[Hilton Armstrong with his last NBA team, the Houston Rockets.]
Hilton Armstrong you say? Hilton Armstrong I say.
The Wizards have signed him to a 1-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of $992,680. I suspected something might be up as I stood watching the conclusion of the Mavericks-Bucks game, awaiting the Wizards-Clippers game. Armstrong was exchanging pleasantries with Wizards personnel, including Flip Saunders and VP of basketball administration Tommy Sheppard, that were much beyond a “Hi, how ya doin’?” Not long after, news of the signing made its way around the gym.
How should you feel about Armstrong? Well, let’s read a bit of what others have written about him.
ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, prior to the 2009-10 season:
Armstrong is a long, slender center who lacks strength and possesses a limited offensive repertoire. Despite his size he has no post game at all, because he can’t establish position and has no moves once he gets it. He can beat opposing big men off the dribble with his quickness, but he’s not a good ballhandler, so his drives often lead to disaster. Most of his buckets come on spoon feeds from his guards for finishes, but even this is fraught with peril, as Armstrong possesses some of the worst hands in basketball.
Armstrong came to the NBA with a rep as a shot-blocker, but he’s been only average in that respect as a pro. He’s a decent defender at the pro level because of his length and quickness for his size, but bigger centers outmuscle him near the rim, and his inability to rebound remains a puzzle.
Interesting. Sounds like a less lengthy JaVale McGee with a dash of Kwame Brown.
Armstrong, a former lottery pick (12th overall in 2006), spent his first three full seasons in New Orleans. In January of last season, his fourth year, he was traded by the cap-clearing Hornets to the Sacramento Kings for a conditional second round draft pick.
After the transaction, Tom Ziller of Kings blog SacTown Royalty wrote:
We do have data on Armstrong’s applied talent, though, and it’s not particularly pretty. Last season, Armstrong’s most active in terms of minutes played, the center had a defensive rebound rate of 12.6 percent, the second lowest figure among all 6’11 or taller players who logged at least 1,000 minutes. (Small forward Jared Jeffries was quite worse.) Among the same 44-player population, Armstrong ranked third worst in total rebound rate (10.8 percent, ahead of Jeffries and Andrea Bargnani) and 28th (again, of 44) in offensive rebound rate (9 percent). Offensive rebounding was the only rebounding category in which Armstrong beat resident rebounding disappointment Spencer Hawes, and only then slightly.
Again, not exactly encouraging. After just six games with the Kings, Armstrong was traded to the Rockets as part of the Kevin Martin trade. He appeared in nine games with Houston; his PER during this time was a mere 1.1.
Considering the low-cost and waning potential of Armstrong, why not sign him? … Even though nothing about the guy screams that you should use a roster spot to get him in mid-July when he could have been available further down the road. The Washington Post’s Michael Lee writes:
The Wizards were in search of a veteran big man, but not one who would necessarily take away minutes from the young players and draft picks that they are trying to develop, such as JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. Armstong, a lottery pick in 2006, fits the description after posting career averages of 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in New Orleans, Sacramento and Houston.
So there you have it, Armstrong is an “It is what it is, yet there are still some small signs of hope” signing. Hilton was at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion on Monday night to check out some of his new teammates. He stopped to speak with the media after the news got out. Let’s go to the video: