In the long list of things missing from the Washington Wizards this season, Antawn Jamison is at the top. Come Wednesday, he will be scratched off that list.
Coach Flip Saunders said Jamison will make his season debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a must-win situation for the Wizards. It isn't a must-win because time is short on the season, but because the Wizards need something to end the six game skid they're on.
With his return imminent, it is impossible to overlook what the Wizards are getting with Jamison.
His career averages of 19.9 points and eight rebounds per game don't do justice to his tenure with the Wizards. Beyond his statistics, Jamison has been a leader for the Wizards through tough stretches. In the absence of Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood, Jamison maintained his level of play and played a big part in what few wins the Wizards could manage.
There is some skepticism that comes with Jamison's return.
It isn't a foregone conclusion that he will see a heavy load of minutes, or that he will be in top shape. It is also impossible to predict the impact he will have on the Wizards as a whole.
In his absence, the Wizards have lost seven of their nine games to open the season and have looked far from promising beyond a few individual efforts. But individuals are not capable of winning titles in this day and age. Just ask Kobe after the 2008 NBA Finals loss to Boston.
Jamison is the heart and soul the Wizards have failed to show or even search for since the beginning of the season. With Jamison, Arenas and Caron Butler are able to score more freely, which has been an issue this season.
Arenas and Butler are the Wizards' leading scorers (outside of Earl Boykins' 20 season debut), but neither is shooting particularly well. Their season percentages are deceptively average, but their shot selection tells a different story.
Jamison's return means an increased comfort in the offense because neither Arenas, nor Butler will feel as much pressure to replace Jamison's production.
But does better scoring automatically mean more wins?
In a word, no. But Jamison's impact the Wizards is impossible to measure by mere statistics. He averages almost 40 valuable minutes a night, and in his return, will thrive off of Haywood's stellar return and take pressure off of the overachieving Andray Blatche.
Jamison's debut has been delayed for far too long, and has left the fans and the team in a lurch. We may not see the best Jamison show up against Cleveland, but a lot of Jamison is better than no Jamison at all.