Wizards fall to Knicks on Summer League finale, as Moe Wagner shows improvement

Chase Hughes
NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards lost to the New York Knicks on Saturday night in the Las Vegas Summer League. Here are five observations from the game...

1. As was a theme in the Summer League, the Wizards played short-handed on Saturday night in their Las Vegas finale.

They were again without Troy Brown Jr., as he was (we now realize) shut down after suffering a left knee contusion in their second game last Monday. He was out and so was Rui Hachimura, who sat due to rest, and Issuf Sanon, who left the team to join the U-20 Ukraine national squad on Friday.

We knew Sanon would be missing because interim president Tommy Sheppard said as much on Thursday's ESPN2 broadcast and Brown's absence wasn't surprising. The Hachimura decision, though, is noteworthy.

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Though he has no reported injury, the Wizards clearly wanted to take it slow with their ninth overall pick in the Summer League. He played in the first two games, missed the third, played in the fourth and then missed the fifth. He had his best performance in their fourth game, a win over the Hawks on Thursday, so perhaps the Wizards wanted him to end on a high note.

It is interesting, however, to contrast to how the Knicks handled their top guys. Both R.J. Barrett, the third overall pick, and Mitchell Robinson, one of their best young players, appeared in all five of the team's games. Barrett and others reportedly lobbied Knicks management to let them play in the fifth game after the original plan was for them to rest.

The Wizards handled things differently. But that said, Hachimura still saw more action than many top ten picks including Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Jarrett Culver, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish.

Really, it was an underwhelming Summer League in that regard. Many of the most intriguing players either played very little or not at all.

2. The outside shots again were not dropping for Moe Wagner, who wrapped up an overall frustrating 2019 Summer League. But in this game he did a much better job of compensating for his bread-and-butter three not being there.

Against the Knicks, Wagner was more aggressive and successful at attacking the rim. Though his three wasn't sharp, opponents still respected his pump fake and he made them pay.

Wagner isn't the fastest guy and he doesn't get a lot of lift when he jumps, but he is fairly smooth around the rim. He can scoop layups off the glass and finish with either hand. He also isn't afraid of contact.

Wagner ended up with 20 points (6-14 FG, 0-4 3PT), eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He closed the Summer League having averaged 10.8 points per game on 31 percent shooting.

3. The biggest standouts in this game were on the Knicks. Barrett had his best game of the Summer League and Mitchell Robinson was absolutely dominant. Barrett had 21 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds while Robinson put up 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Robinson looked like the best player in all of Summer League this year.

The Knicks also may have found something in Ignas Brazdeikis, who like Wagner hails from Michigan. Brazdeikis scored with confidence during his time in Las Vegas and finished well with 17 points and eight rebounds against the Wizards. 

The Knicks are largely a dumpster fire, but they have done a nice job finding diamonds in the rough. They did it with Robinson, Allonzo Trier and may have uncovered another gem with Brazdeikis, the 47th overall pick.

4. Isaac Bonga is a guy who should make the Capital City Go-Go fun to watch this season, but who also has a long way to go before he's ready to make an impact at the NBA level. At 6-foot-8, he's got great size for a guard and moves really well. But his shot, ball-handling and defense need some serious work.

The good news is that the Wizards can take their time with him and give him an opportunity to develop in the G-League. He's the type of player that would probably fizzle out quickly if he had to cut his teeth in the NBA. But the Wizards now have a place they can send Bonga to figure it out.

Don't be surprised if he ends up helping the Wizards. It just may be a year or two.

5. We saw in the fourth Summer League game how Garrison Mathews can shoot. In the team's fifth and final game we saw just how confident he is in his jumper.

Mathews, who finished with 11 points, was attempting threes from the 25-30 foot range, just letting it go. On one play, he got fouled on a miss that he released with 18 seconds on the shot clock. It was a fastbreak where the Wizards did not have a man advantage.

Mathews has some intriguing potential as a shooter, but needs some polish before he's ready for the NBA. It seems like he will spend a good portion of the start of next season in the G-League, even though he is on a two-way contract. But if you end up attending a Go-Go game, expect Mathews to fire threes from all over.

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Wizards fall to Knicks on Summer League finale, as Moe Wagner shows improvement originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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