5 things to watch as Wizards begin Summer League


After a year off due to the coronavirus, the Las Vegas Summer League has returned and the Wizards are expected to begin play sometime in the next few days. Their opener on Sunday night against the Pacers was postponed due to multiple Wizards players entering Covid-19 protocol. Their next scheduled game is Tuesday against the Kings.

Here are five things to watch as the Wizards get set to begin Summer League action...

Kispert's first showing

This Summer League will be the first time we get a glimpse of 2021 first round pick Corey Kispert in a Wizards uniform. Taken 15th overall out of Gonzaga, Kispert was billed as the best shooter in the draft and this will be the early stages of him adjusting to the NBA level. The three-point line is further back and the defenses feature longer and quicker athletes.

Kispert should have ample opportunity to take shots, as he is the Wizards' only first round pick on the roster and therefore his development is paramount. It should give us a snapshot of how the Wizards plan to use him in the offense and also what he is capable of defensively at this stage in his career. Expect plenty of plays where he runs off screens looking for long range shots.


Some good competition

The Wizards won't play any of the top picks in their first four games - the fifth opponent depends on how they do - so there will be no Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green or Evan Mobley. But they will still go up against some intriguing players, including some 2021 first round picks.

The Wizards are set to play Tuesday against the Kings who have ninth overall pick Davion Mitchell of Baylor. They play the Nets who have 2021 first round picks Cam Thomas of LSU and Day'Ron Sharpe of UNC. The Wizards then face the Bucks, who don't have any 2021 draft picks but do have former Wizards forward and rebound specialist Jemerrio Jones.

Kyree Walker intrigue

Rookie Kyree Walker took a bit of an unusual path to get here. He was a five-star high school recruit who decommitted from Arizona State University to train at Chameleon BX in San Francisco. It is a year-long training program designed to prepare players for the NBA.

Walker wasn't drafted, but is known for being a high-flying athlete capable of big-time dunks. He has a chance to be a highlight reel in Las Vegas. He is facing long odds as an undrafted player, but he has NBA athleticism which is a good starting point.

Unseld Jr.'s role

The Wizards are still putting together their staff of assistants under new head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was hired last month to replace Scott Brooks. Unseld Jr. has been running their Summer League practices and is expected to coach some games. He is listed as the team's head coach in their media guide.

If Unseld Jr. does indeed coach some Summer League games, it will be our first look at him as Washington's head coach. Though almost all of the players on their roster won't be the ones he coaches this upcoming season in the NBA, his general offensive and devensive schemes should be on display. We will also get a sense of how he evaluates his players game-to-game by how he answers questions in postgame press conferences.

Three players in protocol

The Wizards released some unfortunate news on Saturday, the day before their first Summer League game, that Cassius Winston, Issuf Sanon and Isaiah Todd had all entered Covid-19 protocol. Their game on Sunday was then postponed, with no makeup date yet determined. The Pacers instead had a game scheduled for Monday against the Knicks.

It would be great to not only have the Wizards play some games, but ideally ones with those three players included. All three were Wizards' second round picks, Winston and Todd being their selections in 2020 and 2021.  Winston is supposed to be one of the best players on the team and Todd had plenty of interest going in because, similar to Walker, he was a highly-touted high school recruit one year ago. Sanon has become a favorite among some Wizards fans in part because of his performance at Summer League back in 2019, when he drew attention for his emotional style of play.