The Wizards begin their 2014 journey in Las Vegas on Saturday vs. the Atlanta Hawks. 16 players will suit up for Washington during the Wizards preliminary games at the Thomas and Mack Center. The Summer League team is comprised of “ Wizards veterans” Otto Porter and Glen Rice, local players: Ian Chiles (Morgan State) and Jarell Eddie (Virginia Tech) and NBA journeymen’s: Daniel Orton and Maalik Wayns.
MyMindOnSports’ Troy Jefferson takes a look at a few players to keep your eye on during the action in Vegas.
Otto Porter- 2nd year player for the Wizards
Porter is an obvious choice. Otto could find himself in the starting lineup on opening day with Ariza unsigned and Webster likely out for a portion of the season due to back surgery. The third overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft averaged 2.1 points, 0.3 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game in limited action last year.
Summer League Head Coach Sam Cassell highlighted Porter’s court awareness as his biggest improvement from last year. Porter’s offensive acumen made him a standout player and future lottery pick at Georgetown, where he was the Big East Player of the Year in 2013.
“You gotta be patient,” Porter said. “When your time comes it comes and you want to take full opportunity of it.”
The second year forward will have plenty of opportunity over the next week to prove himself.
Khem Birch- Rookie UNLV/ Pittsburgh
Birch is a guy I really liked during the pre draft workouts. Birch is a 6’9” 220 pound rookie out of UNLV, who fits the defensive stopper/ energy guy type mold. In fact during the pre draft workouts Birch compared himself to the Bulls’ Joakim Noah.
If the Wizards are unable to retain Trevor Booker, Birch is a guy that could give Washington quality minutes out of the forward/ center position off the bench.
Birch averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game at UNLV last year.
Maalik Wayns- 3rd year NBA player Clippers/ 76ers
The Wizards could use a ball handler off the bench. Andre Miller isn’t getting any younger and Garrett Temple saw his production decline in 2013-2014. Wayns is a guy that can handle the ball, has been around the NBA circle and has played behind a star point guard in Chris Paul.
Wayns has a career average of 2.7 points and 1 assist per game in 29 career NBA games. At Villanova, Wayns averaged 12.5 points and 3.4 assists per game.