LAS VEGAS – Every year, multiple players are declared steals – in the draft or free agency – all because of summer league. And if a team wins the “championship” in this two-week tournament with 23 NBA teams, the accomplishment is grossly overrated, too.
The most important thing is being able to tell whether or not a player has a shot at the next level and that’s no indicative by the boxscore. Though NBA teams are on these jerseys, most aren’t NBA players. These are makeshift units full of players, most of whom aren’t getting paid, trying to get noticed to get a training camp invite.
Remember Glen Rice’s MVP award from summer league two years ago while with the Wizards? Where is he now? Still in the D-League after being cut.
The Wizards open Saturday vs. the Utah Jazz, and unlike recent years they'll have more than one or two players worth paying attention to for tipoff (CSN, 6:30 p.m. ET).
Kelly Oubre: The second-year forward is secure so what he’s hoping to show coach Scott Brooks, who’ll be watching from the stands while assistant Sidney Lowe runs the team, is whether or not he’s deserves a closer look to be either the starter at small forward or at least the primary backup for Otto Porter. Last year, Oubre displayed a better three-point stroke than expected in the regular season though he didn’t shoot from distance very well at summer league. He clearly was the best athlete on the floor in every summer league game, and if Oubre can settle down and get in a rhythm early he could be poised for a breakout.
Aaron White: He played in Germany in 2015 when he was a second-round pick and he has one job which is being a stretch four. If he lights it up, the Wizards have a decision to make on whether or not that can translate against bigger, stronger and faster players at the next level. If not, they’d probably have him stashed overseas for another year or could make another move involving White.
Jarell Eddie: By Tuesday, the 6-7 shooter will either be fully guaranteed at less than $1 million for 2016-17 or he’ll be a free agent. That’s because the Wizards have to make up their mind on whether to waive his non-guaranteed deal by the July 15 deadline.
Sheldon McClellan: The guard is a partial guarantee but that doesn’t mean he has a roster spot. He’s long at 6-6 and is determined to make his mark as a defender and not as a scorer. Of course, if he can show potential to do both, his chances increase to stick. McClellan has gone the similar route of Dez Wells a year ago, opting to bypass being drafted and stashed overseas for a year. He thinks he’s ready now.
Daniel Ochefu: Disregard the three-year deal he signed with the Wizards. The only number that matters is the $50,000 guarantee. The rest of the contract is a dangling carrot. It isn’t valid unless he makes good at summer league and then training camp. The Wizards are heavy on bigs so it’s difficult to see how he’d fit but if he blows everyone away there’s a lot of time between now and the regular season to figure out what to do with the 6-11 center. The small guarantee assures that he’ll be around for training camp and not accepting offers from other teams to train for them. If he gets waived, he walks away with a nice sum in his pocket unlike most rookie free agents.
Jaleel Roberts, who the Wizards paid to attend Tim Grgurich’s private camp in Vegas last year and then went to Australia to play, didn't make the trip and is looking to find a new home.
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