- The Washington Times
Monday, July 15, 2019

The NBA Summer League schedule ended Saturday for the Washington Wizards, who went 2-3 in their five exhibition games in Las Vegas. But that record is not important.

What’s more significant was the performance of the young Summer League roster, a collection of mostly new players. Given that only six players on the Wizards‘ roster are returning from last year — one of them being the injured John Wall — the Summer League squad symbolized how much of an overhaul the Wizards‘ roster has gone through.

Over five games, the Wizards had four different players lead them in scoring at least once — 2019 first-round pick Rui Hachimura (twice), second-rounder Admiral Schofield, 2018 first-rounder Troy Brown Jr. and Moritz Wagner.

Hachimura posted 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in a win over Atlanta and scored in double figures in all three games Washington played him.

Unlike Brown — who in 2018 was one of the youngest players available in the draft and who spent much of his rookie year with the G League affiliate Go-Go — Hachimura is an older rookie at 21 years old. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis told The Washington Times last month that the front office felt Hachimura has a lot of upside because “he started playing at a later age.”

“Compare that to a lot of players that come up through the AAU system, the high school system, they’re playing a lot of games,” Leonsis said. “They have a lot of miles on them. It might be why we’re seeing so many injuries. We think he has a lot of upside and can develop and be healthy.”

The fact that he’s more mature than the average rookie — and not as over-worked — could prove beneficial for the Wizards early on. In all likelihood, he will be in Washington’s rotation on opening night in October, if for no other reason than a lack of other options on the roster.

The other members of Washington’s 2019 class reportedly have signed their rookie deals. Schofield, the 45th overall pick out of Tennessee, signed a three-year contract — as did Justin Robinson, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia Tech and a Manassas, Virginia, native.

Robinson will have a chance to carve out a bench role with the Wizards. The Summer League coaching staff worked him hard, making him a starter in all five games. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.0 assists per game, but he committed three or more turnovers on three occasions.

Then there is Wagner, the best of the three players Wizards acquired from the Lakers as the third party to the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade. A year removed from being a first-round draft pick, the German forward is known for his touch from behind the arc, but he finished Summer League just 1-for-14 in 3-point shooting.

But Wagner finished his time in Las Vegas on a better note, with a 20-point, eight-rebound performance that showed his ability to get to the free throw line and to work the glass.

There are still more newcomers who did not play in Las Vegas, older players like Isaiah Thomas and Davis Bertans. But some of the Wizards‘ Summer Leaguers could find themselves a fair amount of regular season minutes soon, hinting at how the 2019-20 roster might end up taking shape.

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.