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Strange win but a win

That was one of the more unique games I've seen in awhile last night. The Wizards came out hot early behind Roger Mason Jr., cooled off, took back control in the second half and then repeatedly let Charlotte get back in the game. The finish featured some truly odd calls as well.

In the end, the Wiz won 108-104 becuase Mason, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood had big nights and because the Bobcats are, well, the Bobcats. That team still does not know how to win games like that.

I always felt that Bernie Bickerstaff got as much or more out of his teams as any coach in the league (alot of opposing players, coaches and scouts would agree with that) but the Bobcats made a change after last season and MJ hired Sam Vincent. Sam is finding out what it can be like coaching a group of young players who have not figured out how to win games like last night's.

Sam: "We are going to make mistakes but we can't continue to make the same ones. We are not going to out-talent anyone." Ouch. But true.

It was Eddie Jordan's 200th NBA win which is kind of cool considering that one of his rivals, Scott Skiles, was canned earlier in the week leaving Eddie as the longest standing coach in the East. That's kind of crazy when you think about it. The 2003-2004 season did not happen all that long ago but to coaches in the NBA, it must feel like five decades.

Said Caron Butler after the game: "I'm real happy for him. Those guys (the coaching staff) have been working real hard trying to keep this thing together with all of the injuries and everything that's been going on with this team. I love playing for him."

As for Roger Mason Jr., what can really be said? The guy is showing that he belongs in this league. In the month of December (11 games), he is averaging 12.7 points, 2.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent overall. He's made all of his free throws, plays solid defense and he has 16 turnovers in 25 games. Not bad. The thing that strikes me about Mason is his super calm way of carrying himself. The guy never gets rattled. In fact, it's hard to tell sometimes whether he's playing in the NBA or running up and down at the local health club with myself and my out of shape cohorts.

Nothing really new to report on Antonio Daniels. It appears that he could be back for Saturday's game against Miami or Wednesday's game against Detroit for certain. He was beaming as he walked out of the lockeroom last night.
"Was that a crazy win or what?" he asked me as he was on the way to the bus. My guess is that Antonio will do a little more at practice today, go through shootaround before tomorrow night's game against New Jersey and then see where he's at Saturday morning.

By Ivan Carter  |  December 27, 2007; 11:37 AM ET
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Next: Onto the swamp


Strange indeed.....
But hey - a win is a win!!

Just like the Redskins beating both the Vikings and Cowboys to get into the playoffs.

Sorry that's not really related but just wanted to get that jibe in at you Ivan!

Okay back to basketball.....

Posted by: a | December 27, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Bobcats are the Hawks from a year or two ago? Wonder if one day they'll learn how to win the the Hawks.

Posted by: JB | December 27, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Mason is very steadily playing his way into a big payday (and, most likely, out of Washington).

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Intersting point Kalorama, Mason's gamble of turning down the three year deal with San Antonio may have paid off. He sure got dissed on here by some of the resident experts for turning down that quarenteed contract for near min. money.

Grunfeld might have some interesting choices to make next summer. If Mason could keep putting up these kind of numbers over the course of a season he could be looking at MLE type of money.

It's almost unbeleivable what some teams will spend on a guy that is a reliable three point shooter. Look at Kapono's deal with Toronto last summer.

Then I guess Mason will be in position to "troll" the league for a nice payday.

Posted by: GM | December 27, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

A win is a win; we'll take it at this point.

But almost nothing from the bench. Eight points. Blatche with 4, 2 each from Young and Songaila.

Songaila's been really struggling these past two weeks. Granted, he has trouble against athletic forwards; but he's smart enough to be able to hit some jumpers and give us more than 2-6 points.

And does Wallace always score 30+ against the Zs? Seems that way.

Posted by: SteveMG | December 27, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

From the last post, Blatche's problems would appear to me to stem from teams seeing him enough to develop a scouting report on him.

Seems like guys are bodying him up a lot more now. He's also seemed to get a little enamored with making the slick pass. I noticed one time in the 4th he was driving the lane getting alot of contact and he tried to dish the pass instead of taking the contact and exploding to the rim.

I'd agree with George it's part of the process of getting more playing time and teams reacting to what they've seen. He'll have to adjust his game and make them adjust agian. It's all part of the learning process.

And remember, he's still a pretty skinny guy that still appears to get winded, that's playing alot of NBA center. That's physically very wearing on a guy, it's going to take more time in the weightroom before he'll stand up to the pounding in the lane on a nightly basis.

Posted by: GM | December 27, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Go back and read Eddie's commentary over the previous few weeks...AB is out of shape (as in not in major NBA playing time shape) and DSong has a hurt left foot he is dealing with. Both of these problemns are being exposed with increased playing time.

Posted by: oddjob | December 27, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: | December 27, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

When we move the ball around good things happen...

Blatche, Young, McGuire and OPec are still developing. The first three have basically performed like the good prospects they are. Inconsistent, but promising. Andray is in the regular rotation for the first time and is adjusting to a long season. If he keeps working hard things will pan out for him. He has a rare combination of abilities for his size.

Songaila is around to discourage double-teams via his shooting range and to hit the open man in the half court set. Also, he seems more effective with AD at the helm. He has never been a great rebounder or shot-blocker, so don't expect that. Overall, I think he is having a solid season despite some match-up issues. The last 2 weeks I would attribute to trimming the play book without AD around.

Posted by: Pauly B. | December 27, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

So since there hasn't been any word about Blatche's hand, can I relax and hope that he didn't hurt it as badly as it looked like he had last night?

Posted by: thebigc_1982 | December 27, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

re: Mason -- thanks for bringing that up, Kal! Another thing for the Wiz to worry about in the most crucial offseason they've had in decades -- maybe ever. You're right, though, that if he can maintain this play, he's gonna get paid.

Since I've been so hard on Eddie, let me say that I think he's doing his best coaching job ever this year. With the exception of not giving Haywood enough minutes, he's done an excellent job of figuring out who's getting it done and who isn't, and properly adjusting his rotations.

Songaila is a case in point. He hasn't been real effective much of the time, and EJ's been correspondingly limiting his minutes, while Mason's minutes have jumped, as his game has improved. Other than Haywood (yes, I'll be carrying the torch for you all season, my man) being under-utilized, Eddie's been terrific. Never thought I'd say that, but I'm happy to admit I was wrong.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 27, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

the fact that AB is still not in shape alarms me. How is it that you are getting 20 minutes a game, you're 20 years old and you can't get in shape? That speaks to me of a lack of dedication. I know he's young and I'm not suggesting we get rid of him but it's still a yellow flag. I hope that the fact that he's not playing for a new contract doesn't cause him to become complacent.
i admit that I'm old school and it's easy to say but...If it were me, I'd be out to prove that I was the among the best in the league at something. I can't imagine not hiring a trainer or nutritionist or doing whatever it took. I like the fact that he's improved his shooting. That means he's working on his game. But getting in shape seems to be basic.
And now for my Kwame rant....
Kinda reminds me of when Kwame was here and they did a heart test on him because he kept getting winded too quickly. The conclusion is that he was out of shape. The real deal was that he HAD no heart (stones). Kwame's nickname should have been the Tin Man from day 1. And now he'll never see the court because Bynum is a beast !
..Kwame rant over.

Posted by: mark | December 27, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

obviously I'm still smarting over that #1 pick we wasted on the Tin Man.

Posted by: mark | December 27, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Songaila is really a matchup dependent player. There's no denying the positives of his skill set, but the limitations of his body (size, quickness, athleticism) put limits on how effective he can be in certain situations. There are some opponents (both individual players and teams) that he'll do well against and others he'll have problems with. (although, with all of the injuries

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Keithinator, Haywood could get a few more minutes, but I'm not sure that I'd want him out there 40 minutes a game.

The big point to me is that now he comes back in at crunch time instead of getting lost at the end of the bench while people dunk over the likes of Ruffin.

Songaila is a little hobbled and the guy really plays well off of Daniels, the two of them seem to really click off of the pick and roll game. He's really having a hard time getting the ball in position to score right now.

Songaila's not a guy that's going to get his own shot very often. He's a complimentry player who can play off of a good ball handler and find an open spot on the floor to get an open shot.

Besides playing hurt he really misses Daniels in the lineup. There's alot of little things that the guy does really well to help a team win. He's the kind of guy every team needs in one of those 8-10th slots.

With the injuries he's gotten more use early this year then he might normally get, but he's still a great guy to have on the bench.

Posted by: GM | December 27, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The story filed for the Washington Times is almost word for word the same as that in the Post. It is not just quotes but paragraph structure and the end notes. Due to this blog we know that Ivan is real. Do we think there is a real person at the Times?

Posted by: mystified | December 27, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Mark, I hear the Kwame Brown fan club is looking for a new president. Is it safe to say you won't be applying?

Posted by: GM | December 27, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

GM, agreed about Songaila. Kal's point is well taken, also. With him, it is about matchups. He also does better with Daniels running the show, as AD is terrific at driving and dishing, getting Song the open looks he needs to be effective. They're both really smart players, and play off each other well.

Concerning Andray, I see slow but steady improvement. I thought he was putting it all together earlier in the year, but he's slowed a little lately. I do believe he's continuing to improve, though, especially on the defensive end. He's really becoming a stopper there. I think on the offensive end is where his main struggles are. He doesn't have much (or any) of a back-to-the-basket game now. He'd much rather face up and beat his man off the dribble.

He'll be terrific as a Princeton Offense center in time, given his passing skills and how well he sees the court.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 27, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

mark, i enjoyed the "beast" reference with Kwame. i assume it was intentional? every time i see an entry pass clank off his hands, or see him standing around in the paint doing nothing, i think of his "beast" comments. thanks for that pick, MJ!

Posted by: Keithinator | December 27, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

yeah you caught that, keithinator. Kwame claimed he was gonna be a beast.
Mystified, maybe Ivan is double dipping and ghost writing for the Times.
Ivan, you might want to switch a few words around so we don't know it's you writing both articles!
GM, I guess it still stings because I actually believed that Kwame was gonna be good since he was really quick.

Posted by: mark | December 27, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

We should trade Song (low-value though), and bring over Veremeenko. Veremeenko can do everything Song can, plus he's way more atheletic.

Posted by: Wizzy | December 27, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Wizzy, where is a good source to get information on Veremeenko? I'm interested to see what he's doing overseas.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 27, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Unless they can trade Songaila straight up for a draft pick (which isn't going to happen) then they'd still have to go over the luxury tax to sign Veremeenko, Wizzy. Besides, I'd be wary of deciding that a player who's never played a single second of NBA ball is better at anything until we actually see him play real minutes against real NBA competition.

Besides, if the Wiz are serious about breaking through to the next level and becoming real contenders, they probably don't need any more raw rookies competing for PT.

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Kal for the dose of reality. D-Song has his limitations but is a know quantity who brings a lot of intangibles. Veremeenko may be of help to us in future but definitely needs a few more years in the Europe - where he isn't exactly tearing up the league.... Keith - you can get info at

Posted by: PK | December 27, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Mark, he was fast in a car!

Jordan should have picked Gasol but he couldn't bring himself to be the first guy to pick a Euro guy with the first pick.

The other guy at the top of that draft that's turned out ok is Chandler, but he's matured into a completely different player. When he came out he was another one of these guys that thought he'd be a 7'1" shooting guard.

I hope Andre is paying attention, long armed 7' guys that can jump need to learn to play in the lane where they have every advantage.

But what really stung about that draft is that MJ could have had the Brand deal at the time. If he was coming back he needed an established NBA player, not a project which was what that draft was filled with.

But in the end the Wiz did ok. Right now, Caron for Kwame sure looks like a steal.

Posted by: GM | December 27, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, Roger Mason is definitely playing into a big payday. Bravo! He is the latest incarnation of Mike James and Benno Udrih, an underrated, guy who blossoms into a solid rotation player or spot starter under the right circumstances.

Songaila will be fine, I think... the guy can hit the mid-range shot and can rebound and use his body, so let's see what he does when AB is back before rushing to judgment.

The league is catching onto Andray Blatche, so now that he is no longer an unknown quantity, he needs good coaching to help him compensate for defenses and further develop his game.

Nick Young did not do much against Chzrlotte, but he knew how to get wide open for a big basket off a fine pass from Mason when it counted. He will prove worth the first round pick.

Anything we can get from DMac and Pech has to count as a bonus.

So now, let's go get another road W in the Meadowlands and welcome AB back at home in the New Year... and keep playing .500+ until hopefully Gilbert comes around in March and joins Caron and AJ to lead us to a 4-5-6 seed.

Reasonable expectation for this team, I believe.

Posted by: khrabb | December 27, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Coming into the season there was a definite sense from players and coaches that this was a "make or break" season, khrabb. That being the case, I would think they'd view anything less than a no. 4 seed and home court in the first round (at the very least least) as a disappointment.

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

That was the beginning of the season when they projected Arenas playing 70-80 games instead of the 40 he'll get if he's lucky. Thus, projections change.

Its been obvious that Blatche wasn't taking his NBA life seriously when he arrived at his second training camp still sporting his high school physique. He's added some muscle but still looks like he'd rather eat nachos than lift weights. I think thats one reason Grant was sent packing this offseason. His job was to develop players but couldn't get through to Blatche that there was more to that than afternoon shooting drills.

Eddie talked about conditioning but there is more to it than running a marathon. NBA conditioning is about having the muscle mass to sustain the long season. Its about having the lungs to sprint the floor a few times and still play D without hacking away.

Posted by: Monte | December 27, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

You Blatche bad mouthers are not watching the game. You expect him to go off like he did at Philly each game. NOT. He is though playing great D. Had 3 blocks last night and hustles all the time. He will take a charge. Not many on the Wiz will do that. His O will come when he is allowed to do so. He does not take bad shots. I am totally impressed with his professionalism on he plays the game.


Posted by: bridgewater | December 27, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Projections may change, but not expectations. The Wizards are at something of a crossroads, and both Jordan and the players have said so. Injuries or no, getting bounced in the first (or even the second) round of the playoffs will be seen as a disappointment for this team and could result in major changes being made.

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"The Wizards are at something of a crossroads, and both Jordan and the players have said so"

Yep, they're treading water right now. Maybe the 10th seed or so. Might, with some breaks, get by the first round but nothing further.

This off-season will be huge in determining the direction of the team.

Might have to take a step back - or two - before they can move forward.

Posted by: SteveMG | December 27, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"Yep, they're treading water right now. Maybe the 10th seed or so."

Actually, as things currently stand, they're the number 5 seed in the East. If they can hold fast (and Antawn and Caron can keep it going) until Daniels and (later) Arenas start coming back from injury, a top 4 seed is certainly within their reach.

There are only two teams in the East that are definite playoff locks, Detroit and Boston. Every other spot is up for grabs.

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"they can hold fast (and Antawn and Caron can keep it going) until Daniels and (later) Arenas start coming back from injury"

For some reason, I forgot how bad the East is. Z's at 5? Although they're tied with Toronto and Indy.

I think Orlando's a lock. Dwight Howard just turned 22 on December 8th. Ouch, 23 and 15 averages? At 22 years?

Well, I'm writing Arenas off for this season. Granted, even at 75% or so, he can help them but not significantly.

Anyway, off season will be interesting.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 27, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"Although they're tied with Toronto and Indy."

Toronto and Indy are tied at 6 (or 7, depending on how you look at it). The Wiz are all alone (granted, by only a couple of percentage points) at number 5.

Posted by: kalorama | December 27, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that Boston and Detroit are the class of the East. Though injuries, as the Wiz can attest, can revamp playoff expectations.
Despite the Arenas injury the Wiz have been finding new ways to win and developing raw elements of the team that may have languished on the bench otherwise.
Blatche, Young, DMac (and Pecherov when he returns), are looking good and bad from night to night but are gaining valuable experience, the only way to hone their skills and find out how far they can go. Look at how Bynum has developed with the LA this year.
We are also seeing what a savvy point guard like Antonio Daniels can add to a team, not necessarily his own stats totals but assembling a broader Wiz arsenal that makes for a multi dimensional team.
That said barring injuries, Orlando looks to be a lock for the playoffs as well and Atlanta has a stock of top draft picks from years past, some labeled busts but now maturing and playing some interesting ball.
New Jersey is unfathomable, seems like they should be winning more games with Jefferson, Carter and Kidd and Cleveland with Lebron, Ilguaskas, Gooden and Hughes should be there as well at the end of the season.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 27, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Good game for the Wiz again last night. Eddie for coach of the year is starting to look like it can happen. Like Keith said, I always thought EJ was a good coach, but his inability at calling the "5" spot on the team drove me crazy, and still does sometimes this year.

The starting unit handled the Bobcats the first quarter. However, I found it real odd EJ left Haywood out the entire 2nd quarter yesterday in front of his folks when he was playing out of his mind the first quarter.

But credit to EJ to realize he made a mistake and gave Haywood extended minutes in the 2nd half. Last year that would not have happened. Even EJ has to see Haywood is for real this year.

AB looks hurt to me. His foot must be still hurting him from last month when he first injured it. Songalia ankle still looks like it is bothering him. Songalia and AB do not look the same as they did early in the season. The ankle and foot injuries must be really bothering them.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 27, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"I definitely felt good [Wednesday]. Everything's just different now. I know I'm going to get consistent minutes so I'm more relaxed and that's allowing me to get on to a roll."

Roger Mason - Washington Post

Yo Roger, I know somebody else on the team that feels the same way and is now producing also. Keep up the good work fellas........

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | December 27, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ivan, after every post, you should put at the bottom "Pecerov is 2 weeks away from returning." Lol.

Posted by: C.Bell | December 28, 2007 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Ivan/Michael: Just a note tell you that I really enjoy the blog. As a long-time Bullets-Wizards fan now living in Hawaii (which is, by the way, a black hole for any sports info not directly associated with UH athletics or Hawaii athletes now playing in the pros), it's great to be able to get the kind of insight into the team's play, preparation, injuries and behind-the-scenes activities that you guys afford us as readers. Thanks!

Posted by: LC | December 28, 2007 4:10 AM | Report abuse

It's 39 degrees here in DC. Good move !

Posted by: mark | December 28, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

When Arenas comes back, who should start at sg? Stevenson or Mason? I think Mason is a better ball handler, and since he can play point he would allow Gil to play more off the ball like Hughes used to do. He can shoot better, more of a scoring threat and can punish teams when they double Gil. Also his 3pt range will extend the D and open more driving lanes for Gil to penetrate. He plays solid D too, and is probably just as good defensively as DeShawn. Plus I think Mason is also a better passer. Mason could start, and then we can come off the bench with either DeShawn or Young depending on if we want to bring in more D or more offense. What do you all think?

Posted by: Darnell | December 28, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Darnell we have enough offense in the starting lineup already especially when GIL comes back. Need that scoring punch off the bench keep mason on the bench

Posted by: Anonymous | December 28, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Gil needs to come off the bench for a while when he gets back, I think. It would kinda force EJ to limit his minutes and would allow him to regain his confidence against second line players. If we're winning by the time he comes back, I would definitely not tinker with the formula. Of course, he'd be in the game in clutch time and a starter by playoff time.
I may be in the minority but a lineup of a fresh GA, an improved CB, a rebounding beast in AJ, a top defensive big man in BTH, and a 3 point shooting DS or RM is better than even the Celtics. It's a better shooting lineup with better interior defense in BTH. Our bench will feature Songaila, AB, a confident and experienced RM or DS, and a young stud in NY. I see no reason why a healthy Wiz squad can't run the table in the playoffs. I'm optimistic but realistically, this team is stacked and experienced and can only stop themselves.

Posted by: mark | December 28, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Poor LC, poor sports coverage in Hawaii. Well there has to be somthing wrong or the place would be perfect!

Had a kid that used to work for me that went in the Army and got stationed in Hawaii. His twin brother got the lovely mountains of Afganistan. In Hawaii they would get up Sunday mornings watch the NFL games over breakfast and then spend the rest of the day at the beach.

Tough way to spend a Sunday in January!

The point about Roger Mason is that there are alot of guys that in the right situation have enough talent to produce in the NBA. It's sometimes a matter of finding a coach that makes them feel comfortable and a system that matches their talents.

But the bottem line is the willingness to keep working at their game. What a young guy like Blatche needs to realize is that there are tons of guys with NBA level talent that only stick for a few years or bounce around the league because they never hone their game.

What we fans have to remember about Andre is that he played High School ball and then got alot of pinetime the first two years. He's really getting his first taste of the rigors of an NBA season is really like.

Posted by: GM | December 28, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

GM - good points re AB. It would be good to hear from EJ/EG (via Ivan I suppose) whether the kid's work ethic has improved; that may be the key to whether he becomes a star or just another long guy who never pans out. The good news is that he is showing consistent aggresiveness and energy when he is on the floor. Yes, he seems lost on offence at times, but he continues to block shots and grab a good number of rebounds (at both ends of the floor). Hopefully, the coaching staff will give him the right motivation/encouragement and the vets will help him understand what it takes to succeed in the NBA.

Posted by: PK1 | December 28, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Any chance the Wizards will bring me back?

Posted by: Juan Dixon | December 28, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

note to kalorama and mark:

My fondest dream is that the Wiz will run the table in the East... which could happen if they hold their own and Gilbert comes back strong and savvy in mid to late March. Detroit and Boston are playing great ball but sooner or later the injury bug could get to them as well. Ray Allen's ankles cannot hold out forever, and McDyess is playing a lot of minutes for a man with bad wheels (though Maxiell is a beast backing him up).

Posted by: khrabb | December 28, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse


Are you willing to play on a 10-day contract for the league minimum? If yes, give me call...

Posted by: Ernie Grunfeld | December 28, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Although AJ is severely limited in his defensive abilities on his man, his ability to get boards really helps his cause, as he's averaging a double double this season so far. His def rebounds average are up by 3 compared to his career avg.

Both AJ and CBut should be all stars this season, and it speaks volumes of their ability and heart since Gilby is out of the lineup.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 28, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I'd agree both Jamison and Butler are playing at an Allstar level. Wizards Fans should vote early and often!

And when you compare Haywood's numbers to the other centers in the East he's having a really good year as well. He'll never get voted on the team, but he really deserves to be considered as a reserve.

Nice post 88, good to see something from a positive point of view.

Posted by: GM | December 28, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We can't overstate how important AJ's rebounding has been this year. He's the ereason we're one of the top rebounding teams in the league.
As we've seen with the Redskins, low turnovers and smart vetaran play will take you a long way. This team has no ceiling if it can get/stay healthy. That's a big IF but we really have no major deficiencies as long as our personnel is utilized properly. I have confidence that if EJ has a full complement of players at his disposal, he can play the winning hand. Pech coming in at mid season with fresh legs to relieve the bigs for a few minutes is icing on the cake.
now, if we can somehow share AD minutes with RM,AJ minutes with Songaila and CB minutes with someone, we'll be fresh and ready to make a serious run come March. I know it's early but I'm really excited about this team as long as no one else gets hurt. I've been watching a lot of NBA games on DTV and no one out there really scares me. People are trying to equate the Celts with the Pats but there's no comparison.

Posted by: mark | December 28, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

When Gilbert is healthy what would be wrong with Arenas at shooting guard, Daniels at point rounded out by Butler, Jamison and Haywood as the starting lineup. Deshawn Stevenson, Mason, Songalia off the bench with some scoring punch and experience and Blatche, Young and DMac add some energy.

Posted by: myshkin | December 28, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I think having Mason on the bench once Gil comes back will only help. My concern is with Daniels coming back so soon. I know he is a vet, but I might like to see him in one or two more practices before throwing him out there. Blatche is playing more minutes than he ever has in the NBA, he was going to hit a wall sooner or later. Better now than late in the season when hopefully the Wizards are trying to run down Orlando to win the Southeast.

Posted by: George Templeton | December 28, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

what would be wrong with Arenas at shooting guard,

myshkin, it's a good idea in theory. but in reality, gilbert has to have the ball in his hands to be effective. he's not nearly as effective off the ball. plus, we need a one-two punch at PG.

i would warn those who see the Wiz going to the finals, or near the finals, this year to temper your enthusiasm until we see how well gil is when he gets back. knees are tricky things, and after two surgeries in a year, it could take a long time for gil to be gil again. it may not happen this year at all, in fact.

i'm very hopeful myself, given that this seems like the toughest, and most talented, team we've had in a loooong time. but we're not there yet. this injury bug could be a year-long thing.

mark, gotta say i love your idea of bringing gil off the bench when he comes back, and working him in slowly. that's exactly what eddie should do. whether he will or not is another matter; he had caron in there for 44 minutes the other night, after coming back from dual ankle sprains. on the other hand, we probably don't win if CB doesn't play that much, so i'm torn.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse


Expecting the Wiz to overtake Detroit or Boston may be a bit too ambitious. I'd almost guarantee those teams will end up 1 and 2 in the East. But after them, it's all wide open.

While I expect Orlando to make the playoffs, I'm not convinced that, when the season's all done, they'll prove to be a top 3 team. And I'm far from convinced that Atlanta will even make the playoffs. Both teams have talent, but they're also short on two other key ingredients: experience and leadership. Down the stretch of the season, in a tight race for playoff position (which the East will almost certainly be) those two elements will loom large. That's why I like the Wizards' chances at a top 4. They've got the talent (assuming they end up healthy) but, maybe more importantly, this run of games with an injury-plagued lineup is proving they've got some solid on-court leadership that'll serve them well in the crunch.

Posted by: kalorama | December 28, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good question to throw out there:

Who's more important to the team right now to return from injury? JC with the Skins or Gilby with Les BouleS?

From my perspective, I just want to see Todd Collins keep playing.

Posted by: DC Man88 | December 28, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I want to say Jamison has been playing great. I have bashed him alot in the past about his lack of defense. He really has played better D and this season is playing harder on D giving more effort and playing more physical than I have ever seen him before. He has been a monster on the boards, is boxing out, and has even blocked some shots. I love to see it!! Thank you Antawn and I hope you know the fans see and appreciate your effort and improvement in that aspect of your game. You should be an ALL-STAR this year!

Posted by: Darnell | December 28, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The odds of Caron or Antawn being voted onto the All-Star team as starters by the fans are very slim. They aren't high-profile enough to the casual bball fan. Garnett, Pierce, and Lebron easily have the inside track for the two starting forward slots. But I would expect the Eastern coaches to recognize what they've accomplished in keeping the team afloat in Arenas' absence by selecting them as reserves.

Posted by: kalorama | December 28, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Great posts today from everybody. Terrific insights and interesting opinions.

The Eastern Conference (so far)is weaker than last season, with NJ, Toronto and Cleveland all playing below .500 ball. Orlando has dropped 9 of their last 11 and Van Gundy is thinking about benching Jameer Nelson. acnb Atlanta really hold up -- other than Joe Johnson, what veteran leadership do they really have?

That's why I think the Wiz can win their division, esp. if they stay away from further injuries. That would give them a #3 seed. We are only two games behind the Magic in the loss column.

Don't forget that EG gave AB a multi-year contract; he believes in AB's potential. Remember that Ivan said earlier that AB was really hitting the weight room in the pre-season. I think AB's attitude has really improved over last year. Right now, he is a little lost on offense and he has not yet learned how to avoid foul trouble, but he will be OK.

Mason is a revelation right now. Too bad the Wiz will not be able to afford to keep him next year.

The off-season will be fascinating -- Does EG give GA a max contract? Does he re-sign AJ for less money or lose AJ to a higher bidder (e.g., title contender that needs veteran leadership -- see Grant Hill and the Suns) Does he let Mason go because he cannot afford him? Does ET come back healthy and what role does he play?

Kudos to EJ and his coaches for doing a wonderful job so far this season. The Wiz play hard every night and are playing TOGETHER as a team.

Posted by: Rockville | December 28, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Kal, if James and Garnett are voted as starters and they take 3 other forwards, who gets left out from among Caron, Jamison, Pierce and Jefferson?

Posted by: Rockville | December 28, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I have Cleveland, Toronto and Indiana together with Detroit, Boston and Orlando as lock to get to the playoffs. The Wiz will be battling for the last 2 spot with maybe 5 other teams.

As for Andre, maybe I was just expecting too much. Before the season started, I have him better than Bynum of the Lakers in terms of potential. Right now, A Bynum is way way ahead of him. I just hope that AB is just getting used to with the PT and will have a better 2008.

Posted by: Dave, | December 28, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse


I would think Jefferson is the odd man out, simply because the Nets are having such a disappointing season. Jefferson is putting up great numbers, but they aren't having much impact. Jamison and Butler are having career years and elevating their team.

Posted by: kalorama | December 28, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse


With regard to th Wizards offseason, I don't see much chance of them losing Jamison to a higher bidder, because it's unlikely there will be a higher bidder.

The Hill situation isn't really applicable because Phoenix signed him with their MLE. That's all the money most of the contending teams that'll be interested in Jamison's services this summer will have to offer. The Wizards will easily match and exceed any such offers.

The question is: How high will they be willing to go before the price becomes prohibitive? My guess is that they get something done for 3-4 years in the $8-10 mill range.

Posted by: kalorama | December 28, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Kal, those Jamison numbers sound about right to me. He won't get that from anyone else. I hope it's a lot closer to $8 million than $10 million. He's still a valuable player, but on the wrong side of 30, with a lot of mileage. If someone offers him more than $10 million, you have to think about letting him walk, but I just don't see it happening.

Posted by: Keithinator | December 28, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ernie, you have my #. Give me a call and I'm sure we can work something out. I'm not feelin this Toronto cold.

Posted by: Juan Dixon | December 28, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

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