The Washington Wizards: Making Amir Johnson and Others Look Like All-Stars | Truth About It.net

The Washington Wizards: Making Amir Johnson and Others Look Like All-Stars

By
Updated: February 6, 2012

When Washington and Toronto matched-up in Canada last Friday night, Amir Johnson of the Raptors came off the bench to score 18 points and grab 13 rebounds in a 106-89 win over the Wizards. “They’re making him look like an All-Star,” someone probably said, also noting that this Washington franchise has seemed peculiarly deft doing so over the years. During my time following the team since 1990, nights like Johnson’s certainly don’t seem like an anomaly. But just how good is Washington at making otherwise mediocre opponents look like All-Stars? And how does Washington compare to other teams?

I used the glorious Basketball-Reference.com database to search for answers. First I needed to set up some requirements:

  1. Since Johnson is the subject, I wanted someone who has scored at least 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench. Certainly a guard could look like an All-Star with 17 points and 8 assists off the bench, as would a non-starter scoring 25 points in a reserve role (ignoring other stats), but I eliminated them for this particular exercise. Also, you could certainly have a no-name starter put up All-Star stats, but assuming he’s starting with other quality talent, his success is somewhat dimmed. A bench player it is.
  2. The player’s team has to win the game. Because All-Stars, or at least All-Star efforts, always are victorious, right? (No, not right, but just another factor of elimination for this post.)

Basketball-Reference.com returned 662 instances of a player tallying at least 18 and 10 off the bench, in a win, since 1985-86, the extent of BBR’s dataset (this includes Johnson’s 18 and 13, by the way). However, the results needed to be narrowed down further:

  • Surely All-Stars come off the bench for one reason or another, so I had to eliminate them… anyone who has ever been an All-Star at least once (whether they actually played in the game or not).
  • I also wanted to eliminate those who have won the NBA’s 6th Man Award, since putting up numbers off the bench is kind of what they are supposed to do/are good at.
  • Thus, eliminated were the likes of A.C. Green (All-Star), Antawn Jamison (6th Man/All-Star), Roy Tarpley (6th Man), Shawn Kemp (All-Star), Detlef Schrempf (All-Star/6th Man), Hakeem Olajuwon (All-Star, came off the bench to put up 18 and 12 for the Rockets in 1991 for some reason), and many, many more. 
  • In total, there were 239 of 662 instances of 18 and 10 off the bench in a win by non-All-Stars/6th Man Award winners.

The remaining 423 instances were accomplished by 212 different players; 26 of those 423 instances came against the Washington franchise, second most after Golden State (36), and more than Denver (24), Sacramento (22), and Indiana (21). As you can see, there’s a reason why so many of these performances seem familiar to Wizards fans.

So who has performed like an All-Star with at least 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in a win against Washington? 22 different players have. Here we go…

  1. Charles Davis (Bucks) – 3/18/1986 (26 pts, 10 rebs)
  2. Thurl Bailey (Jazz) – 11/24/1987 (18 pts, 14 rebs)
  3. Ron Anderson (Sixers) – 2/1/1989 (18 pts, 13 rebs)
  4. Greg Anderson (Spurs) – 3/28/1989 (20 pts, 10 rebs)
  5. Hot Rod Williams (Cavaliers) – 1/5/1990 (18 pts, 14 rebs), 3/28/1991 (18 pts, 14 rebs) and 3/16/1992 (25 pts, 11 rebs)
  6. Jerry Reynolds (Magic) – 4/19/1991 (24 pts, 14 rebs)
  7. Loy Vaught (Clippers) – 2/18/1993 (20 pts, 14 rebs)
  8. Dino Radja (Celtics) – 12/1/1993 (22 pts, 10 rebs) and 4/9/1995 (20 pts, 12 rebs)
  9. Chris Gatling (Warriors) - 1/26/1995 (18 pts, 12 rebs)
  10. Alan Henderson (Hawks) – 1/9/1998 (18 pts, 11 rebs)
  11. Marcus Camby (Knicks) – 3/11/1999 (19 pts, 12 rebs) and 4/6/2000 (21 pts, 15 rebs)
  12. Kelvin Cato (Rockets) – 12/23/1999 (20 pts, 12 rebs)
  13. Billy Owens (Warriors) – 2/20/2000 (18 pts, 12 rebs)
  14. Lorenzen Wright (Hawks) – 11/28/2000 (23 pts, 12 rebs)
  15. Marcus Fizer (Bulls) – 3/1/2002 (19 pts, 10 rebs)
  16. LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers) – 2/11/2007 (18 pts, 10 rebs) *Note: could be an All-Star soon.
  17. Chris Anderesen (Nuggets) – 3/20/2009 (18 pts, 11 rebs)
  18. Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks) – 3/3/2010 (19 pts, 10 rebs)
  19. Toney Douglas (Knicks) – 11/5/2010 (19 pts, 10 rebs)
  20. Charlie Villanueva (Pistons) – 11/21/2010 (25 pts, 11 rebs)
  21. Thaddeus Young (Sixers) – 2/23/2011 (18 pts, 10 rebs)
  22. Amir Johnson (Raptors) – 2/3/2012 (18 pts, 13 rebs)

Quite a distinctive list. But what about Washington? They’ve certainly had instances where a mediocre Wizards/Bullets player has been made to look like an All-Star by an opponent. Indeed they have. It’s happened 10 times courtesy of 8 different players:

  1. John “Hot Plate” Williams – 12/18/1988 (22 pts, 10 rebs vs LAL); 1/10/1989 (25 pts, 10 rebs vs DEN); 3/17/1989 (23 pts, 10 rebs at NJN)
  2. Gheorghe Muresan – 4/24/1994 (21 pts, 11 rebs vs CHH)
  3. Christian Laettner – 3/10/2001 (26 pts, 11 rebs vs NJN)
  4. Tyrone Nesby – 2/15/2002 (18 pts, 10 rebs at PHO)
  5. Kwame Brown – 1/2/2003 (20 pts, 12 rebs at CHI)
  6. Etan Thomas – 11/19/2003 (18 pts, 10 rebs vs CLE)
  7. Andray Blatche – 11/25/2008 (25 pts, 12 rebs vs GSW)
  8. JaVale McGee – 4/6/2010 (25 pts, 15 rebs vs GSW)

Ahh… a veritable who’s who of Washington Wizards/Bullets non-All-Star All-Stars. What fun. So who’s got next?