#WizardsRank: Ranking Washington Wizards from the Last Five Seasons (Nos. 26 to 22)
Truth About It.net will turn a whole five years old at the end of this October.
Hard to believe/interesting. Nonetheless, over the life of the site from the 2007-08 season to 2011-12, we’ve seen/lived/suffered through 131 wins, 263 losses, four coaches, two owners, one GM/team president, one Phil Chenier mustache removal, and 56 total players (amazingly, 48 players over the last three seasons).
TAI anonymously polled 27 members of the Wizards pixel establishment — from mainstream media to new media, TAI staffers included, to a few pixel consumers (readers of the site) — and got 17 responses.
Participants were given the full list of 56 in alphabetical order, and included for each player were total games, minutes, PER (player efficiency rating), and WS/48 (win-shares per 48 minutes) only from the last five seasons. Participants were asked to rate each player on the scale of 1-to-10 according to this criteria: on court performance; off court performance; intangibles; and own personal memory. Yes, this is totally subjective, but relatively collective. So let’s get it started…
No. 56: Cedric Jackson; No. 55: Mike Bibby; No. 54: Paul Davis; No. 53: Edwin Ubiles; No. 52: Quinton Ross.
No. 51: Mike Wilks; No. 50: Mike Harris; No. 49: Javaris Crittenton; No. 48: Dee Brown; No. 47: Morris Almond.
No. 46: Larry Owens; No. 45: Mustafa Shakur; No. 44: Brian Cook; No. 43: Hamady N’diaye; No. 42: Rashard Lewis.
No. 41: Hilton Armstrong; No. 40: Oleksiy Pecherov; No. 39: Mike James; No. 38: Fabricio Oberto; No. 37: Ronny Turiaf.
No. 36: Lester Hudson; No. 35: Yi Jianlian; No. 34: Juan Dixon; No. 33: Josh Howard; No. 32: Chris Singleton.
No. 31: Al Thornton; No. 30: Shelvin Mack; No. 29: Mo Evans; No. 28: Mike Miller; No. 27: Alonzo Gee.
NOTE: this post will contain players ranked 26 to 22, and we will update one player at a time periodically.
4.18 out of 10
(70 games, 1,667 minutes, 13.2 PER, .064 WS/48)
Quick exercise: What do you remember about Randy Foye’s 70 games with the Wizards in 2009-10? (Aside from Foye’s situs inversus condition.) Do you recollect how the team acquired his services from the Minnesota Timberwolves? In all likelihood, you know the exact answer to latter question and are kind of fuzzy on the former. Perhaps unfairly, Foye’s Wizards legacy will be forever tied to how he ended up in D.C., and not to anything he actually did on the court. Team president Ernie Grunfeld believed after the 2008-09 season that the Wizards were a few pieces away from a deep playoff run, so he dealt away the fifth pick in the 2009 draft (along with Oleksiy Pecherov, Darius Songaila and Etan Thomas), to Minnesota for Foye and Mike Miller. The T-Wolves drafted Spanish teenager Ricky Rubio with the Wizards’ selection. The move was not as disastrous as Wes Unseld’s Chris Webber for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe trade, but it certainly set the franchise back.
As Foye was trying feel out his backup role and a fresh environment, the newly hired Flip Saunders struggled getting Caron Butler and other veterans to buy into his system. The team started off poorly; 2-7 poorly and then 7-16 poorly. Gilbert Arenas’s suspension in early 2010 ended any remote playoff chances (the Wizards were 11-21 at the time), and the core of the team was soon broken up by several trades. The presumed excuse for Grunfeld to go for one final playoff run with Washington’s “Big 3″ was that it came under mandate of former owner Abe Pollin. Current head honcho, Ted Leonsis, has repeatedly said that trading away the high lottery pick was a mistake. It is quite entertaining to read various Wizards pundits on that June 2009 trade.
The turmoil of the season makes it difficult to judge Foye’s time in Washington, as his main role went from sub to starting point guard to veteran leader of a broken-down team in a span of a few months. Foye did improve at running the squad, but his first instinct was always to score more than distribute, and this highlighted overall flaws in his game. I had almost forgotten about the time when Foye came up short, twice, with the ball in his hands and the game on the line in a double-overtime loss against the Chicago Bulls. Randy wasn’t exactly made for NBA prime-time.
Foye sat out the final 10 Wizards games with torn ligaments in his wrist, and the team renounced his rights in the off season, not even extending the qualifying offer on his rookie deal. Foye spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and just signed a one-year deal to play for the Utah Jazz. If Rubio ends up being a NBA great or even better than John Wall, Wiz fans will always remember the name Randy Foye.
Adam McGinnis ][ @AdamMcGinnis
4.35 out of 10
(190 games, 3,007 minutes, 9.3 PER, .025 WS/48)
Just a few days after the 2007 NBA draft, former Wizards beat writer Ivan Carter talked to VP player of personnel, Milt Newton, about Wizards second round pick Dominic McGuire. Carter wrote, “He’s a 6-foot-8, 210-pounder, can defend three spots (SG, SF and PF), run the floor and put it on the deck and get to the rim. He also ranked fifth in the nation in blocks (3.6 per game). Those attributes are needed off that bench, big time.” And during his rookie year, when McGuire appeared in 70 of 82 contests, he showed flashes of that all-around game with three double-digit rebounding efforts off the bench.
McGuire spent the summer of 2009 working on his jump shot (particularly from the corner), and during training camp, coach Eddie Jordan and McGuire’s teammates hailed him as the most improved player. But it was not until Jordan was fired and Ed Tapscott (who mentored McGuire and Nick Young as rookies) was brought in that McGuire truly had an opportunity to flourish. In 71 games under Tapscott, McGuire started 57 and averaged 5.5 points and 6.4 rebounds. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, his hustle (and his dunking) helped the Wizards snap an eight-game losing streak. During a two-game stretch in December of 2008, against Cleveland and Oklahoma City, McGuire guarded Delonte West (shooting guard), LeBron James (small forward/whatever position he wants to play), Anderson Varejao (center), Kevin Durant (wing forward), and Jeff Green (forward). Tapscott told McGuire to channel his inner Bruce Bowen when on the court, and the coach told Mike Jones of the Washington Times this:
“Dominic has very much embraced his defined role. I’ve said to him, when you go in the game, you’re gonna get either the hottest player on the floor, for the other team, don’t assume anything, or you’re going to get the best offensive player.”
Unfortunately for McGuire, opportunity all but disappeared when Tapscott was relieved of his coaching duties and Flip Saunders walked through the door. Despite proving himself as a defensive stopper, and even though he worked hard on his mid-range jumper during the 2009 offseason, behind veterans, McGuire’s playing time took a serious hit. He didn’t start any of the 41 games he played during the 2009-2010 season, and just before the deadline, McGuire was traded along with $300K to the Sacramento Kings for a protected second round pick (that the Wizards never got), so that Washington could avoid paying the luxury tax. Since being traded, McGuire has played for the Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, and last week he signed a partially guaranteed deal with the Toronto Raptors. Fans and bloggers have the tendency to romanticize a player’s tenure once he’s left a team, but McGuire was indeed a success story who earned playing and eventually a starting job. He wasn’t a bad storyteller, either.
Rashad Mobley ][ @Rashad20
4.59 out of 10
(324 games, 8,432 minutes, 15.9 PER, .057 WS/48)
Sometimes the end will always define the player. After years of screw ups, run-ins with local authorities and the occasional conditioning issue, the Andray Blatche era officially came to an end as the Wizards decided to amnesty their former second round pick. However, I would like to lodge a formal complaint in that Blatche never should have been rated this low in #WizardsRank. Compared against perennial Wizards favorites such as Gilbert Arenas or Antawn Jamison, one can obviously make the argument that Blatche was a lesser player. But a worse player than Nick Young? Worse than Roger Mason? Worse than EARL BOYKINS?? The dislike for Andray Blatche has gone from legitimate criticism of his drive and abilities to a scapegoating for the last five years. Blatche could have been a better citizen, he could have worked harder, and he could have made more use of his God-given talents, but to take away notable accomplishments on the team is to whitewash an era in which the Wizards were not very good and Blatche was perhaps the only hope back towards relevancy.
The problem is one of timing. Every single time that Andray Blatche succeeded on the basketball court, something would happen off the court to derail the development process. Making a run to be the sixth man? Get in an argument with your coach and refuse to come back into the game. Promise a new “7-Day Dray?” Show up to camp out of shape with a chip on your shoulder. Proclaim yourself the captain? Go on to have a terrible game and get murdered in the blogs. Blatche became fodder for everyone because no one could believe that a person could show such terrible judgement. One doesn’t promise a renewed effort to work in the low post and then spend the next five games hanging out from 20 feet away and putting up jump shots. No one should bitch about being the “third option” after doing little to help his team for an entire season. What made Blatche so infuriating is that he was unbelievably earnest in his proclamations and then immediately forgot them the next day. He was like a kid with severe ADD, promising to pay attention and then forgetting the lesson on the way to his next class.
The sinister part in this is that it bears a striking resemblance to the trials of another young Wizards draft pick: Kwame Brown. The first season reports on both players were tragic, as Brown had no idea how to live his life on a day-to-day basis, and Blatche evidently blew all his money and had to sleep at the Verizon Center. The question is where the Wizards staff was in making sure that these players had the proper care and attention, given their age and maturity level. Andray Blatche was SHOT in his first season after being in a place he shouldn’t have been at a ridiculous time of night. Yet, nothing was seemingly was done to take the player by the hand. He was picked up for soliciting prostitution by an undercover cop, and yet nothing was done to put the player in a more positive environment. Perhaps the Dez Bryant rules were needed for Blatche. Perhaps the team should not have put him in commercials for Chipotle and Ciroc which made him an open source of derision. Perhaps the Wizards franchise learned nothing from Kwame Brown. But Blatche’s failures to become the player he should have been fall equally on the organization and himself. We should remember this the next time the Wizards have the chance to draft a kid barely out of high school and don’t teach him how to use a dry cleaner. The Andray Blatche era ended sadly, but we all need to look in the mirror and put the onus on ourselves. Till then, Hello Brooklyn.
Sean Fagan ][ @McCarrick
4.71 out of 10
(67 games, 1,117 minutes, 12.9 PER, .042 WS/48)
Five memories from 5-foot-5 Earl Boykins’ short tenure in D.C.:
- Shooting 7-of-12, Boykins scored 20 points off the bench in his very first game as a Wizard back in November 2009. It was one of the 20 best debuts in franchise history.
- Two weeks later, fans were actually chanting MVP when he stepped to the free throw line–and it wasn’t completely ridiculous.
- But his biggest impact on the team, however, may have been off the court. Per Kyle, “Earl was actually the one who loaned [JaVale] McGee extra money for the airplane card game only to have McGee not pay him back, at which point Gilbert Arenas inserted himself into the scene … and we know how the rest went.”
- Boykins’ clutch game-winner against the lowly Nets with 0.4 seconds left — before Jarvis Hayes, of all people, missed a chance for New Jersey at the buzzer — was welcome drama during a year that was dramatic for all the wrong reasons. (See previous bullet.) Boykins’ season sort of went downhill after that epic moment.
- Boykins was insanely strong. As the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg reported, Boykins could bench press 315 pounds — which probably made him the strongest player, pound-for-pound, in the league. If Shaquille O’Neal was similarly strong, he’d be able to bench press 762 pounds.
Dan Diamond ][ @ddiamond
4.76 out of 10
(132 games, 2,405 minutes, 13.3 PER, .085 WS/48)
It’s semi-unfortunate that Roger Mason couldn’t return to the Wizards for 2012-13. He’s from D.C., the team (at the time when he signed with the New Orleans Hornets) could have used a capable shooter with veteran savvy, and Mason had spent last season with Washington in a leadership role, building a rapport with several young Wizards through trying times. But the reality is that Mason turned 32 on September 10 and with him having the pre-existing condition of defensive liability, adding A.J. Price and Martell Webster to the roster, as opposed to Mason and someone like Morris Almond, seemed the wiser decision.
Nonetheless, Money Mase will be remembered fondly around Wizards nation, and that seems to be why he’s ranked 22nd. In his second season with the Wizards (2007-08), the University of Virginia product took advantage of Gilbert Arenas’ absence and shot a career-high .443 while seeing action in 80 games, mostly off the bench. Without Mason, the old gang sans Gilbert (Jamison, Butler, Stevenson, Haywood, and Antonio Daniels), would never have patched together a 43-39 record and one final playoff appearance as the fifth seed in the East. Mason’s post-season production dipped, however: field goals sank at a rate of .443 in the regular season, but he only shot .404 in six playoff games; 3-pointers went in at the rate of .398 over 80 games, but at just .235 in the post season. Thus, the Wizards fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six hard-fought games. Still, Mason’s play earned him a nice, new contract with the San Antonio Spurs that summer — Washington simply couldn’t afford to keep him.
After two seasons in San Antonio and a lackluster one with the New York Knicks (where Mason fell out of favor with former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni), instead of signing with the Boston Celtics after the NBA lockout, Mason returned to his hometown to kick the tires on a young Wizards team. “I’m a better player than I was in San Antonio,” he said to D.C. media before the 2011-12 season. But Mason still knew why he was around. “My role is just to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned. Learning from guys like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, you know, pros.”
The feel-good reunion quickly dissipated. In the third outing of the season Mason got disqualified from the game and had a basket he scored stricken from the record. Before the contest, Flip Saunders signed a lineup card that omitted Mason’s name, and no one noticed. When the error was discovered in-game, Mason was declared ineligible and sent to the locker room. The scene foreshadowed Mason’s sporadic playing time under Saunders in the early going (much less the team as a whole), while young knuckleheads ran the season into the ground. But, after February trades drastically changed the makeup of the Wizards, new coach Randy Wittman turned to Mason’s steady backcourt presence. Over his last 29 games he shot 42.5-percent from beyond the arc on 4.4 attempts per game — those type of stats would’ve put Mason amongst the top 3-point shooters in the league.
His season unfortunately ended prematurely in mid-April after he fractured the index finger on his non-shooting hand. The Wizards soon thereafter waived Mason to open up a roster spot for a D-League call-up. The official cutting of contract ties didn’t change Mason’s day-to-day presence. He continued to sit on the bench, suited and standing by his teammates. Mason did and said all the right things, but you really wouldn’t expect anything less from a veteran player with front office aspirations. He now tries his luck with another young team in the Hornets.