March 3, 2015

2008-09 NBA Preview: Washington Wizards

See all 2009 NBA team previews

Washington Wizards

2007-08 Record: 43-39

Cool 2007 StatIs 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

Randy AyersAyers 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 and is being recruited by Notre Dame, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Temple.

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  1. Rob says:

    Nice assessment Dannie & Pete!!

    My take on the Wizards is a bit similar to what the Presidential Candidates are saying.

    Biggest strength(s):
    -Big 3 (when healthy)
    -Rebounding (not to mention the return of Etan Thomas)
    -Eddie Jordan (longest tenure coach in the East)
    -Verizon Center
    -Team First (now that Arenas is hurt, others are stepping up!)

    Biggest weakness(es):
    -Washington Needs A Change: It’s More of the Same
    -”Health Care” (health problems)
    -Going with Gilbert Arenas, 90% of the time ($111mil/6yr)
    -Straight Talk Express (They talk too much!!)

    More of the same, Gilbert Arenas is hurt and will miss 1-2 months.  However, the team has played well without Arenas, so they are used to it, it’s more of the same.  

    Will there be a Washington-Cleveland series Part IV?  I doubt it.  If there is, they better keep their mouths shut and start playing basketball!

    I think the Wizards will be 2nd in the Southeast, 7th in the East.

    On a side note, the Sixers will be (3-1) against the Wizards.  Two wins at home and one win on their floor.  Having Elton Brand down low in a half-court game will make a big difference.  Remember our last meeting with the Wizards, things slowed down in the 2nd half and we struggled?  Brand will help us in that aspect. 

  2. Rob says:

    I’m Rob and I approve this message!!

  3. matto says:

    In my opinion the big three play very similar games. Sure they all have different strengths to varying degrees, but who does this sound like? An excellent scorer, undersized for his position; who can drive, shoot the deep ball very well and is a slightly better than average defender. Give up? All of them. Thats why it seems their chemistry has such a hard time getting started even when they are all playing (which is rarely). I can see them playing Cleveland again if they can possibly get to the 6th seed and Cleveland gets 3rd. Thats the only scenario I can see happening, albeit unlikely.
    On a side note do you think you’ll finish all the forecasts before the season starts?

  4. Dannie says:

    Matto – Yes, these will all be done before the season for sure.

  5. Zack says:

    What happened in Washington is something I have a problem with in sports – cities and fan bases get attached to players, the team sees increased revenue because of this attachment (attendance, ratings, apparel), so they keep the players around even though they know these players won’t put them on the same level as the league’s elite.  By the trading deadline, if the Wiz aren’t top 4 in the conference, they should consider doing a superstar-for-superstar deal with Jamison, or maybe trading their young guys for All-Star veteran help.  But even then, I don’t think it’d be enough.  They’ve basically put themselves in a position where they can’t: A) win a championship and B) make any roster moves to put themselves in a position to win a championship.

    “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.”  Maybe you guys are underrating Cleveland and overrating Wizards.  Looking at the box scores of their playoff series this year, in two games they were pretty even, with Washington taking one and Cleveland taking one.  But in 3 other games, Washington just wasn’t able to put everything together; for example, they forced turnovers in one game, but they got outrebounded, and in another game they rebounded but didn’t force turnovers.  That series may be a microcosm of why the Wizards are mediocre, and will stay that way for a while – they’re too lazy to try and put everything together on a consistent basis.  Basically, the Cavs had less talent than the Wiz but they worked harder so they won.  And the Cavs just upgraded their talent level with Mo Williams, the Wiz would not win another series with them.

    About their need for a leader, I agree, but I think it’s more like they need some players who are just absolutely crazy wild passionate about winning.  I think one of the reasons Boston won was because both Ray Allen and Garnett wanted to win sooooo badly – none of the Wiz’ big 3 exude that kind of desperation, and neither does their coach.

  6. deepsixersuede says:

    I think Butler is the closest thing to a leader that they have; What happens this year if they play well without Arenas to start, its happened before. A A.Daniels/N.Young backcourt is big, athletic and pretty damn talented. The Arenas situation really makes the Iggy signing look pretty good, doesn!t it !!! Durability is overlooked when evaluating players but an Iggy/ A.Miller backcourt is there EVERY night, another reason to lock up A.Miller.

  7. bski says:

    I’m with you there Suede.  Did you see that Miller finally has an agent?  Same one as Speights, Andy Miller.  Let’s hope we can get something done with him now.

  8. bski says:

    JJG…I posted this under the Ryan Howard Bashing topic, but I thought I would post it here as well because I almost missed your last post over there.

    That Owls team was one that is rarely duplicated.  It was a true case of synergy, as the sum was unquestionably much more than it’s individual parts.  When you take into consideration that they used a 5.5 man rotation, (0.5 for Causewell, who was the only other guy on that team to get any significant time on the floor) what they did is even more remarkable.
    That team rarely turned the ball over, rarely missed a free throw, rarely was in the wrong spot defensively, rarely got in foul trouble, and rarely took a bad shot, which explains why they rarely lost.  Each member of the starting five knew who they were and where they fit.  As a result, they were a tight unit on the floor.
    I watched that Temple-Nova game with a bunch of my college roommates.  That was the Doug West-led Wildcats.
    As far as Macon, I think we all thought he was better than he really was.  That’s what I’m talking about when I refer to how difficult it is to tease out who are the players that make the others around them better vs who is being made better by who surrounds them.  Macon was definitely more the latter.  He really benefitted from having Howard Evans, and to a lesser extent Vreeswyck.  I really think the biggest problem was that, after Evans left, Macon was switched to the point in his sophomore year.  That, in combination with the departure of Vrees and Perry, left him as the focal point of every opposing defense.  He had to carry much more of the load and he just wasn’t up to the task.
    Anyway, it was a lot of fun, until that Duke game.  Didn’t see that coming at all.  Tough way to go out, but that’s the NCAA tournament.  One bad game and the dream is over.

  9. Joe says:

    Not a 50 win team.  I think Arenas is terribly overrated.  If they still had Mason(solidly average), I would be confident in a repeat 45 win season.  Nick Young, however, is absolutely atrocious and he seems likely to recieve increased minutes as their 3rd guard from what I am seeing.  That spells disaster, especially if Caron misses significant time. (coin toss)

    6-8 spot seems pretty likely to me.


  1. [...] Washington Wizards [...]

  2. [...] 2008-09 NBA Preview: Washington Wizards By Dannie & Pete Blatche looked like he was going to go the way of several HS-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 … Recliner GM – [...]