Should the Wizards Go Small?
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.
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