Less than two weeks after the NBA Draft and just days before the team beginsparticipating in the LasVegas Summer League, the Wizards went at it on the Verizon Center practicecourt. Scrimmages run, shots fired, coaching messages conveyed. Rookies andjourneymen invitees competing against those from the previous seasons squad,all at a basic level looking to show they belong.Most summers, this minicamp scene is the norm for an NBA team during the de factobeginning of a new campaign. Due to last year's NBA lockout, that was not thecase. A growth opportunity for a burgeoning roster denied. That'swhy after Monday's morning session, there was no hint of complaining, no talkof the grind. Getting after it on the hardwood is what they do. Doing so with the goal ofdeveloping their ripening talent, that is what the Wizards coaching staff need to do this summer.Its just good to be back out here, Randy Wittman said after Mondays mini-camp session, his firstas the teams head coach. Last year at this time we were pulling our hair out, not being able to have any contact, sitting around waiting for a lockout to end that never ended until December. This is good. Its good for our kids.By kids, Wittman is not simply talking about Bradley Beal and Tomas Satoransky, a pair of rookies getting their first taste of the NBA game. Rising second-year players Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and Shelvin Mack missed a proper summers worth of basketball grooming.Chris and Jan and Shelvin didnt have this opportunity last year. Obviously, Bradley and Tomas from this years draft, Wittman continued. This is invaluable work that were able to get in to continue the development of our young guys.That development is what the summer league opportunity is all about, especially for a team loaded with players still cutting their teeth on the professional level and a team ready for more than another NBA Draft lottery visit.There's always an opportunity when you're able to come together and work as a team, also with the coaches, and get valuable experience I wasn't able to get last year cause of the rookie year, Mack said. Just getting more comfortable with the system. I already know what the coaches expect, so it's just helping me out a lot more.Step one for the coaching staff, gauging which members of the roster, from the core five to any of the 14 players currently on hand, are ready for the rigors of practice followed by game action. The Wizards continue mini-camp thru Thursday then open play in Las Vegas on Friday, starting a five games in six days stretch.I was very pleased, the coach said. We went pretty hard because I do want to see where theyre at, in shape. Going two a days for three days in a row, if they werent in shape, were going to get them in shape.Wittman, who will turn the coaching reigns over to assistant Sam Cassell in Las Vegas, said he had yet to determine the number of bodies the team will bring out west. Obviously, Beal, the Wizards first-round pick, will be among them.It was pretty good actually, the intensity was there, the Florida product said following Mondays workout. I think everybody was happy and excited to actually be able to put on a Wizards uniform and get out there. They threw a lot of stuff at us, but I think we took it all in. I cant wait for summer league, honestly.Getting the 6-foot-4 guard with deep range and textbook form on his jumper familiar with his new teammates and acclimated to the pro ranks stands high on the Wizards list of goals. Continuing to form a cohesive roster and professional locker room, a plan started last season at the trading deadline and continued this off-season, does as well.These guys are people on the team that Bradleys going to be with now for years to come, Wittman said. Relationships, not only on the floor and learning how to play together and knowing each others nuances, but off the court. Theyre going to spend a lot of time here in the next three months trying to learn each other. The better that happens, the quicker your locker room solidifies.
Wizards starting the summer grind, gladly
July 9, 2012, 8:24 pm