30 Teams in 30 Days: Washington Wizards
2007-2008 in Review
Eastern Conference Seed: 5
Playoff Results: Lost to CLE in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (4-2)
Summer Of 2008
Key Additions: JaVale McGee (via draft), Juan Dixon (via free agency), Dee Brown (via free agency).
Key Losses: Roger Mason (via free agency).
To highlight the summer, Washington made sure a couple of the team’s stars were locked up and taken care of financially. In early July, forward Antawn Jamison—who was one of five players to average 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds per game last season—signed a four-year extension with the Wizards worth $50 million.
Jamison’s brand new deal is certainly on the pricey side, but wait...there’s more. Plenty more.
Just under two weeks later, Gilbert Arenas inked a six-year, $100 million deal with the club. Yup, a $100 million deal. And, to think, he reportedly left $16 million on the table.
I wonder if all that leftover cash could feed Latrell Sprewell’s family.
At any point, the Wizards were also forced to replace free agent guard Roger Mason, who signed a two-year deal with San Antonio. To fill that void, the team brought back former Wizard Juan Dixon, who was drafted 17th overall by Washington in 2002. In 176 games for the Wizards from 2002-2005, the trigger-happy 6’3’’ guard held an accumulative scoring average of 8.2 points per game on a sub-.400 shooting clip.
Washington also brought in high-upside center JaVale McGee with the 18th overall pick in June’s draft. The super-long and athletic seven-footer averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game as a sophomore at Nevada last season. He’s currently very raw and has quite a way to go, but, as far as raw talent and upside is concerned, he’s certainly an intriguing prospect to keep your eye on.
Due to Brendan Haywood’s preseason injury, McGee might even get thrown into the fire sooner than the coaching staff had originally thought.
C: Etan Thomas / Andray Blatche / JaVale McGee / Brendan Haywood*
PF: Antawn Jamison / Darius Songaila / Oleksiy Pecherov
SF: Caron Butler / Dominic McGuire
SG: DeShawn Stevenson / Nick Young / Juan Dixon
PG: Gilbert Arenas / Antonio Daniels / Dee Brown
Offensive Threats: There aren’t many teams in the NBA that have a trio as offensively talented as Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. Each of the three are proven All-Star caliber, 20-plus-point players, and they can abuse defenses with their ability to put up numbers in a hurry.
When healthy, the Wizards possess one of the most highly-powered offenses the league has to offer, and it’s led by one of the most lethal assassins in “Agent Zero.”
Health: Sure, the Wizards are a very good club when healthy. The problem is that they are rarely ever healthy as a collective unit. Whether it’s Arenas, Butler, Jamison, Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas (who recently recovered from open-heart surgery), etc., the Wizards seem to be plagued by the injury bug on an annual basis.
This season is no different, as Arenas, Jamison, Haywood, and Nick Young have already missed time. Jamison and Young are back in action after missing minimal preseason action, but that unfortunately cannot be said for the others. Arenas is said to be sidelined until December in order to recover from minor knee surgery performed last month, while Haywood will be out of the lineup for a whopping period of 4-to-6 months after tearing a ligament in his right wrist.
So, right off the bat, Washington already has its leading scorer out for 1-to-2 months, and its only legitimate defensive presence (and starting center) sidelined for the majority, if not all of, the season.
Some things just aren’t mean to be, I guess.
Gilbert Arenas: The star guard should average 28 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, and over two three-pointers per game.
It’s completely unfair to ask a player who has not played in an NBA game for over a year’s time to come in and produce like his old self as soon as he returns in December, but that’s what Gilbert Arenas is going to have to do in order for the Wizards to compete.
Initially, it’s easy to say “ehh, he can’t pull that off,” but Arenas’ work ethic is freakish. Let’s at least give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being, and hold the belief that it is at least possible.
If not, however, then the D.C. faithful are in for another long season.
What to Expect in 2008-2009
I originally had Washington pegged for 43 regular season wins and the seventh Eastern Conference seed. However, those predictions were made well before the injury to Haywood, whom I believe is a much bigger piece to Washington’s puzzle than his statistics show.
Therefore, I’m going to hold off on my Wizards record prediction until I put together a complete standings and awards piece, which should be out in the coming days.
Coming Soon: Full Standings & Award Predictions
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