See all 2009 NBA team previews
2007-08 Record: 43-39
Cool 2007 Stat: Is Antawn Jamison the most underrated player of the decade? Since 2000, he has the 10th most points in the NBA. The top 9 average 8.2 of 9 possible all-star appearances. Jamison made just his 2nd appearance this season.
Anticipated Starting Five
PG- Gilbert Arenas
SG- DeShawn Stevenson
SF- Caron Butler
PF- Antawn Jamison
C- Brendon Haywood
Key Reserves: Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila
Biggest Strength – Washington’s Big Three
Antwan Jamison, Caron Bulter and Gilbert Arenas are one of the best three-man crews in the league. They all have different styles of play and strengths they bring to the table. At least to me it’s mildly shocking this group hasn’t been able to get out of the first round, especially against practically a one-man team. In the end the key is them all being healthy long enough to start clicking at the right time and working together towards the same goal. By the way who is the leader on this team? I couldn’t tell you to be honest. I think that is also a major factor for their success. Someone needs to step up and be that guy (not just the leading scorer), making sure people are doing what they need to do to win. Setting the example on defense, getting on guys for lack of effort and pointless showboating and being selfless. Who will be the extension of the coach on the floor?
Biggest Weakness – Health
Gilbert Arenas is having “proactive” knee surgery to remove floating debris from his knee. I’ve heard various reports about how long he will be out: one month, sometime in December and even January. Guess what – none of that matters. The fact that he is missing time again, combined with his style of play, puts Washington in another chemistry nightmare. Add to that, there is a good chance someone else is going to get hurt as well. Caron Butler’s games played has decreased each of the last three seasons. This team just hasn’t played together enough over a few seasons to build that chemistry and build on previous seasons’ successes or improve on failures. It’s another set back that just closes this core’s window of doing something more than losing to LeBron James in the first round.
Key Player in ’08 – Brendon Haywood
I think we all know what we are going to get from Jamison and Butler. Arenas is very good when he is healthy. But the key to this team getting out of the first round of the playoffs in my opinion is the play of Haywood. With Jamison not being the typical style power forward, I think it’s key for Haywood to provide a solid figure in the middle. Last season Haywood easily had his best season as a pro averaging 10.7ppg, 7rpg, 1.7bpg on 53% shooting. He only plays 27 minute though. He needs to continue to work on his conditioning and offensive game. I’d much rather see him be the Wizards 4th leading scorer than DeShawn Stevenson jacking up wild shots.
Their Thaddeus (exciting player 22 or under) – Andray Blatche, 22
Blatche looked like he was going to go the way of several H.S.-to-NBA prospects and just fade away into obscurity after his first 2 seasons. However, injuries to Etan Thomas and Michael Ruffin in 2007 got him some time, and he showed enough promise to garner a multi-year deal. Last season, he became a legit rotation guy, with 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds a game in just 20 minutes. He was 8th in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes (3.26). He showed his full array of skills against the Sixers in November, going for 26 points on 12-14 shooting. Wizards fans are expecting another year of improvement this season.
Pete’s 2008 Outlook: 3rd place, Southeast division / 8th place, Eastern conference / 16th place, NBA
You’d think before you sign someone to a $111 million deal, you’d give him a good enough physical to realize he’s going to need knee surgery before the start of the first year of the deal. Apparently, not so much for the Wizards. Even without Arenas they are a playoff team, as they showed last year. Caron Butler is the best player on the team and one of the most underrated players in the NBA. However, the Wizards are now locked into the Butler, Arenas, Jamison trio for the next couple years and seem content to be a low-seed non-contender for a bit.
Dannie’s 2008 Outlook: 2nd place, Southeast division / 7th place, Eastern conference / 16th place, NBA
Same team, same results right? Well, kind of. The Wiz will be as good as they were last season which will be good enough to get into the playoffs again. On the other hand the Eastern Conference is much better, and their lack of improvement pushes them down the rankings in my book. Washington has the “big three” most people seem to think is necessary to win a championship in the NBA. Ultimately I don’t think they have the right, or good enough, role players to get to the next level. Which is out of the first round and into real conference title contention.
Philly Connection: Randy Ayers
Ayers is currently an assistant for the Wizards, a job he held with the Sixers from 1997-2003. He was named head coach in 2003 and wasn’t even given a full season with the job, getting the axe after a 21-31 record as head coach. Ayers has 2 sons from the Philadelphia area as well. Ryan went to Germantown Academy and is entering his senior season as a SF for Notre Dame. His younger son, Cameron, currently attends GA and is one of the best players in the area. He is ranked as the 55th best player in the country by Rivals.com and is being recruited by Notre Dame, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Temple.