Aaron White flew out to Las Vegas as a member of the Washington Wizards’ summer league team with, as always, high expectations. He was the team’s second-round pick in the NBA draft last month, 49th overall, and wanted to prove he could help the regular team this season.
But White has scuffled in the Wizards’ five summer league games so far, averaging 3.6 points and shooting 34.8 percent from the field in 18.4 minutes. Sure, there are basketball reasons for the rough transition. He said he hasn’t been consistently setting his feet when he shoots and could use 10 more pounds of muscle on his 6-foot-8 frame. But White believes it extends beyond basketball.
“Being too hard on myself,” White said after the Wizards’ 97-81 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. “That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ve got to stay upbeat, stay positive, understand that there’s guys out here that have played significant minutes in the NBA that have off games. So I can’t be too hard on myself if I have a bad quarter or a bad couple possessions. I got to fight through it and continue to do what I do.”
White, 22, entered the week with an outside shot of getting a training camp invite — the Wizards’ 15-man roster is already filled — but he confirmed Thursday that he will “probably” go overseas next season.
“The thing with training camp is if I went to training camp and I didn’t make the team, I’d have to get cut and the Wizards would lose my rights,” White said. “So right now it’s looking like I’ll probably go overseas. I’m in talks with both my agent and the front office of the Wizards trying to work out a good situation for me.
“The positive thing is both Wizards and myself, we see each other as eventual partners. I’m going to be a part of this team in the future. It just might be next year instead of this year. And I understand that. That’s one of the big things. I want to get in a situation where I can play and I can develop and I can get stronger so when I come back to minicamp, to summer league, to training camp next year, I’m ready to contribute.”
Among White’s objectives next season, wherever he ends up, is to grow more comfortable as in the stretch-four. White looks the part – he’s undersized, a solid three-point shooter, and mobile – but he explained that he was more of a slasher in his four years at Iowa than a pick-and-pop player. The transition, he believes, will come with time.
“I am hard on myself and sometimes that’s a bad thing because I got to understand that this is my first go around,” White said. “I can’t expect myself to go out and get 20 every night or 15. I know it’s a process but at the same time I am hard on myself. It’s been tough in that way but that’s the challenge I’ve faced. This is as much physical as it is mental so for me it’s just continue to learn, continue to grow and I’m excited to have another opportunity [Friday against the Denver Nuggets]. Every opportunity at this level is good for me to be able to learn and grow. So that’s what I’m going to try to do with each situation.”
Michael Lee contributed to this report.