Better Without All-Stars?

Do the Rockets really need Tracy McGrady? Do the Wizards really need Gilbert Arenas? Do teams even need their stars anymore?

I thought I'd ponder those questions after I saw the Houston Rockets beat the New York Knicks to improve to 6-2 in their past eight games without McGrady. The Rockets have won four in a row overall, including a win over the Arenas-less Wizards on Tuesday.

The similarities between the Rockets and Wizards this season are startling, given how both teams have lost their star players to left knee injuries but have managed to find success with improved ball movement, more balanced scoring and inspired play from former supporting cast members who have stepped into leadership roles.


Our teams need us, really. (adidas basketball)

It's no secret that the absence of McGrady and Arenas had debilitating effects on their respective teams in the past. The Rockets entered this campaign with an 11-39 record sans McGrady since he joined the franchise before the 2004-05 season. The Wizards were 17-28 without Arenas the previous four seasons.

Maybe their teammates have gotten used to stepping up while they were down. Maybe the schedules have been favorable. Or maybe it is just one of those strange things that happens during the course of the season. Remember when the Los Angeles Clippers started the season 5-2 without Elton Brand? Then teams started to figure out the Clippers. Know what the Clippers' record has been since? 5-19.

Now the Rockets and Wizards are both better teams than the Clippers. I'm just saying, unless you're Minnesota - which has yet to win consecutive games since it traded Kevin Garnett - most teams can get on a nice run every now and then.

The Wizards' 14-11 record since Arenas had surgery to repair a torn left meniscus is discussed daily in these parts, and now that the Rockets are winning without their leading scorer, some pundits are wondering if the respective teams of Arenas and McGrady are better without them.

The answer is no.

I know opinions vary with regards to Arenas. I recall a conversation with a respected NBA head coach who thought the scoring of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison combined with Daniels' floor leadership made the Wizards a pretty decent team. He said that he thought the Wizards were definitely better with Arenas on the floor, but added that the team could still be just as dangerous, if not more, if they traded him and/or used the money spent on Arenas to address their other pressing needs (depth, athleticism and interior defense).


Man, if I was healthy, we'd be one of the best teams in the East. Oh, wait. We still are? (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

I was sort of shocked to hear this coach say it, but he had me thinking for a minute. I concluded that I'd still rather have Arenas, assuming he comes back as the same Gilbert.

It's easy to say trade a superstar, but the last few mega deals (McGrady to Houston, O'Neal to Miami, Iverson to Denver and Garnett to Boston) have left the teams that traded their stars 50 cents away from having a quarter. The Garnett deal is the latest glaring example, given how the Celtics are the most improved team in the league while the Timberwolves have made the steepest decline from last season.

Plus, Arenas is one of the toughest players in the league to defend. He's a game-changer. You need those kind of players, especially in the playoffs. I just think it would be better to see a healthy Gilbert playing alongside the vastly improved Butler and the steady Jamison. I know the Wizards went 3-5 with that trio this season, but it was obvious that Arenas wasn't himself, the knee was still wobbly.

People tend to forget that when those guys were in the starting lineup together - and healthy - the Wizards went 30-21 in 2005-06, and 33-21 last season. Maybe I'm wrong, but 63-42 looks like a pretty decent record to me. A .600 winning percentage plays out to a 49-win team over 82 games.

There is a difference between being good enough to beat bad teams and good enough to beat good to great teams consistently. For the Wizards and Rockets, that difference is Arenas and McGrady, respectively. Reason being, the perception of those teams changes with their best players on the floor. With a healthy Arenas or a healthy McGrady on the floor, the Wizards and Rockets are scarier. Those guys have the potential to go off at any minute and demoralize the opposing team.

As Ivan pointed out in his story on Thursday, the Wizards don't have a win against a team with a winning record since a Dec. 1 victory over Toronto (and on that night, the Raptors didn't have Chris Bosh or Andrea Bargnani). It's not like the Wizards would've struggled against the LeBron-less Cavaliers, Sacramento, Minnesota, Miami, Charlotte, Milwaukee and Seattle with Arenas. You also have to assume that a healthy Arenas would've helped a little in losses against Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Indiana.


Did you forget what I did to the Lakers last season? Zero to 60. . .and back to zero? C'mon. I'm sort of a big deal. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Like Arenas said in his blog a few weeks ago, "We're playing the teams that we're supposed to be beating, with me in the lineup or without me in the lineup."

It's not like two years ago, when the Phoenix Suns won 54 games, the Pacific Division and advanced to the Western Conference finals without Amare Stoudemire. At least not yet. And, I don't think anyone will argue that the Suns are better without Stoudemire.

Starting tonight with Atlanta, these next 19 games before the all-star break are a critical stretch - and not just because they could determine whether or not Arenas decides to make his return. The Wizards have Boston twice, Dallas, Toronto twice, Cleveland (presumably with LeBron), San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a four-game West Coast trip against Denver, Phoenix, Golden State and those tricky Clippers. This will determine what kind of team the Wizards really are.

This isn't meant to diminish what the Wizards are accomplishing without Arenas - only to put it in perspective. Coach Eddie Jordan, Jamison, Butler, Daniels and the rest of the players deserve props for keeping the team competitive throughout this stretch (and you have to consider the carryover from how Jamison and Daniels made that first-round loss against Cleveland a more hotly contested series than most expected).

The same can be said for how Yao Ming, Rafer Alston, Luther Head, Shane Battier and Luis Scola have helped the Rockets turn it around after losing their first three games without McGrady this season. They are 6-5 overall with McGrady in dress suits. During this latest run, the Rockets have two wins against the Knicks and another against Memphis (no big deal there), but they've also won on the road in Orlando (although the Magic is looking a bit shaky of late).

"We haven't won as many as games, maybe, as we have liked, but we're playing much better than we were," Rockets Coach Rick Adelman said. "I just think if we can get everybody back with their confidence at a higher level when he comes back, we're at a higher level as a team."

McGrady is expected to be evaluated on Friday to determine when he will make a return, but he wasn't optimistic that it will be this weekend. The knee injury has kept him from being able to run, thus limiting his ability to get back in shape. "It's going to take me awhile to get back to where I need to be. I came into camp and the season great, but now I have a setback that is probably going to set me back a while," he said. "Probably two weeks."


Another win, huh? I wish you guys played like this when I was on the floor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

But when McGrady comes back, he will have to realize that the Rockets look better when the ball swings more. Watching the past few games on the bench, you figure that he's getting a better idea about how Adelman's new offense works. Sometimes this season, McGrady didn't show enough trust in his teammates and was quick to launch ill-advised jumpers rather than set them up. Now, he sees that some of these guys have skill.

He said he wasn't worried about fitting back in when he returns. "Why would I adjust?" McGrady said. "It is something positive that came out of this. Guys have gained confidence. They gained some sort of rhythm. Hopefully I don't come back and ruin that."

"That's what I tell the guys, 'You guys are out here playing extremely well and when I'm out on the basketball court, [you] don't look like that,' " McGrady said this week. "I hope they continue to play that way when I'm [back] on the basketball court. Don't look for me on the offensive end. Myself and Yao, we're going to get the ball, we're going to make plays and we're going to make shots. [Everybody else needs to] stay aggressive. Those guys are making shots and there's better ball movement. We look better that way."

McGrady's complaint is understandable. It's really easy for teammates to lean heavily on their stars to bail them out of tough situations. When that star is gone, they don't have that safety valve anymore, so they have to discover other ways to get it done. That usually requires more ball movement and better balance. And don't forget, every player in the league made it this far because they were the man at some point in their career - the problems usually start when guys don't realize they aren't the man any more - so they relish the opportunity to step up and have plays called for them. But I digress.

No doubt Arenas is keeping tabs of how the Wizards are playing and will adjust his game accordingly when/if he comes back this season.

To answer the latter question about stars. Well, it depends on the team. I went through and looked at the records of several teams without their star or one of their stars this season. Some teams have had success, most haven't. Here's the list:


I don't know what gives, Jarrett. I'm not an all-star yet, but we're winning without Greg Oden, too. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

Portland: 5-0 without LaMarcus Aldridge (plantar fasciitis)
Why they win: Portland is truly a special team this season. To me, Nate McMillan is the easy choice for coach of the first half of the season. If the Blazers keep it up, Brandon Roy is an all-star.

Indiana: 5-1 without Jermaine O'Neal (left knee)
Why they win: Pacers offense runs more fluidly without O'Neal. They run, they gun, have fun. Wide open works for the personnel.

Milwaukee: 3-1 without Michael Redd (deep left thigh bruise)
Why they win: This is odd. But Charlie Bell finally awoke from a season long funk. Playing the Bobcats, Sixers and Heat helps, too.

Washington: 14-11 without Gilbert Arenas (left knee surgery)
Why they win: The Wizards still have two all-stars on the roster. They may have lost their best player, but they didn't lose their leader(s).

Houston: 6-5 without Tracy McGrady (left knee tendinitis, bone bruise)
Why they win: The Rockets still have Yao. Rookie Luis Scola is finally finding his groove.

San Antonio: 3-2 without Manu Ginobili (sprained left index finger); 2-2 without Tim Duncan (right ankle sprain, knee)
Why they win: Let's see. Um, Gregg Popovich is a pretty good coach. He's only won four championship rings. The Spurs have three all-stars. . .

Not so bad. On the other hand:


Our team is awful if we're playing or not. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Miami: 0-7 without Shaquille O'Neal (hip); 1-7 without Dwyane Wade (shoulder, knee)
Why they lose: Pat Riley has surrounded his all-stars with a roster that might - might - do well in the D-League.

New Jersey: 0-5 without Vince Carter (right ankle sprain)
Why they lose: Jason Kidd is great, but he is not a scorer. Richard Jefferson can't score all of the points.

Cleveland: 0-5 without LeBron James (sprained left index finger)
Why they lose: How can they win without the best one-man show in the league?

Golden State: 1-5 without Stephen Jackson (suspension)
Why they lose: Captain Jack plays with unbridled passion. He puts everyone in their proper positions.

Chicago: 1-4 without Luol Deng (lower back, left Achilles' tendinitis)
Why they lose: The Bulls have trouble scoring with Deng, when he's gone, it's all on Ben Gordon.

New York: 3-8 without Stephon Marbury (AWOL, father's death)
Why they lose: They lose with Stephon Marbury, too.

Sacramento: 4-9 without Ron Artest (suspension, daughter's illness, elbow surgery)
Why they lose: Mike Bibby is out, too. Artest's intensity is missed on both sides of the floor.

Toronto: 2-3 without Chris Bosh (groin injury)
Why they lose: The Raptors have done okay without Bosh, but they don't have many options when he's gone.

By Michael Lee |  January 11, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Previous: Thursday update | Next: Big one

Comments

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THANK YOU , Michael Lee. I hope this puts to rest a lot of the crap about GA's value to this team. I'm sure ther'll still be some who think that the Wiz are better off without GA and his grotto and Laura and his blog and..... but I'm not one of them.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 8:17 AM

88, Lee mentions that the Spurs have 3 all stars and the Celts also have 3 recent all stars. I'm not the only one that thinks that it's a good thing.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 8:23 AM

Now the story behind the story. They went .611 the last 2 years when the big 3 were together and reasonably healthy but break it down further. Wasn't a high percentage of those wins against the low lifes of the league? This team with or without Arenas is far from competing for a championship on a regular basis.

Posted by: Donald | January 11, 2008 8:48 AM

Gilbert's a great player, but his top priority is entertainment. Teamwork and defense - the two key ingredients to winning the championship - are much lower on his priority list.

If Gilbert won't sign before the trade deadline, that means the Wiz can end up with nothing. Therefore, if the Wiz can't sign him before the trade deadline, they ought to trade him. Remember, he's the guy who opted out. That should tell you something.

Posted by: Izman | January 11, 2008 9:02 AM

Donald, I'd kinda agree except for a couple things that are different this year. One is the improvement of CB this year. The addition of a 3 point threat from that position changes the geometry of on offense. SF's have to come out to guard CB now and that opens up things ab it for the others. If people have to step out now to guard Cb, Aj, and GA, that shold make a difference. Also, the addition by subtraction of Etan elevates our defense because BTH is a beter defender. Again, remember that I'm a die hard Wiz fan and optimistic.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 9:04 AM

"Therefore, if the Wiz can't sign him before the trade deadline, they ought to trade him. Remember, he's the guy who opted out. That should tell you something."

I'm really tired of this, we should just focus on what our team can do until we get fully healthy again. But for the last time, he has not opted out yet, but will at the end of the year as he should. I don't see what the big deal is, Tim Duncan does this every three years and gets a new contract. Its called business. Ernie understands, Gil understands, hell I understand but apparently simple folk don't. He performed under the contract he signed, and under the provisions of the contract is going to opt out to maximize his earning potential. End of story.

Posted by: The Owl Wizard | January 11, 2008 9:14 AM

This is why it's nice to have backup stars!

Posted by: Ronny | January 11, 2008 9:15 AM

Can't wait for Gilbert to play again. His explosiveness was something I am missing. Gilbert, Caron and Antawn together, with an improved Haywood should be harder to defend and equal more wins and a better chance in the playoffs.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 9:15 AM

Though I still think Hollinger is a boob (except when his stats support my team) here's some BTH stuff to chew on based on Hollinger's PER rankings....

BTH has the 2nd highest PER among Eastern conference centers.

Of the top 13 centers, BTH has the lowest per game average in minutes.

BTH's FG% and TS% (true shooting percentage, which factors in 3 point shooting and free throws)are higher than Yao, Duncan and Jefferson

His assists ratio is higher than Howard, Stoudemire and Jefferson

His turnover rate is better than Yao and Dwight Howard

His offensive rebound rate is higher than any center in the top 12 (includes yao, Duncan, Stoudemire, Howard, etc)

His total rebound rate is higher than both Yao and Amare.

Basedon these stats, it appears the he's below average in defensive rebounding but a beast on the offensive glass. My take on that is that since he has a lot of shooters on his team, he's always looking to crash. I'm puzzled as to why his defensive rebounds are so low but part of the reason is that AJ's numbers are up and he's taking a lot from him. In fact, a quick PER check showed me that AJ is 10th in the LEAGUE in defensive rebound rate among PF's.

BTH is for real. I won't talk about previous years but in 2007-2008, we're set in the middle.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 9:17 AM

"88, Lee mentions that the Spurs have 3 all stars and the Celts also have 3 recent all stars. I'm not the only one that thinks that it's a good thing.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 08:23 AM "

Spurs have 3 of the LOWEST PROFILE ALL STARS in the league. Has anyone attended Ginobli, Parker, or Duncan's coming out party yet?

Let's withold judgment on the celtics until they've actually won something, especially considering the subpar east. It wasn't long ago that an 8th seed (Denver with Mutombo) upset a 1 seed (Seattle with S.Kemp).

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 9:30 AM

"BTH is for real. I won't talk about previous years but in 2007-2008, we're set in the middle. "

Whoa whoa whoa, Mark. I won't say we're set in the middle. Detriot has Sheed, Maxiell...etc they're set in the middle. We're solid, I'll even go as far to say formidable in the middle. Not set by any stretch.

Posted by: Owl | January 11, 2008 9:31 AM

Yes, Donald, a high percentage of those wins were against the low lifes of the league, but there are a lot of low lifes. Fourteen teams are in the lottery every year. But last season, the Arenas-Jamison-Butler led Wizards beat the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, conference finalists Utah and Detroit (twice), conference semifinalist Phoenix on the road and the 67-win Dallas Mavericks. You have to beat the teams on your schedule, no matter what their record is.

Posted by: Another story behind the story | January 11, 2008 9:32 AM

uncle. maybe 'set' is the wrong word. Owl, I mean to say that we don't need to go out and look for a starting C like we've done every year since Moses left. i think we can probably win a good amount of games with BTH. I'm talking playoffs, too.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 9:34 AM

Last year our bench sucked! The big 3 could not get a breather because there was no one to spell them. Remember, Jarvis "brick" Hayes? How about Ruffin? Donnell Taylor? There was also lockerroom distress with Haywood and Etan. So, I think it is unfair to use last year as a barometer. Bottom line is Gilbert is both needed and wanted as a Wizard. I am a die hard fan and he made the Wizards worth rooting for and brought back notoriety to the team. Also, Jamison, Caron and Hughes when he was here were and are a huge part of the equation for the Wiz's success. This year we have a bench with some undeveloped and steadily developing skills and it shows. I for once can't wait until both Gil and Pesh to join the team so that we can truly see what we have.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 9:34 AM

"Spurs have 3 of the LOWEST PROFILE ALL STARS in the league. Has anyone attended Ginobli, Parker, or Duncan's coming out party yet?"

No but i have seen Parker's wedding on national news, and heard his rap album, and listened BASKETBALL announcers babble on needlessly about his wife and courtship. So what's your point.

I've also seen multiple Duncan commercials on national TV, oh and he was on the cover of NBA Live 8 years before our all star was. Maybe they're low profile to you cuz you don't watch basketball.

Posted by: Owl | January 11, 2008 9:34 AM

Who cares about a player's publicity? That has nothing to do with anything. That's the same nonsensical tripe that argues that because Arenas plays video poker at halftime, he doesn't care about winning, or he's not serious, or whatever.

Gilbert brings it, every night, on the floor. He plays with passion. And he plays great. That's what matters. When he comes back, the Wiz will be better because of their improved bench, and improved play at C, which has led to better defense.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 9:47 AM

Excellent analysis, Michael. Randy Hill over at Fox Sports made some similar comments. What bugs me still are Ernie Jordan's comment that he hopes the team can keep Butler and Jamison's minutes down over the next few games. Say what, he has no plan, just hopes? In the meantime, the Pistons make sure to give their bench minutes to rest their starters, not just hopes.

Posted by: rgz | January 11, 2008 9:54 AM

LOL. yeah if EJ doesn't know who's gonna keep their minutes down, who does? I guess he has to find that balance between too many minutes and letting games get out of hand.
One thing that scares me is that we played those guys for heavy minutes during the creampuff part of our schedule. Now that we start to play tough teams, they really HAVE to play more minutes.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 10:00 AM

"No but i have seen Parker's wedding on national news, and heard his rap album, and listened BASKETBALL announcers babble on needlessly about his wife and courtship. So what's your point.

I've also seen multiple Duncan commercials on national TV, oh and he was on the cover of NBA Live 8 years before our all star was. Maybe they're low profile to you cuz you don't watch basketball.

Posted by: Owl | January 11, 2008 09:34 AM "

Wow, that's great. Parker marrying his fiance is great instead of having his fiance have her lawyers chase him around or his fiance getting kicked out of the house. Most of Parker's activities have been offseason.

Duncan's promos have come as a result of his success in the NBA with his rings, not because of self promotion.

Even still, these over preoccupied Spurs All Stars managed a few championships. How many does Gilby have to show?

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 10:18 AM

"Gilbert brings it, every night, on the floor. He plays with passion. And he plays great. That's what matters. When he comes back, the Wiz will be better because of their improved bench, and improved play at C, which has led to better defense.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 09:47 AM "

Yeah, I guess playing on an NBA team, all that matters is that an individual has great individual stats, nevermind winning games as a team. EJ must be really boring in his delivery of the 2nd half game plan so Gilby plays playing his poker. Maybe Gilby might wander over to Lucky Strike during half time and bowl a few games too.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 10:20 AM

88,
Keithinator said nothing about individual stats. He said that GA plays with passion and he mentioned the bench, our C and defense. Again, you focused in on GA rather than examine Keithinator's point.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 10:24 AM

Lets stop all this crazy talk about no GA the Wiz are not better with Gilbert sitting on the bench or in another uniform, you see what happens when we play upper echelon teams we hang around for a while then their superstars take over.Lets just wait until He is healthy and see what happens. Huge weekend for DC 5 and the bench needs to be ready, being here in the ATL I have to tolerate Hawks fans who finally have something to cheer about for the first time in a decade and give the Wiz no props especially Sekou Smith who writes for the AJC I cant wait for the game tonight. Hey no CAPS!!!!!!!

Posted by: DARGREGMAG@AOL.COM | January 11, 2008 10:36 AM

Yeah we need this game tonight. I like Josh Smith as a player and also Joe Johnson. With Marvin coming around, they're a solid team that just needs time to gel and veteran experience. ..forgot about Horford and Acie and Childress. They're kinda like a younger less experienced version of us. Let's hope either Mason, Blatche or Young is on tonight or we're in trouble.
Tonight would be a good night to get BTH some touches. Horford is a litle undersized at C.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 10:42 AM

We need a solid PG more than we need Gilbert. If Gilbert could learn to play the SG position, that would be fine.

Posted by: Wizzy | January 11, 2008 10:46 AM

DC Man88... How many people are in your cult?

This is mean stretch of games that we have coming. This team needs to take the blueprint from their good wins and follow the script. Consistency has wavered, especially when the opponent has a winning record.

Mark, Hollinger is a boob, but those are some telling stats for BTH.

I hope GA comes back and bowls a 216, plays X-Box, goes all in on a nut-flush draw and pours in 25ppg and 6ast.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 10:50 AM

What makes GA so dangerous as a PG is that he is a threat to shot, drive or pass. He is one of the hardest guys to cover in the league. He gets to the line an average of 9.6x per game. If you read Lee's article, the Wiz have a 60% winning percentage with him running the point. This includes years were CB was trying to figure it out, Jared J bricking shots, Jarvis H clanking 3's, no one in the middle who could shoot.

We dont need better play at the point, we need GA back from injury and to sustain the teams current level of play.

The princeton offense doesnt require 1 player pumping in 10ast for it to be successful.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 11:03 AM

"What makes GA so dangerous as a PG is that he is a threat to shot, drive or pass.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 11:03 AM "

LOL!!!!!

GILBY A THREAT TO PASS!!!

TOO BAD HE'S NOT A THREAT TO DEFEND HIS OWN MAN ALSO.

LOL!!!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 11:06 AM

As a season ticket holder I have seen dozens of Bullets/Wizards players since the dark days of the early nineties. Watching MJ play in a sold out arena was exciting at times but ultimately frustrating because the team did not progress and we never thought anything was being built for the future. Many of the Gilbert bashers raise valid criticisms of his game...at 26 he is far from a finished product. However, the electricity and energy be brings every night to the gym is really obvious this year. I'm as happy as anyone that the coaches and players have really responded to adversity and all elevated their performances. But without Gil the juice is just not there from the crowds. The fans at the games are clearly appreciative of the team's play but very aware that the most exciting player on the team, and one of the most exciting players in the league is sitting in a very nice suit. There is no doubt that when Gil returns, if he adjusts to the improved games of his teammates this team will be able to compete with the best teams, rather than be clearly a notch below.

Posted by: arnie | January 11, 2008 11:06 AM

"88,
Keithinator said nothing about individual stats. He said that GA plays with passion and he mentioned the bench, our C and defense. Again, you focused in on GA rather than examine Keithinator's point.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 10:24 AM "

Passion is great, but you win as a team. Too bad that passion doesn't translate to him wanting to play any D.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 11:08 AM

"As a season ticket holder I have seen dozens of Bullets/Wizards players since the dark days of the early nineties. Watching MJ play in a sold out arena was exciting at times but ultimately frustrating because the team did not progress and we never thought anything was being built for the future. Many of the Gilbert bashers raise valid criticisms of his game...at 26 he is far from a finished product. However, the electricity and energy be brings every night to the gym is really obvious this year. I'm as happy as anyone that the coaches and players have really responded to adversity and all elevated their performances. But without Gil the juice is just not there from the crowds. The fans at the games are clearly appreciative of the team's play but very aware that the most exciting player on the team, and one of the most exciting players in the league is sitting in a very nice suit. There is no doubt that when Gil returns, if he adjusts to the improved games of his teammates this team will be able to compete with the best teams, rather than be clearly a notch below.

Posted by: arnie | January 11, 2008 11:06 AM "

Many have said that this town covets the superstar coach or player....Gibbs, MJ, Spurrier, etc. That excitement in itself is good enough for some people to feel good about their team or that player. Too bad none of that guarantees any championship success.

I'd rather brag about my town's championships rather than feel good about how many pts. the guard can average or how great the attendance is.

Perennial playoff loser, or championship contender? I'd take the latter.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 11:11 AM

Same crap different day different article. Same responses all of them about Gil and full of negativity. I for one can't wait until he gets back, elevates his game and put the haters to bed. Especially, the hater of all haters, DC Woman/88. Yea, I said woman, because one woman can spot another. You might have the others fooled but not me. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 11:14 AM

Yes, pass... 5.9apg in the Princeton offense is pretty good. Defense is team event, individually he gets almost 2stl per game. The Wizards have always had 2 guys that get steals. Arenas and Hughes and now Arenas and Butler. Why are they still a bad a defensive team? The team defense is pour. They are finally turning the corner and I wouldnt expect that to change when GA come back.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 11:16 AM

Yeah look at this guy's stats last season. I mean he's 25, quick as hell and a strong for a PG. His team got swept in the first round too, and he played 0 defense and had worse than a 2 to 1 turnover ratio.

12 ppg, 5apg, 40% from the field. Terrible, trade his ass cuz I want a guy who can win championships, not a perennial loser.

Oh wait those stats were Chauncey Billups at 25.

Posted by: Owl | January 11, 2008 11:23 AM

88,

Do you understand nothing? It takes time to build a championship contender. That's what the Wiz are doing. Gil's learning, so is Caron, so is Brendan, so are the young guys. It amazes me that you keep saying "What has Gil won?", as if he should have a handful of rings at 26. Utterly amazing.

You may have also noticed that the Wiz got swept out of the playoffs last year with Gil and Caron out. Do you think if Gil had played and Caron hadn't, that the Wiz wouldn't have won some games? I believe, in fact, they would have won the series, given how close they played the Cavs without both of them.

MJ didn't win a championship until his 7th year in the league. Now before you faint, I am not comparing Gil with Jordan; the comparison here is to the time it takes to build a team ready to contend.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 11:38 AM

Keithinator...
88 will now say something about GA non-basketball related until we again squash that then 88 will go back to how many championships has GA won. It a crazy cycle.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 11:41 AM

Why do you guys bother to respond to DC 88??!! You have to know that you will NEVER win an argument with this person about anything positive regarding Gil. It is not going to happen. When he/she goes on the "I hate Gil" or what ever rants, let him have it. That way other posters can talk about something with substance instead of this Gilbert bashing crap. He is killing this post. Some posters I noticed have moved on and I think I will do the same. It is nice to comment with like minded people but this person is really plucking my nerves. No one is saying that nothing negative can't be said about Gil but this person carries it to far and at the behest of every topic. Can we move on without all of this back and forth crap.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 11:45 AM

for those who're interested, Randy Hill's analysis re. missing stars and how three teams have compensated:
http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/7659798

Posted by: rgz | January 11, 2008 11:45 AM

"If Gilbert won't sign before the trade deadline, that means the Wiz can end up with nothing. Therefore, if the Wiz can't sign him before the trade deadline, they ought to trade him. Remember, he's the guy who opted out. That should tell you something."

That's the fiction. Here are the facts:

(A) The Wizards cannot sign Gilbert to a new deal before the trade deadline because (B) he has not yet opted out of his existing contract because (C) he cannot opt out of his contract before the season ends.

Posted by: kalorama | January 11, 2008 12:11 PM

Actually a writer named "Houghton" wrote the original article, did the analysis etc. it was printed yesterday. I read it "yesterday" Mike Lee simply piggy-backed off that idea. The article gave credit to Wiz, Houston and 1 other team for "surviving" without their star player.

But I must say - I agree with "IZMAN"
Much of Arenas is "self" publicity - entertainment. Anything to get himself in the media, papers, camera etc. Even has stopped to denigrating the mother of his children whom he also denied knowing or having a relationship with until eventually "exposed." The guy is open to "donating" his money a) he writes it off tax wise and b) doesn't have to see them(only while cameras are there.

Now, most say, its "OK" cuz he's bought "life" to the Wiz. Thats true!!
but so has Caron and a better Jamison.
when you get to the core of Mr. Arenas...its me, myself & I. If he was truelly a loving "father" he wouldn't think about notifying the public of what presents he bought for his children nor discuss their mother's cleanliness or whether they were separated. His first thought should have been to shield & protect.

The Wizards need him as a player - but the rest they can do without. IOTO

Posted by: Jack A. | January 11, 2008 12:45 PM

I'm hoping for a big Wiz blowout tonight. Not counting on it, but hoping. One main reason: to give Pech some minutes. I think he could have a significant bench role this season. If he can come in and give them 10-15 solid minutes, rebound and hit some 3s, it gives the Wiz a more solid big man rotation.

It might, I believe, also give Eddie the option to go really big, with Haywood, Blatche and Jamison in the frontcourt, and Butler and Daniels in the backcourt. EJ seems, for the most part, to be over his smallball obsession. I think there are times he wanted to go big more often, but couldn't because of the injuries. Pech can fill in at either the 4 or 5, giving EJ flexibility. But Pech probably won't get more than a few minutes if it's a tight game.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 12:49 PM

I still think that when he comes back, Gil should move to the '2' spot. AD runs the show so much better and doesn't feel the need to score.

Bring DeShawn off the bench.

Posted by: Sam | January 11, 2008 1:28 PM

"Keithinator...
88 will now say something about GA non-basketball related until we again squash that then 88 will go back to how many championships has GA won. It a crazy cycle.

Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 11:41 AM "

You're ridickulous. First y'all talk about how great a player Gilby is and talk about his stats, and then I say stats mean nothing for the team if they don't do anything in the playoffs.

Gilby is a great individual player, but individual players don't will teams to championships. Even MJ couldn't win without Pippen, Rodman, Dele, Paxson, Kerr, etc.

Stop patting Gilby on the back for getting Les BouleS to the first round of the playoffs, and start focusing on what he needs to do as a team mate to get this franchise deeper into the playoffs.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 2:27 PM

Remember, if Gil and Etan were healthy, our primary bench guys would consist of AD, AB, DS and Etan. Not too shabby if you ask me. Everyone forgets about Etan, but his toughness in the paint is sorely missed. I would love to see him matched up against the likes of Maxiell in Detroit off the bench.

Posted by: Mike in the Springs | January 11, 2008 2:28 PM

Izman, Gil can't opt out til next summer. He announced his intention to but he can't until after the season. No one, including I think Gil, knows if Gil is going to opt out or not after the re-injury.

The rest of today's Gil bash is the same ole, same ole, from the same ole A hole.

Not really worth commenting on. Are we to beleive a poster named Jack A is on here supporting 88'er's latest Gilby rant?

Posted by: A hole | January 11, 2008 2:30 PM

Mike, that's a very interesting article that you wrote, but it's very much flawed.

You wrote about Les BouleS record without Arenas the last 4 years being 17-28. But, what is Les BouleS record with Gilby in the lineup sans CBut or sans AJ?

Even you quoted a "respected coach" as saying this team could be as good or better without Gilby if they instead used his slot for someone else that's worth 11-12 mil a year. I've been saying this all along.

Although you disagreed with this "respected coach," I must say that the opinion of a " respected coach" holds more weight than a beat reporter or self described "fanatic wizards fan" any day.

-----------------------------------------

"I know opinions vary with regards to Arenas. I recall a conversation with a respected NBA head coach who thought the scoring of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison combined with Daniels' floor leadership made the Wizards a pretty decent team. He said that he thought the Wizards were definitely better with Arenas on the floor, but added that the team could still be just as dangerous, if not more, if they traded him and/or used the money spent on Arenas to address their other pressing needs (depth, athleticism and interior defense).

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 2:38 PM

Stop patting Gilby on the back for getting Les BouleS to the first round of the playoffs,

And stop crucifying Arenas for not having won a ring yet.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 2:41 PM

"The rest of today's Gil bash is the same ole, same ole, from the same ole A hole.

Not really worth commenting on. Are we to beleive a poster named Jack A is on here supporting 88'er's latest Gilby rant?

Posted by: A hole | January 11, 2008 02:30 PM "

The rest of today's love fest is the same old garbage from blog morons who hold Gilby in such a high regard for getting Les BouleS nothing in the playoffs.

These same A holes would probably eat Gilby's crap if he ever got the team past the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 2:43 PM

Same ole, Same ole, from same ole A hole!

Posted by: A hole | January 11, 2008 2:44 PM

"And stop crucifying Arenas for not having won a ring yet.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 11, 2008 02:41 PM "

Sorry, I thought measuring greatness was based on winning championships, not who's throwing the biggest parties or selling the most versions of their shoes.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 2:44 PM

DC88 WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU WON???

NOTHING! IT KILLS ME THAT THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING TRY TO JUDGE SOMEONE ELSE. WHEN YOU CAN SAY THAT YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING OTHER THAN TEAR DOWN OTHERS, YOU NEED TO SHUT YOUR FACE AND GET A LIFE! JERK!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 2:48 PM

Many of the posts about about GA are not bashing, just a dialogue on how the team works with him in and out of the lineup.
The team of course is evolving over time, players maturing, improving, you can't step in the same river twice so to speak.

The wiz are not the same team now they were when Gil went down, CB keeps getting better, AD is meshing with the rest of the team, NY and AB are getting experience, etc.

Two things comes to mind:
Last few seasons the wiz needed Gil to throw up a lot of shots, he was essentially the offensive motor. The result was the rest of the team seemed to go flatfooted, standing around, watching Gil score 40 - 50, they were not engaged and thus not functioning effectively as a team, mainly not much pass perimeter shooters.
That the Wiz could beat a lot of teams that way is a testament to Gil but the good ones only needed to focus on shutting GA down to beat the Wiz.
No disputing Gil is one of the premier talents in the league, the question is will he engage with the rest of the team where they are when he comes back or try to return to the one man show of yesteryear. I don't think Caron and Antawn will let that happen so the Wiz should greatly benefit from his return. How good they will be becomes a question of how to use him, someone suggested at the number two, I like that idea, which brings me to the second point.
BH is more effective with AD running the offense because he knows how to distribute the ball, I recall at one point early last season a complaint from BH, for which he was criticized but I think it accurate: Gil was not getting the ball down to him. The wiz need an inside game and BH could possibly give it to them if they get him the ball more.

Posted by: Myshkin | January 11, 2008 2:53 PM

Allow me to quote Jay-Z, "Some people hate ... Jealousy's a weak emotion, y'all gotta overcome that man ..."
DCMan88, you love taking the negative slant with Gilbert all the time. But how is the Wizards' record when Arenas is playing without Butler or Jamison relevant when Michael is trying to make the point that they are better as a trio than a duo?
And you know what they say about opinions. They are like armpits; everybody has them but most of the time, they stink. It doesn't matter if the opinion is coming from a "respected coach" or not. Even if this coach has the deodorant of a championship ring or whatever, it doesn't make his opinion full proof.
Granted the opinion of the "respected coach" gives reason for pause, but people in the NBA are wrong all the time.
Didn't somebody in the Wizards organization think that Kwame Brown should've gone No. 1?
Didn't Pat Riley think he could win with Smush Parker and Penny Hardaway?
Didn't Larry Brown think it was a great idea to bring Steve Francis to the Knicks? Those last two guys are "respected" coaches, too.

Posted by: Hater Alert | January 11, 2008 3:12 PM

"No disputing Gil is one of the premier talents in the league, the question is will he engage with the rest of the team where they are when he comes back or try to return to the one man show of yesteryear. "

A perfectly legit question, Myshkin. But it's one that can only be answered with speculation until Arenas actually suits up (and even then we probably won't know until he's had a few games to orient himself).

Posted by: kalorama | January 11, 2008 3:17 PM

Thank you, Myshkin for adding another voice of reason and for taking the topic back to bball and the Wiz.
Anon, you're right in that there is absolutely nothing that can be said to 88 that will change his mind....short of pooling money together to give him his $7000 back ;). It's almost like he feeds off the pro Gil stuff and only responds when given an opportunity to say something negative about GA.
GA is NOT the best player in the league or conference. He is, however, one of the keys to us going deeper than one round in the playoffs. I believe he puts us over the top.
It's funny how 88 belittles GA yet in the next sentence talks about how GA has never TAKEN us beyond the first round. If he's not that good, why do you expect him to take us anywhere? Why not talk about how AJ hasn't taken us into the 2nd round or 3rd round? Where's the criticism of CB?
ANywho, beating Atlanta will be a good step for us. They're a half game behind us in the standings and we need to put some distance between us and them.

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 3:26 PM

An important oversight by some posters -

Before Gil announced that he was going to opt out of his contract, the Wizards had offered him a 3 year extension. He turned it down.

This is a contract and negotiation between two parties. The NBA would approve virtually anything that they parties agree to (before or after the trade deadline).

The Wiz' relative power in this negotiation went up after the second knee surgery. My point is that they should - first - try again to sign him to an extension.

If he refuses, that should tell you something. It becomes an all or nothing.

Posted by: Izman | January 11, 2008 3:33 PM

"My point is that they should - first - try again to sign him to an extension"

There's an early in-season deadline by which players can sign extensions. Once that deadline passes they have to wait until the offseason for further negotiations. The deadline has passed.

Posted by: kaloram | January 11, 2008 3:38 PM

Guys, cool down! There is nothing more DC88 want than to have knowledgeable men reacts and debate him on his stupid comments and attacks on GA. That is just a crazy comments from a nobody.

I hope the Wizard don't start flat tonight. And I hope BTH gets more PT. I just wonder on why he only gets around 25 minutes of PT and when he seems to be contributing really well for the team. Example, last Wiz game with the Rockets.

Posted by: Dave, | January 11, 2008 3:41 PM

What year was GA suppose to win? When he got here the team stunk. He was 22 and had K.Brown as the starting C. Stackhouse and J.Hayes playing a lot of minutes. Grunfelds first year.

2004/05 Wizards were much better. GA increased his ppg by 5 points to 25. We added Jamison. We still had Brown, Hayes, Jefferies a ineffective Haywood + Thomas combo. @nd round of the play-offs and went 45-37 in the regular season.

2005/06 Wizards ended up 42-40 and lost to Cleveland in the 1st round. Traded away Brown for CB and Chucky. Again, we still had Jefferies, Hayes and an ineffective Haywood/Thomas combo.

2006/07 Wizards had the best record in the East. On pace to win 50+ games. Then the injuries hit. Went 5-17 without CB and GA. GA is 25 btw. Lose to Cleveland 1st round.

What year were we suppose to win the championship or even get there? You need to take a realistic approach to it, I know thats not possible.


Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 3:44 PM

If I remember correctly, Gilbert took us to the 2nd round (winning) of the playoffs. We beat Chicago with a buzzer beater by Gilbert up there in Chicago! Even the year we played Clevland, those games went down to the last second and could have gone either way. I was at that playoff series and it was they were fun and exciting games (it's not always about winning championships). From a Washingtonian, I want Gilbert representing my city!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 4:16 PM

Now, most say, its "OK" cuz he's bought "life" to the Wiz. Thats true!!
but so has Caron and a better Jamison.
when you get to the core of Mr. Arenas...its me, myself & I. If he was truelly a loving "father" he wouldn't think about notifying the public of what presents he bought for his children nor discuss their mother's cleanliness or whether they were separated. His first thought should have been to shield & protect.

The Wizards need him as a player - but the rest they can do without. IOTO

Posted by: Jack A. | January 11, 2008 12:45 PM

Don't forget, in Gilbert's latest blog he talks about his 2007 experience and why he hated it. The two things he enjoyed the most was about him wanting his shine-on... the crazy dunk shot he did in Vegas and his party... Didn't mention his son being born in March... I guess that contributed to his over all grade of a D... Baby #2 out of wedlock...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 4:36 PM

You can't compare Minnesota trading Kevin Garnett to Washington losing Gilbert Arenas.

I believe that the wizards would be a better 82-game team w/out Arenas, but they need a scorer like him in the playoffs. He can be their last shot guy, their 4th quarter guy. Although it could never be an extended reality, how great of a 6th man would Arenas be? He gets decent assists but he his still just a pure scorer. Start the game with a nice balanced, ballsharing defending and efficient five (which the wizards nearly have), then bring arenas off the bench for a quick 20points. It works for guys like Ginobili and Ben Gordon. It worked for Bobby Jackson in Sacramento. It's what a player like Arenas is really meant to be--one of History's top 6th men.

Too bad Washington would never do that. He's too big of a personality.

Posted by: John | January 11, 2008 5:46 PM

If the Wizards were to trade Arenas, DC Man88 would have to switch to critizing Jamison for not playing D and not passing enough. Or maybe Butler, because...hmmm, I got it- he doesn't put enough air in the tires of those bikes he gives to poor kids. Wouldn't be quite as much fun though.

Posted by: John Brisker | January 11, 2008 5:50 PM

Exactly. All of his personal business is insignificant - at least to me but it does speak to character and integrity.

Sadly, I don't see them beating Atlanta tonite unless Pech really makes a huge significance. Problem is - if EJ sits AD again for any great legnth - its over. Mason cannot lead the floor. Very disorganized - helter skelter. We sat thru the game exhausted. It started looking like Houston got confused by the Wiz confused play as well. Or he puts Mason, Blatche, Young(rookies) in at start of game then let the seniors "close it out"

Posted by: Mary | January 11, 2008 6:04 PM

Funny that the Village Idiot mentions Tony Parker just had "a wedding" but that Gil had problems with his girlfriend.

Well, what about the recent accusations about Parker's infidelity? Did you conveniently forget about that?? Hilarious.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 6:07 PM

They lose tonite.
Its frustrating...
If they don't use Daniels appropriately its a wash. Mason & Young are "not" point guards. This isn't the goodwill or salvation army. We actually need a professional point. You can't make a sows ear into a silk purse.

Posted by: The Governor | January 11, 2008 6:16 PM

"Allow me to quote Jay-Z, "Some people hate ... Jealousy's a weak emotion, y'all gotta overcome that man ..."
DCMan88, you love taking the negative slant with Gilbert all the time. But how is the Wizards' record when Arenas is playing without Butler or Jamison relevant when Michael is trying to make the point that they are better as a trio than a duo?
And you know what they say about opinions. They are like armpits; everybody has them but most of the time, they stink. It doesn't matter if the opinion is coming from a "respected coach" or not. Even if this coach has the deodorant of a championship ring or whatever, it doesn't make his opinion full proof.
Granted the opinion of the "respected coach" gives reason for pause, but people in the NBA are wrong all the time.
Didn't somebody in the Wizards organization think that Kwame Brown should've gone No. 1?
Didn't Pat Riley think he could win with Smush Parker and Penny Hardaway?
Didn't Larry Brown think it was a great idea to bring Steve Francis to the Knicks? Those last two guys are "respected" coaches, too.

Posted by: Hater Alert | January 11, 2008 03:12 PM "

You know someone's stupid when they start quoting a rapper.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:31 PM

"It's funny how 88 belittles GA yet in the next sentence talks about how GA has never TAKEN us beyond the first round. If he's not that good, why do you expect him to take us anywhere?

Posted by: mark | January 11, 2008 03:26 PM "

I think you answered your own question. He's not as good as you think he is.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:33 PM

"DC88 WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU WON???

NOTHING! IT KILLS ME THAT THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING TRY TO JUDGE SOMEONE ELSE. WHEN YOU CAN SAY THAT YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING OTHER THAN TEAR DOWN OTHERS, YOU NEED TO SHUT YOUR FACE AND GET A LIFE! JERK!!

Posted by: | January 11, 2008 02:48 PM "

This posting speaks for itself. Just plain stupid.

I guess this idiot doesn't realize that they are on a sports blog where everything about a team is discussed, including, surprise, the players.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:34 PM

"If the Wizards were to trade Arenas, DC Man88 would have to switch to critizing Jamison for not playing D and not passing enough. Or maybe Butler, because...hmmm, I got it- he doesn't put enough air in the tires of those bikes he gives to poor kids. Wouldn't be quite as much fun though.

Posted by: John Brisker | January 11, 2008 05:50 PM "

Brisket boy, humor is not your strength.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:38 PM

"

Funny that the Village Idiot mentions Tony Parker just had "a wedding" but that Gil had problems with his girlfriend.

Well, what about the recent accusations about Parker's infidelity? Did you conveniently forget about that?? Hilarious.

Posted by: | January 11, 2008 06:07 PM "

No, the funny thing is that Laura got kicked out by Gilby because "she was bringing me down." According to Gilby, the house was dirty.

If Laura had any brains, not only should she not have had ANY kids with Gilby, she should have at least been smart enough to hire a damn house keeper!!!

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:40 PM

"What year was GA suppose to win? When he got here the team stunk. He was 22 and had K.Brown as the starting C. Stackhouse and J.Hayes playing a lot of minutes. Grunfelds first year.

2004/05 Wizards were much better. GA increased his ppg by 5 points to 25. We added Jamison. We still had Brown, Hayes, Jefferies a ineffective Haywood + Thomas combo. @nd round of the play-offs and went 45-37 in the regular season.

2005/06 Wizards ended up 42-40 and lost to Cleveland in the 1st round. Traded away Brown for CB and Chucky. Again, we still had Jefferies, Hayes and an ineffective Haywood/Thomas combo.

2006/07 Wizards had the best record in the East. On pace to win 50+ games. Then the injuries hit. Went 5-17 without CB and GA. GA is 25 btw. Lose to Cleveland 1st round.

What year were we suppose to win the championship or even get there? You need to take a realistic approach to it, I know thats not possible.


Posted by: JSchon | January 11, 2008 03:44 PM "

Yeah, too bad Lebron never had any excuses, so he just HAD to make the finals last year.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 6:41 PM

Yall call it Hating, i call it being a Gm. Gill has to go. Why is it none of yall mentioned how Gilly said " I dont want to end up like K.G." during the playoffs last year. His team (my Wiz) was still playing. You dont talk about opting out while your team is still trying to win without you. Foul. Ive been sayin trade him last year. I like Gill he can be a superstar, but the Wiz dont need a shoot first point guard. We have some talent but the big men have to get the ball.

Have yall thought about the talent we could bring in. We could get a 3 for 1 for him. I say we take a peak at Seattle for Jeff Green and another shoot first guard in Delonte West. Maybe bring in Monte Ellis,Peitris and a Pick from the Warriors. Maybe big deals for Arenas would be hard because he can opt out. I dont know if he would be a restricted or unrestricted f.a. . Thats huge. If hes unrestricted then we should look at the Clippers for Maggette and Livingston since both guys are on the last years of their deals. ....and so on and so on. There are plenty of moves that can help our week spots.

The Wix are a great team with Gill, but we could get alot of talent for a Superstar who seems to put himself no.1 over the team. After a game early in the season Gill said to the reporter that he let Caron and Jamison take over tonight. He let them. Gill had 9 dimes that night. Rather than that just be a night you let them ball, I wish the was the Gilbert norm. 18 and 9 from Gil would be good enought for this team to put up big points. Would Gill let that happen every night. No Way. Thats Gill. The star of the team. look at me. lol

Posted by: Teekawiz | January 11, 2008 9:01 PM

No, you know someone is stupid when they spend everyday of their life making negative and offensive comments about one NBA player. You are obsessed with him. It's asinine.

"A wise man told me don't argue with fools, Cause people from a distance can't tell who is who." - Jay-Z

I realize that you don't listen to rap music, but you still cannot engage in an intellectual debate. You didn't respond to any of my points, you just made an insulting remark. I won't even get into a back and forth with you. I'm done. Keep on hating.

Posted by: Hater Alert | January 11, 2008 9:28 PM

You know people are stupid when they keep hounding a guy they consider stupid and redundant.

I do listen to rap, but I'm not stupid enough to consider a quote from a rapper anything more than just a stupid rap lyric.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 9:36 PM

I agree that Les BouleS can and should trade Gilby before he bolts and Abe is left with a bag of sh#t.

Les BouleS are doing well without Gilby even though they are undermanned without ET and OPech is just getting back and there's no backup PG behind AD.

I'd venture to say this team with Caron and AJ could have beaten the Cavs during last year's playoffs just b/c Caron has elevated his game so much.

AB just needs consistent play time. He's good, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 9:40 PM

Tie game after regulation and Haywood has played only 11 minutes, Horford has 17 bounds, what's up? Was Haywood injured or did he step on EJ's bunyon?
I don't understand, I'm glad Blatche is getting pt but this doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by: myshkin | January 11, 2008 9:53 PM

Hey nonbelievers (Governor?)they win again against another of the middle of the pack decent East teams. Staying just above .500 and banking a win when they need it.

Posted by: Larry Roberts | January 11, 2008 10:28 PM

BTH got in very early foul trouble and then came out tentative in the second half. Still, it's hard to justify him only getting 11 minutes, especially since we were getting eaten alive in the paint.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 10:41 PM

BTH didn't get off the bench b/c AB was so active both on the offensive and defensive end.

Also, Atlanta had their young guns in the game running up and down the court. I don't think BTH has a good of a chance keeping up with the fast pace play as AB does. If Zaza wasn't out and was in the game, I think EJ would have put BTH up against Zaza.

It's all about matchups and strategy.

It'll be interesting if EJ is going to put AB up against KG. He did well against KG the first game, but did nothing the second game last season.

It was a good win tonight.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 11, 2008 10:52 PM

Thanks for the explanation re: BTH. I didn't see the game so can't comment to strongly but it seems inexplicable on EJ's part considering BH's two fouls to Blatche's 4 at the end. I want to like EJ but can't help question that kind of player substitution, unless I'm missing something, (always a distinct possibility). It seems counterproductive considering the past Haywood doghouse syndrome which the Wiz seemed to be moving beyond and also for the team if they were hurting in the paint.

Posted by: Myshkin | January 11, 2008 10:53 PM

The inexplicable part of the game for me was the Wizards poor transition defense. In the NBA no team should get that many fast break points off missed shots.

That said, what a gutsy win from the Wizards. And in particular kudos go to a guy I have ripped to shreds in this space on many occasions, DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson won the ball game for the Wizards tonight with some of the plays he made on defense.

Posted by: George Templeton | January 11, 2008 11:26 PM

I liked this win in particular because I think it is the first win against a quality team where it wasnt just the CB/AJ show. They both had ok, slightly below average shooting nights and yet the Wiz still won. DS and AB stepped up. AD had an ok game but was fantastic at the end, showing he was the best veteran on the floor in crunch time. AB again had some man-child moments...boy I hope he puts it all together next year. BH would a nice back up center on this team...

Posted by: oddjob | January 12, 2008 12:06 AM

EJ has done a pretty good job, if I was a betting man I might suggest that Ej looks at the Hawks young guys and sees a motivator for Blatche + thinks about tomorrow nights game with Boston. Maybe get some rest for BTH?

Posted by: greg | January 12, 2008 12:09 AM

As predictable as the sunrise...

"I didn't see the game so can't comment to strongly but it seems inexplicable on EJ's part considering BH's two fouls to Blatche's 4 at the end. I want to like EJ but can't help question that kind of player substitution, unless I'm missing something"

Well, by your own admission, you didn't watch the game so you missed everything. But don't let that stop you from criticizing things you didn't actually see.

"BTH got in very early foul trouble and then came out tentative in the second half. Still, it's hard to justify him only getting 11 minutes, especially since we were getting eaten alive in the paint."

They won the game with Blatche on the floor, blocking shots and providing an active inside presence. That's the only justification needed for him to play. He was effective. Haywood wasn't. End of story.

The hypocrisy around here regarding Jordon is mind-boggling. All last season (and probably before) people complained about Jordan giving out stock minutes to guys instead of rolling with guys when they were going well. Now he does exactly what people have been criticizing him for not doing, and (shock) the same people criticize him for doing what they've been begging him to do.

Good, tough game by the Wiz against a scrappy opponent. The Hawwks are a talented athletic team, but I'm still not sold on them as a playoff squad.

Posted by: kalorama | January 12, 2008 1:26 AM

How could you not want to keep Blatche in the game last night? He played extremely well and BTH started both halves slowly.

That said I think BTH will get big minutes against Boston tonight and Blatche will too.

The keys against the Celts:

Caron plays Pierce at least even up, and if he decides this is the night that he wants to make his case for the All-Star Team in a big way, all the better.

BTH makes Garnett work hard to score and Antawn makes him work hard to defend. Blatche uses his energy to further tire Garnett. Also, we also cannot let Big Baby get into a scoring mode off the bench.

The real key, however, is at guard:

AD must outplay Rondo, get physicial if necessary, but keep him off balance and out of rhythm.

And DeShawn must shut down Ray Allen.

Off the bench Nick Young needs to outscore Eddie House.

Nice win against Atlanta, but beating the Celts in our house would be SWEET.

Posted by: khrabb | January 12, 2008 5:32 AM

Great game last night! Kudos to Deshawn and Blatche too! The other vets did what was expected and did it well. I watched the game and for THIS game Blatche matched up better then Brendan. Hell, Blatche got 5 blocks and for those DS haters, DS got two cruial blocks at the end. Well played and coached game. This way Brendan will be well rested for tonight. I too, would like to see Blatche against Garnett again. I remember how well he played against him when Garnett was in Minnesota. I hope we can somehow pull out this game tonight. That would be a statement!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2008 8:16 AM

That was a great win. Difficult to watch because ATL went on some great runs and I was skeptical the Wiz would hold on. What a difference from last year. Kept their poise. Play of the game was at the very end where AD sacrificed his body (again) to control that wild inbound pass from Stevenson (what was he thinking?).

As I've mentioned before, I really hope Gil comes back playing the bench for the first 30 days or so. Even 20 mpg from Gil could be a difference-maker. And he'd have his legs back and plenty of energy come April when he can go back to starting. Given their schedule the next 6-8 weeks, I'm highly skeptical the Wiz will find themselves 4th in the conf when Gil returns, but they won't be more than 3-4 games out, with plenty of time to climb back into it.

I, for one, have absolutely no doubt Gil will be back the second he's able to. Ahead of schedule - probably first week in March.

Posted by: reispace | January 12, 2008 8:54 AM

You won't find a bigger Haywood booster on these boards than me, but Blatche should have gotten those minutes last night. He was extremely effective, and the Hawks were fast-breaking all night long. Simply put, Andray was getting it done. Would Brendan have performed as well? Hard to know, since he wasn't in. (Although I would dispute the notion that Haywood was lethargic when he was in there. I'm not ready to make judgments off of 11 minutes of play).

Other tidbits: Jamison is amazing. He's not especially tall or athletic anymore, not an explosive leaper, but man, can he pull down rebounds. Smart, smart player (Gibbs would call him "super-smart") who knows positioning and slithers around under the basket. (Side note: his jumper has been shaky all year, and continues to be so. He needs to stay near the basket).

Caron had a weird kind of game. He didn't register on my radar in the first half, but made some big plays in the second. Terrible play by him at the end of regulation. Hey Caron: WE DON'T NEED A THREE TO WIN. DRIVE TO THE BASKET!

Daniels was driving to the basket with abandon. I thought he had a great game, even though it may not show up on the stats. Both he and Caron came up huge with FTs at the end.

DeShawn's best game of the year. Awesome defense, including two critical blocks. He was also driving to the hole, not just settling for 3s.

Pech saw action! Made a nice cut to the hoop for a layup, off a pretty feed from Antawn.

Is it just me, or is Al Horford a serious hack artist? He laid out T.J. Ford earlier in the season, and committed a couple more really hard (and borderline dirty) fouls against the Wiz. He's starting to look like a cheap-shot artist.

How good could the Hawks be if they'd drafted Chris Paul instead of Marvin Williams a few seasons ago? With that group of athletes, scary good, I'd say.

Posted by: Keithinator | January 12, 2008 9:28 AM

Had to watch the game from distance with no sound at birthday dinner, lame. Had to make excuses to go to the bar. There was flat screen in the bathroom, needless to say I had a very active bladder last night.

Again a game we needed to win. Our margin for error is nil on the road against any decent team.

For all of DS shortcomings, thats why he starts. He plays defense, man up perimeter defense. He did it last night. He isnt there to score and when GA comes back he will start at the 2 and be the 5th scoring option, where he belongs.

We've got some players taking on new roles and players learning new positions on the fly. This coaching staff has done a great job meshing it all together.

Posted by: JSchon | January 12, 2008 9:31 AM

Keithinator...
I noticed that about CB. He has had the ball 3 or 4 times with a last shot scenario and he always pulls up for the 3, every time a miss, and last night a block.

CB isnt a great penetrator. His game is jab step jumper and he is great at it, but it doesnt suit last shot scenarios.

Posted by: JSchon | January 12, 2008 9:53 AM

Great game last night by the DC5 they stepped it up in crunch time,AJ played his ass off and Deshawn! brought his A game last night. Andray finally played the way he should night in and night out I will wear my wiz gear proudly in the ATL lets go get the Boston crew tonite,GO WIZARDS.GREAT COACHING BY EJ AND HIS STAFF!!!!!!!

Posted by: DARGREGMAG@AOL.COM | January 12, 2008 9:56 AM

Great game last night by the DC5 they stepped it up in crunch time,AJ played his ass off and Deshawn! brought his A game last night. Andray finally played the way he should night in and night out I will wear my wiz gear proudly in the ATL lets go get the Boston crew tonite,GO WIZARDS.GREAT COACHING BY EJ AND HIS STAFF!!!!!!!

Posted by: DARGREGMAG@AOL.COM | January 12, 2008 9:56 AM

Kal and et al.
Okay, okay I conceded up front not watching the game. Yes I was making an uninformed comment and I do now see the logic for sitting BH, match ups may better in Boston than Atlanta, BH rested for a back to back etc. I am also one of the people who wants more playing time for younger players so should and was happy AB played minutes and played well.
However I persist in believing that managing players is a skill and art that is at a premium in a coach. I think the Wiz have the talent, paritcularly when Gil comes back, to go deep into the playoffs. It ain't necessarily so though if EJ doesn't find a way to get a bunch of talent playing together as a team and getting the most out of the various characters on the team, which he's been doing admirably so far this season. BH in particular has passed through troubled waters recently vis a vis play time and ET. You might say that's BH's problem, and there is some truth in that, however it is also the coaches problem.
Etan's illness has given BH a chance to move beyond the EJ doghouse syndrome and he has responded with solid play, here's hoping we're not about to revise that unfortunate episode with Blatche and Pecherov's return.

Posted by: myshkin | January 12, 2008 10:11 AM

Here's the thing, they all know Josh Smith is one of the best defender in the league. Why isolate CB when JS is the one guarding him. Why not go to AJ? And in the previous possesion they went to AJ but JS was on him so he took a very hard shot that missed. They have to know the match up situation.

BUT overall great win. Good game from DS and AB.

I feel that these 2 teams will fight it out for the last playoff spot.

Posted by: Dave | January 12, 2008 10:15 AM

we need gil! we need gil! we need gil!

Posted by: wiz fan 4 life!! | January 12, 2008 10:46 AM

you guys bad mouth Mason ,I if he gets traded i hope he comes back and shoots the wizards lights out!!!!!!!!!!!!! and im a wiz fan.

Posted by: wiz fan4 life | January 12, 2008 10:55 AM

Great game! Atlanta is a fast athletic and young team. It's amazing that they pulled it off (after going into overtime--thought the Wiz wouldnt have the energy to keep up). Deshawn gets game MVP. Good luck tonite! Note: Antawn played like he did in the playoffs.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2008 10:57 AM

Another note: would have been an easier win with Gilbert...Gilbert and Antawn pleeeeze stay in DC!!! Wizard Washingtonian fan!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2008 11:02 AM

"The inexplicable part of the game for me was the Wizards poor transition defense. In the NBA no team should get that many fast break points off missed shots.

That said, what a gutsy win from the Wizards. And in particular kudos go to a guy I have ripped to shreds in this space on many occasions, DeShawn Stevenson. Stevenson won the ball game for the Wizards tonight with some of the plays he made on defense.

Posted by: George Templeton | January 11, 2008 11:26 PM "

And, AJ is especially slow in the switchoff on D.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 12, 2008 12:18 PM

And, it's too bad we didn't see more of Opech. He looked lively out there, all 4 minutes of his PT.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 12, 2008 12:20 PM

Yeah, both Haywood and Songaila are too slow to keep up with Atlanta.

In fact, Atlanta is quicker than Wizards as a whole, as demonstrated by the fact that they have more fast breaks and dunks off the breaks.

When Songaila came in, Hawks immediately made a 7-0 run. Wizards only able to creep back when Atlanta put in their own slower player, Lorenzen Wright.

Posted by: Sagaliba | January 12, 2008 12:55 PM

As well as Blatche played, we gave up a lot of offensive boards and a ridiculous amount of points in the paint. Last night would've been a good game to see BTH and Blatche on the court at the same time. BTH may be slow, but he's fast enough to keep up with Horford.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2008 4:58 PM

DSong, as "smart" of a player that he is, just can't get off the ground. Even EJ commented last week about waiting for DSong to get his legs back.

Huh?

DSong has been back from his back injury since last season, had all summer to heal up, play with his country's team, and now is back with Les BouleS and still doesn't have his legs back?

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 12, 2008 6:26 PM

We are better without Gilbert. Whoever that coach is was right. Sign and trade him for something that helps the team. All Gilbert does is hurt us. When Gil is on the court if he is playing well we win if he isn't we get crushed. Gil will never win a championship for any team in this league. I don't care if he joins San Antonio...Gil will never win. trade him now while his value is high!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 14, 2008 2:46 PM

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