Sorting out the depth: The Backcourt

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Sorting out the depth: The Backcourt

Some have said that this Wizards team is the deepest club the franchise has ever had. While depth brings many good things to a club, it also raises the question of playing time, rotations, and of who will be in the game in what situations. In this two-part segment, we will look at each players argument for playing time by breaking down what they have done in the past and what they can bring to the club now.

Today we will look at the backcourt:

Last season Gilbert Arenas sat out yet another year, causing the team lose an Eastern Conference worst 63 games.

There were several results of this unfortunate situation. First, young guards like Nick Young and Jarvaris Crittenton got significant playing time. Second, the Wizards piled up on guards to fill in for the injured last year, and to be in place as a contingency plan this year. Now the talented Wizards club is overloaded with guards with eerily similar games.

The major obstacle for Flip Saunders in figuring out his rotations in 2009-10 with the backcourt will be finding the player who will be able to compliment Gilbert Arenas while being able to score without taking many shots. Arenas, if healthy, will return to being one of the top players in the league but with that he will also require many shots and many touches. This means that whomever partners with him in the backcourt will need to be a player who can be effective in the same type of role Richard Hamilton was so successful in under Saunders back in 2005-06.

So without further adieu, the 2009-2010 Wizards backcourt and their respective arguments:

Gilbert Arenas- Obviously starting, obviously the key player of this team. The only question that remains is whether or not Saunders will use him as a one or a two.

Caron Butler- Butler has been the silent backbone of this Wizards franchise for the last four seasons. As a Wizard he has averaged 19.63 points per game, nearly two steals a game and consistently shot above 45 percent. The question for Butler won’t be how much playing time he will get, but where he will be used and how. At 6-7 Butler is considered a ‘guard-forward,’ meaning he can swing both between the two and the three. While Butler’s game may not change much depending on if he plays the two or the three, it will certainly dictate which players will play in the frontcourt. Playing Butler at the two will allow Mike Miller to start at the three spot for the Wizards, or it will allow them to move Jamison to the three and open up space for JaVale McGee or Andray Blatche to play the four.

Javaris Crittenton- The Wizards traded for Crittenton last year when they were in serious need of backcourt help. What they got was a young player who impressed many during his one-year at Georgia Tech, but has done little in the two years since. Crittenton was considered by many to be a future lottery pick in the NBA Draft but left after his freshman year, causing many to pass on the underdeveloped point guard. Three years into the league he is starting to show signs of development but the hopes that he may someday be a star in this league have severely faded. At 6-5 Crittenton boasts good size for a point guard but his skill set offers little else. He is a terrible three point and free-throw shooter for a point guard (14.3% and 59.3% last year) and he has a poor career assist to turnover ratio, 1.8/1.2. Jarvaris’s strongest asset for the club is that he is the only player on the roster who will attempt to take a true point guard role, and will require very few shots.

Randy Foye- Foye was traded to the Wizards this offseason along with Mike Miller. What he brings with him is strong scoring ability, solid ball handling, and a consistent outside shooting stroke. A lottery pick in 2006, Foye is a player in a Gilbert Arenas mold who has incredible athleticism, but is slightly undersized as a player who approaches the game like a two guard. Hurt most of 2007-08, Foye bounced back for the Timber Wolves in 2008-09 by scoring 16.3 PPG and racking up 4.3 assists per game. The blossoming guard will have to play a different role for the Wizards however. He will have to learn how to settle in as the number four scorer on a playoff caliber team, as opposed to a number two scorer on a terrible team. Foye will best fit into the rotation as a guard who will alternate with Arenas at the one and the two, while providing scoring ability without requiring many shots.

Mike James- James has had an odd career moving back and forth between back up and starter. In 2005-06 James averaged 37 minutes per game, 20.3 PPG, and 5.8 APG for Toronto. In 2006-07 after being traded to Minnesota those numbers plummeted to 25/10/3.6 and only one year later in Houston he fell to 16/6.5/1.6. While James may have been a victim of circumstance, and injury,  he showed in 2008-09 that he still had what it takes to contribute in the NBA. James provides a veteran presence to the Wizards and strong shooting and ball handling ability. James wont get much playing time unless the Wizards need a point guard to slow their game down and set a more modest pace.

Deshawn Stevenson- Stevenson came into the league as a hugely touted high school talent. He never lived up to expectations but his athleticism has allowed him to turn himself into a lockdown perimeter defender. There’s a lot to be said for a guy who can realize what he doesn’t have, and can make something out of what he is.  Stevenson is valuable to the team because many have accused the Wizards of being unable to play defense. While they are under a new coach, the personnel is mostly the same, and Arenas if anything will just be worse at defense after all the knee surgeries. With this Stevenson should be deserving of a good deal of playing time, even if his shooting has seemed to magically disappeared.

Nick Young- The Wizards drafted Nick Young with their first pick in 2007. Young is a tall, athletic, two guard with great scoring ability. Some believe he is ready to be a starter right now and that given the right situation, he could be a player who can put up 20 a game in the NBA. He has the athleticism and the shooting ability, and perhaps after two full seasons his mental toughness is now there. Unfortunately for Young, the stacked back court may find this talented youngster struggling for minutes. Young deserves to get playing time at the two spot because out of all the players listed here he arguably has the most potential to be an offensive star. The amount of playing time he earns will depend on his ability to shoot at a high percentage and score as part of a system. 

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