Five Warriors Storylines to Watch During Vegas Summer League originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The Warriors went winless on their home turf during their three summer league games in the California Classic at Chase Center† Things get a lot more exciting in Las Vegas, though.
Bigger names are expected to play, the stars are emerging in Sin City and a glimpse of Golden State’s future will be on the field less than a month after it’s all won. The Warriors are guaranteed to play a minimum of four games during the upcoming Las Vegas Summer, starting Friday night against the New York Knicks. There are countless reasons to tune in.
Ahead of the Warriors’ return to the floor, here are five storylines to watch in Las Vegas this year.
James Wiseman’s Return
Although James Wiseman did not appear in any of the Warriors’ three California Classic games, the young center made progress behind closed doors. He now plays full-court, full-contact 5-on-5 scrimmages. Wiseman’s knee is responding well and he’s staying on track to make his return to Vegas.
It sounds like it won’t be Friday night though.
Warriors assistant Jama Mahlalela, who is the summer league he coaches in Vegas, said on Wednesday that Wiseman has “made amazing progress”.
“In the coming games – probably not this first game – I imagine we will see him,” Mahlalela told reporters. “It’s a daily activity, but he’s making huge, huge progress.”
Wiseman is entering year 3, but this would be his first foray into the summer league since the Warriors made him No. 2 in the overall standings in 2020. He missed all-season complications following surgery for a torn meniscus in his rookie year. The 21-year-old has played just 45 games of basketball — three in college, 39 in the NBA and three in the G League — since his debut on November 5 in 2019.
Golden State still sees Wiseman as the center of the future, even after Kevon Looney lands another three-year contract. But he needs to start playing games again, and that should be the case in Vegas too.
While Wiseman had to watch the Warriors’ entire season from the sidelines, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody contributed to a championship team at age 19. The two lottery picks have different abilities and are now in different places.
Kuminga, still 19, is the natural athlete seen as having huge potential. He radiated some real stardom from time to time last season. He also showed how much he still has to learn.
Moody, now 20, played the last two games of the California Classic. He struggled to find his shot from deep, but showed his basketball IQ as the Warriors put the ball in his hands more often during the summer. Moody is already a trusted player, whose floor will keep him on the pitch.
After a trip home to Congo, Kuminga flew to Vegas on Wednesday. He also most likely will not play Friday night and could be back in one or all of the Warriors’ guaranteed three games after that. When that happens, watch out below.
A big Kuminga dunk is about to happen in the near future.
The Progress of Patrick Baldwin Jr
Taken with the number 28 pick in last month’s draft, the Warriors play it patiently with Patrick Baldwin Jr.
The former high school recruit dislocated his left ankle during the second game of his senior high school season. He made it worse during his only college season in Milwaukee and it hit him there too. Baldwin was locked into 11 games as a freshman and did not perform as he or anyone else expected.
But the Warriors knew the low risk was worth high reward by adding Baldwin late in the first round of the draft.
From now on, Baldwin will not go through contact or scrimmages, but will do all shooting and contactless exercises. Mahlalela said on Wednesday that Baldwin “shoots the ball very, very well”. If it’s healthy, that should be the 6-foot-10 forward’s bread and butter. He hasn’t been given the green light for games yet, but his development is still at the forefront.
And there’s still hope Baldwin can still see the Vegas floor. If not, then there is no need to panic.
Second two-way contract
Quinndary Weatherspoon had one of the Warriors’ two two-way contracts last season and he’s in line to do it again. However, the athletic guard is also fighting for a spot on the 15-man roster. His defense and bounce can contribute at the highest level.
Now in Vegas he needs to show some consistency with his shot.
Ryan Rollins’ situation complicates matters. The Warriors spent $2 million going from number 51 in the draft to number 44 to take the 6-foot-3 guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan from Toledo. At one point, they even tried to go to number 30 for Rollins. That’s how highly they esteem him.
Here’s the complicating part: Rollins has a stress fracture in his right foot that emerged during his mandatory physical training and won’t be able to play over the summer. He believes it’s more of a precaution than anything. General manager Bob Myers said before Rollins’ injury he expected to be on the 15-man roster. Is that still true?
We will see.
A two-way contract is from Lester Quiñones. The 6-foot-5 guard/wing from Memphis is a marksman who shows a two-way ability with his defense. He shot 39 percent from deep as a junior, scoring 19 points in his second California Classic game.
With Rollins set for the summer, the Warriors have also added an exciting prospect to watch in Las Vegas…
For the Overtime, Ball Is Life, mixtape crowd — you know Mac McClung well. The 6-foot-2 guard can jump with the best and will undoubtedly open your eyes with some highlight reel plays and dunks. That’s what he’s been doing for a long time.
He knows how to score a bucket and also filled the stat sheet.
During his three-year college career, two at Georgetown and one at Texas Tech, McClung averaged 14.7 points per game. He was named Big East All-Freshman and 2020-21 All-Big 12 before going unwritten. As a junior, McClung shot 34.3 percent from a 3-point range.
RELATED: Three Veterinary Free Agent Warriors can still draw to match the roster
Last Sunday, McClung scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Summer League team against the Warriors at Chase Center. McClung played two games – one with the Chicago Bulls and one with the Lakers – in the NBA last season. In the G League for the Lakers affiliate, McClung shone.
With the South Bay Lakers, McClung averaged 21.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game, while being named Rookie of the Year in the G League. Players move through the summer league rosters all the time. Anyway, this will be a fun wrinkle to watch over the next few games.