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  • Writer's pictureCarmineCoppola

TyTy Washington Jr. delights our summer - 2022 Summer League Breakdown

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

Like every year, the summer league gave us our needed dose of basketball during the summer. After the Warriors’ victory tour and the always agitated free agency opening-week, the NBA world started to really miss those dopamine hits that only something basketball-related can procure. But finally, the 2022 summer league started in Las Vegas and every fanbase got to see their young guys play and could overreact to anything they did. Amongst the rookies whose flashes could lead to wild takes was Tyrone “TyTy” Washington Jr., as the Kentucky product gave in five games Rockets fans another reason to be ecstatic. Let’s look deeper why, amongst all the biased eyes and the rushed takes, Washington Jr.’s summer league actually was a genuine proof of talent and potential.

First of all, there aren't many takeaways to keep from these summer confrontations usually, but through the clips of his performances in those 5 games, I'm going to introduce you to TyTy Washington's game, and to why you should be very excited about him! Washington was a five-star recruit considered a top 20 prospect in 2021. Despite a pretty convincing first year in college, he ended up hearing his name late as he got drafted by Memphis with the 29th pick, before being traded to Houston to complete what was a pretty satisfying night for the rebuilding Rockets. TyTy’s sincere excitement and gratefulness was perceptible in his first interview as a Rocket, leaving us all enthusiastic to follow his first steps in his NBA journey.

The Rockets’ first summer league game was against Orlando, every fan tuned in to see the first pick Paolo Banchero go against the third pick Jabari Smith Jr.. But this heavy-prospects' fight did not prevent Washington from catching our eyes with some attention-worthy plays, starting with this drive and ridiculous spin move before the great pass for a corner 3.

The way he, repeatedly, seems not to be in control and yet twice he sorts something out to end up creating a perfect shot is really something specific to him.

The 20 years old got a lot of Kentucky DNA in his game, he always plays in the rhythm and flow of the offense: he attacks close-out right off the catch, is a great kick-out passer, proceeds things fast and he doesn’t hesitate to make the simple play. As his former college coach the famous John Calipari said, Washington always let the game come to him.

This play is a great example of his instincts: attacks of the catch, keeps his head up, smart shift to find the angle before the one-handed pass right in the shooter's pocket for a corner three.

The next play again highlights his vision and the velocity in his passes: good drive, elevation and recognition in the air with the timely, pinpointed pass to the corner which requires impressive strength in the forearm. LETHAL.

His improvisation and feel for the game in offense are truly a special joy to watch. His constant attacking always results in something interesting and his "chubbier" build now helps him keep the advantages he can create.

Scoring wise, his floaters have WILDCATS written all over them just like Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley’s did. He rarely gets to the rim (only 12,4% of rim FGA in college also) but his floaters are so effective that you can hardly say anything as he went 5/9 on those during the five games (same efficiency in college on bigger sample). He can hit them going left or right and it helps him pretty masterfully make up for his lack of speed and physicality at the moment.

This play is where he got hurt this year, once more the touch and arc on that teardrop to avoid the rim-protector is marvelous. His whole freshman year in Kentucky was just a succession of floaters and mid-ranges masterpieces.

He constantly attacks close-outs and he also showed some intentions of getting low in his opponent's hips on drives which can be quite effective, especially to balance for his limitations in explosiveness .

The combo-guard also possesses an intriguing 6’8 wingspan which could help him being a better finisher in the future.

Speaking of separation, the Arizona-native still struggles to create any at times, because of his somewhat loosened handle and his lack of shiftiness. Even if he succeeds to get by his man, his defender can still often recover and contest. The good thing is, he rarely picks his dribble up in uncomfortable situation: in this play, he fails to get by his man but instead of stopping his dribble, he goes behind the back, avoids the defender and creates an open dunk.

Again, that's some impressive adjustments and feel to not loose the ball when the second defender comes in. His great body control is also remarkable.

He didn’t attempt many in those five games, but we already knew since college that he was an elite pull-up threat from the mid-range. His form and release look nearly perfect on those and he doesn’t lose any time picking up his dribble. That said, his pull-up threes are still an axis of improvements as it was already scouted in college. Here, he also showcases his ability to stop on a dime, something that he did often in this summer league.

The 6'3 guard also showed some of the elite upside that he has off-ball by shooting in movement, relocating or spotting-up, even making some deep ones. He always looks to get his feet set and he’s great at evaluating where his defender is or the time he has. By my counting, he went 5 for 12 on catch & shoot 3 during this 5 game span and in college he ended the year at 35% on 60 attempts. Solid.

I doubt he will ever be a great isolation scorer, but he doesn’t need to be. Because, same as in college, Washington Jr. had a low turnover rate which allows us to again catch a glimpse of some great ball-handling upside in him. He still needs to learn how to be a better floor general to really be an impactful point-guard but that will come with the reps. The first few games, he practically was never used in pick and roll situations despite him being a great pocket and lob passer in college. When he finally had the chance to, he was again very effective, patient and he always took advantage of what the defense gave him.

The next step for him as a pick-and-roll ball-handler is to constantly punishes the defense when she goes under the screen like in the first clip. But in the future, with his mid-range game and his timely passing, he could be really proficient in those situation.

Now defensively, he also doesn’t possess a great lateral quickness and Tre Mann (a really fast and shifty player, I concur) repeatedly made him suffer because of it. That’s for sure an aspect where he will need to get better at, as well as embracing the contact on that end, to stick as an NBA player. He REALLY defends too much with his hands and it sometimes ruins a good effort he made. He also often goes for unattainable steals or makes outrageous close-outs which puts him in unnecessary difficult situations.

What’s encouraging is that he already showed small improvements in some defensive areas as the summer league progressed. For example, he timed his steals attempts better and like in college, he showed the potential that his length offers defensively in their fourth game against Portland.

He still struggles fighting through screens, his efforts on box-outs are inconsistent, he has some bad habits like turning his back to the ball too often or not communicating early enough but i trust the Houston’s players development coaches to quickly correct all those flaws.

From what we heard, he has a good work ethic and is really dedicated. On top of all that, he fell in a great place in Houston: he will be given the right time to learn and grow before really having to compete, they have the personnel to play a solid spread offense in which he should really thrive and the long term point-guard role could very well be available if Kevin Porter Jr. fails to show real growth. The Rockets were second in pace last year and he also really likes to play on an upped tempo.

From his name, to his playing style, to the way he jogs around the court, TyTy Washington Jr. is fun. The ingenuity and calm with which he moves are simply different. He truly just plays basketball like a team game he's really good at: he dares, he fakes, he runs, he creates and he gives for his teammates. All of that makes him a very unique and charming player.

My guess is with the better quality of the NBA’s defense and his own defensives flaws, TyTy will have a tough first year. I don’t except him to be in the initial rotation, but he will surely get opportunities at some point in the season. Once he gets quicker, shiftier and more disciplined, his combination of shooting, smart reads, effective passing and dynamism will be a really good addition to the Rockets young core who, as athletic and talented as they are, lack a player as settled and altruist as him.

Houston’s rebuild just got a little more entertaining, and I’ll be the first one to tune in on their game to see TyTy Washington Jr.’s debuts in a league that I hope, will soon be submerged by his talent (and his floaters).

That’s it for my TyTy Washington’s summer league breakdown, thank you for reading it and sorry for the bad quality of some of the clips. I hope that I’ve passed on to you some of the fun and potential I see in him and if you have anything to say about TyTy or the article, hit me up on Twitter @Clemjvnc or under the article in the comment section. Until next time, have a great week !!

Thanks to @Itamar_17_10 on twitter for the steals and the pick & roll clips.

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The footages used here are’s property.

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