Wizards Notes: Vukcevic, Dawkins, Coulibaly, Poole

Second-round pick Tristan Vukcevic is hoping to join the Wizards right away rather than spending more time overseas, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Team officials haven’t decided how to handle Vukcevic yet, but the main roster is already crowded with 16 standard contracts. There’s a two-way opening if the Wizards opt to go that route.

The seven-footer out of Serbia played for Partizan Belgrade last season after spending the previous two years with Real Madrid. He doesn’t believe he needs any more international basketball to be ready for the NBA, and he expressed that to teams during the pre-draft process, according to Hughes.

Vukcevic was impressive during his brief Summer League appearance, posting 21 points in 17 minutes in the only game he played. He acknowledges that the NBA is played at a faster pace than what he’s used to and says he needs to make quicker decisions and become more aggressive in seeking his own offense.

After being drafted, Vukcevic got some tips from Marc Gasol about how to prepare for the NBA.

“He just called me, he said he loves my game and wanted to give me advice,” Vukcevic said. “He just told me the differences in the NBA and how life is in the NBA, like how to get adjusted. Whenever I’m wondering or have any specific questions, to feel free to always call him. I feel grateful for that. He’s a legend.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • In an interview posted on the NBC Sports Washington website (video link), general manager Will Dawkins explains why the organization opted not to pursue a full rebuild after trading Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis last month. Instead, the Wizards re-signed free agent forward Kyle Kuzma and used Chris Paul, who was acquired in the Beal trade, to get Jordan Poole from the Warriors. “There were a lot of good players on the roster,” Dawkins said. “… For us, it’s about building habits. It’s about building a day-to-day mentality that you come in the gym, you compete and you do things the right way.”
  • The Wizards were “super happy” with what they saw from lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly, says Summer League coach Landon Tatum (video link). “We told him the first thing he got here to be a defensive type of guy first,” Tatum said. “And he’s taken that on, trying to defend everyone we put him on, whether it’s a guard, a big or a wing.”
  • In a separate story, Hughes takes an analytical look at the impact Poole can make during his first season in Washington. He notes that Poole was 34th in ESPN’s offensive real plus-minus ratings last season, which is higher than anyone who was on the Wizards’ roster.
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