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Posted at 4:28 PM ET, 12/10/2010

Wizards first quarter grades, part 2

By Kevin Broom

Part one was a broad brush look at the team's performance. Now it's time for the parent-teacher conferences.

Player grades in the order they came to mind:

Andray Blatche: F+

I can hear Mrs. Blatche already. "An F?! He's averaging 17 and 8. He's recovering from a broken foot and has a sore knee AND hip. How can you give him an F?" Here's why: 1) his shot selection (and his shooting percentage) is atrocious; 2) he commits too many turnovers; 3) he offers a lackluster effort on defense. Despite possessing a quality array of offensive moves, Blatche's offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) remains below 100 (average is 107). This is the same level of efficiency he's displayed throughout his career, and his inefficiency hurts the Wizards offense. Despite his apparent skills, Blatche has steadfastly refused to adjust his game to opposing defenses, team needs, or his own physical limitations. He seems to believe that a shot is good because he has decided to attempt it. Blatche MUST become more efficient on offense and more active on defense if he's going to be a key part of a good Wizards team.

Javale McGee: B

At the beginning of the season, I predicted that McGee would emerge as one of the Wizards long-term building blocks. McGee's not there yet, but until Elton Brand went WWE on him, McGee was showing signs. He was playing with energy and effort, making his presence felt on defense, and crashing the boards. If he'd ever grow an offensive game, the guy would be dangerous. He still needs to figure out defensive rotations. He still needs to focus on forcing misses and not trying to block everything.  He still needs to get stronger and improve his focus. But, he's been productive this season, which is more than can be said for most of his teammates.

John Wall: B+

Wall has abundant potential and looks poised to be the next great NBA point guard. But, he hasn't been able to stay healthy, his jumper needs a ton of work, and he commits too many turnovers. He plays with passion and purpose on BOTH ends of the floor (and in transition), which means that if he can fix the flaws, he can be an elite player. He's not there yet, though.

Gilbert Arenas: C

Gil is coming back from an extended layoff and the rust is evident. The old quickness isn't there, he doesn't explode and finish at the rim the way he once did, and he's turning the ball over the way he did in his first few seasons. Despite the struggles, he's actually been a stabilizing force at times. He figures to get better as he learns to retool his game to his reworked knee.

Kirk Hinrich: C-

Captain Kirk tries hard. He shoots the ball well, he doesn't make bad decisions. Did I say he tries hard? Look, I like Hinrich, but fact is, he's often overmatched by bigger, stronger and faster NBA players. A lot of players fit that description.

Al Thornton: D+

Extended playing time is exposing serious flaws in Thornton's game. His jumper is iffy and lacks three-point range. His handles are awful. His defense was good early in the season, but has slipped since. His rebounding is ho-hum for someone with his size and strength.

Trevor Booker: C-

Booker is a solid defender who hits the boards. He doesn't have an offensive game, which is mitigated because he seems aware of it and doesn't try to do much. He has the size, athleticism and motor to be a successful NBA player. The big question is whether he'll be able to become at least an occassional offensive threat.

Nick Young: B

So far, Young has been good -- a pleasant change from his previous three seasons. His defense has been solid, perhaps unsurprising since his defensive effectiveness has always seemed correlated with how well he shoots the ball game to game. I'm still firmly in the doubter's camp, though. Much of Young's improvement this season is because of torrid shooting on long two-point attempts (generally speaking, the worst shots) and I don't expect that success to continue.

Cartier Martin: C+

Martin is never going to be a quality NBA starter, but he's shown enough this season to carve out a solid career as an off-the-bench role player. He doesn't offer much that's spectacular, but his hoops IQ is solid, he gives an honest effort on defense, and the rest of his game is good enough.

Alonzo Gee: D+

Gee seemed to have made the Spurs' roster, but then San Antonio released him partway through the season. Ernie Grunfeld snapped him up and Gee has been...well...okay for the Wizards -- even starting five games. What he's shown so far suggests a 12th or 13th man, not a rotation player for a decent team.

Hilton Armstrong: F

Armstrong seems like a good guy. His defense is pretty solid, although he lacks lift, length, strength and quickness. Everytime I see him, I think of former Bulls GM Jerry Krause's desire to get players with short necks, because long-necked guys don't play to their measured height. This is about as good as Armstrong has played in his career, and it's bad. One in four of his possessions end in a turnover.

Yi Jianlian: F-

I didn't like the trade that brought Yi to D.C. I suspended judgement until I got to see him play regularly, and seeing him play has only cemented my original opinion. A casual glance suggests that he's a fluid player who moves well, has good length and a smooth jumper. But when you look closer, his game is garbage. On offense, he's confined largely to taking crap shots -- those from 16-23 feet. He doesn't possess three-point range and he doesn't have the strength to hold his ground inside. Plus, he doesn't have the handles, creativity or quickness to create off the dribble. A turnover prone PF who's not a force on the boards, and whose game is built around the worst shot in basketball is the definition of ineffective and inefficient. On defense, he'll block the occassional shot and he's a willing rebounder, but he lacks strength in the post and the lateral quickness to be a quality help defender.

Kevin Seraphin and Hamady Ndiaye: Incomplete

Neither guy has played enough to receive a grade.

Flip Saunders: C

Saunders is a good coach with a proven record of developing youngsters. However, while McGee and Young have improved (though Young's improvement may not be sustainable), Blatche has regressed. Saunders' season will ultimately be judged on whether this group of young players develop into good pros. The most promising prospects for the future happen to be the team's most productive players so far this season -- Wall and McGee. Wall's future looks bright, but McGee's is still clouded.  Will he do the work to maximize his potential, or will he be content as a good reserve?

By Kevin Broom  | December 10, 2010; 4:28 PM ET
Categories:  Kevin Broom, Wizards  | Tags:  Kevin Broom, Wizards  
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Comments

When I look at the Wiz, I ask myself what would happen if the team was disbanded and the other teams were allowed to sign whoever they wanted, either at the current salary or to negotiate a new contract.
IMO NO ONE currently on the roster would start for a championship contenting team this year, although Wall and Young should make the rotation. Arenas would and Hinrich might make the rotation with re-worked contracts.
McGee would be signed for "potential" and someone would pick up Blatche on a re-work, hoping to change his game.
The other 8 would have problems finding a home at the end of a bench.
We have not seen Josh Howard yet, and he may well be the "least worst" SF on the team. On the other hand, he is not Kobe or LeBron (or even Paul Pierce) so he won't be a difference maker.
Onward to 2015!

Posted by: lrmc623 | December 11, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Good comment lrmc. I agree that no one on the roster would start for a contending team. Wall would make the rotation. I don't know about Young -- his play has been good, but I can't see Popovich (for example) putting a lot of trust in a guy who's such a goofball.

Similarly, I don't see a team with championship aspirations trusting Blatche.

The only guys a good team would want are:

1. Wall
2. McGee -- but as a project, not a rotation player
3. Arenas
4. Hinrich

I think good teams would be okay with someone like Cartier Martin at the end of the bench.

I think a well-run team would shy away from the rest.

Posted by: KevinBroom | December 13, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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