5 things Wizards fans should know about Ryan Rollins

5 things Wizards fans should know about Ryan Rollins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

It became apparent earlier this summer that the Washington Wizards' roster heading into the 2023-24 season would be different than what fans had seen in years past. The team's new front office has been adjusting on-court personnel, most notably by engaging in a deal with the Golden State Warriors for Chris Paul, who the Wizards acquired in the Bradley Beal trade.

The return from the Paul deal was sizable: Washington received a wealth of draft picks in addition to Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins. Here, we'll focus on the latter.

Rollins is a young guard whose swift and nimble play style should make for a welcome addition to Washington's backcourt. But what beyond that can Wizards fans look for? Here are five things to know:

Silky-smooth point guard

In a way, Rollins' game embodies that of a prototypical scoring point guard. He has a smooth jump shot but also a speedy first step that enables him to score at all three levels. Beyond that, he shows prowess on the defensive end as well. At the NBA Summer League this month, he averaged 14 points, 5 assists and 2.3 steals per game as the Wizards' starting point guard.

He put it best himself:

"I would say I'm a smooth playmaker, somebody (who) can score on three levels and can create for myself and others," Rollins said in an interview with last May. "I make plays on both ends of the floor, on the offensive end and defensive end as well."

Hometown connection with Kyle Kuzma

Washington's new front office was not shy about their desire to keep Kyle Kuzma around long-term this summer. They bolstered their wing depth by inking the 28-year-old forward to a four-year extension earlier in July.

Kuzma constantly credits his success in the NBA to his upbringing in Flint, Michigan. Rollins' story is similar, as he hails from downtown Detroit, just about 90 minutes down I-75 from Flint. He moved to the suburbs when he was eight years old, he says, but he "had a hoop outside, so I was always playing basketball. My mom played, and my whole family played, so I was always around basketball and bred into it."

MAC hero

Rollins' standout high school career in Michigan earned him attention as a three-star recruit. He elected to play at the University of Toledo, where he'd garner even more widespread acclaim.

He won a starting role immediately and made good on his time on-court as a freshman, putting up 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Those numbers were good enough to earn him two accolades which ensured NBA scouts would have their eyes on him: Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year and MAC All-Freshman Team. He'd progress even further in his second and final year at Toledo, where he'd put up 18.9 points and 6.0 assists per contest off 47% shooting, good enough for First-Team All-MAC in 2022. Months later, Atlanta would draft him 44th overall and ship him to Golden State in a draft-night trade.

Another G-League riser

Much like his counterparts on the Warriors, Jordan Poole and Patrick Baldwin Jr., Rollins found a niche playing in the G League before getting run in the NBA. And it's no wonder, either; his numbers in the 10 games he played for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season are sublime.

Rollins led the squad in points (20.3) and steals (1.1) while placing second in assists (4.1). His shooting numbers from the field (48%) and from three-point range (37%) while playing just 28.5 minutes per game speak to his splendid efficiency. He was only able to play in 12 games for Golden State this past season, though, as he suffered a fractured foot in February which required season-ending surgery.

He models his game after...

...some familiar faces. As he told, he took notes from some of the game's brightest stars, including one he ended up playing with in California and now in Washington.

"Right now I’d say CJ McCollum, a combo guard who can create for himself and others," Rollins said. "Guys like Devin Booker, Jordan Poole (and) Tyrese Maxey. Guys like that."

The parallels between Rollins and Poole are apparent. They're two guards who can shoot with efficiency but have a knack for scoring at all three levels thanks to a nifty first step and adept ballhandling. After coming to Washington from Golden State, Poole was complimentary of Rollins' game as well, saying of both him and Patrick Baldwin Jr.: "I'm so excited to have them over there [in Washington]. Their work ethic, they're young, they have so much upside and potential, and they're willing to learn...I'm excited that I'm able to still help them, kind of guide them, still build the relationship that we have. Those guys are special."