In preparation for their participation in the Las Vegas Summer League , the Washington Wizards summer league roster endured the first of their three day mini-camp yesterday. The roster is chock full of players hoping to impress first in mini-camp, and then in next week’s games, in an effort to make it to the NBA.
The four “veterans” – JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Javaris Crittenton – are not only playing this summer to improve their game, but they are attempting to learn the offense of new head coach Flip Saunders while attempting to prove to him that they are indeed worthy of a major role in the 2009-2010 season.
After the first practice on Saturday afternoon, Saunders laid out exactly what he expects to see from McGee, Young, McGuire and Crittenton in Las Vegas:
“I think [we want to see] more energy consistency wise. You don’t have to be physical to have an impact on the floor. You look at Chris Andersen from Denver, he may not be the most physical guy, but he plays at a high-energy level and so it looks like he’s almost more physical. We just need him to play at that high-energy level consistently, and that is the biggest adjustment all young players have to make.”
“I want a calmness in his approach to the game…seriousness may be the right answer. Nick is a happy-go-lucky guy, he smiles a lot. I think as a young player you don’t always need to smile, you’re better off having a little bit of nastiness and understanding. I never saw Michael Jordan smile too much, the only time he smiled is when he was kicking your butt. I think as a young player, its a fine line between enthusiasm, passion and sometimes understanding the importance of each possession. For him, I think its understanding those things and that there’s a lot expected out of him.”
“He’s a multi-dimensional player, I think he can almost play four positions. We haven’t tried to play him at the 1, but he has a great…very good ball-handling skills for a player of his size. Today (Saturday) we used him as 3, the 4 and the 2. So actually he learned three spots today, so he’ll have a lot of pressure during this camp in terms of understanding everything we’re doing.”
“I think what you want is just learning management of the game from a point guard standpoint…I think the other thing is that his mark as a young player, in order to create an opportunity for time in games, you have to find a niche. And I think his one niche can be his defensive ability, similar to how Lindsay Hunter was…He really worked a lot on his shooting and now its a matter of the next level. He’s got the toughest job of any of the [summer league] guys, because I put a lot of pressure on point guards, initiating offense, initiating defense, being able to understand the game, game management, almost like a quarterback in football. For him there will be some days where he’ll look really good, and he’ll have days where he’ll look really bad. That’s part of development.”
My next report on this mini-camp will come on Tuesday, when I hope to have quotes from Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Tyrese Rice, who is looking to make an NBA roster.