Rookie is in Las Vegas for the summer league
The NBA summer league comes at a perfect time for basketball fans, a Christmas in July for those who are devoted to the sport and sad to see it go when the NBA Finals are over.
But aside from the practice-style uniforms bearing NBA team names, the rosters are made up mostly of players who haven't been in the league at all or very long. That means that the games themselves also aren't totally representative of the NBA level. Instead, it's more of a wading pool before players jump into the deep end in the fall.
That's how Wizards top draft pick Bradley Beal is approaching his first taste of five-on-five basketball since the college season ended.
|Friday » vs. Hawks, 4 p.m., CSN|
|Sat.» vs. Rockets, 10 p.m., NBATV|
|Sunday » vs. D-League, 10 p.m.|
|Tues. » vs. Grizzlies, 6 p.m., CSN|
|Wed. » vs. Bucks, 4 p.m., CSN|
"Just to get the feel for the game, the speed of it and the pace of it," Beal said. "There's going to be other rookies and free agents as well -- it's not the big guys who've been playing awhile -- but it still gives us a feel of it, and I think I'll most definitely love it."
Washington is in a unique position as well. With most of next season's roster accounted for, Las Vegas won't be the site of an open audition. Beal and fellow rookie Tomas Satoransky, along with second-year players Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack, are likely not only to play the bulk of the Wizards' minutes but also play with one another in an effort to strengthen their chemistry.
Minutes in Vegas will be prized because they could be reduced come next season for Vesely and Singleton following Washington's acquisition of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Mack knows his job as backup point guard is also on the line as the Wizards investigate adding a veteran free agent to the backcourt.
"I can't control if they bring someone in or not," Mack said. "You just control coming in and working hard every day and let my play speak for itself."
Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he's looking for Mack to make the same kind of leap he saw in John Wall toward the end of last season, when Wall began to run Washington's offense without much prompting from the sideline.
"I just want to see his growth now," Wittman said of Mack. "I want to see how he handles the pressure of bringing the ball up against fullcourt pressure all the time, and that's kind of what teams did to him at the end of the year that he struggled with a little bit. We'll see how he's adjusted to it."
Wittman also said roles have been established within his summer league roster, such as who's to score and who's to set screens. He's not interested in Beal following in Wall's footsteps by getting named summer league's most outstanding player.
"It's just trying to help my team, honestly," Beal said. "If I get all-star player, then so be it. It's really no big deal. As long as I'm coming hard and competing and making sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do on both ends of the floor."