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Should the Wizards Go Small?


What about me at center? (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)


Eddie Jordan sounds pretty frustrated with his team three games into the season. This isn't the year to get off to a slow start with the Eastern Conference vastly improved and the team likely without Brendan Haywood for the entire season, and Gilbert Arenas until at least December. So, what do the 0-3 Wizards do to turn this around?

I had a conversation with a veteran NBA player recently about the Wizards and he offered a really nutty suggestion on what the team should do to compete without Haywood and Arenas. Go small, he said. And I mean, real small.

The player told me that the Wizards are struggling trying to find the right man to play center, so they should just say forget about trying to fill the position altogether. He said the Wizards should just start Antawn Jamison at center, Caron Butler at power forward, Nick Young at small forward, DeShawn Stevenson at shooting guard and Antonio Daniels at point.

I initially wanted to walk the player to the nearest bathroom so that he could take an immediate drug test. I thought his plan was one of the most ridiculous things I've heard. But I didn't walk away. I wanted to hear him out, just in case he was on to something or he really was crazy.

When I told the player that the Wizards would get destroyed defensively and at the boards without a single player taller than 6-foot-9, he just shrugged.

He said Jamison is a great rebounder. Then I told him that Antawn can't guard most power forwards, so why would you make him guard centers? The player responded, "What center can guard him?"

He said that the Wizards would have matchup problems all over the place on offense, since Butler would be too fast for power forwards, as well. He then told me that Daniels and Stevenson could be thrown on the opposing teams' best perimeter players, so that Young won't get exposed as much on the defensive end. I didn't think about it at the time, but they would really have to lock down the perimeter, otherwise players would slice into that lane without ever having to worry about having their shot blocked.

I kept scratching my head, trying to understand this guy. Then, I said, "What happens when they play Toronto? Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal are way too big. What about Orlando? Dwight Howard? Phoenix? Can you see Antawn guarding Shaq?"

I laughed for a good while, then shook my head.

The player nodded and said, "Yeah, those teams would give them trouble, but they give everybody trouble. I still think it would be hard for Dwight to step out and guard Antawn. You take the big men out of their comfort zones if they have to step out, then teams have to adjust to you."

He then said that it was worth trying, because he thinks Young is a pretty good scorer and should get more minutes. He added that when the Wizards play teams with bigger frontlines, Eddie Jordan may have to start Etan Thomas or somebody else at center. He just thinks the Wizards should play to their strengths, and center cannot be included on that list.

Finally, he said, Coach Mike D'Antoni has proved that you can win without a traditional lineup, and more teams around the league are using smaller lineups these days.

I still think this is a crazy idea and that teams would get about 60, 70 points a night in the paint. But with the Wizards winless, searching for answers and playing D'Antoni's small ball Knicks, I wanted to see if you guys think this is worth a shot. For one night, at least.

By Michael Lee  |  November 7, 2008; 11:05 AM ET
 
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Next: Or Should the Wizards Go Big?

Comments

This veteran player was probably on drugs or on an Obama high.

If Les BouleS employ a small ball approach, with AJ at center, then the opposing team won't have to worry about chasing Caron or AJ around the court. They could just employ a zone defense.

As I said before, and I'll say it again, Les BouleS are a jump shooting team. If the shots are not falling, expect a long and embarrassing night.

Forget the And 1 team gimmicks and make a trade for legit big man.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

He has a point, if our bigs suck anyway, there is not point having them in there just to be tall.

"Stone Hands" Thomas and "Stone Feet" Songalia, and "Just Stoned" Blatche really doing us the most good resting on the bench.

And Javale's play would kind of fit that approach as well in the minutes he gets.

But the guy lost credibility when he suggested that AD is worth starting.

Posted by: cballer | November 7, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Dumbest Idea EVER!!!

I can't even comprehend....its just so irrational. Riddle me this...what team has won a Championship with a smallball lineup???

I think NONE!!!!!!!!!!!

Javale for President!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | November 7, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse


I wonder why said NBA veteran remains nameless.

C'mon, Ivan....did dude say to keep his name out the papers because he knew his claim was outrageous?

I really don't see a reason why the source needs to remain anonymous here.

Credibility = Zip.

Posted by: truthaboutit | November 7, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

If Les BouleS need to clear cap room for Lebron, DWade, Bosh, TMac, or others, they can trade for Starbury and give up Etan, Opech, DSong, DS, and get Dee Brown signed for a fully guaranteed contract.

Call this season done then.

OR,

They can give up ET and DSong for Eddy Curry, who's not playing anyway.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

If Les BouleS need to clear cap room for Lebron, DWade, Bosh, TMac, or others, they can trade for Starbury and give up Etan, Opech, DSong, DS, and get Dee Brown signed for a fully guaranteed contract.

Call this season done then.

OR,

They can give up ET and DSong for Eddy Curry, who's not playing anyway.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't think this idea would work out in the long run. But in the short run, it might help. It's not like the Wizards are winning playing with a traditional line up.

Only thing, I would start Young over DS and have DS come in when we need a defensive stop. Look at the Wizards starting 5 and tell me where the points are going to come from? Unless AJ and Caron play lights out each game, the wizards are guaranteed to be in the hole because their first unit simply can't score enough.

Posted by: tundey | November 7, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely stupid. We'd get blown out every night by 20+ points using that lineup and wouldn't even be able to compete with team like the Bucks.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 7, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Eddie and your source may be shaking and baking at the 5, but the problem is in the backcourt. Check out the +/- stats on 82games.com

I'd go with Young and Dixon against the Knicks. There is nothing to lose except some irrational commitments to sub-par players with no upside potential.

Hopefully, McGee gets 15-20 minutes in the hole.

Posted by: Izman | November 7, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea. Although Jamison can't guard a center, you can give some help defensively and having smaller guys on the floor means you can rotate quickly if the center kicks it out to the perimeter. You have 3 major scoring threats on O for the Wiz. The only big concern is rebounding but AJ is a solid rebounder as is Caron.

Posted by: NickelsLuvsSkins | November 7, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

DC Man, I got whacked upside the head for suggesting on another site that the Wiz try to get the Knicks to take AD (PG insurance) and Blatche (a potentially good fit for D'Antoni's style of play) for Starbury with the Knicks eating the $10 million or so difference.

But I still like this line of thinking.

Starbury may be a posionous clubhouse risk, but (1) the Wizards are a more player-friendly team than most and (2) we need a short term rental of a highly competent guard who has something to prove.
If Marbury does well here and wants to stay, then he can be in a potentially devastating rotation with Gil and NY. If he wants to leave, we can either sign and trade him at fair market value or simply let him go, clearing the $10 mil cap space from the Blatche and Daniels contracts.

Posted by: khrabb | November 7, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

3 reasons why Wiz ain't Suns during D'Antoni's rein.

1. Athleticism, e.g., Stoudamire, Marion. (oh BTW, Stoudamire is bigger than Antawn too, but athleticism of Stoudamire and Marion really allow them to "play big.")

2. Consistent outsider shooters (prevent other teams from clogging.)

3. PG who creates like Steve Nash (more easy baskets).

Posted by: sagaliba | November 7, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I think that guy was on crack.
However, I would intertain the idea of going FAST. Our starting lineup could be JM, AB, AJ, CB, and NY. Some teams might try to trap us but if we used a D'Antoni Suns approach, (Yes I know we don't have Nash.) we could get out and utilize our athleticism. We would have to force our guards and AJ to shoot 3's with this approach. In the halfcourt, we'd have a size advantage. In the open court, we'd have the speed advantage.
NY brings the ball up a lot these days and CB is also capable. It's radical but beats the heck out of keeping AD and Deshawn in the starting lineup. You could even sub Dee Brown for NY and bring NY in off the bench.

Posted by: original_mark | November 7, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

i just don't see that lineup working. Not only does it get us killed in the paint, but we'll be losing the rebounding battle by 10 every night. That means we're reduced even more to hoping that our jump shots go in, to even have a chance. Shooting layups and dunks are a lot higher percentage than 3-pointers. No inside game = no chance. It's a basketball axiom, and for good reason.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 7, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"DC Man, I got whacked upside the head for suggesting on another site that the Wiz try to get the Knicks to take AD (PG insurance) and Blatche (a potentially good fit for D'Antoni's style of play) for Starbury with the Knicks eating the $10 million or so difference.

But I still like this line of thinking.

Starbury may be a posionous clubhouse risk, but (1) the Wizards are a more player-friendly team than most and (2) we need a short term rental of a highly competent guard who has something to prove.
If Marbury does well here and wants to stay, then he can be in a potentially devastating rotation with Gil and NY. If he wants to leave, we can either sign and trade him at fair market value or simply let him go, clearing the $10 mil cap space from the Blatche and Daniels contracts.

Posted by: khrabb | November 7, 2008 1:00 PM "

The Knicks have little leverage right now.

I would trade the players from Les BouleS who have the least cap friendly players to the Knicks and get Starbury.

Then, Starbury will be gone next season and there will be cap space to sign a legit 4 or 5.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

i've also thought for some time that Marbury would be good here. If he was willing to accept the terms of his playing, namely that he starts only until Gil comes back, then goes to the bench. If he shows the maturity to accept being a backup, I'd give it a try. Why not? It's not like we have a lot to lose right now.

Abe might have to eat some luxury tax, though, and I'm not sure he'd do that.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 7, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Free McGee! Free McGee! Free McGee! Free McGee! Free McGee!

Posted by: sargeantmofo | November 7, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"i've also thought for some time that Marbury would be good here. If he was willing to accept the terms of his playing, namely that he starts only until Gil comes back, then goes to the bench. If he shows the maturity to accept being a backup, I'd give it a try. Why not? It's not like we have a lot to lose right now.

Abe might have to eat some luxury tax, though, and I'm not sure he'd do that.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 7, 2008 1:24 PM "

LOL!

If Starbury ever got on another team, I'd sure hate to be D'Antoni playing against him in the Garden, with how D'Antoni has thrown him under the bus, whether deserving or not.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I think khrabb is smoking crack if his solution is to pick up Marbury.

The team is trying to get better not worse

Posted by: beas13 | November 7, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

I think it's an interesting idea - thinking outside the box is definitely worth a try. If nothing else, Nick Young should definitely be in the starting lineup, and I think McGee should be getting some serious minutes, too.

I'd be interested to hear what Eddie Jordan thinks about it. I'd also be interested to hear what Ernie thinks about clearing cap space and trying to go after a legitimate big in the next couple years.

Posted by: dcgoblue | November 7, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

It's really not that complicated. Give McGee and Young a lot more minutes, at the expense of Songalia, Etan, Daniels, and Stevenson. Really, really not very complicated. It seems like Eddie is slowly, as usual, catching on.

Posted by: tmilt27@aol.com | November 7, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"I think khrabb is smoking crack if his solution is to pick up Marbury.

The team is trying to get better not worse

Posted by: beas13 | November 7, 2008 2:02 PM "

Again, the strategy would be to pick up Starbury for one season, his last contract year, dump ET, DSong, OPech, and DS, and then have cap room to sign an impact player next summer, where DWade, Lebron, Bosh, TMac, etc. would be free agents.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I HV NO COMMENT CAUSE EJ WOULDNT DO THAT ANYWAY

Posted by: forbid | November 7, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"DC Man, I got whacked upside the head for suggesting on another site that the Wiz try to get the Knicks to take AD (PG insurance) and Blatche (a potentially good fit for D'Antoni's style of play) for Starbury with the Knicks eating the $10 million or so difference."

-khrabb

Dude, it got shot down on BF because it doesn't work salary-wise.

Posted by: Pradamaster | November 7, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"Dude, it got shot down on BF because it doesn't work salary-wise.

Posted by: Pradamaster | November 7, 2008 3:28 PM "

I checked on trademachine, and Starbury for ET, DSong, OPech, DS, and a full contract Dee Brown works.

or,

Eddy Curry for DSong and ET works.

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=990~1784~851&teams=27~18~18&te=&cash=

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Hell, they might as well try that small line up right now since they're 0-4.

The Knicks are 3-2 with Zach Randolph playing center and he is a terrible defender who can't block shots, and so is David Lee.

Posted by: SELAHSIXX | November 7, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Michael, I wrote before addressing my comments to Ivan..didnt realize youd written this one...sorry about that! Thanks for the excellent reporting!

Posted by: dcgoblue | November 8, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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