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Summer League roundup: Rice, Len, Grant winning Vegas


Summer League roundup: Rice, Len, Grant winning Vegas

The Wizards aren't the only story in the Las Vegas Summer League and not even the only one with local ties...

  • Glen Rice Jr. loves Vegas. Named the 2014 Summer League Most Valuable Player when a member of the Wizards, the third-year guard is once again piling up the points. Playing with the Houston Rockets, Rice ranks second overall with 22.7 points through Houston's first three games while shooting 40 percent on 3-point attempts. Scoring has never been the issue. Playing within a team system on the other hand was part of the issue before. Obviously his previous summer league success didn't lead to much in terms of sticking around with the Wizards, who released the 2013 second-round pick during the season. Doesn't sound like RIce is ready to talk about what happened in Washington just yet

  • As for the leading glass man in Vegas, so far that would be Alex Len. The former Maryland standout and now a rising third-year center for the Phoenix Suns is averaging a SL-high 11 rebounds per game (Wizards big man Jarrid Famous is fifth with 9.7). Yet perhaps the most interesting nugget from this Arizona Republic piece on the 7-foot-1 center involved him perhaps becoming a 3-point shooter. 

Len has been working on adding a 3-point shot this summer, hitting 70 of 100 3-point shots on one practice day. He took and missed his first 3-pointer in two games Tuesday.

"(The coach) ran that play for me," Len said. "I told him, 'You owe me one from last game because he promised me and didn't run it.'"

  • Consider ProBasketballTalk.com's Kurt Helin a fan of Knicks rookie point guard Jerian Grant. Helin offered praise on the former DeMatha product as part of his Tuesday wrap-up, which includes analysis of the Jahlil Okafor-Kristaps Porzingis matchup. The Wizards technically drafted Grant with the 19th selection before officially dealing the pick in a deal for Kelly Oubre Jr. Helin:

The more I see Jerian Grant play, the more I like his game. He attacks the paint off the dribble, has fantastic court vision and gets the right guy the rock. He can finish inside and hit some jumpers. Knicks’ coach Derek Fisher was talking about him as a guy who could see a lot of minutes when the season starts if he improves at taking care of the ball.

“We really enjoy having his playmaking out there, his vision, his comfort level with handling the basketball,” Fisher said. “That’s one of the things that really excited us when we drafted him at the number we did (No. 19, a trade with the Wizards) because of that ability. To play the guard in our system, both guards need to be able to make plays, and Jerian gives us a little versatility that way, where he and Langston (Galloway) can play together, he can play with Jose (Calderon), a lot of different combinations we can put out there.” 

RELATED: Three-point shooting extends Drew Gooden's career

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Wizards to remove interim tag from Tommy Sheppard, making him permanent GM

Wizards to remove interim tag from Tommy Sheppard, making him permanent GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes has confirmed. 

Sheppard had been serving as Washington's interim GM since the firing of Ernie Grunfeld on April 2. He oversaw the Wizards' 2019 NBA Draft selections of Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, as well as their offseason transactions this summer. 

According to Hughes, the Wizards will announce the decision next week, with more changes to follow. 


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Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Summer League allowed Wizards to experiment with Issuf Sanon's position

Issuf Sanon remains very much a blank canvass as an NBA prospect. The Wizards' 2018 second-round pick is only 19 years old and still spending most of his time overseas, this past season playing professional ball in Slovenia.

So, the Wizards see the current stage of his career as an opportunity for experimentation. During Sanon's time in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Wizards toyed with him as a shooting guard despite the fact he was drafted as a point guard by trade.

Sanon spent much of his time on the floor during four Summer League games off the ball. It was an adjustment for Sanon, but one the team feels he is well-suited for due to his size at 6-foot-4.

"He's still picking up the game, still learning," Wizards Summer League head coach Robert Pack said. "I don't want to put a lot of pressure on him to be a point guard or to be an off-guard."

Sanon didn't exactly take to the new role quickly. In his four Summer League games, he averaged only 1.5 points and a rebound while shooting 18.2 percent from the field. He even missed his free throws.

But beyond the stats, the trademark aggression Sanon usually has was mostly missing. He usually runs around the court with reckless abandon, sometimes to a fault. In the 2018 Summer League he got into foul trouble too quickly and stood out for slapping the floor on defense.

Those in the Wizards' front office rave about his motor and the edge he brings to the game. He almost has too much energy and the Wizards have no qualms with that. They say it's easier to reel that in than to ask a player to ramp it up out of nowhere.

But in the shooting guard role, Sanon did not appear comfortable, at least on offense.

"[I have to focus on] cuts, baseline, back screens," Sanon said of the difference in playing as a two-guard. "Like how we do in Europe, not play 1-on-1. Small cuts, back doors and stuff like that."

Without a consistent jumper, Sanon's ceiling off the ball on offense appears low at this point. Developing a three-pointer that other teams have to respect would be crucial for him becoming a combo guard long-term.

Defensively is where it makes more sense. Sanon is better on that end of the floor and has the size to defend shooting guards. He is tall and also strong. He is not your average, lanky 19-year-old basketball player.

Sanon has the size to play physical defense and the quickness to stay in front of point guards, at least at the Summer League level.

"I like to play defense. It starts on defense. If I play good defense, I have a good game," he said.

It may be another year or several before Sanon makes the leap to the United States to play for the Wizards. When he does, expect explosive athleticism and a commitment to the defensive end. 

Whether he will arrive as a point guard or something different, though, now appears to be up in the air.