Based on their initial 16-man roster released today, the Golden State Warriors will have a loaded squad for Summer League this year, even if a few key players will likely miss this weekend’s California Classic. There’s four former first-round picks, six players age 21 and under, plus some old favorites from the Santa Cruz Warriors and from past summer league teams.
Warriors Summer League Team— GSWCBA (@gswcba) June 28, 2022
Patrick Baldwin Jr.
We can break this roster down into groups.
Young studs getting work in
Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga were both 19 for the entirety of the regular season, with Moody turning 20 during the Finals. And while each suffered some growing pains, they both were important contributors to perhaps the most Strength In Numbers effort of any Warriors championship team. Kuminga started 12 games, plus three playoff games, upping his shooting and scoring numbers as the season went on (12.1 points per game, 36% three-point shooting after the All-Star break). Moody started 11 of his 52 games, also improved his shooting as the season went on, and went from out of the rotation to playing huge minutes in the conference finals win over Dallas. Both should excel at summer league, though it appears that Kuminga will be spending this weekend helping the Democratic Republic of Congo qualify for the FIBA World Cup - they’ve got games Friday-Sunday.
Everyone the Warriors selected in last week’s draft is coming to SF and Las Vegas for summer league, although it looks like No. 28 pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. may sit out the California Classic due to injury recovery. He says his problematic ankle is fine, but the Warriors are generally pretty cautious about injury rehab, so he might not play in back-to-back Classic games. Other than PBJ, fans can get their first look at second-round sleeper Ryan Rollins from Toledo, a swingman and mid-range shot magician who turns 20 on Sunday, when the Warriors play the Kings at Chase Center. The final rookie is Lester Quiñones, a 6’5” point guard from Memphis that the Warriors signed to a two-way contract after he went undrafted last week. Quiñones was briefly a college teammate of James Wiseman, though draconian NCAA eligibility issues kept them from playing many games together. He was quite a three-point shooter in college, so the Warriors hope he can slide into the Chris Chiozza role. Sadly, Chiozza is no longer eligible to sign a two-way contract, a fact that will surely crush all of his fans in Dub Nation.
Seven-foot question marks
James Wiseman hasn’t played an NBA game since April 10th of last year, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be playing in the Chase Center for another few months. Anthony Slater reported that “it appears unlikely” that Big Jim plays this weekend, as he’s still easing his way back into full-contract practices. Vegas Summer League is a much more likely place for him to make his debut, but we still won’t expect big minutes. Or honestly, anything at all. Wiseman’s meniscus injury - and whatever setbacks emerged from the surgeries - is still very tenuous, and as much as everyone wants to see what the former No. 2 pick can do, let’s just say we’ve expected Wiseman to return to the court a few times already. Bet the under on his minutes, though you may want to circle July 15th on the calendar, as it’s Wiseman’s first chance to dunk on Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren.
Visitors from abroad
2020 second-round pick Justinian Jessup is returning stateside from summer ball ,after spending the last two seasons playing for the Illawara Hawks of the Australian Basketball League - they play in Wollongong, and are co-owned by former NBA Executive of the Year and normal-collar-wearer Bryan Colangelo. Their arena is known as “The Snakepit.” All of those facts are more interesting than Jessup’s performance, where he averaged 13.3 points per game and saw his game regress slightly from 2020-21. Jessup scored 12.1 points per game last year in Summer League, and will almost certainly remain stashed abroad, with the Warriors’ packed roster and Jessup’s questionable ability to defend in the NBA.
Dustin Sleva is a 26-year-old power forward from Pittsburgh who has played professionally in France since starring at tiny Shippensburg University (they’re the “Ship Raiders”). He was a teammate of Santa Cruz Warriors legend Axel Toupane, who may have recommended him. And Gabriel Chachashvili is a 22-year-old center who plays for Hapoel Galil Elyon in Israel, who will be wearing a very wide jersey to accommodate all the letters in his name. He’s only 6’9” but he and PBJ will be raining threes from the perimeter in pregame warmups.
This year’s second-rounder Gui Santos is also very unlikely to play with the big team this year, but it’s possible that he spends next year learning the Warriors system in Santa Cruz rather than playing for his team in Brazil. Historically, the Warriors have been willing to take pay a little extra for young players they want, like last year when they designated Quinndary Weatherpsoon as an “affiliate player” so he could get a bigger salary, and then signed him to a two-way deal six weeks later. Still, it’s more likely the talented-but-raw Santos stays with Minas in Brazil next year.
Weatherspoon is listed on the Summer League roster after winning a ring with the Warriors as one of their two-way players. Unlike Chiozza, Weatherspoon is only going into his 4th professional season, so he’s eligible to sign another two-way next year, and that could be with the Dubs. They have reportedly extended a qualifying offer to Weatherspoon, which gives the Warriors the right to match any offers to him, though they’d almost certainly let him go if he got a full NBA deal. There’s also undrafted rookie guard Payton Willis, who is old for a prospect at age 24 - he was a sixth-year senior at Minnesota - but he is big and can shoot threes, two qualities the Warriors love.
One guard who isn’t big is Jacob Gilyard, a 5’9” guard from Richmond who nonetheless became the NCAA’s all-time leader in steals last season with 466, shattering the old record. He also broke Richmond’s record for assists by a freshman, beating the old mark held by Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson. Gilyard went undrafted mostly because he is extremely undersized but his steal rates were incredible in college and it’s not hard to see how he might carve out a Jose Alvarado-type role as a harassing defensive guard off the bench.
Plus, he can shoot step-back threes, and outscored No. 4 pick Keegan Murray when Richmond upset Iowa in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Weatherspoon is probably a more useful player for Golden State, but Gilyard is absolutely the most fun two-way option on the summer roster.
Jacob Gilyard nasty snatch back 3 for Richmond! pic.twitter.com/dCnulsPt2v— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) March 17, 2022
Finally, Alex Morales is another small-college standout who’s too old to be a prospect. Morales lit it up for Wagner College, winning Northeast Conference Player of the Year in back-to-back years, a result once achieved by Indiana Pacers legend Rik Smits. Morales almost led Wagner to the tournament, but had an awful shooting game (0-16!) in the conference title game. He’s a good scorer but might not be enough of an athlete at the NBA level, plus he turns 25 this fall.
Kalob Ledoux averaged 13 points per game for Santa Cruz last year, shooting 40% from three-point range. It looks like Santa Cruz wants the 6’4” sharpshooter back, and why not? Selom Mawugbe played center for Santa Cruz for the last two seasons, and upped his rebounding while continuing to block over two shots per game. Mawugbe is a former defensive stud from Azusa Pacific, but his athleticism, and that he’s only been playing basketball since he was 14 means he still has room to improve, even at age 24. His main job this summer? Don’t crash into James Wiseman’s knees!
The California Classic happens this Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday in SF, while the Warriors Las Vegas schedule begins next Friday night, July 8th.