Who will be the main factor at point guard for the Washington Wizards?
While there are a number of candidates from various positions who
can need to step up in the absence of Gilbert Arenas (Andray Blatche and Nick Young come to mind), the Wizards will need someone to be a factor at point guard and initiate Eddie Jordan’s offense.
The Candidates: Antonio Daniels, Dee Brown, Juan Dixon, DeShawn Stevenson, Nick Young
Antonio Daniels: Hey, did you guys know that Antonio Daniels is getting older? Ok…so the fact that he turns 33 in March should go without saying. Last season, AD averaged the most minutes in his career, 30.4, because he had to step in as the starter for an absent Gilbert Arenas. This simply cannot continue. Not that Antonio isn’t up to the task. I’ll say it time and time again, the guy is a gamer. However, the fact that he puts his body on this line so much compounds the issue and highlights that he should receive less time on the court, if anything, to keep him healthy for the season. Antonio can’t help the way he plays. We know he’s not a shooter, he knows he’s not a shooter….but he’s got to make the defense aware of him offensively in some manner, and he does that with kamikaze drives to the hoop.
The problem for Eddie Jordan is that Antonio Daniels is his security blanket. He doesn’t turn the ball over much and is a game manager. At this point, how much AD sees the court depends on the other candidates. We must remember that health is key for the Wizards, especially in the backcourt. We’d all like the team to get out of the gates quickly in Gilbert’s absence, but the season is also a marathon, not a sprint.
Dee Brown: With the injury to Arenas, Brown has fallen into a chance that he wouldn’t have found anywhere else in the NBA, or even perhaps Europe. Even if he’s just a one-year rental for the Wizards (I’ve got my fingers crossed that the Wiz will select a PG of the future in the next draft), Brown can parlay his shot into a decent contract after 08-09.
The knock on Brown is that he’s not a shooter. However, when it comes to jumpers from beyond the arc, it’s not like he’s worse than Antonio Daniels. Last year, per 36 minutes, Daniels attempted 1.2 threes, making 0.3. I know it’s a limited (and perhaps skewed) sample size, but in 06-07 with Utah, Brown attempted 2.2 threes, making 0.5, per 36 minutes. Accounts from training camp indicate that Brown significantly improved his shot while playing in Turkey last year…..we will see. Regardless, teams are still going to make Brown beat them from the outside. The Wizards won’t be looking to Daniels or Brown to be a long distance threat, but at least the chances they get will most likely be open looks, optimal for taking advantage of.
Reports indicate that Brown is acting like he wants it. He’s being vocal in camp. He’s picking up the ball full court on defense. I’d suggest reading a piece Mike Jones wrote about Brown in the Washington Times, “Brown reaching comfort zone.” What I like most about Brown is his ability to push the ball up the court with this 24-year old legs, as opposed to AD’s 32-year old legs. It remains to be seen if Brown can play under control, I suppose that will develop with his understanding of the offense. In my post, Pace, Shot Clock Usage, and the Value of Gilbert Arenas, I highlighted that historically, during Jordan’s tenure, the Wizards shoot a better FG% the earlier in the shot clock they take an attempt. Of course, most of that can be attributed to the offensive Wizardry of Gilbert Arenas. However, it would benefit the Wizards to do one of two things sooner rather than later: 1) get into the Pro-Princeton offense, or 2) get an easy look at the hoop (in transition or early offense). Dee Brown might be the spark needed to make such a push.
Juan Dixon: With so many concerned about the loss of Roger Mason (now that Arenas is out), Ivan Carter might have cited the most important factor in the Juan vs. Roger debate, “….another major difference is that Roger pulled $7.3 million from the Spurs while the Wizards got Juan on the cheap late in free agency. Gotta stay under that luxury tax you know?”
But consider this, last year with Arenas injured, Eddie Jordan only had Daniels, Mason, and Stevenson as options to initiate the offense. Sure, Mike Wilks was around, for all of 44 minutes. Might Dixon and Brown be a two-headed monster option for Eddie Jordan which is a step above a solo Roger Mason? I think the chances are good. Brown can handle and push the ball better than Mason. Dixon has more of an offensive game….maybe. As Eddie Jordan put it when posed the question about the differences between Juan and Roger on offense: “High risk. High risk. And a lot of rewards [referring to Dixon]. Roger was a lot more steady and low risk and stayed in a small package but a very effective package. Juan is sort of all over the place but that is ok.”
[Update] Recommended Reading: In Defense of Juan Dixon by cuppettcj on Bullets Forever
DeShawn Stevenson: I like to think of DeShawn as a stop-gap solution at the point. And this scenario really only happens when he and Young are together in the backcourt (Butler will not see time at the two). In the top 20 Five-Man Floor Units from 82games.com, only one lineup did not involve Daniels, Mason, or Arenas at a guard position. The 9th ranked lineup in minutes (72) featured Stevenson, Young, Butler, Jamison, and Haywood. That lineup also led all other lineups in the sample with a +33 plus/minus. Stevenson is clearly a diverse enough player to be a capable fill-in. And perhaps Nick and DeShawn will be a go-to combo when Jordan wants some size and scoring punch out of the backcourt. All and all, just another option on Eddie Jordan’s plate that he, nor Wizards fans, should mind using.
Nick Young: I don’t even want to consider living in a world where Nick “Bean Burrito” Young might be a factor at point guard for the Wizards.