Ernie Grunfeld’s Hidden Gems – Is Juan Dixon One?
I’m not sure if Ernie Grunfeld is good at chess, but when it comes to generally managing an NBA franchise, he has a knack for moving around pawns for the benefit of the program (not to trivialize the fill-in pieces which are crucial to a team’s end of the bench by calling them ‘pawns’).
A Michael Ruffin here (yea, he was the definition of a role player, but always did what was expected of him….well, except for this of course – Best game ever as a Wizard? Game 1 of the 04-05 season when Ruffin pulled down 11 boards, scored 6 points, and blocked 7 shots in a win at Memphis….to say the Wizards were short-handed that night would be an understatement: Kwame Brown, Etan Thomas, and Steve Blake were on the injured list; Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes, Brendan Haywood an Anthony Peeler were all suspended from a pre-season fight with the Chicago Bulls)….Note: The Memphis game was also Antawn Jamison’s first game as a Wizard – 45 minutes, 34 points, 8 rebounds.
A Brevin Knight there (more about getting rid of Jahidi White’s bloated body and contract)…..Knight averaged 4.3 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 steals filling in here and there, appearing in 32 games, starting 12, before being released and later picked up by the Milwaukee Bucks.
A Billy Thomas here (a CBA call-up/10-day contractor — who, in a late March 2006 game at Sacramento, with Gilbert Arenas so sick with the flu he couldn’t leave the hotel, and Caron Butler leaving the game in the 3rd quarter to get stitches in his forehead, came off the bench to score 14 points and snag three steals.
A Roger Mason, Jr. there (we already know what he can do/did)
Ok, perhaps I’m using the word ‘gem’ a little bit liberally.
In Steps Juanny Dixon
In case you didn’t know, the Wizards signed Juan Dixon to a partially guaranteed deal for the $1.03 million veterans minimum. Call him a fill-in, call him a stop-gap, just don’t call him shy when it comes to jacking shots. Dixon is clearly better than your average fill-in. He’s an NBA vet, a Wizards vet, and a proven commodity in being able to ignite the hometown crowd….let’s not underestimate that.
Will he be better than Roger Mason? The Pradamaster at Bullets Forever makes a good argument that he will not. However, Dixon was quoted in the Washington Times as saying, “Roger and I are similar players. He’s a little bigger than me, but we can do the same type of things off the bench, so I felt confident that I’d have a good chance to come back here.” In any case, Dixon is seemingly the best option available, considering the limited salary cap flexibility.
In pondering Washington Wizards role players, a big concern of mine was having a long distance scoring threat off the bench. Sure Nick Young has given us glimpses of being able to create his own shot, but he hasn’t done a lot to attract the confidence of Wizards fans. But after Young, who’s left in the backcourt? Dee Brown? He’s got scoring anemia. Also consider that Gilbert Arena’s starting replacement at the point guard, Antonio Daniels, is Brick City from the outside, and I’m not talking about Redman’s stomping grounds of Newark, New Jersey.
Some have welcomed back Dixon with memories of Terrapin glory, some wonder if Dixon’s homecoming will have enough of a significant effect on the Wizards to be on par with the excitement of DC locals.
So is Juan Dixon the answer? Not necessarily, but he’s an answer. Two things Eddie Jordan’s pro-style Princeton offense depends on is distributorship and movement. With Dixon’s previous experience as a Wizard, he can provide both. So eff the defense, let’s go score some points….assuming Juan can pull the reigns on jacking and serve the team as he claims he can, “I’m capable of initiating the offense, getting guys the ball in the right spot and taking it from there.”
Other Rough Precious Stones?
In other news, the Wizards have invited a Taj and two Johnsons to training camp. For all you need to know about MacCullough, DerMarr and Linton, Bullets Forever is your one-stop shop.
DerMarr Johnson is obviously the most intriguing prospect. The scouting report on DerMarr isn’t the biggest endorsement. But actually, Johnson might be a better, lower-risk option than the Darius Miles idea. For one, he’s better suited for work at the SF than Miles, as DerMarr has more of an outside game. [I love how Johnson's per 36 minutes numbers on Basketball-Reference indicate that in his five games with the San Antonio Spurs last year, he attempted 11.6 threes, making 3.9 of them.]
Plus, DerMarr is from DC, so he’s coming home…..he already knows all the good night spots…….wait, aww crap. Hmm….maybe this is Andray Blatche’s opportunity to take someone under his wing, kinda like that Saved By The Bell episode where they had to be parents to an egg, except this egg has an I.D. that says he’s over the age of 21.