Corey Kispert had to wait a long time to hit the floor for real basketball action.
The last time he played in a live game was on April 5, when his Gonzaga Bulldogs lost in the NCAA National Championship Game to Baylor. Since then, he had a four-month layoff where he went through workouts and interviews in the NBA draft process. The Wizards selected him as the 15th overall pick, touted for his elite shooting talent and ability to make plays off the ball.
Tuesday in the Wizards’ first Summer League game of the season, an 89-75 loss to the Kings, all eyes were on the talented rookie shooter. And while he was a bit rusty compared to what he’s accustomed to, there were plenty of flashes that showed why the Wizards picked him.
“Not only was it my first NBA game, it was my first game in a couple of months,” Kispert said postgame. “So of course there was a little bit of jitters, a few nervous butterflies, but as soon as that ball went up and my first bucket went in, that all kind of faded away.”
He played a game-high 26 minutes and scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. But his shooting was on display even in his misses.
Kispert’s quick release was exactly as advertised, as he came off screens multiple times throughout the game and fired up a shot before a defender was able to get a hand in the way. His first triple came off a screen where he ran to the left wing, curled around a screen, and caught the ball fading away to his right.
“It was all just about getting our feet wet tonight, getting used to each other, getting used to playing together,” Kispert said. “We’ve had a limited amount of practice, so still kind of ironing out the kinks and getting things ready.”
Kispert's debut was delayed three days after Sunday’s game was postponed due to COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols. But, he made his presence known in more than just the shooting department.
On a few occasions, he dove on the floor for a loose ball which led to a basket the other direction for the Wizards.
“It was great, he made a big play diving on the floor and getting the loose ball, threw it back and we got an easy basket,” Summer League coach Mike Miller said. “He was talking, he was seeing things out there, he was playing the game. He did some really good things today.”
Summer League play won’t be very long for the Wizards, but new coach Wes Unseld Jr. has started to put his fingerprints on the roster. And Kispert has taken notice.
“Coach Unseld has been really involved in our practices, he’s been there, he’s been coaching, he’s been giving us insight and getting to know us,” Kispert said. “I’ve been really really impressed with his knowledge of the game and I think he’s going to be a great fit for us going forward. I’m really looking forward to learn more under him for sure.”