The Washington Wizards have assembled their roster for the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League, of the 16 players selected, three worked out for Washington in the pre-draft process. Jarell Eddie, Khem Birch, and Deonte Burton all made the roster for Vegas. The only player on the roster with more than four years experience in the league is Daniel Orton. The former Kentucky Wildcat is just one of several bigs on this roster that hope to make an impact in Vegas. The team is headlined by two second year wings in Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr, both of which looked far more comfortable in this setting a year into their careers. An intriguing selection was second year point guard Maalik Wayans, he’s coming off a serious knee injury. While he’s had a long road due to rehabbing, Wayans had previous experience playing for the 76ers and Clippers before getting hurt. This was the first of four days of preparation before the Wizards head to Las Vegas, so this was the first chance to see the team. ( Kim English will join the Wizards in Vegas)
The media was allowed to watch the last 15 minutes of practice, upon walking in, the bigs were on one end going thru an explosion drill. They would catch the ball at the top of the restricted circle, turn and dunk without putting the ball on the floor. Following the completion of that drill was a full court scrimmage, between blue and white. While it’s unknown whether the composition of the blue and white teams had any indications of a “1st” team or “2nd” team, the blue team was far more cohesive as a group. It was also the team with the most experienced NBA players; the blue team consisted of Porter, Rice, Orton, Wayans, and Birch. The more seasoned team wasted no time attacking as they got out to a quick lead against the Blue team and never looked back, it’s just a scrimmage but there were definitely a few things to take away as a few players truly stood out.
Otto Porter – Confident. That was the first word that came to mind upon entering the practice gym, Otto looked like an NBA player amongst the younger guys. It was evident that he put in work over the last year to improve every facet of his game, it’s obviously a small sample size, but Porter definitely stood out. He hunted for his shot, brought the ball up court, ran off screens and attacked his defender off the bounce. It also looked like he put on a few pounds.
Glen Rice Jr – Like Otto, Rice exuded confidence in every move he made on the court. Rice and Porter had been working out together regularly to this point in the offseason (they both stated such in post practice interviews), they definitely seemed to have chemistry on the practice court. Rice played tough defense, knocked down shots off of screens and even provided a highlight by dunking (by or on) a defender during a fast break. He also showcased his improved handle when attacking his defender.
Maalik Wayans – He looks to have recovered well from his knee injury, there seemed to be no issues cutting or stopping and starting. Wayans played as if he’s been here before, it’s probably because he has played in Summer League already. He was confident in running the offense, made good decisions in pick-and-roll situations and took shots when he needed to. If he’s healthy, keep an eye on him when the Wizards get to Vegas. He could be a great solution to depth in the backcourt, especially when healthy.
Khem Birch – The Rookie made an impact today during the scrimmage, on both ends of the floor. More importantly, he showed a knack for the basketball on the offensive glass. There was a possession in where the Blue team got five offensive rebounds, four of them were tipped out by Birch. He’s a versatile big that can defend and run, never seemed to force the issue on the offensive end. Played within his means, never beyond.
Daniel Orton – The former Wildcat definitely benefitted from his most recent stint with the Maine Red Claws, Orton came into the league as an extremely raw, but talented big man. He’s definitely added weight to his frame and boasts an improved post game. Orton was very patient with his back to the basket, he displayed a soft touch on his jump hook, even knocked down a midrange jumper. At the end of the day you cant teach size, Orton is starting to claim some of that enormous potential.