This article incorrectly said that Washington Wizards player Andray Blatche had traveled to San Diego to await the birth of his first child. His teammate Dominic McGuire did so.
Wizards Youngsters Think Big
Monday, July 21, 2008
LAS VEGAS, July 20 -- Before the Wizards left Washington for the NBA Summer League, second-year guard Nick Young threw his arms around fourth-year forward Andray Blatche and second-year forward Dominic McGuire and declared, "This is new Big Three right here."
Only time will tell whether Young, Blatche and McGuire can be anywhere near as productive as the Wizards' current high-scoring trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, but they did have an opportunity to show what they can do this week.
The results were mixed.
The Wizards finished with a 2-3 record following Sunday's 88-69 loss to the Phoenix Suns, but the team's youngsters clocked plenty of playing time and gained valuable experience that should carry over to training camp in October.
Blatche, Young and McGuire were the squad's top three scorers and rookie first-round pick JaVale McGee cut his NBA teeth by appearing in all five games. McGee, a talented but raw 7-footer who was a starter for one season at the University of Nevada, averaged 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.
"It was a good experience for me, just getting a feel for the game and learning some things that will help me going forward," said McGee, who capped his week with seven points, three rebounds and a block on Sunday.
Barring a trade before training camp, those four players -- along with second-year forward Oleksiy Pecherov, who missed all five games with a sprained left ankle -- are locks to be on the regular season roster.
The team must decide whether Dee Brown, who was signed to a two-year partially guaranteed contract last week, showed enough to earn a spot as the team's third point guard behind Arenas and Antonio Daniels.
Brown played the majority of minutes at point guard and averaged 5.4 points, 2.4 assists and 3.0 turnovers while shooting 50 percent. He pushed the ball aggressively in transition and, at times, played solid on-the-ball defense, two things the Wizards would like to have from a third point guard.
"He pushed the ball, he was disruptive and he gave us a veteran presence out there," said summer league coach Wes Unseld Jr. "He's played in the NBA so he knows how to direct guys to spots and get them set before getting the offense going. I think he'll fit in with us."
The team also had a chance to evaluate 2006 second-round pick Vladimir Veremeenko, who has played in Russia the last two seasons and remains under contract to BC Khimki of the Russian Superleague.
Veremeenko, who is listed at 6 feet 10 but appears to be at least two inches shorter, averaged 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 40 percent in 11.4 minutes per game. He played solid defense but appeared to struggle while adjusting to the NBA game.
For instance, Veremeenko was twice called for traveling while initiating a drive on Sunday. He reacted with bewilderment to both calls.
"I don't understand because in Europe I use that same move," said Veremeenko, who said he will return to Europe next season. "Here you can take three, four steps and they don't call travel but that first step, they call it. So, it is different here."
The team's most consistent players throughout the week were Blatche, who averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and McGuire, who averaged 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting a crisp 62.5 percent.
Blatche, who returned to San Diego following Sunday's game to await the birth of his first child, showed off a much-improved outside shot and was also the team's most active defender.
"I worked hard on my game this summer and I know where to pick my spots in the offense so much better now," said McGuire, who appeared in 70 games as a rookie last season. "I feel so much more comfortable out there this year."