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Or Should the Wizards Go Big?

I almost spit up my morning joe when I read Mike Lee's blog entry on the Wizards going small. Not because it wasn't interesting -- it was -- but because I knew it would cause some of the faithful readers of this blog to go crazy. The mere suggestion of Edde Jordan going to "small ball" just kills some folks in here. Interesting.

Here's my suggestion on change if, and only if, things continue to sputter along and by that I mean an 0-5 or 2-8 kind of start with the current lineup/rotation philosophy: go big.

Very big.

Start DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler in the backcourt, Antawn Jamison at the 3, either Andray Blatche or Darius Songaila at the 4 and JaVale McGee at the 5.

DeShawn isn't a pure point but he's a good enough handler to get the ball upcourt and start the offense. Caron can kill most 2 guards and he can defend well enough to make it work. Antawn can't defend many 3s (like Richard Jefferson for instance) but he could post almost all of them up and create mismatches.

Either Blatche (depending on his level of interest on a given night) or Songaila (a natural power forward who can spread the floor with his passing and shooting) can man the 4. McGee is pure and simply making a case for more minutes. Jordan is on the verge of just playing the kid and living with his ups and downs. I'm in the same boat.

Now, this lineup would also help the bench. Antonio Daniels can come off and run the point with NIck Yong bringing scoring at the 2. (Juan Dixon is also an option at either spot particularly because he's played so well and because he's meshed VERY well with Young). Dom McGee can play the 3 (he's rebounded well and he's really playing solid defense). Either Songila or Blatche can come off and play at the 4 and Etan Thomas would be a solid option at center behind McGee.

One problem: Jordan all but ruled out playing Butler at the 2 during training camp. His reasoning was that Butler is a two-time all star as a 3-man so why mess with it? I'll ask him for his updated thoughts on it before tonight's game against the Knicks.

Thoughts?

-Thomas, who missed the Milwaukee loss with a sprained left ankle, participated in shootaround this morning and is good to go. I'll post a pre-game update with lineups, inactives and other information.

-Regardless of what Eddie does tonight, Juan Dixon and Nick Young are making a case for being on the floor at crunch time. They helped turn the momentum of the Detroit and Milwaukee games and, according to www.82games.com, they have been the team's most efficient backcourt combo. (A quick note here: we're only three games in so I'm very cautious about reading too much into plus/minus and other efficiency ratings. I like a good 15 to 20-game slice before drawing major conclusions but that's just me.)

-Michael Lee is covering tomorrow night's game in Orlando so your faithful beat writer will watch the game on the tube and then catch the greatest band (at least what's left of it) in world history, War, at Blues Alley. Man I dig me some War. Jamming River Niger right now in fact.....

By Ivan Carter  |  November 7, 2008; 2:27 PM ET
 
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Comments

That approach is better than the one in the previous write-up and better than Eddie's line-up.

Isn't it curious that the person who gets paid $millions to figure out rotation management doesn't even want to experiment?

BTW, I suspect you kept DeS in there to protect his streak. Otherwise, his play this year merits the far end of the bench.

Posted by: Izman | November 7, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

WAR! The world is a ghetto, wow!

Enjoy it, Ivan!

I like option B for Big too.

Posted by: khrabb | November 7, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

My lineup exactly except for DS. I like NY in there rather than DS. Big works for me. In this case, big also means fast as long as Songaila isn't in there.

I always wondered up til last year why EJ never considered CB at the 2 and AJ at the 4. After all star berths for both, it sounded counterintuitive to suggest. Why move an all star ? It's almost unfortunate that they played well at those spots because it completely removes the possiblity of playing them at positions more suited to their sizes.

Ivan, I know you are in a position where you can't criticize players because you need access to them both personally and professionally. But please clear something up for us. I personally don't see any value in Songaila. He's slow and does nothing well except shoot open jumpers. He's an ok passer but seems to be an overall liability. What does EJ see in him? Same for Deshawn. is it just veteran loyalty? And why can't Pech see some time at C? Does EJ really think Songaila is a better option? If so, why did we pick up Pech's option?
I'm one of the one or two here who think Pech could provide some quality minutes.

Posted by: original_mark | November 7, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I want Nick Young to start.

Posted by: rachel216 | November 7, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I like this lineup much more than the small line up. But knowing EJ, the small line up has a better chance of happening than this BIG line up. BTW, where's Etan in your scenario?

Posted by: tundey | November 7, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Ain't this BS a kick in the pants.

Wasn't all this supposed to be worked out in training camp?

F'n mickey mouse playhouse franchise.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I like Songaila. Sure he's not fast but it's nice to have a big man who can drain that -foot jumper consistently. Etan isn't gonna do it and the other big men like to think they're 3-point specialists.

I don't subscribe to this don't tinker with a player's position just because he made the all-star list. If we need a 2-guard really bad and Caron is the best option, why not play him there?

Posted by: tundey | November 7, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I agree with DC_MAN88. EJ should have done all this tickering in training camp when the "starters" were being whupped *consistently* by the "reserves".

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

One more thing...

All star appearances are great but I usually measure a guy by how well he does against his opponent, not against the stat sheet. That's why Gil should be measured by how opposing pg's play against him, not the ppg.

Last year, our sf averaged a 19.6 PER. Unfortunately, the opposing sf averaged 18.9. So he was only .7 better. As good as CB was, he wasn't stopping anyone.

PG and C played guys about even while AJ outplayed his counterparts by 3.5 PER per game. SG was our Achilles heel. All of this is at 82games. Hollinger's PER rating system isn't great but it's all we have.

If I were EJ, I'd be looking at the team and where CB's position benefits the team. I think he'd do more damage at the SG position personally. He may have a more crowded field as far all star selections go but this shuld be about the team, not individuals.

Posted by: original_mark | November 7, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"Caron can kill most 2 guards and he can defend well enough to make it work."

Maybe that morning Joe was spiked because I don't know many NBA 2-guards that I'd be comfortable with Caron Butler trying to guard.

Posted by: truthaboutit | November 7, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Last note...
If we're looking at just points, our sf was outscored last year (22.9 vs 22.6 per game). But the killer was at sg (21 vs 17.9 per game).

Moving CB to sg and AJ to sf may just solve both those problems

Posted by: original_mark | November 7, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

truthaboutit, I agree with you 100%. I was just hoping that most of them would be in foul trouble trying to handle CB down low.

Posted by: original_mark | November 7, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

RE: dc_man88 said . . .

Ain't this BS a kick in the pants.

Wasn't all this supposed to be worked out in training camp?

F'n mickey mouse playhouse franchise.

-------

It was worked out until our STARTING CENTER went down for the season.

We've played 3.6% of our games so far - let's wait until December until we pass final judgment on old Mickey . . .

Posted by: ljack666 | November 7, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

War (when it's a full lineup) is the greatest live band ever. Any news on whether this show will be the pared down rump lineup they sometimes send out or the full on band (with all the horns and a harmonica player)?

Posted by: PindarPushkin | November 7, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Anything different from what we've seen would be welcome. Especially if it's more McGee. Live with the mistakes, it will pay off in the end...

Posted by: sargeantmofo | November 7, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully this lyric will not apply,

Slippin' into Darkness

Go WIZ!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | November 7, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"It was worked out until our STARTING CENTER went down for the season.

We've played 3.6% of our games so far - let's wait until December until we pass final judgment on old Mickey . . .

Posted by: ljack666 | November 7, 2008 3:22 PM "

F'n GM's get paid millions to plan and prepare for hiccups along the road, such as BTH's injury.

EG kept it more of the same, despite a glaring lack of quality depth at the 4 and 5....after spending 171 mil on contracts this offseason.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

If we're playing Songaila at C, why can't Butler play at SG? I mean you mix them up if it's going to get results, not because the fans voted them into the All Star game.
During pre-season Dominic played SG as well, and I can't remember the few minutes he played with a very tall reserves unit, but I don't think he was too bad. Not sure that he could help at offense though.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 7, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Caron can't really play SG b/c he'll wear his wheels out chasing around SG's. Look at Artest and TMac when they have to switch up. Both are SF's, but have to alternate playing SG in order for both to be on the court, and they get run ragged chasing around dudes around screens like Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the concept of going large but think NY should be starting at SG based on the fact that he's our best player at that position...no offense to CB3, but he doesn't have the footspeed to be effective covering most 2's. Having McGee at C alleviates the need to move AJ from the 4 to the 3. Have DSS play PG instead of Daniels and his lack of scoring isn't a big deal.

I don't see D-Song or Blatche adding anything as starters at the 4. One is slow and can't jump; the other makes careless plays and is weak covering in the post. AJ usually does well overall against most PF's because they can't cover him on the other end. I wouldn't read too much into his poor shooting the 1st three games. He's getting good looks and those shots normally fall (as will his free throws).

New York is a good team to experiment against since they play a lot of small ball and don't seem to play any defense.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 7, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, going big really exposes the team's ball handling problems. I can see a opponent springing the press/trap against that big lineup and completely disrupting the Wizards. Turnovers after turnovers after turnoves.

Clearly, for the future it would be smarter to go big since your younger players will get PT.

But for now, I think going small and augmenting that will probably keep the team in more games.

Shorter response: Heck if I know.

Posted by: SteveMG | November 7, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Will it really matter who starts? This team can not win with the players that are on the roster and since they resigned certain players to long term contracts it will be a long time before the Wizards will be a winning team. Give up on the idea that they can ever win a championship and isn’t that what the real goal should be?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 7, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

TRADE PROPOSED:
Darius, Deshawn and Antonio for Larry Hughes. It even works salary wise.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 7, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, then hire Dermarr Johnson.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 7, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Mike is on crack, don't listen to him about that smallball stuff. Next think you know he'll start talking about Kobe in a Wiz uniform or something. :P

"DeShawn isn't a pure point but he's a good enough handler to get the ball upcourt and start the offense."

Ivan, stop putting what Mike is giving you in your coffee. Stevenson is a horrid ball handler and if he ever got pressed would give up a ton of turnovers. Seriously.

"McGee is pure and simply making a case for more minutes. Jordan is on the verge of just playing the kid and living with his ups and downs. I'm in the same boat."

Same here, play the kid. He's the only true center the Wiz have right now.

Caron is awesome, he would accel at any position.

They really don't have a choice right now, they really stink this year but I blame the GM. I think it's going to be a long bball year in Washington.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | November 7, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I like Ivan's lineup but Mike's ideas of Jamison at the 5 was interesting. At least it gets Nick on the floor.

And for Mike and Ivan, you two should post like this more often. I like the different perspectives on the same subject. Kinda like playing Devil's advocate. Maybe y'all can do a why Eddie is/isn't the right coach for the Wizards post. I'd love to read that blog entry.

Posted by: CBell29 | November 7, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Caron can't really play SG b/c he'll wear his wheels out chasing around SG's. Look at Artest and TMac when they have to switch up. Both are SF's, but have to alternate playing SG in order for both to be on the court, and they get run ragged chasing around dudes around screens like Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 7, 2008 4:23 PM

On the other hand, Caron (and for that matter Artest and T-Mac) can score in huge bunches against Allen and Hamilton.

Who's to say which way is better... All I know is that what the Wizards are doing now is NOT working.

Change it up.

Posted by: Rook6980 | November 7, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, going big really exposes the team's ball handling problems. I can see a opponent springing the press/trap against that big lineup and completely disrupting the Wizards. Turnovers after turnovers after turnoves.

Posted by: SteveMG | November 7, 2008 4:38 PM

That worry presumes that there are lots of quick, fast trapping teams in the NBA right now....... which, there aren't.

Even if there was a problem, replace Stevenson with either Juan Dixon or Dee Brown - voila, same basic BIG front line line-up, but now that trapping defense is a liability.

Posted by: Rook6980 | November 7, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

That worry presumes that there are lots of quick, fast trapping teams in the NBA right now....... which, there aren't.

Well, they're playing the Knicks tonight and while they're not good defensively, they do scramble and play open court.

My point (somewhere in my post I think) is that to go big requires them matching up against a team that can't counter with traps/press.

And the real question is: are they "better", i.e., more competitive, going small or going big?

I think they're better small but if they play big that enables them to use their younger players more (McGee, Blatche, NY).

Posted by: SteveMG | November 7, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind playing Songaila as long as we don't rely on him for rebounds. Man, the guy is a terrible rebounder! He averages 1.3 rebounds in 19.3 minutes. If he plays 48 minutes, he would have gotten (drum roll please), 3 rebounds!

Posted by: sagaliba | November 7, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I definitely think the wiz need to go big. I'd love to see blatche and mcgee both start and I definitely have faith in deshawn to bring the ball up with caron in a point forward type role even though he'd be playing the two. The wizards were best a few years ago with Ad coming off the bench to help finish games and steady the pace to hold leads with gilbert also on the floor. I think he would excel in this role again. Young is showing so much talent its really hard for me not to push for him to start getting a bigger role handling the ball, if he could fulfill the handling responsibilities our five would be ridiculous young, butler, jamison, blatche or etan (crazy to put him at four right he's... oh wait like caron's height)or songaila or mcguire even(love his d and boards), mcgee. So basically the four is a total toss up, blatche has such an upside id want him force fed minutes in the starting role so we could see as much as possible of him and decide if it works or not, he's a total tease right now, fraught with skills a big man dreams of but somehow it hasn't clicked. Either way our best team is definitely going big for sure. Size helps a lot with bad interior d. Blatche led the nba in blocks off the bench last year i think or was number two, he can help, but 13 minutes one night, maybe 20 the next, not much chance so far to really get a rhythm.

Posted by: bford1kb | November 9, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

I think caron would abuse a 2 with his midrange game he can already get off a great look with any three on him, a 2 would be over-matched and caron is tough as nails on d he could body a two all game and wear him out plus he'd have some long-armed help if his man was too speedy, i.e barbosa lightning quick, rip "why'd we trade you?" hamilton, who never stops moving, ala reggie miller, kinda scary thought but it's still the move. I have no doubt we'd own the boards with that lineup and for once get more easy buckets than someone.

Posted by: bford1kb | November 9, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

jamison at five is a crazy thought, he can't body a single pf, at center things would be disastrous

Posted by: bford1kb | November 9, 2008 3:28 AM | Report abuse

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