Over the last two weeks, I have been breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of the Washington Wizards players. So far, I have evaluated the games of Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Josh Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Kirk Hinrich, Yi Jianlian and John Wall. Today's breakdown is the Wizards bench.
The Wizards have elected to go with a 15-man roster to start the season. The eight other players that made the team are Nick Young, Al Thornton, Hilton Armstrong, Trevor Booker, Lester Hudson, Cartier Martin, Kevin Seraphin and Hamady N'diaye.
Nick Young is a 6'7" shooting guard/small forward, weighing in at 210 pounds. He is 25 years of age, but has yet to live up to the potential he had coming out of college. He is most famous for his YouTube video of him performing a 360 degree, behind-the-back dunk at a University of Southern California dunk contest. Since joining the NBA, he has shown signs of brilliance on the offensive end of the court. He has always been able to score in bunches. His major weakness is a lack of focus on the defensive end of the court. If he can show coach Flip Saunders that he is willing to play hard at both ends of the court, he should be in the game for 20-25 minutes every night. If his game continues to develop, the Wizards may not need to re-sign Josh Howard after this season.
Al Thorton is a 6'8" small forward, weighing in at 235 pounds. He is 26 years of age, and was traded last season from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Washington Wizards. He is an excellent scorer, and good defender. His major weakness is confidence. When he starts and plays a lot of minutes, his confidence is good, and he plays well. When he is coming off the bench he doesn't seem as interested in performing well. He will be coming off the bench on most nights for the Wizards, and will need to become a bench leader in order to make a difference on this team.
Hilton Armstrong is a 6'11" power forward/center, weighing in at 235 pounds. He is 25 years of age, and joined the Wizards this offseason through free agency. Armstrong is considered a solid defender, who is willing to bang down low and grab rebounds. His major weakness is his offensive game. He has not displayed any consistency on the offensive end, however, the Wizards will not be asking him to score a lot of points. As long as he is willing to defend, rebound, and give five hard fouls per night, Armstrong will be a solid contributor coming off of the bench.
Trevor Booker is a 6'7" power forward, weighing in at 240 pounds. He is a 22-year-old rookie, drafted out of Clemson. While at Clemson, Booker was able to use his brute force to dominate the paint. He loves to dunk over his defender, run the fast break and play hard on defense. Besides being an undersized power forward, his biggest weakness is his ability to hit open jump shots. On a team where he will be asked to set picks, and make space for John Wall and Gilbert Arenas, he will find himself open for 15-20 foot jumpers. If he can knock those down, he will be an important contributor on a nightly basis.
Lester Hudson is a 6'3" point/shooting guard, weighing in at 190 pounds. He is 26 years of age, and is trying to stay on this Wizards team for the rest of the season. He has shown an excellent ability to hit down long jump shots, three-pointers and big shots with time winding down in games. He can run the point guard position, and plays hard on both ends of the court. His biggest weakness is NBA experience. He has not spent much time on the floor in the NBA, but if the Wizards trade Gilbert Arenas, or if Arenas isn't healthy, he will be on the court 8-15 minutes per game.
Cartier Martin is a 6'7" shooting guard/small forward, weighing in at 220 pounds. He is 25 years of age, and, like Hudson, is trying to stay on this Wizards team for the rest of the season. He is primarily known as a scorer, and could provide an energy boost off of the bench. I feel like a broken record because his game is similar to Lester Hudson's, but his biggest weakness is also NBA experience.
Kevin Seraphin is a 6'9" power forward, weighing in at 275 pounds. He is only 20 years of age, and has played in Europe. He is known as a great shot blocker, good defender, and very athletic. He was drafted due to his raw talent. His biggest weakness is his under-developed offensive game. He could end up being a strong physical presence in the paint for about seven to 10 minutes every night, and use most of his six fouls trying to intimidate and wear down the opposing big men.
Hamady N'diaye is a 7'0" center, weighing in at 235 pounds. He is 23 years of age, and is playing in his rookie season. The Wizards held onto N'diaye for his intangibles. He has an infectious smile, good sense of humor and his teammates love his fun-loving energy. "Very likeable," Flip Saunders said. "He's maybe the most personable guy on our roster." He works hard in practice, can block shots, rebound and bang down low on the defensive end. His biggest weakness is the offensive game. He has only been playing basketball since he was 16 years old. Sometimes, though, you need a player on the roster who can keep the spirits up, and N'diaye seems to be that guy for the Wizards.
The Wizards bench is solid, but will need time to gel before they start to make a big impact on games. Ideally, the Wizards bench could be as strong as the Phoenix Suns bench was last year. If the Wizards bench develops an identity before Christmas, the Wizards will be in the playoffs. If not, we could see the Wizards back in the draft lottery next summer.
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