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Jamison Likes Minutes

Washington Times columnist Tom Knott wrote this week that the Wizards' big man deficiencies are overrated, that after Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison get their 65 or so minutes, there are only 30 left to distribute to a cast that already includes JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, plus front-court appearances from Dominic McGuire.

"The obsession with who is on the end of the bench - tall or short - is upside-down," Knott wrote. "Championships, after all, are not decided by 12th men."

Now, on a team that's seen as many injuries as this team has in recent years, I don't think you want to ignore those end-of-the-bench slots, and Ernie Grunfeld won't. Still, I chatted with Antawn Jamison for a couple minutes yesterday about adding another big, and he said much the same as Knott, which has to be a first in world history.

"I like to play as much as possible," Jamison said. "Sometimes they say we're gonna bring guys in so you don't have to play that many minutes, and it sounds good, but when you've got guys like myself and Gilbert and Caron, we like to play. I think the most important thing is just to be fresh and energetic for the end of the season going into the playoffs."

So are the team's four or five bigs enough?

"I play," Jamison said. "It doesn't matter how many minutes I play; as long as I'm playing the game of basketball, I'm happy. You don't know how the minutes are gonna get divided up or who's gonna get what, but I know I'm starting. So I'm gonna go out there and play starter minutes and make sure I'm healthy enough to hold my piece of the puzzle."

Jamison--who has been working out with new teammate Mike Miller here in Vegas--also did an interview with NBA TV last night, and he issued what might as well be the team's official logo this year: "If we stay healthy...."

"Our biggest thing is staying healthy, and I think if we can do that, we already have great team chemistry," he said. "Everybody's got a chip on their shoulder, everybody's got a lot to prove, and the most important thing, we want to win as many basketball games as possible and contend for a championship. And I think if we stay healthy, we're definitely one of those teams that can do that."

It's definitely a compelling argument, but it's definitely a refrain. See also, Brendan Haywood ("At the end of the day, we have what it takes to compete against an Orlando--if healthy. Our problem has been health") and Caron Butler ("If healthy, we're the best team in the Eastern Conference") and Flip Saunders ("Our main thing is to get Gilbert healthy, to get Stevenson healthy, to get Brendan healthy, and if we get healthy we think we're gonna be a very good team").

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 15, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Why Andray Blatche Changed Jersey Numbers


It will be interesting to see if Jamison will accept fewer minutes as a means of improving the interior D and keeping him fresh. If Flip can get he, Caron and Gil -- they of their professed love for minutes -- to buy in to reduced roles for the good of the team, he'll be worth his weight in gold.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | July 15, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Unlike Eddie who ran his stars 40+ minutes a night even if they were nursing injuries, Flip has shown a willingness to play reserves and keep his players fresh like in Detroit. In Jamison's case, he's at a point in his career where he should be playing 30-35 minutes a night with a backup PF playing the rest. Can Blatche be that person? I'll wait and see, but the Wiz seem to banking on him.

As for Arenas, I think the Wiz will monitor his minutes very closely this year to avoid risking re-injury. Foye is a more than competent backup so Agent Zero may have to accept playing 30 - 35 minutes a night instead of his previous 40+. It's better for both him and the team in the long-run.

Posted by: wizfan89 | July 15, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Tom Knott's column and Antawn's desire to play 40 minutes a night, it is not the necessarily the quantity of big men in the Wizards' rotation that is the problem, but rather the lack of an interior defensive toughness off the bench to compete with the big men of Cleveland, Orlando and Boston. Neither Antawn, Andre nor JaVale are considered strong defensive players or rebounding the question is where does that presence come from?

Posted by: camlot2822 | July 15, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Neither Antawn, Andre nor JaVale are considered strong defensive players or rebounding machines....."

In regards to Antawn, if averaging close to 10 rebounds a game in the NBA over your career isnt a rebounding machine, then I dont know what is.

Posted by: SkinsWizStangs | July 15, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Playing 40 minutes a night isn't physically demanding if you are only exerting yourself on the offensive end.

Force Jamison to play lockdown defense and he will be signaling the bench for a sub once in a while.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | July 15, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I trust the bigs we have, BUT you have to account for possible injuries, PLUS you need that third center for 6 or 8 key games each year, when you need the extra fouls for hack-a-Shaq (four times in the regular season this year) or other dominating centers. A minimum salary experienced center will serve fine. If we happen to draw the Cavs in the playoffs, having the extra big man fouls is essential!

Posted by: ragtop4spd | July 15, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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