When you think about the Washington Wizards 2019-20 season so far, there is not too much on-court success at 9-22. Bradley Beal has increased his statistical production, but not his efficiency, Davis Bertans has caught the rest of the NBA on fire, and Washington is dealing with an unfortunate number of injuries. Though the overarching theme coming into the season was the development of so many young players. Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Rui Hachimura, Admiral Schofield, Justin Robinson to name a few.
Some of those developments are on hold because of foot (Bryant), ankle (Wagner), and groin (Hachimura) injuries while some others are taking place with the Capital City Go-Go. Second-round pick Admiral Schofield and undrafted free agent Justin Robinson have been practicing and playing in games with the Southeast D.C. team. Washington’s general manager Tommy Sheppard is a big fan of all rookies playing 1,300+ minutes during the season between the Wizards and Go-Go. G League veteran Jordan McRae passed on some advice about his experience last season.
“Be ready because anything can happen,” McRae has advised Robinson and Schofield. “Continuing working on your game when you’re down there with the Go-Go. That’s an opportunity for you to continually work on things that you can improve on and try to implement.”
Just over two years ago, McRae tore his left labrum overseas, but he retooled himself to be a G League MVP candidate. After riding the two-way contract life, Tommy Sheppard rewarded McRae with an NBA contract at the end of last season that recently guaranteed.
“I think I’ve come far,” McRae said about 2019 while getting a little choked up. “Me coming back here [to the NBA] was to show people that I can still be in this league. I think in 2019 I have shown that. I was playing 4 or 5 games a week, playing with both teams, never knowing how many minutes I was actually going to play. Now I kind of have a role here.”
The Wizards had a light practice on Sunday, but Bradley Beal was still in the far corner basket getting shots up. His buddy McRae was sitting off to the side downing his mineral fluids watching Beal. The backup shooting guard is always looking to pick up some pointers.
“I try to watch D.B. shoot, Brad shoot, I.T. Guys that have really good mechanics. Who’s form doesn’t really change, they shoot it the same way every time. You can never stop learning, shooting is something you can always get better at. I think I’ve gotten better at it, but I have a long way to go.”
McRae, 28, is averaging a career-high 10.1 points in 18.6 minutes per game, but has only played in 15 contests because of a right ring finger injury he sustained in the season opener. The scoring threat has been playing with a pin in and/or wrap around his finger in games, which prevents true feeling of the ball. Now following three surgeries, McRae can get back to hooping without anything hindering his fingers. He’s providing Washington with much-needed offense to remain competitive during this injury-riddled stretch.
“Being older, being around for a while, you just know you’re not going to make every shot,” McRae explained about his hot 6-for-6 fourth quarter (after shedding his splint) against the Knicks. “Knowing the work that I’ve put in my game gives me confidence in every shot.”
After a successful 2019 for Jordan McRae, the Wizards organization deserves a pat on the back, too. Turning a two-way player into a legitimate rotation player in the NBA is a win, especially when cap room is limited. If Washington has similar development success with their wealth of potential, they might have something brewing. McRae is an impending free agent, but would like to stay in D.C. to be a part of it.
“Want to keep getting better, keep improving,” the proud Tennessee product said about his 2020 goals. “I obviously would love to be here [in Washington]. It’s a family-oriented place here.”