LAS VEGAS -- The Washington Wizards open their 2019 Las Vegas Summer League schedule on Saturday night against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. Here are five things to look for during their Summer League schedule...
1. Hachimura's debut
The biggest storyline for the Wizards in Las Vegas is clearly the introduction of ninth overall pick Rui Hachimura to the NBA game. He is the Wizards' highest draft pick since Otto Porter Jr. in 2013 and brings with him some serious hype.
Hachimura is already a global star with a large media contingent from his home country of Japan. He will be one of the most closely watched players in Las Vegas with dozens of Japanese reporters and photographers following his every move.
"I'm so excited," Hachimura said. "The team is looking really good right now."
For the Wizards, they want to see Hachimura show early signs of an NBA skillset. They would like him to expand his shooting range and the Summer League is a good place to test it out. Get your misses in now and build confidence from the NBA three-point line.
"If I have it, I will shoot it. But I want to attack the goal," Hachimura said. "I shoot threes, get rebounds and push the ball. I do a lot of things, so I want to show all of the things that I've been working on."
It will be interesting to see how Hachimura stacks up as an athlete in the Summer League. The competition isn't quite NBA level, but the athleticism is a big step up from the college ranks. How his speed, quickness and ability to play above the rim compare against NBA players will say something about his long-term potential.
2. Brown Jr.'s progress
Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards' 2018 first round pick, will get his second crack at the Las Vegas Summer League as he moves through a big offseason in his development. Brown didn't crack the Wizards' rotation until late in his rookie season and has used that as motivation this summer. A big leap could propel him into the team's starting lineup in the fall.
"This is more so about me playing at my pace. Last year, I got sped up a lot because I feel like I wasn't used to the speed," Brown said of the difference year-over-year.
In Las Vegas, Brown's hometown, he should get the opportunity to be the focal point of the Wizards' offense. He is the best play-maker on the team and should get plenty of room to spread his wings and build confidence as a No. 1 scoring option. His outside shooting will be a primary focus, as Brown entered the league without a consistent perimeter game and shot a modest 31.9 percent from three as a rookie.
3. Sanon's skillset
With John Wall's injury and Tomas Satoransky's departure to the Bulls, the Wizards are in transition at the point guard spot. One of their prospects at the position is Issuf Sanon, whom they took in the second round of last year's draft.
Sanon is unlikely to be ready for the NBA jump this fall, but this summer can show how much he has improved while playing in Slovenia. In last year's Summer League, Sanon showed he was very raw on offense and a bit of a loose cannon on defense. This year, he can prove plenty just by playing disciplined and under control.
4. Schofield's readiness
Instead of taking Bol Bol when they traded back into the second round in June, the Wizards opted for Admiral Schofield, a four-year player from Tennessee who appears to be more NBA-ready. On a young Wizards roster, Schofield could earn rotation minutes as a rookie if he plays his cards right.
Schofield's defense and shooting will be most interesting to watch. They are his most pro-ready skills. If he can prove versatile on defense and able to hit NBA threes like he did in college, Schofield might get some real playing time in his first season.
5. Guys from the Lakers trade
The Wizards announced their Summer League roster this week with some notable exclusions. But at the bottom, next to an asterisk, was a disclaimer that the roster is subject to change. Always read the fine print.
The Wizards are indeed expected to add some players once their trade with the Los Angeles Lakers becomes official on July 6. Center Mo Wagner, guard Isaac Bonga and forward Jemerrio Jones are likely to become available in the Summer League.
Wagner is the headliner there. He was a first round pick last summer and has a chance to earn a rotation spot for the Wizards. They have a lot of centers, but he can separate himself with his outside shooting.