Day 2 in the books

One of the most interesting things I spotted during today's only practice was Eddie's use of Oleksiy Pecherov and Andray Blatche together in the front court. I say interesting because it's not hard to imagine the 7-foot-0 Pesh and 6-foot-11 Blatche as interchangable parts down the road. They are two big, long-armed players who can pass, shoot, dribble, rebound and run the floor. Not sure how much of that we'll see in games during the preseason but I imagine that Eddie's playing with that pairing it for a reason.

Eddie likes Pesh by the way. That's becoming obvious.

"We give out an honor roll every day and Pecherov made the honor roll today along with some of the other guys," Jordan said. "So he's been pretty good. He's been playing in the post and we know he can make threes...So, just his effort, work ethic and approach to the game has been terrific. He's very professional. He's aggressive. He listens. He's a terrific young man and he's pretty much popped out."

-I wrote a story for Thursday's paper addressing the team's health situation. Basically, I can't imagine a scenerio where the Wiz would suffer more cripling injuries this season than they did last season. One quote from Eddie I didn't get in was kind of funny. I asked if he felt that the basketball gods owed him one after what went down last season. Eddie: "I don't mess with the basketball gods. I leave them alone."

The injury issue points to something folks were discussing in my earlier post: John Hollinger's breakdown of the eastern conference in his preview on espn.com. Now, I don't agree with his read that this is a team that will win something in the neighborhood of 33 games but he does raise some very vailid questions. Namely, how will Gilbert be coming off of knee surgery and can he, Caron and Antawn remain healthy enough to allow the other parts of this team - Blatche, Darius Songaila, Antonio Daniels and the rookies - the mesh around them? And by healthy, I expect that two or maybe all three of them will miss three or four games with something. I believe this team can withstand that. As I've said before, it's my belief that Blatche will be the wild card on this team. If he is what everyone knows he can be, this team can be way better than Hollinger predicts.

-Just to clarify something from my early post: the black team did win that scrimmage yesterday afternoon. My bad on that. I think I was still on my first cup of joe when I wrote that. Sorry for the confusion.

-Folks are asking about what Ernie Grunfeld might do if Etan Thomas can't go and the team receives an injury exemption. My question is: what can he do? Calvin Booth signed with Philly and last time I checked, there aren't that many 6-foot-11 bangers hanging out, working at Footlocker. It's my feeling that Ernie and the coaching staff would be comfortable going into the season with the big men they have. Yes, they'll have issues with the leagues true big men but how many of them are there? Shaq. Tim Duncan. Yao Ming. Eddy Curry. Dwight Howard. Big Z in Cleveland (and Brendan Haywood has played him well). KG is a problem but his body type is the kind the Wiz should be able to somewhat matchup with because they have Brendan and a Blatche, who played KG well last season.

Eddie on the prospects of playing Andray at center in stretches: "It's what the league is sort of evolving to you know? Centers or power forwards used to be Charles Oakley and Karl Malone so he would struggle against guys like that but the league has opened up. The floor is open a little bit more. The league is more athletic. More finesse. It's still physical, no doubt about it, but more active and athletic so he sort of fits that bill a little bit. And then, he has some center skills. He's a good passer. He can catch in the post without a lot of struggle. He's shown over time that he can play defense - mostly from the help side - but we'll see if he can play one-on-one against some second line centers."

Eddie then made reference to how Phoenix uses Boris Diaw: "Sometimes he plays five for them or at forward, he'll create some switches. I don't think they'll switch on Andray because he can go to the basket. And even Pesh, who I thought last year was strictly a spot-up shooter but he is in the post, he's driving and he's close to the basket a lot. He's everywhere. He's making himself available."

To me, the key for Andray and Pesh will be how they rebound. If they can hold their own on the boards at both ends, they will earn minutes.

It's going to be very interesting to see how Eddie uses his front line players throughout the preseason and heading into the early portion of the regular season. Consider the first three regular season games: at Indiana (and Jermaine O'Neal), at Boston (and KG) and then hosting Orlando in the home opener (Howard and Rashard Lewis). And later, to cap the month of November, the fellas hit an interesting four game road trip that includes games against Memphis (and Pau Gasol), Dallas (Dirty Dirk) and San Antonio (Tim Duncan).

Thoughts?


By Ivan Carter |  October 3, 2007; 7:25 PM ET
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Comments

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Initial thought: Hollinger seems clueless with a prediction like that. Not sure how he thinks the Wizards only win about 33 games, considering the improved (I hope) depth. I'll criticize this team and its coaches as much as anyone. I'm no fan of Eddie Jordan. But I know this is a playoff team, and most certainly better than 33 wins. If Andray starts to come through, and if Pesh, Young and DMac can give the team some solid minutes, I think they'll be fine. Plus, never underestimate a player in his contract year. Gilbert and AJ could explode this season. I've said for the past two years that this is team with enough talent to win 50 games. I don't want to harp on defense, but it's going to take some semblance of effort on that end for the Wizards to hit the half-century mark. I think they can. And I think Hollinger is short sighted a bit foolish to predict less than 40 wins from this team.

Posted by: Colin | October 3, 2007 8:31 PM

Hollinger is a disgrace.I'm not sure what the hell he is looking at thinking us at 33 wins and atlanta with 42 I hope espn looks at that at the end of the year.He is simply a joke for a writer.

Posted by: jcrock | October 3, 2007 8:53 PM

Ivan,

Great info/post. You have hit on the number one dynamic for the coming season, namely; how the bigs will be used, especially Pesh and Blatche. I have been feeling for some time that the lineup that is currently set should be altered a bit. Either at the center or power forward positions. I know this is not going to happen, but playing one of the young players in the starting lineup will infuse youth and hide rookie mistakes a bit more than if he was playing with the reserves. This is not a slap against Jamison. I think he is great. If he comes off the bench with the reserves he will provide a scoring punch, while his experience will settle the reserves further. I really like the idea of Pesh starting or even Dmac starting at the 2. Anyway, good developments all the same.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2007 9:14 PM

Can you trade an injury exception? I don't know the length of his contract but Nazr Muhammed might not be the worst second or third string center if a trade could be had. I think the pistons would like to move him especially if they can sign Webber. His salary for this year is ~5.5 million, a little below Etan's. If Etan can't play he would provide some much needed depth in case Brendan got hurt or Pesh and Blatche don't pan out at center. Too bad P.J Brown wouldn't play here, he would fit in well. I think it would be wise for the Wiz to at least explore any possibities to add another nba-caliber big man if Etan is out for the year. Can never have too much size.

Posted by: DL | October 3, 2007 9:26 PM

"Eddie likes Pesh by the way. That's becoming obvious."

Yeah, we'll see when there's 4 minutes left in the game who he really likes. If there's anyone over 6'7" on the floor I'll be surprised.

"KG is a problem but his body type is the kind the Wiz should be able to somewhat matchup with because they have Brendan and a Blatche, who played KG well last season."

This is where I feel Blatche will shine. I can't forget that game last year against Minnesota. KG was killing the Wiz until Jordan finally stuck Blatche on him.

After that, nothing.

If Blatche steps his game up just a little bit he's going to be a handful for a lot of teams. If he gets 15 minutes a game at the 4/5 he could be a real threat off the bench.

Between Blatche and Pech, they should be able to fill in at the 5. Good grief they are both 7 footers after all. If they can't play the 5 then I dunno what the world is coming to.

"Blatche, Darius Songaila, Antonio Daniels and the rookies - the mesh around them?"

Sadly, I personally think AD's days are numbered in a Wiz uniform. Jordan just doesn't like him or his game for some reason. Until he was forced to play him last year for injuries, he was hardly on the floor and Hayes took his minutes. AD is at his best when he can drive to the hole in the 4th and get to the line. With Gil, Stevenson, and Caron doing that now where do you play him?

"GM, Ray? Predictions for the year?"

I think the Wiz will be where they would have been last year minus the injuries.

45-47 wins and about 4th/5th place in the East.

Same prediction as last year, and I think that's about right. They have to show me they can play with the big boys before I start saying "50 wins!" like Ivan had them last year. ;)

Remember that Ivan? I think you had them first in the East and "having a deep bench" if I remember correctly. ;);)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 3, 2007 9:58 PM

DL,

The problem is adding another NBA-caliber big man. How do you do it? From whom? Teams hold on to their decent bigs.

I think we have to hope that Blatche or Pech can become a center. I thought Andray progressed pretty well on the defensive side of things last season. And I imagine he'll get some consistent playing time, now that Arvis and Ruffin have been dispatched. For some reason, Eddie was in love with those scrubs.

I will be *very* interested to see how McGuire comes along. Seems like he could be a defensive stopper. It also appears that Pech has some attitude, another thing the Wiz can use.

BTW, I don't think Hollinger's a disgrace or joke, FWIW. He's a number-cruncher in the extreme, and a fine writer. I just happen to think his conclusions in this case are off, and his analysis, again for the Wiz, is flawed. I certainly don't think he has any bias against the Wiz; he's pretty dispassionate, and very, very thorough. And, in this case, wrong!

Posted by: Keithinator | October 3, 2007 9:58 PM

Excellent post, Ivan. Blatche did look good that one time against Garnett, and he did get under Garnett's skin, which is another kind of talent. He's got a tendency to get a bit loopy, though, so I'm hoping some of the older guys are warning him he'll need to be twice as good and twice as serious the next time. And the next.

I'm glad to see that you and Eddie are high on Pecherov. I hope it stays that way. I'd like to hear more about Songaila and Daniels, who clearly will be key this year.

My guess is that Antawn would lead a second unit effectively, and that he'd do it if asked, but I'm concerned that no one's come close to proving they could take his place in the big 3 yet.

The frightening thing just now is that Brendan Haywood and his immature psyche are temporarily much more important to this team than I ever thought would be possible. Bummer.

49-50 wins, two rounds in the playoffs -- unless Ernie works some kind of magic. Pass good words on to Etan -- every time Curry steps on the floor, I get a chill.

Posted by: Bill Carr | October 3, 2007 10:19 PM

Interesting indeed to hear about EJ's use of Pech and Blatche together in the front court. I recall a post last year from GM suggesting that such a pairing might be EG's vision of the future for the Wiz, given the way the league is evolving and its fit with the offensive schemes that the Wiz tend to deploy (GM - please correct me if my recollection of your post is wrong). I think the Wiz could do OK with this scheme for extended periods of the game - changing up from time to time with BH at the 5 and AJ at the 4 when match-ups warrant. D-Song is the added piece as he can be inserted either at the 4 or even 5 in some situations. That being the case, I think the Wiz could be OK even if Etan can't come back.

Posted by: PK1 | October 3, 2007 10:22 PM

Do I sense a Suns of the East growing out of a bunch of big guys like Blatche, Pech, Songaila and McGuire rebounding, filling the lane and finishing in the paint? All they need is someone who will pass. Nobody on the Wizards does it better than Antonio Daniels.

Sorry, Gil, I'm sure you would shoot it. And you'll probably hit it,or we'll get the rebound and put it back in.

But if Etan can't play, and we all want him back quickly, I agree with the comment about Nazr Mohammad. He could help us defend the big guys, and give us rebounds and points in the paint. Ernie ought to be working this one.

I like the looks of this team, and you're full of beans, Ray. I'll be surprised if we're not in the top three in the East, maybe on top.

Posted by: zinger1 | October 3, 2007 10:26 PM

http://www.realgm.com/src_twoplusthefoul/165/20071003/2007_2008_season_preview_southeast_division/

The Wizards were the top team in the East last year until injuries devastated the team. They lost Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas all in overlapping succession. They still managed to fight their way into the postseason and put up a fight with the eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavs. However, without a healthy Hibachi Trio, the Wizards are far too thin to reach the Promised Land.

NBA Draft: Nick Young (No. 16), Dominic McGuire (No. 47)

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Jarvis Hayes (FA - Detroit), Michael Ruffin (FA - Milwaukee), Calvin Booth (FA - Philadelphia), Juan Carlos Navarro (trade - Memphis)

The Wizards surprisingly did not make any moves this off-season, but they were lucky to have the highly talented Nick Young fall into their laps with the sixteenth pick. He will make their backcourt very strong playing alongside Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, and Antonio Daniels. The injuries allowed the Wizards to allow the youngster Andray Blatche to get more minutes and he proved why he was good enough to be selected out of high school two years ago. A healthy season from Darius Songaila will also provide a huge boost to this squad and act as if it was a useful addition this off-season.

Burning Questions

- Will Gilbert Arenas come back strong from his injury?
- Will Caron Butler duplicate his breakout season from a year ago?
- Will Antawn Jamison be even better now that he is in a contract year?
- Will Nick Young be the first guard off the bench by midseason?
- Will Haywood and Etan Thomas get into another fistfight?
- Will Andray Blatche be able to morph his KG-like body with KG-like skills?
- Will Etan Thomas be able to come back from the heart irregularity?

Person on the Hot Seat: Brendan Haywood

What was once the deadly two-headed paint dragon that the Wizards have platooned over the past couple of seasons, might no longer need to learn to coexist without fistfights. An irregular heart condition may keep Etan Thomas out for a large portion of the season and possibly his career. This means that the job belongs solely to Haywood and he no longer has to worry about being physically combative with Thomas, a nuisance that must have been wearing on the rest of the roster. However, when combined with Thomas, their numbers indicate that they have produced a pretty decent presence at the center position. Now, Haywood must prove his value by being able to produce at the center position without his longtime "buddy."

Team Outlook

The growing theme during this six-part season preview series seems to be: stay healthy. The Wizards are one of the more talented, dynamic, and well-coached teams in the conference. However, when one part of their potent threesome is missing, they are doomed. A big season from the Big Three, a breakout year for Blatche, a calming yet effective presence down low from Haywood, and quick production from Nick Young could spell N-B-A-F-I-N-A-L-S in the District this season.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 3, 2007 10:40 PM

"I just happen to think his conclusions in this case are off, and his analysis, again for the Wiz, is flawed."

Exactly.

Here's the thing Keith. It's like me trying to write about the Kings and saying how good they are going to be next year.

Other then Artest, who the heck is on that team? It's easy for me to comment, but until I watch them regularly it's hard to say.

I also find it hard for me to say the Wiz are one of the "well-coached teams in the conference" when I see Jordan get out-coached so often.

I LOVE my Wizards but I'm also a realist

45-47 wins is about what they are right now. If Jordan ever learns to coach and they play some D then they will be better then that. To say they are just a 33 win team is laughable to me however, unless the big three all get hurt again. That was such a fluke, it ain't gonna happen.

There's just too much talent on this team, if anything they should be a consistent 55 win team and competing for titles. But again, I'm a realist not to mention a fan and I watch EVERY game.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 3, 2007 11:09 PM

"I like the looks of this team, and you're full of beans, Ray. I'll be surprised if we're not in the top three in the East, maybe on top."

Again, they can be that but they have to show it first and they haven't done that yet.

#1 - They have to be able to beat Miami AND Cleveland which they have not been able to do.

#2 - They have to play some D

#3 - Jordan has to be able to coach

They have the talent, they just have to put it all together. Notice I did not mention "beat Boston" either.

We'll see.

45-47 wins and 4th 5th in the East. After that's it depends on match-ups.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 3, 2007 11:16 PM

Ivan, thanks again for an excellent post ! Very good info regarding Eddie's thoughts on Blatche at center, and very interesting about Blatche and Pesh being paired together. All the talk about Pesh, is he outplaying Darius? How's Dmac hangin with Caron?

Also wondering how Mike Hall is doing? He's a guy I'm rooting to make the team. Do you think Massenberg has a chance to beat out Hall or Taylor for a spot on the roster?

Thanks

Posted by: Darnell | October 3, 2007 11:38 PM

Hey Ivan, if Etan is out an extended period you think the Wizards might bring in James Lang?

Posted by: Darnell | October 3, 2007 11:47 PM

Is Anderson Varejao a possibility? He's still a restricted free agent and unsigned.

Is this team going to have problems with depth at PG? Can of the guards play point besides Gilbert and AD? The Wizards looked real thin last year when Gil went down.

Posted by: Smith | October 4, 2007 12:01 AM

Darnell. Good though re James Lang. We never really got the full scoop on what happened with him last season. EJ was very high on him during training camp and pre-season, and Lang put in some decent minutes during the early part of the regular season. Then he was cut rather suddenly - if I recall to make room for Hall. He probably would be affordable and at least knows the Wizard's system....

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2007 12:59 AM

Ray, Gil's knee is still a question mark. Daniels then becomes essential. Thankfully we have him.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2007 1:50 AM

Varajoe wants $65 million for 5 years. Ain't gonna happen here.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2007 1:52 AM

Mike Sweetney's still a free agent; the wiz could use his mass if etan cant go this season.

Posted by: patrick | October 4, 2007 3:59 AM

Much as I hope for the best, 49-33 requires a leap of faith I can't make at this time. The Knicks are improved, the Celtics are improved, the Bulls are very tough, and we've gotten less experienced and weaker in the middle after losing Booth and potentially Poet.

We all know EJ doesn't like playing the young guys too much, so that leaves AB, Pech, NY and DMac pretty much out of the rotation at least early in the season. So what has changed since last year? No experienced guys have been added, and Booth, maybe Poet, and Ruff have been subtracted. Even Arvis, while a disappointment, was an experienced guy.

So I really hate to say it and I hope I'm wrong, but this Hollinger guy may not be that far off.

Posted by: Mitch | October 4, 2007 7:24 AM

Ivan, nice post.

Going into last offseason, my contention was that Blatche was the key to the Wiz's immediate future. He has demonstrated that he has the tools and the feel on the floor. The questions were whether or not he was "a worker" and whether he really wanted it, and if he could put it all together.

While his arrest was certainly embarassing, my hope is that his vibing with Pesh -- and Pesh's work ethic -- rub off on him.

I think that Blatche can be a highly effective backup center, that can hopefully grow in to a Camby/Danny Manning (when both are healthy) hybrid. That would certainly give the Wiz an element they haven't had. I think Pesh and McGuire are ready to contribute a bit too. Young is more of a project, talent aside.

Posted by: Ben | October 4, 2007 7:51 AM

there will be worthwhile bodies available once teams get closer to the start of the season. Until then these guys get lots of time in practice together.

Posted by: Monte | October 4, 2007 8:26 AM

It's an ESPN insider page. Are you kidding me John? The problems on defense will hurt us in the playoffs, but not in the regular season. The Wizards couldn't be any much worse on defense, but with the addition of Randy Ayers and the emphasize on defense this training camp(second year in a row), you know they're going to improve. Gilbert talked publicly that he knew they needed to improve on defense and you know if he's motivated, he can do just about anything. Caron Butler, Deshawn Stevenson and Antawn Jamison are more than motivated to step their game up on defense. I'm surprised he didn't mention Dominic's potential for this team, which shows how much he's been following the Wizards this summer. Personally, I think he'll have a bigger impact on the floor than Nick Young with his rebounding and defense, but he's also able to score down-low with his size.

I wouldn't know if this defense will improve, but that's no case to put the Wizards in the 30 win column. You can predict a first round exit for the Wizards which I wouldn't be surpised, but the Wizards have proved they can win 40+ games with a lackadasical defense.

Posted by: Will From Rockville | October 4, 2007 8:55 AM

Now that's a post, Ivan! Looks like there is nothing else to do in Richmond but blog. Good for us (bad for you).

I liked hearing Eddie say, "we'll see if [Blatche] can play [defense] one-on-one against some second line centers." That's the relevant question. Before we start putting Blatche or Pecherov in as the starting center, let's see how they defend the 2nd stringers.

Posted by: Sean | October 4, 2007 9:09 AM

"Ray, Gil's knee is still a question mark. Daniels then becomes essential. Thankfully we have him."

I agree but tell that to Jordan. He always played Hayes instead last year until he 100% HAD to play AD because of injuries.

I'd love to see him on the floor with 4 minutes left but I'm not the coach.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 4, 2007 9:14 AM

Hey Ivan, if Etan is out an extended period you think the Wizards might bring in James Lang?

Posted by: Darnell | October 3, 2007 11:47 PM

Darnell - No disrespect man, but please no way. I hope EG does not get that idea. We do not need a "poor man's version" of Oliver Miller or Kevin Duckworth coming to play ball here at the "5". I would rather have Peter John Ramos before they took him. Lang had no game at all. I do not know what EJ was looking at.

Mike Sweetney's still a free agent; the wiz could use his mass if etan cant go this season.

Posted by: patrick | October 4, 2007 03:59 AM

Now Patrick I like this idea. Sweetney would be real good for us if his weight is not up there to high. I always thought if he was given a "real" opportunity somewhere he could do some good things. I could work with him starting here too if his play warranted it.

Sweetney is a true "5" like Haywood, so I would take him in a heartbeat. Etan was a "4" trying to play the "5". This had to many limitations for my taste.


Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 4, 2007 9:23 AM

Ivan, Excellent post!

Other then the starting 5, I really believe D-Song will have the biggest impact. He played really well in the European Championship, he never really played a full season due to injuries. His toughness is really under rated. I am just really pumped about the team this year. Go Wiz!

Posted by: Kit | October 4, 2007 9:43 AM

My thoughts still go out to Etan, when the doctors tell you it's something to do with your heart that's got to be a real shocker when you're a young athelete.

It's bad enough when you get to my age and they say let's go have a stress test. Can't imagine being that young and encountering problems with your heart. He's got to be going through a tough time right now.

I've been saying all summer that Pecherov would be a big factor on this team. Yes, PK1 I think Grunfeld does picture in time a frontline of Blatche and Pecherov together down the line.

These kids are a couple of young pups that aren't even done growing yet. Not sure, but I think they're both still just short of 21. That's the real promise, and the biggest concern with both of them. Young bigs should come with a warning label stamped on their foreheads"HANDLE WITH CARE", if used improperly they are likely to self destruct.

We've already seen Blatche stumble through some of the pratfalls of being a young kid with money out on the prowl for female companionship. I think about my college days, throw in a couple million dollars, I'd have done something stupid and they'd have locked me up for sure.

But the real concern with these guys will be throwing them to the lions too soon on the court and wounding their confidence. Everybody expects because a guy's that big he's automaticly physically mature. It's the exact opposite, they grow longer, and it takes longer for their body to catch up with that growth.

My experience with coaching young bigs is their confidence is way behind the guards. They've all gone through a really alkward stage, and that's always in the back of their minds. They can get down on theirselves really quickly.

Alot of young bigs don't mature into their games until their mid twenties, so these two have a ways to go yet. I think Ernie envisions having a frisky pair of guys to team together up front that will key this teams improvement in coming years.

Even Haywood is still young at 27 for a big. I'd disagree he's still they same guy we've been seeing for ten years, his game is still growing. He'll never be an allstar but he is a servicable 7', Ernie's smart enough to know you don't give those guys away.

Thing is this year they'll still have to be handled with care and their minutes will have to be spotted some to keep them away from mismatches. Even before Etan's problem I thought this would be a transistion year at center and power forward.

Songalia will surprise many, He's going to get alot more time at the 5 then expected. He's the perfect mentor for Pecherov, when the kid sees him out there he should be able to see exactly how he should play.

The kids on the bench are more talented than last year's bench, but still green as grass. We could break out fast with our core of vets on the roster. But the rookies on the bench are going to have to grow up by playoff time for us to be a threat to go past the second round.

Overall I'm still of the mind this team will be good for 46-49 wins. I still think that this team is a year or two away from where Ernie wants it to be.

Two years from now we could be looking at Young, Pecherov, and Blatche all forcing their way into the starting lineup along with Arenas and Butler. We'd then have a deep veteran bench and an explosive starting lineup to surround our two prennial Allstars. And Jamison could play the Robert Horry role off the bench.

Hollinger saying that Butler has peaked is one of thestupidest statements I've ever read. Anybody that knows anything could point out that most Allstar players continue to improve barring chronic injuries(useally Knees)until theis early thirties. There is nothing to indicate Butler isn't on that path.

The overall standings in the East, I'll reserve judgement until I see how some of these chemistry experiments look on the court. Chicago is still going to be really tough and maybe better than expected. But I'm still not on Toronto's bandwagon as much as some. But we'll see, that's why they play the game!

Posted by: GM | October 4, 2007 9:45 AM

Holli-who? You guys are worrying too much about this guy. Who cares what he says. It's not like he is some big time reporter.

The Wiz will be fine. We will have to wait to see "how fine." But they are, at the very minimum, a 6th-7th place team in the East and have the potential to do as well as anybody.

Posted by: BT | October 4, 2007 9:55 AM

GM,

Nice post. Re: Pech, one advantage he might have, even though he's young, is that he's been playing in Europe. That's a higher level of competition than college, and he's been doing it for a few years now. He might be more game-ready quicker than an American big.

I agree with you re: Hollinger's comments about Butler. Caron is driven to get better; witness his weight loss this summer. He hasn't hit his ceiling yet. And he calls Blatche "The X factor", and says that if he improves, he could be a huge help. He's right. Andray has improved every year, and there's no reason to think he won't improve again this year. I see him getting 20 minutes or more per game, and come the end of the season/playoffs, having a major role.

And watch Haywood with at least 30 min/game. He's a more than adequate defender, and will prove his worth to all the doubters out there. If Eddie trusts him to guard the rim, which he should, the other guys can defend the perimeter much more effectively.

45-50 wins feels about right from where I sit, at least at this early stage.

Posted by: Keithinator | October 4, 2007 9:58 AM

Washington Times Story written by John N. Mitchell 10/04/07)

Trimming the offense

Jordan is cutting back on the offense this season -- something he thinks will help the team in the long run. "There is not going to be as much motion, although we still have what we had over the last few years. We're going to stay with that until we get comfortable with some of the new stuff we have added.

Jordan said that the Wizards' version of the Princeton offense is now a hybrid.

"I'm trying to gear it to our personnel," Jordan said. "I've always said that the Princeton offense teaches [that] you have to help your teammates, how to cut, [screening] and angles. And we understand that for the most part. So now we're slimming it down and making it work best for our personnel." Eddie Jordon

The above story came from the Washington Times today. It is funny how EJ says it will be less motion in the offense this year. Excuse me? When was there motion in the offense last year? They ran the Princeton offense the first possesion of the game, the first possession of the 3rd quarter and one or two plays after a timeout was called. That was it. It was two passes and shoot.

The only time they really ran the Princeton offense was when AD was running the point. When Gilbert was in there they did not run it that often.

However, I am still glad to see in EJ's comments he is willing now to adjust his offensive and "DEFENSIVE" systems to "fit" his players versus the other way around. Let's hope this new found humbleness means no more "small ball" in the final 4 minutes of games and not leaving rookies and 1st year players nailed to the bench all year long. Let the puppies play during the regular season and let them get their bumps and bruises.


Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 4, 2007 10:27 AM

can somebody please post the espn insider artcile from like a week ago about gilbert arenas...its by like chris broussard or somethin...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2007 11:12 AM

The Wiz aren't going tb able to pick up anyone of significance of the FA wire because they don't have any money. They've basically got the equivalent of the LLE or the vet minimum. Anyone they sign at that price will be a space filler.

Speaking of space fillers, no on Sweetney. Given their history with such players, the last thing the Wiz need is to tempt fate by bringing in another guy who seems unable to release his grip on the dinner fork. If he's still floating 9so to speak) out there with no offers, he may have already eaten himself out of the league.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 11:15 AM

Etan is not and has never been a PF. He's played C pretty much exclusively throughout his college and pro careers, as opposed to Sweetney who has played mostly PF in the NBA.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 11:21 AM

"Sweetney is a true "5" like Haywood, so I would take him in a heartbeat. Etan was a "4" trying to play the "5". This had to many limitations for my taste."

Etan is not and has never been a PF. He's played C pretty much exclusively throughout his college and pro careers, as opposed to Sweetney who has played mostly PF in the NBA.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 11:22 AM

Because John Williams had an eating problem 20 years ago, the Wizards shouldn't sign Sweetney to a veteran minimum contract? Tempting fate? What? Another puzzling post from Kalorama.

Posted by: Sean | October 4, 2007 11:34 AM

Not sure what Holinger was thinking. I didn't make it past the opening paragraph.

"Take a look at their three best players and tell me which of them are going to take a step up from last year: Arenas, who depends entirely on his quickness but is coming off knee surgery? Butler, who comes off a career year at 27? Or Jamison, who is 31 and has seen his numbers slowly declining the past couple years?"

Well...yeah I do expect Caron Butler coming off a career year at age 27 to step up. He's in the freaking prime of his career and apparently in even better shape this year than last.

Gil's knee, yeah sure we'll wait and see.

Jamison slowly declining the last couple of years? That's just not true. Unless one season in which he played all summer with the national team, was injured and without both wingmen equals "the last couple of years". Jamison responded to this down year by averaging 32 points and 10 rebounds vs Cleveland in the playoffs.

Posted by: prophet | October 4, 2007 11:46 AM

Even if the wiz get an injury exception, which I believe would be approx 2.5 mil for Etan, I don't expect that they would pick up anyone else ... or even trade the exception, because they still have to pay Etan's full salary. I just don't see cheap Abe paying an additional salary. That being said, I expect Massenburg to make the team.

Also, if they managed to get someone of quality for the injury exception, and Etan can return the next year, they will be over the luxury tax for next year, and we all know this is not a spot the owner wants to be in.

Posted by: 2cents4wiz | October 4, 2007 11:55 AM

"Because John Williams had an eating problem 20 years ago, the Wizards shouldn't sign Sweetney to a veteran minimum contract?"
Do you have to work at missing the point so widely, or is it a natural instinct?

Sweetney is a player with some talent, yet he can't even scrounge up a minimum contract from anyone with training camps open and all kinds of scrubs with no real shot at making a team getting invites. Why? Because in his years in the NBA he has proven himself to be undisciplined when it comes to his weight issues and unable to keep them under control to the point where he can be counted on to help a team, even a crap team like the Knicks. Wasting money and a roster spot on a guy who can't find his way out of the kitchen long enough to even ask where the weight room is a waste of resources, and given their history with such players, the Wiz should know this better than most.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 11:58 AM

So how did Haywood do in the team practice?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2007 12:02 PM

Gosh, the last time I saw Sweetney play, he was huge. Dude is also way too short to play the 5. He's about 6-5/6-6, and has no hops.

I'm surprised Les BouleS aren't interested in Darrell Armstrong. I consider him an upgrade to AD.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 4, 2007 12:20 PM

"Wasting money and a roster spot on a guy who can't find his way out of the kitchen long enough to even ask where the weight room is a waste of resources, and given their history with such players, the Wiz should know this better than most".

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 11:58 A

Kalorama - On this issue I am going to agree with you. But if you look at my earlier post, I said Sweatney would be a good pickup "if his weight was down". If it is up, we don't need him.

I thought he was a good idea because the man does have some semblance of a "back to the basket" game. Which by the way, my man Haywood sorely lacks at the moment.

As for the Thomas, although he played the "5" in college does not make him a legit "5" in the NBA. The man has a 1990's prototype body for the "4". Maybe that is what I am stuck on. I know in today's game the "4's" are a lot more agile and shoot "j's" all over the place.

Thomas has none of those attributes. His game is taliored to play "5". And that is why EJ sticks him at the "5". I just believe he is to short to play the "5".

That is my issue with Etan playing the "5", it is not his game. I like his game, but I would like for it to be at the "4" and not at the starting "5" spot thats all. I am from the old school and I prefer for my "5's" to be "long".

Lastly, I can not stand "small ball" either. I like the "traditional set" in there the last 4 minutes of the game, not Michael Ruffin or AJ down there playing the "5" in crunch time.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 4, 2007 1:13 PM

Gosh, the last time I saw Sweetney play, he was huge. Dude is also way too short to play the 5. He's about 6-5/6-6, and has no hops.

I'm surprised Les BouleS aren't interested in Darrell Armstrong. I consider him an upgrade to AD.

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 4, 2007 12:20 PM

Yo DC Man88, I did not realize dude was that short. If that is the case, we don't need him then. I would just like to have another 7 footer on the bench, even if he is a stiff.

Does anybody know any 7 footers out there available right now who are not in Europe? Some suggestions please. Thanks...

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 4, 2007 1:16 PM

I found some unrestricted free agent centers. Not sure if their status is still the same, but here they are:

Scot Pollard
Michael Olowokandi
Jake Tsakalidis
PJ Brown (My favorite to pick)
Michael Doleac
Kevin Cato
Kevin Willis (Like him too)
Mark Jackson
Luke Schenscher
Vitaly Potapenko (Use to kill the Wiz when he was with the Cav's - He's my 3rd pick)
Rafael Araujo

What are your picks out of these?

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 4, 2007 1:41 PM

"Thomas has none of those attributes. His game is taliored to play "5". And that is why EJ sticks him at the "5". I just believe he is to short to play the "5"."

Well, if his game is tailored to play the 5, then playing him at the 4 (where he has none of the attributes needed to succeed) wouldn't seem to make any sense would it. At the 5 he's got one major disadvantage 9his size). At the 4, everything about him is a disadvantage. And, as has been pointed out, Thomas is taller (as well as quicker and more athletic) than Sweetney has ever been.

Posted by: kaloram | October 4, 2007 2:03 PM

This obsession with 7 footers seems a bit anachronistic. Every player on that list is either a scrub destined to spend whatever career they have left as ballast at the end of someone's bench or a dinosaur several eons past his prime (Kevin Willis?). They aren't productive and aren't likely to be a positive contributor to a winning team. The Wiz already signed their space filling big man in Tony Massenburg. If they can't pick up someone who can actually produce in a significant role in Thomas' absence, they're better off going with what they have.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 2:07 PM

"As for the Thomas, although he played the "5" in college does not make him a legit "5" in the NBA. "

An opinion apparently not shared by NBA coaches, because that's the only position he's ever played in the pros as well.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 2:13 PM

PJ Brown is my favorite in that list as well.

Good defensively. Good rebounder. Solid on offense. Good character guy. Durable (Played less than 74 games only once in 14 seasons).

Down side is that he's 37... and an old 37. Lots of miles. Not particularly athletic, more of a banger.

He's an unrestricted Free Agent.... and I think you could sign him for the $2.6M exemption, assuming Etan Thomas is not cleared to play this year.

Rumor has it that he is contemplating retirement.

Posted by: Rook | October 4, 2007 2:13 PM

Thanks for the correction on black team's win.

Regarding Pecherov and Blatche being interchangable, I think Pecherov is a significant better outside shooter than Blatche. However, I think Blatche should give us some inside scoring tjis year because he can catch the ball in tarffic unlike Wood and Etan.

The key to Pecherov and Blatche is not how well they rebound, but how well they can block out on the defensive end. Blatche has already shown that he is a pretty good offensive rebounder. Now he needs to show that he can prevent the other team from grabing rebound on the defensive end.

If Etan is out, Massenburg may make the team. Ruffin, at 6'8" has played center for the Wiz before, and he is not any more mobile than Massenburg while Massenburg probably has better offense.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 4, 2007 2:18 PM

"Massenburg probably has better offense."

Posted by: sagaliba | October 4, 2007 02:18 PM


sagaliba - A crippled man in a wheelchair has a better offensive game than Ruffin.

Posted by: Rook | October 4, 2007 2:27 PM

I am with rook and bullets fever, if Etan (and I hope this is not so) can't play again, then P.J. Brown would be an asset to this team. He is the one person on that list who could contribute (mainly in rebounding and post defense). Ivan, the updates are good and thank you. When does Etan next see a specialist or have more tests?

Posted by: George Templeton | October 4, 2007 2:59 PM

That prediction in espn is beyond ridiculous. Everyone is sleeping on this team in terms of how they will do. They easily have the talent to win 50 games and contend in the east. It seems every discounts the chemistry value of having their entire starting five back. The bench will be much deeper.

Posted by: Aaron | October 4, 2007 2:59 PM

Young guys will always take a few years to figure out how much they can and can't get away with battling under the boards. The thing I've really liked about Pecherov the last two summers is he's not afraid to mix it up inside.

Looking at the careers of alot of the High School to the NBA guys the third year seems to be when it useally kicks in for those guys. Some like J. O'Neal kind of languish a little longer but turn into good pros, but for the most part if they don't bloom by that 4th year they're a journeyman.

That's why this year is going to be key for Blatche, he needs to break out and use that talent that he's flashed on a regular basis. All indications are pointing toward him being ready to take that step.

If anything the NBA is steering away from 7' guys. When you look at different rosters and the way teams like the Suns and the Warriors play now, they often force you to pull your big man out of the game. Unless you have a 7' guy that has a lowpost game to really punish them, teams are spreading the game out with smaller more athletic guys.

Many of the guys on that list are far too slow to guard many of the 5's that are now camping out at the three line. Frankly Blatche and Pecherov are both better suited to play that game then any of the FA centers that are still available.

We might be better suited if Etan doesn't make it back to wait and see what our needs are closer to the trade deadline and if someone that fits might be available then.

I always thought this could be a transition year at center for the Wiz, if Etan can't be cleared to play the transition could be moved up by a year.

And I wouldn't be anymore inclined to see us add a broken down point gaurd than another center from the scrap heap. Daniels needs a clear role defined for him from day one this year. I have no idea why it has taken him and Jordan 1/2 a season both years to get on the same page.

Down the stretch both years Daniels has been one of our most consistant guys off the bench. The first couple of months both years him and Jordan have been at odds with each other about his role with the team. It would really help if they would be on the same page coming out of camp for a change.

Posted by: GM | October 4, 2007 3:14 PM

GM - I keep thinking about the centers in the east, like Shaq, Curry, Ilgauskas - that DO have a low post game.

Haywood matches up with them pretty well. But what do you do when he needs a breather? Bring in Blatche to match up on Shaq? Or Pecherov against Ilgauskas? - Sorry, but I don't like those match ups.
AND - I don't care how good shape Haywood is in, over the last several years, he has not averaged a ton of minutes - so what makes us think he can pull 35-38 minutes a game consistantly?

I don't know, but when we had Booth here, I felt better knowing that there was a real professional back-to-the-basket center at the end of the bench - ready to d-up, with 6 extra fouls.

At 6'11", think PJ Brown could fit that role for the Wizards.

And I'm NOT saying he would be the second center off the bench.... rather, insurance against injury - and a guy you use in certain situations.... (think Ruffin, but taller and withouth the offensive limitations).

Posted by: Rook | October 4, 2007 3:34 PM

Kalorama, if you want to change your post after someone criticizes it, be a man and say, "I wasn't clear." Don't call the other person out for your errors. If you said the Wizards shouldn't sign Sweetney because he wasn't a good player, has had weight issues, and the fact that no one has signed him this off-season could mean that his skills had diminished and he had eaten himself out of the league, who could disagree with that. Instead you said that the Wizards shouldn't "tempt fate" because of their history with John Williams --"Given their history with such players, the last thing the Wiz need is to tempt fate by bringing in another guy who seems unable to release his grip on the dinner fork." That didn't make sense. Don't rip me because your post didn't make sense.

Posted by: Sean | October 4, 2007 3:39 PM

How about Dale Davis at center? He is looking for a team. He was burried on the Pistons bench due to depth, but played real well when givin a chance, and is good defensively.

Also, I hate to break it to you guys, but Nick Young has bust written all over. All athlete, nothing else. Has a bad basketball IQ, terrible on D, doesnt rebound, cant pass, etc. All he can do is fill it up. Basically, a poor mans Jamal Crawford. McGuire and Pech will be much, much better.

Posted by: Steve | October 4, 2007 4:12 PM

Sean, my point was very clear and no one else seemed to have trouble understanding it: Sweetney is a fat load and the Wiz have no use for him. Your lack of comprehension isn't my fault, nor my problem. Don't rip me because you appear incapable of thinking in anything other than a strict, unimaginative literal fashion.

Be a man and own up to your own shortcomings rather than ripping everyone else for not talking down to your level.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 4:44 PM

GM,

Couldn't agree more about Daniels. He can really help the team with his toughness, leadership, playmaking, and penetration to the rim, but Jordan needs to make better, more consistent use of him.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 4:48 PM

Oh, and Sean, you should really think twice about accusing someone else of "ripping" people given that you made no attempt whatsoever to discuss basketball when responding to my initial post. Your only *ahem* "comment" was a snide remark about how my posts were "puzzling" (much more a statement about you than me). You made no attempt to make a bball-based counterargument why signing Sweetney was a good idea. Your obvious (and apparently only) agenda was to take a swipe at me. So, in addition to seemingly not being very bright, you're also a hypocrite.

Posted by: kalorama | October 4, 2007 5:01 PM

Steve - Dale Davis was pretty good a few years ago.... but he has even more miles on him than PJ Brown.

By the way, Steve; I agree that Young could be a bust. Very athletic, but does not make good decisions with the ball.

I keep thinking of Donell Taylor; Another young, athletic player with potential. But this will be Taylor's third year with the Wizards, and I keep hearing the same things about him. Needs to make better decisions with the ball, out of position on defense, etc....

I think Pecherov has the best chance of being in the regular rotation. He seems to be the one rookie that is farthest along in his development, probably due to playing overseas. As previous poster noted, it's a much higher level of competition overseas than the NCAA.

Posted by: Rook | October 4, 2007 5:40 PM

Rook,

Exactly my pint! Cheers.

Yeah, I agree PJ Brown will be good.

The question is,
1. Will he play for Wizards, or a so-called champion contender (i.e., the front runners)?

2. Will he still be available by the time Wizards get cap relief from NBA?

Posted by: Sagliba | October 5, 2007 10:44 AM

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