Wizards

Wizards fall to Pelicans, as Davis continues to adjust

Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 106-88 on Wednesday night in their third game of the Las Vegas Summer League. Here are five observations from what went down...

Good start, but...

The Pelicans were playing without their two top draft picks from this year, as eighth overall pick Dyson Daniels sat with a minor ankle injury and second-round pick E.J. Liddell, unfortunately, suffered a torn ACL, so the Wizards had a chance to take advantage of a depleted New Orleans roster. Early on, they did exactly that, as they led after the first quarter by seven points and shot 65.5% in the first half.

From there, though, very little went right for Washington. They ended up getting beaten handily, by 18 points.

Daniels not playing took some shine off this game, as he was taken only two spots ahead of Wizards' first-round pick Johnny Davis. In an ideal world, those two players, both guards, would match up and provide some intriguing early impressions.

We will have to wait a few more months to see Davis and Daniels go at it. The Wizards, meanwhile, are now 1-2 in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Davis still adjusting

It was another game that showed room for improvement for Davis. He had his third so-so shooting game in a row, this time going 3-for-7 from the field. He had eight points, four rebounds and two assists, but also three turnovers. The more Davis plays in Las Vegas, the more it seems like the style of play in Summer League is unfamiliar for him. Davis is coming from the Big 10 and the University of Wisconsin where the game was very structured. Now he's in the Summer League where there is very little structure. It's basically a wide-open free-for-all.

 

The good news for Davis is that the NBA is somewhere in between. That said, certainly, the early returns from Davis are showing a learning curve that could be there come training camp. If that's the case, he may be in for a Corey Kispert-like trajectory as a rookie. Kispert also didn't light up Summer League either and took some time to adjust early in his first NBA season. But after a few months, he became a reliable rotation player.

Will we see Davis vs. Mathurin?

While the Pelicans were lacking top prospects, the Wizards' next opponent could be quite the matchup. The Indiana Pacers have sixth overall pick Bennedict Mathurin, who plays the same position as Davis, as well as 2021 first-round picks Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson (taken with the pick the Wizards traded for Aaron Holiday), plus intriguing 2022 second-round picks Andrew Nembhard and Kendall Brown. The Pacers have an impressive collection of young players on their Summer League roster.

But that will be the fourth Summer League game for both organizations and once you get into the second half of the Las Vegas schedule, teams tend to start sitting guys. For example, Rui Hachimura only played three games for the Wizards back in 2019. Granted, he played really well. Kispert, their 2021 first-round pick, played four games. The Wizards, though, have already shown caution this summer by not having Kispert or Deni Avdija play. At some point, they could shut Davis down. It would be fun to see him go up against Mathurin, if it happens.

Carey Jr. kept it rolling

The Wizards' most consistent player so far in the Summer League has been big man Vernon Carey Jr., who played well once again vs. the Pelicans. Carey Jr. had 11 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He shot 5-for-6 from the field and did all of it in only 19 minutes of action.

Carey Jr. is doing a nice job on offense by using his strength, attacking the rim aggressively and displaying touch around the basket. He has been a positive for the Wizards, particularly on the offensive end. Defensively, the Wizards had some trouble with the Pelicans' bigs on Wednesday. They also got obliterated on the boards, 46-25.

Zion was courtside

There was a large contingent of Pelicans players sitting courtside in Las Vegas, highlighted by Zion Williamson fresh off signing a $193 million contract extension with New Orleans. He was joined by C.J. McCollum, Brandon Ingram and others. Seeing all of those talented players together was a reminder the Pelicans may be able to make some noise this upcoming season if Williamson is healthy and available.

The Pelicans made the play-in tournament last season and saw Ingram enjoy a breakout postseason. Williamson would give them another star with the potential to perform like a superstar. His injuries, plus the emergence of Ja Morant (picked second behind him in 2019) have led to a lot of people seemingly forgetting how good Williamson is. Keep in mind he's averaged an efficient 25.7 points in 31.7 minutes per game so far in his two-year career.

 

Oh hey, look. That's NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller!