesday but the actual first round is Thursday. All of the winners on Wednesday (play-in day) will play again on Thursday in the first round. All of the losers on Wednesday will be eliminated from the tournament, but will play a consolation game on Friday before departing Vegas.
It may be a little confusing, but for now just expect a game on Tuesday night (10pm vs Denver) and then another on Wednesday. We won't know the time or opponent of Wednesday's game until late Tuesday night, after all games are completed.
I'll check back in tomorrow with more from Vegas.
6:00 pm: The scrimmage has long been over, but from there we had some more business to attend to which I'll get into more detail in a future blog post. As a tease, it it did include a nice meal with Otto Porter, Glen Rice, Jr. and Bradley Beal.
Stay tuned for not only a blog post, but a full photo gallery and a video package from the lunch and the walk on the strip with some of the young Wizards.
As for the scrimmage, the Wizards looked better today than they did in either of the two games they have played out here. They executed on offense and looked like they had some more rhythm to their offense. The scrimmage was not long, just two running 10 minute quarters. We got to see a little more of Lorne Jackson, who ran the point for a majority of the time and made some plays both scoring and distributing. We'll see if he gets any more minutes when the Wizards play the Nuggets on Tuesday night. Jason Thompson also played well, showing an ability to knock down set shots from the corner and shots coming off screens.
Otto Porter was held out of the scrimmage with a sore right hamstring, but it's not considered serious and he could be back for the game Tuesday night vs. Denver. Sundiata Gaines was also held out with a sore calf, also day-to-day.
Will be posting some photos and video clips from the scrimmage later so stay tuned.
1:30 pm: It's an off day for games, but we are back at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV where the Wizards are about ready to begin a scrimmage with the Toronto Raptors. This wasn't scheduled, but that's how Summer League works. Two teams with an off-day get together and decide they want to get in some live 5-on-5 action. It beats playing against yourself and it's a good chance for the guys to get more exposure. It looks like we will have officials and from what I'm hearing the team will play two quarters with a running clock. There won't be any stats from the scrimmage, so we'll have to rely on the naked eye to see how the guys look today.
Will be back with more following the scrimmage.
#WizKnicks - July 14 6:00 pm: 2 games in 24 hours and unfortunately 2 losses for the Wizards. Today's game did look better than yesterday from an offensive standpoint, but the team was not as crisp on the defensive end and they were outrebounded 51-34, which is too big of a margin to overcome.
As for the rookie draft picks, neither Porter or Rice Jr. have shot the ball very well through two games, but they have gotten involved in other ways. Rice had seven boards yesterday and pulled down five more today, which shows that he is getting after it on the glass. Otto is still trying to get into his rhythm, which he said after the game will just take some more repetition more than anything. He also said how he's learning the spacing of the NBA game, which is completely different than what he was used to at Georgetown. The Wiz have played Otto a lot at the "2" spot, which is interesting because we thought he would play more of the "3" and the "4" during the regular season. That still may be the case, but the fact that he can play all three positions will be a great asset for the Wizards during the season.
A bright spot today was the play of Marquez Haynes, who led the team in scoring with 13 points. He has looked good all week in mini-camp and has shown an ability to shoot from outside and get to the rim. He did both of those things today, shooting 5/7 from the field and 2/4 from long range. I thought he would be more of a "2" guard when coming into camp, but he has shifted over and played a lot of point guard for the Wiz so far.
Jan Vesely also showed some flashes of offense and more importantly was more confident in his shot than we've seen during the season. He took 10 shots and many of them were out of the low post on jump hooks and turnaround jumpers. He had one stretch in the fourth quarter where he scored six straight points, including a tough turnaround jumper. He also had 10 boards today and recorded the first double-double of the Summer League for the Wizards.
Chris Singleton was aggressive today and got to the line eight times, making all eight free-throws. He struggled from the floor, especially in the second-half, but we'll see if he can get his outside shot going in the next three games before we leave.
Now that the Wizards are 0-2, it nearly guarantees that they will be playing on Wednesday when teams seeded 11-22 will play to see who moves on to the first round of the tournament. The Wiz next game will be on Tuesday night at 10pm when they take on the Nuggets. The time of the game on Wednesday is still TBD but expect a game on Wednesday.
Here is some postgame sound from asst. coach Don Newman, Otto Porter, and Jan Vesely:
12:15 pm: Settling in back here at Cox Pavilion as we get ready for game #2 on the schedule. Today we get the Knicks, who are also 0-1 in Summer League after they fell to the Pelicans on Friday.
One story to watch will be the battle between the Jr.'s, Glen Rice and Tim Hardaway. Both had fathers who played in the league and Rice Jr.'s dad played his college ball at Michigan, the same school as Hardaway Jr.
The word I'm hearing is that Iman Shumpert will not play today, which means the Knicks will be without their most dynamic Summer League player.
Here are some instagram pics and vids from pregame:
#WizWarriors - July 13 6:45 pm: Well Game #1 is in the books. Certainly not the prettiest of games, but we still saw a few positives. To start, they held the Warriors to just 56 points and 26% shooting. That would have been a bigger storyline of the game had they not scored just 52 themselves.
They did have a two point lead with under one minute left, but let it slip away in the final minute because of some costly turnovers.
Otto Porter hit two tough jumpers in the first quarter, but would struggle to get into a rhythm after that and finished the game 3-13 from the floor.
Glen Rice, Jr. hit a couple of threes to show the kind of range he had, and threw down a monster one-handed slam which was the highlight of the game, but finished just 3-12 from the floor.
Chris Singleton led the team in scoring with 13 points on 4-9 shooting, while Jan Vesely showed some range and finished with seven points. Ves had a good Summer League showing last year before he got injured, so he'll be someone we watch closely over the next week.
Offensively, it can only get better from here. The team turned it over 21 times and had 19 made field goals. That's not a recipe for success.
Here is some postgame coverage of what the guys thought about their first game of the Summer League:
Glen Rice, Jr.:
12:45 pm: Getting ready for the start of #WizWarriors. The Summer league debut for Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Jr. Make sure to jump in the Live Chat for today's game for live updates and then stay tuned for a recap of the game right here on the Blog and on WashingtonWizards.com
Wall & Beal Crash Practice - July 12
6pm: Practice was only held for about an hour today and was more of a walkthrough than it was a full out practice. No scrimmaging or many 5-on-5 drills today as the team prepares for games on Saturday and Sunday.
It was nice seeing John Wall and Bradley Beal at practice to support the Summer League team. The two of them got some shots up while practice was taking place and then played around with some of the guys afterwards. Here are a few clips of them at practice:
Casey Phillips also caught up with Wall for a Courtside Report, where Wall talked about being there to support his team, the advice he'd give to the young guys, and some things he's been doing this off-season:
Check out some photos of Wall & Beal as they crashed practice today
3:15 pm: Checking in from the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV where the Wizards are going through their last practice before games start. Many of the teams here for Vegas Summer League began play today, but the Wizards will begin at 4pm et on Saturday when they take on the Golden State Warriors. The game will be shown locally on CSN or online at NBA Summer League Live . The package costs $14.99 and gives you every game from Vegas over the 11 days worth of games.
While practice has looked very similar to what we saw back at Verizon Center, we did have a new guest on hand. Just as practice was beginning John Wall and Bradley Beal came out to watch practice and now continue to get shots up on one end of the court while the team practices at the other.
In case you missed it, yesterday the Wizards announced their final roster for the Summer League games which includes both draft picks (Porter, Rice Jr) and Wizards regulars Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely.