Washington Wizards Future Part III: Needful Things | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Washington Wizards Future Part III: Needful Things

Updated: May 9, 2008

Parts I and II of a four-part series on the future of the Washington Wizards covered the currently signed players and the free agency of Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison.

Washington Wizards Future Part III: Needful Things

We’ve known Ernie Grunfeld to be a relatively savvy prospector of player futures. It’s also pertinent that the Wizards effectively make use of limited cap room. Gone are the days of the irresponsibility highlighted by these prom-night dumpster babies:

  • Brian Cardinal (6 year, $37 million, Grizzlies)
  • Adonal Foyle (6 years, $42 million, Warriors)
  • Jim McIlvaine (5 years, $35 million, Sonics*)
  • Todd MacCulloch (6 years, $34 million, NJ Nets)
  • Jerome James (5 years, $30 million, Knicks)
  • Calvin Booth (6 years, $34 million, Sonics*)
  • Vitaly Potapenko (6 year, $33 million, Sonics*#)
  • And many more….

Wow, crowded dumpster.

* Seattle must have bad karma from grunge rock and Starbucks. Being responsible for three of these horrendous contracts is bad enough, but now Space Needle City won’t even have a team to mismanage funds on.

# Speakling of Vitaly Potapenko….as Mark Price came up in a conversation on Bullets Forever, I did some research.

In late September of 1995, distinguished Washington Bullets GM, John Nash, took a risk and traded the 12th pick in the ’96 draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers for an aging Mark Price. Someone needed to fill the hole left by a departed Scott Skiles and Nash didn’t feel that Mark’s brother, Brent Price, could adequately distribute the ball to the likes of Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Rasheed Wallace, Ledell Eackles, Calbert Cheaney, Tim Legler, and Gheorghe Muresan.

Mark Price, then 31, didn’t even make it to the beginning of the season before getting injured which left John Nash scrambling to acquire Robert “The Original Pac Man” Pack from the Denver Nuggets for Doug “Philly’s Finest” Overton and Don “Oft-injured ‘gym rat’ who tested positive for steroids in 2000” MacLean, just days before opening night. Mark Price played only 7 games in that 95-96 season…..I also blame Nash’s curse inducing trade for C. Webb only playing 15 games that year. But I’m digressing…..

Back to that 12th pick in 96….Cleveland used it to select overpaid bust, Vitaly Potapenko. Who was taken 13th? None other than this year’s MVP, Kobe Bryant. The likes of Peja Stojakovic (14), Steve Nash (15), Jermaine O’Neal (17), and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20) followed. I just love hindsight….and coincidently, John Nash was forced to resign in April of ’96.

The Matter at Hand: What do the Wizards need?

Who, or what, can best push the 08-09 Wizards to the next level? We can certainly start with intangibles such as health, maturity and growth. Those things are great, but the question when it comes to salary cap flexibility is personnel. I’ve broken down team needs into three areas:

1) A lock-down perimeter defender. The Wizards gave up a ton of treys this year, 683….an NBA record no less. DeShawn “Lock Smith” Stevenson can only guard one person. The team needs a lengthy stopper coming off the bench who can recover and contest outside shots; someone with the quickness to stay with smaller guards. The Wizards gave up some many offensive rebounds partially as a result of dribble penetration which forced the interior defense to shift out of position. Simply put, the Wizards need someone whom they can insert to defend opposing guards so that Eddie Jordan is no longer forced to overuse sub-par defensive combinations such as Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels.

2) A rugged rebounder who has the resemblance of a post game. No question that the Wizards have rebounding issues. They consistently got killed on the glass many times this season, especially when it came to offensive rebounds. Stats place the Wizards struggling to keep up with the median, 14th in rebounding margin (+0.40), and 19th in rebounds allowed to opponents (41.19 per game)…of course, rebounds allowed can be indicative of game pace. According to KnickerBlogger, the Wizards are 19th in the NBA in defensive OREB% (offensive rebound percentage). Getting into the top third in these rebounding categories will translate into more wins.

The reasons the need for a rebounder is not #1 is because Etan Thomas should be fully back, Andray Blatche will improve his strength, and rebounding can be a specialty of Dominic McGuire. However, keep in mind that none of these guys play inspiring 1-on-1 post defense. Haywood can block shots, but he’s not agile enough to keep up with quickness, and Songaila’s toughness cannot overcome the fact that he is undersized.

On second thought…..maybe I’m putting too much hope into Etan Thomas. Also according to KnickerBlogger.net, the Wizards ranked 22nd Defensive Efficiency, and 27th in Effective FG% from the opposition. Perhaps the team need for someone to generally hold down the paint propels the big man requirement back to number one over a perimeter defender. Grunfeld’s first move really depends on confidence in Etan.

3) A spot up long distance threat. Sure, the Wizards made a franchise record for threes in 07-08, totaling 575….without Gilbert Arenas. Stevenson, Jamison and Butler have proven that they can shoot the trey ball, but they aren’t pure shooters. And if the Wizards choose to let Roger Mason Jr. walk in favor of more minutes for Nick Young, then your 3 point shooting takes a hit. I can certainly understand the desire to give Young some of the departed MaseON’s run, but I’m weary of Bean Burrito’s long distance consistency….cat is streaky as they come. Ideally, the Wizards need a player off the bench who can hit spot up threes resulting from penetration or from early offense in transition. This player would be able to divert attention away from Caron, Antawn, Gilbert and Nick Young attacking the basket.

It seems like the Wizards need a lot, right? And most all NBA teams would like to add the pieces I’ve described above. Who does the team have a sho
t at landing? A couple words of warning, the potential options ain’t gonna ‘wow’ ya.

Read more
Washington Wizards Future Part IVa: New Additions (Free Agent Bigs) [hosted on Bullets Forever]

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.