Wiz close summer league with loss

The Wizards finished Las Vegas summer league play with a 2-3 record after today's 88-69 loss to D.J. Strawberry, Alando Tucker and the Phoenix Suns.

Dee Brown led the Wiz with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting with two assists, three steals and four turnovers and the Wiz shot 50 percent as a team but lost because the Suns scored 29 points off of Washington's 19 turnovers and because the Wiz couldn't get a handle on Tucker (25 points) and Strawberry (20 points). The Suns made 19 of 34 free throw attempts.

-Think the fellas were anxious to get home? Check out this ugly stat: the Wiz were outscored 30-6 in the fourth quarter.

-Washington's best player today was reserve forward Frank Elegar, who played with energy and wound up with eight points on 4 of 4 shooting with three rebounds in 16 minutes.

-With his buddy, Carmelo Anthony watching courtside, PG Dontaye Draper played his best game and posted six points and four assists in 16:32.

-Andray Blatche was excellent all week but looked a step slow today. He made 1 of 7 shots and wound up with eight points, five rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes. Andray played well this week, as one would expect from a guy going into his fourth season, but to me, the bottom line remains the same: outside the health of the big 3, he is this team's wild card next season. If he brings it nightly and improves at a rapid rate, it's going to make a big difference.

-Nick Young didn't have a big game all week and camp his second summer league by making 4 of 10 shots and scoring nine points with no assists and a turnover in 25 minutes. Nick's numbers for the week: 11ppg, 1.0 apg, 2.6 rpg., 35.2 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from 3-point range, 11 of 14 from the free throw line. He just never got rolling all week though he did hit two huge shots in the win over Houston last night.

-Blatche and McGuire hooked up on one of the prettiest plays of the week today. After receiving an outlet pass near midcourt, Blatche took a dribble and then fired a perfect bounce pass to a cutting McGuire, who caught it and threw down a nice two-handed dunk.

-2006 second round pick Vladimir Vermemeenko got his first taste of NBA action this week and was mostly a non-factor. He averaged 3.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the field in 11.4 minutes per game and was a very solid defender but showed a shaky outside jumper and experienced some issues adjusting to the NBA game.

Veremeenko, who is listed at 6-10 but is actually more like 6-8, was called for two traveling calls today when refs said he shuffled his feet while starting to make a move.

"I don't understand because in Europe, I use that move," Veremeenko said. "Here, you can take three, four steps and they don't call travel but that first step, they call it. So, it is different here."

- Veremeenko remains under contract to BC Khimky and said he is going back but added that he enjoyed the week. I saw a guy who has a pretty solid overall grasp of the game, plays excellent defense and rebounds like a bulldog but didn't look comfortable away from the baseket when presented with a long jumper and sometimes blended in too much. That's not a shocker given that it was his first taste of NBA action.

"I think this experience will help me in the future," said VV, who has a pretty decent command of English and a pretty good sense of humor. "I think playing this will help me be more physical when I go back to Europe next year."

What are the biggest differences between ball here and there?

VV: "Here is more quickness and is more physical. In Europe, it is more tactical. The games are similar in some ways but very different in others."

-JaVale McGee was pretty quiet tonight, capping his week with seven points on 3 of 5 shooting with 3 rebounds and a block. When I asked him what he wants to improve upon coming out of summer league, he said: "rebounding." (JaVale does not provide lengthy quotes yet. He's working on that part of his game as well.) After seeing him for five games, I think we see a talented but raw kid who is a legit 7-footer, has crazy long arms and block some shots and knock down the occassional turnaround J but also has a lot of developing to do. But we knew that draft night.
The thing I like about him, other than how quick he moves for a guy his size, is that he plays very hard. Time will tell.

-We know that barring a trade, Blatche, McGuire, Young, Pecherov, McGee and possibly Brown (who has a partially guaranteed deal) are locks to make this team. As for the other guys, I didn't see anything to warrant much more than the traditional training camp invite.

By Ivan Carter |  July 20, 2008; 8:45 PM ET
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The thing I'm most impressed with in regards to McGee is the fact that when he's close to the basket, he doesn't hesitate to throw it down with authority. I just wish some of our other big men would do that more often. He doesn't even think to lay it off the glass, if he is within reach of the basket, you know he's gonna slam it.

Posted by: bryan | July 20, 2008 9:29 PM

Thanks for the two wasted draft picks Ernie of O-Pech & Veremeenko, we could have had Rondo.

Posted by: Wizzy | July 20, 2008 9:31 PM

The thing I'm most impressed with in regards to McGee is the fact that when he's close to the basket, he doesn't hesitate to throw it down with authority. I just wish some of our other big men would do that more often. He doesn't even think to lay it off the glass, if he is within reach of the basket, you know he's gonna slam it.

Posted by: bryan | July 20, 2008 9:29 PM


Like Haywood, I've seen McGee put the ball on the floor several times close to the basket instead of dunking it over smaller opponents.

I will be so pissed if they don't ship this guy off to the D-League for most of the season. McGee seriously looks like he is a good 2-3 years away from contributing.

Posted by: Charlie | July 20, 2008 9:37 PM

I turned on the game on late in the 3Q when the Wiz were winning. For the next 6 or 7 minutes, the 2nd/3rd string played and the Wiz fell way behind. Then, the Little 3 were put back in (too little, too late to make a difference).

I'm not sure what the coaches were trying to accomplish, but this game was not a confidence builder.

At least Eddie doesn't have to worry about being replaced by Wes Jr.

Posted by: Izman | July 20, 2008 9:54 PM


Why were the Wiz kids anxious to get back home?

They were in Vegas.

Speaking of which, did Wes Unseld Jr. impose a curfew or was he the biggest sl*t on the strip?

BTW, AB was probably anxious to get home ot his 1.4 mil mansion in Upper Marlboro.

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 10:54 PM


Why were the Wiz kids anxious to get back home?

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 10:54 PM

Atrocious fourth quarter scoring. At the end of each game, they looked like they would rather go home than finish the game.

Posted by: chris | July 20, 2008 11:11 PM

"Atrocious fourth quarter scoring. At the end of each game, they looked like they would rather go home than finish the game.

Posted by: chris | July 20, 2008 11:11 PM "

You mean they were ready to get back to the strip for some more T&A.

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 11:18 PM

Hey Ivan, just read your piece about the Future Big 3. Got a question, is it Blatche or Mcguire that is having a child?

Posted by: C.Bell | July 20, 2008 11:22 PM

Could've had Rondo? For what? So he can break down his defender, drive hard to the hoop, then try to turn around in mid-air and pass up a lay-up? Rondo is the benefit of playing with 2 future hall of famers (KG, Ray) and a possible hof (Pierce). Other than that, he's more overrated than Lebron. lol

Posted by: C.Bell | July 20, 2008 11:27 PM

"You mean they were ready to get back to the strip for some more T&A.

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 11:18 PM"

Grow up! But then again, I forgot...you've never seen a woman without clothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 20, 2008 11:32 PM

I like that Frank Elegar. Kid played pretty well, pretty consistently. Has some good post moves, plays some nice d, hustles. I hope the Wiz invite him to camp. I'd take him over tooth-Pech any day. Maybe ship Pech and McGee to D League, maybe swap Darius for another 3, maybe find a guy like Elegar or Pops to keep around on the DL for insurance

Posted by: Prazak | July 20, 2008 11:34 PM

"Grow up! But then again, I forgot...you've never seen a woman without clothing.

Posted by: | July 20, 2008 11:32 PM "

Lisa, keep sucking Gilby's vienna sausage so that you can shut up.

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 11:43 PM

""Grow up! But then again, I forgot...you've never seen a woman without clothing.

Posted by: | July 20, 2008 11:32 PM ""

And yes, I have no interest in seeing your father (a woman), without clothing.

Posted by: DC Man88 | July 20, 2008 11:44 PM

I don't understand why Elegar, Veremeenko and McGee didn't get more minutes! I really do not understand it!!! McGee and Veremeenko especially needed the experience, and Elegar was worth more of a look.

I like what I saw this week of McGee, and definately feel much better about him than I did on draft night. You can see the potential. And I really like to hear that improving his rebounding is his top priority.

McGuire looked good, and nice to see he's been working on his mid-range shot and it appears to be paying off! Blatche looked good to, and glad to see he looks like he's been hitting the weight room, and again it appears to be paying off!

Thanks for the report Ivan! I don't understand why this game was not televised!! Hope you have a good time the rest of your stay in Vegas!!

Posted by: Darnell | July 21, 2008 12:36 AM

I disagree with you Darnell. I liked that Unseld jr. didn't just let Mcgee run around like a chicken with his head cut off. The last thing we need is another 7 ft. center shooting 3's. When he shot that airball 3 that was 3 feet short, Lil Wes yanked his ass and blasted him. That's what he needs. Discipline. Not just playing time.

Posted by: C.Bell | July 21, 2008 12:45 AM

Yeah Ivan just read the new big 3 article... it says Blatche is having a kid, but I think you meant McGuire.

I don't understand why Unseld Jr coached the summer team and not O'Koren?!

Posted by: Darnell | July 21, 2008 12:50 AM

Yeah CBell I woulda benched him then too. But overall for the 5 games he should of played more minutes! And he should of started, why start that dude Forbes who looked like a scrub when Mcgee is our future? He should be on the court to learn as much as possible!! That's what he was there for!! To play and gain that experience! That's what he's there for, it's like basketball summer school! He needs to be on the court and learning if he puts the ball on the floor it's gonna get taken! If he doesn't box out he's gonna lose the rebound to a player a foot shorter! Etc Etc! Why give his minutes to Forbes, how is that gonna help him or us?! Plus the conditioning! Bench him and yell when he takes that shot, tell him to stay down low and put him back in!!!!!

Posted by: Darnell | July 21, 2008 1:00 AM

Well Matt Barnes is going to the Suns. They are going to sign him to a 1 year contract for the league vet minimum 1.2 million.

Here's the link:

Posted by: Darnell | July 21, 2008 1:12 AM

We are going to keep our roster spot open so we can sign a player to a 10 day contract during the season and we can have flexibility because that stategy worked so well for us last season.

Posted by: Darnell | July 21, 2008 1:17 AM

I hear Darnell. But you gotta remember that the summer league is not just about getting rookies playing time. Its also about getting to see guys who might help your team on the cheap. Mcgee is set to be a Wizard for the next 2-3 years. Wes (or should I say Ernie) wanted to see what else was out there. Maybe Jon Wallace outplayed Brown and can be had for half the price? As a gm, you gotta look out for the best interests of the team. Player and money wise.
Like for instance, Tractor Traylor showed he was back in basketball shape and I'm pretty sure he'll be in the nba next year helping out a playoff team for pennies. (I hope Ernie reads the blog site) Mcgee will get his chance to shine in the D-league. That's what it was created for. The summer games are a showcase for players to say to a team "hey, i'm good and i play for cheap".

Posted by: C.Bell | July 21, 2008 2:03 AM

Let the real games begin!


Come on....that late in the draft it's a crap shoot. You win some and you lose some. EG wins more than he loses. Revisionist history can be used against every GM/team in the league.

Blatche had a decent SL, which is the best news to come out of it. He actually did dominate at times the last few games as he should!

Posted by: Rob P | July 21, 2008 3:43 AM

Summer League fun is over, we have learned a few things about the young Wizards, and what we have learned raises some questions:

1. JaVale McGee can be the real thing. But will he flourish more if he stays with the big team and works hard in practice against Brendan and ET, or will he be better off in D-League getting more actual game experience? This will be a post-training camp decision but I suspect he will at least start the season on the varsity bench.

2. Andray Blatche (not DS) showed that he should be the first front-court player off the bench and should spell the starters at both the 3 and 4, getting 15-20 minutes a game. But will EJ play him that way? DS still has value but more as a spot player than the top front-court reserve.

3. DMac had a fine run and could be a key backup at the 3 depending on matchups. This may be why the Wizards did not choose to make an offer to Matt Barnes, as the Wizards were probably in a position to outbid Phoenix by $250K or so, had EG chosen to do so. Fatherhood (assuming it was he and not AB who went to LA to witness the blessed event) may also focus him more, too. Again, the question is whether EJ will give him consistent minutes?

4. Dee Brown did not set the world on fire but he did play well enough to be the leading candidate to be the 3rd PG. Will our fans give him a little more time to prove himself?

5. Nick Young had a good 3-point percentage but as IC said, Las Vegas was not a good run for him (maybe he did better off-court...). Trade bait? Or do we sign some experienced "instant offense" player as insurance while waiting for Nick to develop into the starting 2-guard he was expected to be when he got uniform number 1? The Suns signing of Matt Barnes undoubtedly makes Eric Piatkowski expendable and Eric is a GREAT shooter (in the Tim Legler tradition) who can be gotten for around $1 million. Bonzi Wells is also available and so is Bostian Nachbar if the preference is still for a small forward who can shoot.

At the end of the day, though, the Wizards will go only as far as the $111 million man will take them. Everyone knows this and we might as well cross our fingers that Gilbert Arenas will stay healthy and elevate his team game.

Posted by: khrabb | July 21, 2008 4:27 AM

I agree with Rob P, drafting late is a crap shoot and EG still wins more than he loses.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 7:00 AM

Despite the late game heroics the other night, Draper appears to be a better player than Brown to me. His defense and passing just seemed to be a step above.

Posted by: mark | July 21, 2008 7:05 AM

Ivan, please don't answer the question about who's having a kid. The last thing we need is more fodder for the 'personal life' bloggers. I thought we'd figured that out with the whole grotto and Laura thing. It's already started with "AB anxious to get to his 1.4 mil mansion in Upper Marlboro". As soon as you start reporting non basketball related stuff, it becomes a subject here on this blog.
I'm speaking for myself only but I have no interest in anything not related to game. If there's a fight in the locker room, then it has an effect on the game and I understand reporting it. Who is having a baby is of absolutely no interest to me and winds up steering this blog in weird directions.

Posted by: mark | July 21, 2008 7:12 AM

Darnell, I wanted to see Mcgee more, too. He's getting NO pt during the season so this will be one of the few times he gets to play against the opposition. He should have played 40 minutes a night to test his conditioning and see how he reacts when he's tired. If he'd been told when he was drafted that he was going to play so much, maybe he could have started preparing and been in ok shape. Who cares what 15th men like Forbes can do? Let the young guy play.

Posted by: mark | July 21, 2008 7:16 AM

Mark, I agree with you. Personal life tidbits equals attacks on these players which is mostly jealousy by some posters. Ivan should just stick with basketball related items and leave their personal business just that. Personal. Great articles on the summer league though Ivan.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 21, 2008 7:43 AM

Thuroughly enjoyed summer league action this year. Sad to see it go, but NFL preseason will make me forget about it in less than two weeks.
Nick Young, McGuire is less talented than you, less fluid than you, and less rich than you, but he clearly is out working you and seems to be a more valuable player to the team than you. Wake Up!
Irish Coffee (Javale McGee), you're really really tall and you're actually coordinated for a big man, stop taking the ball at the top of the key, stop trying to dribble past people, stop shooting the occassional 3, and start creating your own opportunities off the glass. Offense shouldn't run through you, you should run through the offense.
Andray Blatche, you're good to go. Come home now and cancel your trip to the Bunny Ranch.

Posted by: GoGunners | July 21, 2008 10:17 AM

Wizards Summer League Team = BONAFIED SCRUBS

Posted by: Baller4Life | July 21, 2008 10:30 AM

My thoughts, after having watched 4 of the 5 SL games...

AB looked about like we should expect him to look, the most veteran player out there, talented, long. He did not set the world on fire nor surprise us by utterly dominating games, but he looked (most of the time) like the best player on the court. I thought he was made to look bad a few times by rookies who were guarding him, but most often he won the battles.

DM looked good, but dare I say not as good as he looked last year in Vegas? I'm sure he is improving (I'd hope so, after a year of being a professional), but I didn't necessarily SEE it this year. I hope he is improving in areas that the coaching staff found him to be deficient because I liked what I saw last year, a lot. Athleticism, defense, shot blocking, rebounding. Then he barely played during the season. Shows us the value of SL...

NY looked awful. Obviously his shot wasn't there, but that will come back. I thought he looked awful on defense. The Barrera (probably spelled that wrong) kid in the Houston game could get to the basket whenever Young was guarding him, it was hard to watch. I know he'll be fine, but that was discouraging.

So overall, I was disappointed in the "new big 3." I think they should have, together, been a bit more dominant.

Dee Brown is exactly what I expected, fast, a distributor of the ball, doesn't look for his shot. He was fine.

McGee, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. He is FAR more active and aggressive than I expected. Reading some about him after the draft, I read that his motor and work ethic were in doubt, but I saw him hustle consistently and play hard. He is very long, athletic, and yes, raw. But what do you expect from a 7+ footer drafted as late as he was. You can get a polished 6'8" or 6'9" guy there, or a legit 7+ guy who is rough around the edges. If he were polished and ready to contribute heavily tomorrow, he would have been a high lottery pick. My one concern about him was that he seemed to lose the ball a lot when he caught it down low. I would have no way to know, but I had flashbacks and fear the Kwame-lost-the-ball-every-time-he-touched-it syndrome, v.2. They said Kwame had small hands. Kwame certainly did not have good hands. I can only hope we aren't in for more of the same with McGee.

Posted by: psdfx | July 21, 2008 11:01 AM

I loved DM efficiency. He's maturing at twice the rate of NY into a solid backup. I'd still like to keep Gary Forbes over other possible candidates mentioned. He passed very well and had the ability to get to the hoop better than anyone else on the team (including Dee Brown) and dish it out to DM or AB for a wide open shots. He still needs to work on finishing around the basket but has a nice touch from the outside and would be a good rookie prospect. Can't argue with a good Big rebounder like Frank Elegar either so would like to keep him too. It should be a competitive training camp this year with a higher skillset to choose from.

Posted by: Derek | July 21, 2008 11:56 AM

"When he shot that airball 3 that was 3 feet short, Lil Wes yanked his ass and blasted him. That's what he needs. Discipline. Not just playing time."

Haven't you heard? PT is the only way players improve. The more they play the better they get. It's automatic. All that nonsense about practice habits, working on their game in the offseason, discipline and learning ... it's just propaganda.

Posted by: kalorama | July 21, 2008 12:02 PM

I think Elegar was by far the most underrated player on the Wizards summer league team. Ivan and Michael, do you think he has any chance to make the roster? He is certainly not the most athletic player, but one thing I noticed is that he plays with a lot of heart and learns from his mistakes very quickly. I could really see him benefiting this Wizards team.

Posted by: Raul Lopez | July 23, 2008 3:23 PM

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