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Jamison, Providing Sunshine In Cloudy Season


See, I'm smiling -- before the game. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)


Washington Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott offered the quote of the week when he was asked about the prospect of Antawn Jamison being unable to play against Milwaukee because of a strained right knee: "A day without Jamison would be a day without sunshine for me," Tapscott said.

ESPN had a good time making fun of that quote on Wednesday night -- it shined a magical light behind him during its highlights -- but you have to wonder where Jamison is finding his sunshine this season. I had a chance to talk with Jamison before the Wizards lost 128-122 to the New York Knicks. And that's a good thing, because you couldn't get anything out of him after the game.

When reporters were allowed into the locker room after the game, Jamison was slouched back, staring toward the floor and looking more despondent than I've ever seen him at any time since he joined this franchise in the summer of 2004. He slipped away to the training room when reporters gathered to talk to Nick Young and waited for everyone to leave before getting dressed.

This has to be a difficult season for Jamison, who turned 32 last summer and avoided playing the free agency game to re-sign with the Wizards before hitting the open market. He probably could've at least spoken with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he thought this franchise would be a contender in the unstable Eastern Conference.

Over the next few months, he watched Gilbert Arenas go down with the same knee injury that has plagued him since April 2007. Then, he watched Brendan Haywood go down with a wrist injury. Then, he watched the coach who led him to the only two all-star appearances of his career get fired. And a few weeks after that, Antonio Daniels, one of the few solid, veteran, professionals got traded to a Western Conference contender in New Orleans.

Jamison has played in all 38 games -- and 31 losses -- this unbelievably horrific season. I didn't ask him specifically about all the adversity the team has faced since he re-signed, but he offered an overall assessment of leading an incredibly young team.

"It's difficult," said Jamison. "The only thing I can do is go out there is play hard and let these young guys know that no matter what the record is, you've got to out there and play hard and have fun doing it."

I asked Jamison if he felt like the team daddy, constantly slapping the kids on the wrist, telling them what not to do. Jamison chuckled, then added that he has to put his teammates in line from time to time. "That's what they expect from me," Jamison said. "A lot of these guys, as far as handling themselves a certain way, they don't know how to do [it]. I feel I have to set an example and you have to let them know when it's time to tighten up and when it's time to have fun. It's always difficult when you have the record we have and we haven't been winning. Their attention span is not always there."

Jamison is averaging a team-best 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds, which would normally have him in the discussion for the All Star Game. A trip to Phoenix? There's definitely some sunshine there. But the Wizards are now tied with the Oklahoma City for the fewest wins (seven) in the NBA.

"It ain't crossed my mind," Jamison said of possibly making the all-star team. "Pretty much, don't see it happening. But if it does, I'd definitely be grateful and thank the coaches for what they see out there. But we got more problems to deal with than trying to make it."

And as he sat in the visitors' locker room after the game on Wednesday, it looked like he felt the weight of every last one of those problems.

By Michael Lee  |  January 15, 2009; 8:06 AM ET
 
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Next: Young Keeps Rolling

Comments

I have always thought that there were 2-3 great coaches, 4-5 bad coaches, 3-4 good coaches and the rest average coaches in this league.
Great coaches are ones who can take a team with moderate talent and put them in a position to win even though the pieces may not fit exactly. There aren't many of them but Don Nelson comes to mind.
Good ones know when to get out of the way and let the players play (Doug Collins with MJ and the Bulls, Phil with his teams, for example)

Bad ones are the ones that have no clue. Leonard Hamilton, anyone?

The rest are guys who win with good talent and lose with average talent. They really don't make much of a difference but the talent level on their team determines how they do. This is where I put EJ. Tap is probably in there somewhere, too. I suspect he'd be a genius if Gil and BTH were healthy but without them, he doesn't seem to have the wherewithal to figure out how to utilize the pieces that he has.

How many nights in a row does NY have to surpass his career highs in scoring before he starts?

How many games does McGuire get with 5 rebounds in 30 minutes before he sees that DM isn't a NBA caliber starter yet?

How many games does CB have to perform poorly before he sees that CB needs to be at sf to thrive?

Why can't he see that Songaila is a bigger liability at C than JM?

Why did Stevenson have to come to him to get out of the lineup?

We're doomed until we put someone else in charge. Ayers may not be the answer but we know that Tap is not.

Free Pech.

Free Ayers.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I love Jamison, his well-documented limitations aside.

That said, while Ernie did the absolute right thing in re-signing him, he really should have gotten him to take a flat or declining annual salary. He's a bargain this year at $10M per, but in 2-3 years, he's going to be a very overpaid, limited player, well on the wrong side of 30.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | January 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Ayers may not be the answer but we know that Tap is not."

He's not supposed to be the answer. He's a seat warmer.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that in two to three years Jamison won't still be a bargain. An experienced vet who can score, knows how to lead, and takes care of himself can be priceless in this league.

Jamison could morph into a Robert "big Shot" Horry for this team. Him and Butler should be the big shot guys on this team now, but they're too heavy legged in the 4th from too many minutes.

Jamison should be getting 30-35 minutes instead of 35-40, I'd wager he'd be just as productive with about 5 less minutes a game. That would leave more time to play McGee at the five and slide Blatche to the 4. Don't increase Songaila's work load to sit Jamison.

In a couple of seasons Jamison could be a guy that could give the Wiz some real production in limited minutes off the bench. He'd still be a guy that you'd want on the floor on offense at crunch time. Look around the league, those kind of players are worth 10m a year because there's just not that many of them.

Crittenton and Young need to be fed heavy minutes, James isn't the answer at starting point and Stephenson couldn't put up 30 with a new knee and another back.

Tapps should be able to see that and use James as a veteran scorer off the bench and Stephenson as a situational defender. I'd still like to see Dixon get a consistant role, even if it's 5-10 high energy minutes a game.

Last night might have been a prime time to have used Pecherov to try and pull Lee or Jeffries away from the rim. His shooting ability could be useful sometimes. Anything is better then playing Jamison at center.

Posted by: flohrtv | January 15, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

thanks for saving me the trouble kal. its as if ppl don't understand what 'interim' means.

And NY starting changes the dynamic of the game, his offensive flow, and opposing teams' strategies. For all we know, it could well be counter effective. What we do know is that we would lose virtually all of our bench scoring, besides Songaila's 19 footer.

And as long as the recent trend of scoring moderately well in the first quarter holds up, there is less of a need to make that change. I do agree that CB needs to go back to SF, but how, with this roster?

DMac is a baller. His play is not the type to show up in the boxscore. I agree he should be on the bench as the primary backup to CB, but again, this roster (and injuries) dictates otherwise. I just wish he was a 2 so CB could go back to 3. In fact, the only thing stopping that switch is the fact that DM has less handles than DSteve.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm taking about 'short term answer'. I'm pretty sure neither one is 'the man' after this season.

I like my Pat Riley idea. It fits in with Abe's desire for getting it done quickly. Pat could get these players to either play defense or sit. I don't know whether EG and Pat would work together because Pat usually wants to get his own players but pay him enough and I'm sure he'd do it.

Plus, this roster has enough star power and young talent to be attractive to a decent coach. I wouldn't want o be a new Gm coming in because he'd be hamstrung with the salaries and all but coach, yes.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Kal-I agree ET is a seat warmer, but I'm really starting to fear that he as a seat warmer is damaging the future of this franchise. It's fine to have a purely interim coach, but it's not fine if he's killing the team. It is what it is, and as a coach, he's losing this team. Fine, whatever, this season's a bust. BUT, if the franchise loses this team, we're in for years of the same. :(

Posted by: lindaloulubbock | January 15, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone here has ever been under the illusion that Tap is gonna be the coach past this season. Why is anyone even questioning that?

I'm saying what lindaloulubbock is saying...that he may not even be good enough as an interim.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"And NY starting changes the dynamic of the game, his offensive flow, and opposing teams' strategies. For all we know, it could well be counter effective. What we do know is that we would lose virtually all of our bench scoring, besides Songaila's 19 footer.

Posted by: jones-y"

And for all we know, it could be exponentially effective. What we do know now is that we actually have no idea how an off-the-bench Nick Young differs from a starting Nick Young. And if ever there was a season to experiment and test the waters, this is it.

I do agree with this part though:

"And NY starting changes the dynamic of the game, his offensive flow, and opposing teams' strategies."

And THIS is precisely the reason that NY starting should be tested out. I can't think of a better reason than to hopefully change the dynamic of the games and opposing teams' strategies, as clearly we have been overmatched in those two categories all season long. Finding out the change in those two things far outweighs the risk of damaging Young's "offensive flow".

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Hiring the next coach at the all-star break, or at any point before the end of this season is completely ridiculous.

You know, I may not be the most knowledgeable person, basketball-wise. But I do have a fair amount of common sense and a little bit of objectivity. And I'm not saying that you guys don't, but it seems to me that you guys tend to let your fandom cloud it.

Case in point is these completely stupid calls to fire an interim coach. Or even the "not completely stupid - but damned close to it" calls to fire EG, even after he's as responsible for this team's turnaround as anyone else in the organization. The first solid GM we have in a quarter century and you nutcases wanna ax his head.

Note: I'm not calling you guys stupid. Just to be clear. I'm calling your stance on ETap and EG stupid, because I believe it is. Please don't be offended.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't like Tapscott, I think he's a bad decision-maker, but I don't think he should be fired mid-season. Yes, I think it was a mistake to promote him in the first place, but firing him midseason would cause too much turmoil with this team and would only serve to stunt the dynamics of this team even more so than they currently are. He'll be gone after the season (or at least relieved of the head coaching position), and this season will essentially become moot -- which is the same result that would happen if Taps was fired now.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

NOTE TO Original Mark: Trying to align ETAPS so called coaching ability with EJ's is just plain stupid Taps last coached at American over twenty plus years ago He never played at the pro level hell i'm not sure he even played at Tuft's, while EJ was a starter at Rutger's under the legendary Dr.Tom Davis and Jordan played in the "league" and earned a championship ring while playing for the Lakers there is no comparison between the two, Jordan apprenticeship as an assitant in the NBA served him well before he became a head coach that's why Grunfeld's firing of Jordan rank's as one of the dumbest moves in the history of this franchise it ranks right up there with Bob Ferry picking Kenny Green(WK.Forest)over Karl Malone(Lou.Tech/Utah/HOF to be)on that move alone Grunfeld should be fired and banned from the league!!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

psps23,

I can't say that I disagree with any of your points, but I will make another note on bench scoring. NY has done most of his damage during the 2nd quarter, the bottom of the third and the top of the fourth. Who else on the bench can provide reliable scoring during those stretches?

We also have two other scoring issues. And that is the first 9 minutes of the game, and the last 6. My personal opinion is that if anything NY should be being groomed to be a closer. Opener is fine, provided he can sustain over 35-40 minutes pf PT a night. But closer is the more pressing need.

I'm much more concerned with him finishing than I am with him starting.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

on that move alone Grunfeld should be fired and banned from the league!!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 15, 2009 10:43 AM

----

Yes, because Jordan was doing sooo much better than Etaps with this squad.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Even Don Nelson's small ball has one big guy in the line-up. AJ as a C is asking for trouble. And trouble comes to them each game. AJ provides sunshine but he don't provide defense for the team. ET could have given AJ's 10 mins to AB or JM as NY was hot and they needed D more than O last night.

Posted by: Dave381 | January 15, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

lindaloulubbock,

It doesn't matter if Tapscott loses the team, because he won't be the coach next season.

mark, much like Pech being a real player, Pat Riley coaching the Wiz is a pipe dream. He's president and part owner of the Miami Heat. Why would he leave that to coach this ramshackle rebuilding project? If he wants to coach again, all he has to do is wait for the Heat to get good again and kick Spoelstra to the curb (like he did with Van Gundy). And even if he did leave the Heat to go somewhere else it would likely only be somewhere where he had control over personnel.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

jones-y,

I would prefer Young to become a 1st and 4th quarter threat rather than a 2nd-3rd quarter threat. You're absolutely right that starting and finishing games have been this team's biggest weaknesses. Maybe starting Young changes that dynamic.

IMO, I would like to see Crit and Young start the game alongside each other. That way we can see if Young can be the same scorer from minute 1 against the opposing team's starters that he is in the 2nd and 3rd Q against their second team. What that also allows is Mike James to be the scorer coming off the bench, where I think he'd be much more effective, and hopefully cover for Young's 6th man scoring spark that would be missed. I also think Dixon should get more time at the 2 off the bench, because that's when he's been the most effective over his career, and he can also put the ball in the basket against 2nd team opponents.

PG: Crit -- James
SG: Young -- Dixon
SF: Butler -- McGuire
PF: Jamison -- Blatche (Songaila)
C: Blatche -- McGee

I think it's worth a shot.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

MeTawn is and always will be a stats guy. He will get his numbers, win, lose, or draw.

He may be providing sunshine also, but too bad he's not providing any defense or take charge leadership to carry this team at least to some degree of respectability on the court.

My gut tells me EG's got some serious buyer's remorse on the signings he made this past offseason.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | January 15, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

About Tapscott:

The one area where I think his continued tenure may be having a negative lasting effect is the one area where, on the surface, it may look to some like he's having a positive one: Blatche's development.

I know the Jordan-Haters Club loved to rail about his so-called "doghouse" and how he was "crushing poor Andray's joy" and all the rest, but the simple basic truth is that Jordan understood that for the Wiz to be successful, they needed more from Blatche than he was naturally inclined to give of his own accord, and he was determined to get it out of him. Jordan (unlike most fans) understood that numbers don't always equal production and that how a guy plays is often as or more important than the measurable results. The Wiz desperately need size, athleticism, and physical presence on the front line and Blatche is the only player on the roster equipped to provide it. But he seems content to play like a 6' 2" guard as opposed to a 6' 11", athletic big man. Jordan knew they needed more and pushed Blatche into delivering, trying to break him of his bad habits. Tapscott appears content to let him glide along softly, short arming putbacks and layups at the rim that he should be dunking, shooting soft fadeaways instead of using his combo of size, quickness, and athleticism to force contact and get to the rim and the line. And because this approach is (occasionally) filling up the stat sheet, it seems that all parties (Blatche, Tapscott, the fans) have convinced themselves that Blatche has "improved" under Tapscott when, really, all he's doing is reinforcing the same bad habits that have limited his substantive development since day 1.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think it's worth a shot.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 10:57 AM


you mean

PG: Crit -- James
SG: Young -- Dixon
SF: Butler -- McGuire
PF: Jamison -- Pech (Songaila)
C: McGee--Blatche

You cant draft a guy in the first round and not ever give him a chance(Pech). Blatche should never ever start because even his best, is a back-up thats why he was a second redounder. McGuire has a stronger role for this team.

Posted by: dsquare | January 15, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

By the way power forward is the weakest position for the team because we dont have a true. No low post skills from any of our bigs.

Also Antawn will never come off the bench for this organization know or ever. Blatche is not a starter in this league,and Young can trive in the role as 6 man. We have to let Antawn go and draft a true power foward that has to start.
Question who would be best to play along side of Gil(Stevenson,Young,Larry). I think Larry.

Posted by: dsquare | January 15, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

For those who love that +/- stat, have a look at last night: every Wiz player was at 0 or at negative except for Pech, who was +3.

What a silly stat is the +/-.

Posted by: Prazak | January 15, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Jones-y, I think I'm not getting what I'm saying across to you properly. I am advocating making Ayers (or someone else that is more defensive minded) the interim coach.

The whole point of a lost season to me is to prepare for the next season. We should be

a) getting experience for the young guys
or
b) establishing the TYPE of game that we want to play the following year.

or both.

If we truly intend to be better defensively next year, it makes sense to me to have the defensive specialist on the coaching staff take the lead role...particularly when the guy that's there now (Tap) is not an acknowledged expert in either offense or defense.

Based on what we read a couple years ago, Ayers was a guy who improved defenses wherever he went.

If we continue the way we're going, next year we'll still be woeful defensively and directionless offensively because EJ is gone and we're still using his offense.

I'm just saying it makes little sense to me to squander an opportunity to improve.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

You cant draft a guy in the first round and not ever give him a chance(Pech). Blatche should never ever start because even his best, is a back-up thats why he was a second redounder. McGuire has a stronger role for this team.

Posted by: dsquare

---

I'm all for giving Pech a chance, but sorry, I just don't see it in him. I'd switch out Songaila for Pech in my original proposed lineup, but in no way do I think Pech should be the primary backup PF.

And I like McGuire, I actually see him becoming a quality starter in this league for a long time, but right now I don't see a scenario that allows him and Young to start at the same time. And since the team needs a boost to start games, I'd like to test out Young as the starter, and move Butler back to his primary SF role.

And I completely disagree about Blatche. As a PF, he's a face-up player like Jamison -- only bigger, stronger, and more athletic. Jamison's better right now offensively (he IS an all-star), but Blatche would already be a better interior defender at PF, and in no way do I see him as a backup "at best". People are disappointed with him not being a physical, inside presence at C, but that's not what he should be. He should be an athletic, running big man (which is the way this team is built to play). If McGee bulks up and becomes a true inside presence, the value of Blatche's versatility skyrockets.

Just my opinion.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

psps, I like your lineup. The problem is that Taps doesn't. He loves Song at the 5, and Antawn, too. Sure, they get scored over, and give up lots of offensive rebounds, don't block shots, and allow one layup after another -- but hey, they're veterans! They have savvy!

This is NOT an indictment of either Song or Twan (who, by the way, is great. Can't say enough about him. I think we got, by far, the best of the trade that brought him here) -- they are 4s, not 5s. Playing them out of position during critical 4th quarters is asking for trouble. And that's what Taps keeps doing.

Posted by: keithward64 | January 15, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

dargregmag, EJ had to go. His refusal to adapt or even try to adapt made him a detriment. His player development was poor.

He did a great job at NJ and a great job here but it was time. I'll fully admit that he's better than Tap has demonstrated but I still believe that he's an average coach who excels with good talent and fails with average talent.

I think that Tap is in the same category but at the lower end of that spectrum. I'm giving Tap the benefit of the doubt because he hasn't done much to prove that he's even in EJ's league.

As you probably know, I'm a BTH and AB fan. I will always believe that if these two in particular had been managed properly, not only would we have had a chance to win a playoff round with BTH starting but we'd be better off today because Ab would be further along.

In fact, we may have avoided Cleveland altogether because of a better seed if BTH had played 35+ minutes the whole season.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

psps23 , I agree that Blatche is not a low post, back to the basket scorer. But he doesn't have to be a back to the basket post player to be a physical inside presence. But he does have to (A) be physical and (B) play inside and (C) be willing to take and initiate the contact, pounding, and banging that goes with that) and he simply is not. He prefers fadeaway jumpers and perimeter action that pretty much neutralize whatever advantage his size and athleticism should give him.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I know Riley is just a dream but what else do I have to hold onto?

I'm watching questionable substitution and coaching and consistent choking by my favorite team. I need something to believe in and hope for the future. That hope sure as heck aint coming in the form of young guys getting consistent major minutes.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Not all big guys are what you call a bruiser/banger/low post monster player. Even if he's 7 foot tall. AB is not and will never be. He's a smooth and finesse player. Did anybody complain about Ralph Sampson, Dirk Nowitski, Mehmut Okur or others. Instead of transforming him to be who he is not they should instead motivate him to be better on what he do best. With that said, the team is lacking for that low post player for many years now. That is why it should be EG priority to get one either through FA, trade or draft.

Posted by: Dave381 | January 15, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Not all big guys are what you call a bruiser/banger/low post monster player.

You can add Garnett to that list. He's a great player, but not a banger by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by: keithward64 | January 15, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

RE: AB

Why does he have to be a physical dunking machine just because he's 6'11? I'd prefer to have a monster down low, too but that's just not his game.
If we actually watch his game, he plays more like a forward than a C. He's a finger roller and a pretty good shooter from 15 feet.

I think the expectation was for him to be a C because that's where he was playing but the truth is that he's not only a forward but for a young player, he's a pretty good Pf.

I don't get why he tips the ball to himself on rebounds and rarely seems to jump and snatch but that could simply be because of a lack of lower body strength.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

kalo_rama - That's true, and I'm not saying that he's perfect and has no room for improvement. Certainly he has a lot of room for improvement in those areas.

I think part of the reason you see him so much out on the perimeter is because he's playing out of position. Right now, he's playing nearly all of his minutes at center, and out on the perimeter is precisely where his athleticism gives him the advantage at that spot. I think if he got more time playing next to a true center, he would spend more time down low against smaller opponents where his physical advantages shift from dexterity to size and strength.

So maybe you are right regarding his development this year. Maybe his PT this year is hindering his development by giving him reason to continue with only what he knows (playing on the perimeter). Who knows.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"Did anybody complain about Ralph Sampson, Dirk Nowitski, Mehmut Okur or others. "

Yep. All the time. (And you can add Rasheed Wallace and Jermaine IO'Neal to that list.) The difference is that (A) Blatche doesn't have anywhere near the consistent range and outside shooting ability that Okur and Nowitzki have and (B) Okur and Nowitzki don't have anywhere near the quickness and athleticism that Blatche has.

Again, I'm not saying Blatche has to be a low post, back to the basket banger. Amare Stoudemire isn't really one, but he is an effective, physical inside player. How? By using his quickness and ability to put the ball on the floor to exploit matchups against slower PFs and Cs. He's active and physical around the rim and drives the ball hard finish strong and to draw contact. He can hit the face up shot, but it's not the only weapon in his arsenal. He makes a point of getting as much as he can out his physical advantage. Blatche does not.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

So jones-y, do you think that we should proceed as we have and Tap should just continue to do what he's been doing or do you think that there's something not right with the coaching?

I'm just perplexed about the sub pattern and I'm not even talking about Pech. I think the idea that you have a great bench scorer is hogwash. Your bench usually plays against the other team's bench. All you need is for your bench to play the other one even if your starters are doing their jobs.

Put NY in there and play him a lot of minutes.

I agree with your concerns about chemistry and team dynamic with him starting but for different reasons. NY said that he's doing well because they are running plays for him. Will there be enough shots to go around?

I think so considering it worked with Gil in there. Having three scorers on the floor allows you to go to the hot hand. If the 'hot hand' can pass, it should free up open shots for the other two main guys, allowing them to get hot.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Why does he have to be a physical dunking machine just because he's 6'11? I'd prefer to have a monster down low, too but that's just not his game.
If we actually watch his game, he plays more like a forward than a C."

Which implies that forwards don't dunk, or play physically, or play with force around the rim. Which is, of course, nonsense.

'I don't get why he tips the ball to himself on rebounds and rarely seems to jump and snatch but that could simply be because of a lack of lower body strength."

No, it's because (as has been noted in prior coverage of the team) he eschews off season strength and conditioning work and came into the season overweight and out of shape.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The whole point of a lost season to me is to prepare for the next season. We should be

a) getting experience for the young guys
or
b) establishing the TYPE of game that we want to play the following year.

or both.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 11:44 AM

We're clearly doing a), but b) is impossible, because the type of game we want to play next year hinges on the coach we hire as a permanent replacement, in addition to the roster (naturally).

So the focus, IMO, is to size up the roster (of which 1/3 is hurt and 2/5 is extremely young), develop the young guys, and put them on display for potential coaching hires. Which is exactly what they're doing. And in my opinion, anyone could accomplish that, since in all reality EG is coaching this team, at least WRT rotation/minutes/PT. Ivan knows that, and he's in on it too... Notice that for both JC and JM, Ivan's 'no PT' article came out a few days before they both began to get minutes.

The problem with Ayers being nominated the interim back in November, is that its hard to bring him back as an assistant. Taps can easily slide back to player development, since that's his primary role as interim coach anyway.

And losing Ayers means that you almost have to hire a defensive minded head coach, while having Ayers on the staff opens up your options. And if Ayers has any chance at the head coaching position, he will not reach that plateau as the interim coach of the worst team in the league.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Kal, if AB isn't "getting as much as he can out his physical advantage", how much of that do you attribute to the coaches?

Shouldn't the player development guy (Tap) be responsible for some of that? AB was what...19 when he came here?

I'd think that if they wanted him to become a low post banger, they'd have forced him to play down low and learn how play down there. 19 or 20 is young enough to learn a new position.

It's the same way I feel about criticism of Pech. He consistently stays outside and shoots 3's. He must be getting the green light or he wouldn't be doing it. If he's been told to shoot it then the coach must feel he has some ability doing it.


Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm not implying that F don't play forcefully. I'm SAYING that not all do. There's more than one way to play the position. He's a finesse guy, which is perfectly acceptable.

Hey, Magic was 6'9" 235. Why try to force him to be a low post player just because he has the size?

Let AB play his game a long as it fits into what we're trying to do. If not, trade him and watch him become a baller for someone else.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Overall, I see no difference between Eddie Jordan and Tapscott. Same sets, same lack of defense, same subsitutions for the most part, same losing results. One thing in favor of Taps is that he is more of an extension of Grunfeld -- who as a GM has a more long-term view than the coach (who must win every game). That's why you see more of young guys like McGee, Blatche, Crittendon, etc. I don't think those guys play much under Jordan. So that's a good thing in favor of Taps.

In terms of Blatche, I think Taps is taking a different approach and that's to play him. Eddie Jordan took the tougher approach of making him "earn" it, and that didn't work. So whether or not he's actually improved (or just his stats) I have no problem with this approach. Hopefully we'll know soon whether this guy will ever be a player.

As far as starting Young, I say start him. You drafted him, just start him and forget the bench scoring, rotations and all that. That will work itself out. How else will you know whether he's the answer as a starting 2 guard unless you start him? If he's not the answer then we need to start looking at Harden in the draft, starting Crittendon, or some other solution. But I think the jury's still out on Young so start him and find out. Now's the time to do it.

Posted by: uptownjive | January 15, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Which implies that forwards don't dunk, or play physically, or play with force around the rim.

No it doesn't

No, it's because (as has been noted in prior coverage of the team) he eschews off season strength and conditioning work and came into the season overweight and out of shape.

Again I disagree. You don't increase your jumping ability significantly by training. Its a physical gift. One he doesn't have.

AB plays his game. Its a soft game, and can become a very effective game.

And in reference to your previous message concerning EJ and AB, if EJ was, as you contend, in his own way attempting to coax more and better production out of AB (which I would agree is the case), then he should've recognized very early on that it wasn't working, probably wouldn't work, and didn't work in the past with other big men who had styles of play he considered soft (BTH).

We agree on the fact that EJ was attempting to get max productivity out of AB, but what is clear to me is that his method was proven ineffective, before he ever used it on AB.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I gotcha jones-y.

Maybe I'm impatient but I want to see improvement this season...not only from players but coaches, too. You say that "anyone can do that" but I keep seeing Songaila on the court while JM and Pech (the great unknown) sit. The Deshawn thing still rankles me, too.

His sub pattern is my ONLY gripe with Tap.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Yep. All the time."

Who? Name one (besides you). I haven't heard anybody suggest that Dirk needs to get down low instead of shooting from outside....same with Okur.

"By using his quickness and ability to put the ball on the floor to exploit matchups against slower PFs and Cs."

He's been doing that already, but I have to admit that he should be doing that more often. The problem with AB "haters" is that they are trying to see him as the do it all, all-star player that he is not. He will be a solid player for a long time that what he is. You mentioned about his midrange J...I believe it improved tremendously this year.

Posted by: Dave381 | January 15, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

mark,

the rotation thing bothers me too, but when you look down the bench, there's not much there... Who is a better man to man defender inside than DSong? No one. AB is getting there but he's 15-20lbs of muscle away. JM has no chance against anyone's 1st or 2nd string center. ET was effective in spurts (and against DHoward who he always plays well) but he's down indefinitely.

What irks me is the going small down the stretch and offering up layups and offensive rebounds to our opponent for the last 6-8 minutes of every game thing. He's far and away the best option right now, offensively and defensively. Why AB is not our center down the stretch for every game just baffles me.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I know he's long gone, but this just makes me sick to my stomach to read: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=Aj1auV9YEB5..eMTX9bEKN85nYcB?slug=jy-lakersspurs011509&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

But I'm happy for the dude. I wonder if Arenas signed for six years, 90-95 mil, would the Wizards have been able to resign Mason also.

Posted by: RedDMV | January 15, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

My god people still post their fantasy Wizard lineups? Look no lineup you fanatics give will make this team any better. This team is terrible, wake up, wake up, wake up. We can't guard the 3, what's new. This has been an on going problem. If anyone thinks when Arenas, Haywood and our high 1st round pick arrive we'll be champions, stop it. The Wizards have a lot of work to do. If we can't do the basics like play defense, then this team will never be a legitimate playoff contender.

Anyone watch the Caps play last night? That's a real team you can actually root for. Oh well, I'm waiting for one of the "experts" on this blog to type up the ultimate game plan for the Wiz to go on a 30 game winning streak.

Posted by: wizfan81 | January 15, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason to believe Mason would be having that type of year here. And, in fact, there are two huge reasons to believe he wouldn't. Personnel and system.

Personnel:

He needs attention hoggers around him to give him open space to shoot. Having a HOF forward, 6th man of the year shooting guard, and perennial all-star point guard around him is the primary reason he's thriving.

If he were here this year, he would have absolutely no space to get off his shot because we have no one to command enough attention.

System:

Their system is low post in-out game that features two slashers who can get to the rim, a low post monster, a utility-guy/scrapper/defender and a 3pt specialist. In that scenario, the 3pt specialist will consistently get open looks.

I'm not quite sure what our system is under Taps (lol), but under EJ's "Princeton", a 3pt specialist has a much harder time because its designed to get open shots for everyone as opposed to just the 3pt guy. Which means that the defense has a choice in who they wanna watch. And under such a scenario, common sense says pay close attention to the 3pt specialist.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse


psps23 |

You are talking about Andray Blatche a all-star….Are you freaking crazy. And delusional. Trying to imply that he’s a better Antawn Jamison ….drugs gotta be drugs. You’re on crack. This guy goes out looking for prostitutes and eat, reeses pieces and nachoo’s right before a game. Overweight, lazy immature and dumb ass Andray Blatche. Hahahahah….LMAO

Posted by: dsquare | January 15, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

With two solid all-stars in Jamison and Butler, how the heck is this team so bad?

Posted by: SteveC28 | January 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"Trying to imply that he’s a better Antawn Jamison

Posted by: dsquare"

Umm, no, I explicitly said that Jamison is better right now. What I implied was that Blatche is more talented which, in fact, he is.

The fact that you're discrediting him for "looking for prostitutes and eat, reeses pieces and nachoo’s right before a game" -- and nothing that has to do with actual basketball talent -- implies that you too feel he is more talented, whether or not you like to admit it.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

And "overweight" is a stretch LOL!

And about AB's strength development: I don't see how being strong is a tremendous boon to AJ's game (which is also a 3/4 tweener finesse game). About the only area where it helps IMO is in gaining position for rebounding.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

This team is like it is because you have a fake coach who has not a clue what the hell to do with the players he has. He doesn't know how to put the players in a position that would get the most of their talent. I fault Ernie Grunfeld. You NEVER fire a coach without having a replacement in mind. I just pray that Tapscott don't play Butler and Jamison into a major injury. I was not happy with the quote he made about riding Butler and Jamison all he can. You don't do that. What an idiot. And folks, as long as he is coaching the Wiz, this is what you are going to get night in and night out. Losses.

Posted by: ivyleague | January 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Eddie Jordan was a terrible coach with really good regular season players. We were always a team with deficiencies but you could be that way in the east the past 4 years. During the 4 years we had both, at times, a great pg (GA) and an OK center position (Etan/BW), then a veteran, decent pg (AD) and thriving center (wood).

PG and Center are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO important and needed to be successful. We have neither. Thats why we suck right now.

Posted by: BurgwithaU | January 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

What6 will be interisting is if the Wizards happend to meat the Spurs in the championship game. That would be sumthing if Mason could come back 2 dC to play in the championship game. I hope the Spurs and Wizards both make it. When Gil comes back, the Wizards will mak a playoff run. Gil is good enuff to get them 2 the championship. LETS GO WIZARDS!!!

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes!!!

From Chad Ford: "While there are legitimate questions about Ricky Rubio's draft eligibility this year -- he has a large buyout with his team DKV Joventut -- I'm told he will likely declare for the draft and come to the NBA as long as he's a top-three pick. Given the need for point guards at the top of the draft, that seems like a safe bet."

(There has been rumors about whether or not Rubio would be in the draft.) If Rubio is in the draft, he joins Blake Griffin in the top tier, meaning that if the Wizards get the #2 pick, they might still get Griffin. Rubio being in the draft makes it a much better draft for a team with a top 5 pick.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | January 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

My 2 cents:

I think that besides the old Gil, AB has more all around potential and talent than anyone on the roster.
In the past we've seen him excel at blocking shots (last year), we've seen some pretty impressive interior passing, low post moves (up and under), rebounding (inconsistent), midrange shooting, and mobility(he can run by most big men).

Now of course, there's the lackluster rebounding, poor passes resulting in turnovers, matador defense, etc. as well. I think we still have to recognize that he's essentially a 2nd year player since he rarely got any consistent pt til this year.

Sometimes its all about getting an opportunity and being put in a position to succeed. Sometimes the light turns on slower than for others. One thing I know is that you have to be in the game to actually find the light switch.

I keep going back to Jermaine Oneal because he came out of hs into the pros and is a big man. He didn't get major minutes until he went to Indiana. His first year there, he was given 32 minutes a game and responded with 13 and 10 per game. The same could (should) be happening this year with AB but he needs to be allowed to play through mistakes and foul trouble. Who cares if he fouls out? It should be a learning experience...how to play effectively with fouls. never has made sense to me to keep a guy on the bench in fear that he might foul out. Huh? Isn't benching him out of fear of fouling out the same as benching him for actually fouling out?

As poorly as this team is playing, we're still only giving AB 22.5 minutes per game. He's playing less than half the game on average.

As for NY, if you look at all of the guards selected in the 2007 draft round, there are is only 1 that is better than Nick Young and that's Stuckey...and that's debatable. Some might argue for R Fernandez but I wouldn't.

Why isn't he getting more time?

This is another score for EG.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

i'm not sure i agree that blatche has more talent inside him than jamison. jamison was an immensely good college player as weel, and in fact, was more of a lot post type guy there. then came to the pros a little undersized, and completely changed his game to become an all-star. that's an insane amount of talent. the only things in which i'd say blatche has more talent is ball-handling/passing and height.

another point about blatche, he's been in the league for a while, but he's still very young. crittenton and mcgee are the only players on our team younger than him. and outside of dixon, who's not even on a guaranteed contract, blatche is our cheapest player not still on a rookie contract. so he still has room to grow. and at his cost, we still can afford to let him.

as for what he needs, imo, it's to get into way better shape. besides allowing him to stay quicker late in games, it also will allow him to focus more easily because he's not winded. strength too would be good, but that's not a one year thing. you have to work on that continuous and improve a little bit each year.

Posted by: segastyle | January 15, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Jones-y, good points about Roger. I whole heartedly agree with you about the system, but personnel (being a key factor in his success) I beg to differ:

“ He needs attention hoggers around him to give him open space to shoot. Having a HOF forward, 6th man of the year shooting guard, and perennial all-star point guard around him is the primary reason he's thriving”

“If he were here this year, he would have absolutely no space to get off his shot because we have no one to command enough attention”

Wrong on a number of fronts. Attention hoggers? Gilbert Arenas, CB, and AJ would qualify as “attention-hoggers”. 70ppg between the 3 of them. Not to shabby. Say what you will about their defensive game, but the trio can score with the best of them. If anything, Mason could be having a better year right now, if he remained with the Wiz. With Gil out right now, Roger I could easily see Roger averaging 15pg right now for DC. I think a number of the younger players were just expecting AJ and Caron to carry the team, and thus, let them do all the scoring. That is not the case. NY is starting to realize this, and look how that is going.

Last season was Roger’s “coming out party” of sorts. Not only was it his first year getting any sort of real minutes, but it was his first year that he actually had the green light to shoot the ball (albeit not the Gilbert “green light”). With last season under his belt, I firmly believe he could have went anywhere in the NBA and thrived. But when it comes down to it, he is a role player, albeit a very good one. Thus, the personnel around him has absolutely nothing to with his success. But the SYSTEM, is what is making him look good right now. He is playing for arguably the best coach the NBA has seen this decade. It is an organized system, which will allow Roger to be a consistent 10-15 ppg scorer. Which is exactly what he is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

BTW, have we ever gotten a reasonable response as to why a knee that had a little 'debris removal' is taking 6 months to heal?

I don't mind Gil taking time to heal. i think he should wait until he's not only 100% but 100% and in shape.

I just want to know why we're being lied to or not informed about what's really going on with his knee. We're big boys and girls. We can handle it.

I also know that Microfracture surgery normally takes a year or two before it's completely back to normal and there's no way to rush it. If we're just waiting a year, the Wiz should just tell us that.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Note to Uptownjive&Burgwithua: Neither of you have a clue about NBA coaching you both proved that calling Jordan a lousy coach,how then pray tell did he get this squad to the playoff's four straight years the last two without arguably the team's best player(ARENAS),He was recognized league wide as the hardest coach to mentally prepare for where his offensive scheme's were concerned the problem with most of you? None of you appreciated what Jordan was doing with this team a team that wouldn't or couldn't play defense and still he made them a tough out night in night out now that Etaps has them at blistering pace(7-31) i know the both of you are happy.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 15, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"And about AB's strength development: I don't see how being strong is a tremendous boon to AJ's game (which is also a 3/4 tweener finesse game)."

Strength (and conditioning) is a boon to every player's game, regardless of position. To suggest otherwise suggests a lack of understanding of one of the basic fundamentals of the game.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

You NEVER fire a coach without having a replacement in mind.

Posted by: ivyleague | January 15, 2009 1:21 PM

You ALWAYS have to appear to fire a coach without having a replacement in mind. You cannot hire that permanent replacement coach (or any other coach besides an interim guy) until the following offseason, if you fire your coach mid-season.

Variety of reasons, but two big ones are:

#1 the offseason will give you the greatest field of prospective coaches to choose from, and

#2 having a coach in waiting while publicly supporting your current coach is a great way to ensure you will never again get a quality coach.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"Again I disagree. You don't increase your jumping ability significantly by training. Its a physical gift. One he doesn't have."

(A) That's absolutely untrue. Players can and do improve their vertical leaps through strength and conditioning training. That is an indisputable fact. Now, players with absolutely no lift can't become skywalkers, but incremental improvements are certainly possible. Of course, that's all irrelevant because (B) You clearly misinterpreted (willfully or otherwise) what I said. I neither said nor implied that Blatche needed to work on increasing his vertical leap through training. Anyone who watched him play the past couple of years knows he can get up (and up and down the floor) with great athleticism. What I said was that his athletic ability has been undermined this season by his poor conditioning and added weight.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Why try to force him to be a low post player just because he has the size? "

You haven't actually read a thing I said, have you? As I've said, repeatedly, I'm not suggesting Blatche be a low post, back to the basket player. I'm suggesting he be a physical interior player. The two are not necessarily the same thing (see my previous Amare Stoudemire example).

Oh, and for the record, Magic Johnson was quite a good low post player, and frequently used his size to punish smaller guards down low.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

As far as ”strength and conditioning” goes: Strength is overrated, conditioning is what matters. TO make the assumption that AB has to get “stronger” is plain stupid. Plenty of players are not what I would consider “strong”, yet they are effective players (Gasol, KG, Rip, Durant, Tayshaun, etc). Michael Ruffin was pretty “strong” guy, and we all know how that goes. So to clarify this debate, yes, AB needs to be in great shape (his wind), but getting stronger and bigger is irrelevant to his success.

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

boon, yes. tremendous boon... we can chalk it up to a lack of knowledge on my part, because I just don't see it. Its not like AJ muscles thru contact as he shoots.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Who? Name one (besides you)."

Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Mike Fratello, Jeff Van Gundy, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins (when they've called games over the years), Avery Johnson (when he coached Dirk), Larry Brown (when he coached Okur) to name a few.

"I haven't heard anybody suggest that Dirk needs to get down low instead of shooting from outside....same with Okur."

You don't hear the suggestion as much now because both of them have (A) gotten significantly better at operating around the basket over the years (B) developed their outside games to the point of being all-stars. Early in the careers, it was a common criticism leveled against both. And, again, none of what was said about them has any bearing on Blatche, because he hasn't shown any sign of having their outside touch.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"Its not like AJ muscles thru contact as he shoots."

When he plays in the post, he frequently not only shoots through contact, he goes out of his way to initiate it, to improve his chances of getting an and 1.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wrong on a number of fronts. Attention hoggers? Gilbert Arenas, CB, and AJ would qualify as “attention-hoggers”

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 2:08 PM

I disagree because Gil is on the shelf. It would be the same for Mason if Tim Duncan was on the shelf. they become, as a team, much more guardable.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Garnett and Gasol are absolutely strong. Rip is a SG, for which strength is less paramount (although he's not "weak"). Durant's biggest weakness is strength. Prince is valid, although he makes up for it by excelling with nearly every other aspect of his game (quickness, length, mental makeup, effort, etc.).

To assert that strength is "irrelevant" is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard. Strength adds another dimension to any players game that is extremely useful on this level. And if you look at your other reference point, Michael Ruffin, you'll realize that the only reason guys like him are able to play in this league is because of strength. I find it hard to believe that strength is "irrelevant" to someone like him (or Etan).

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Strength doesn't necessarily equate to being bulked up. Strength training doesn't have to produce huge muscles, but it can result in muscle toning and an improved core, which allows players to absorb and play through contact. Assuming a player lacks "strength" just because he doesn't have bulging biceps is missing the point.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Jamison played center for the last 5 minutes of a very close game? I knew it didn't matter how much nick scored in the fourth considering the way we handed the knicks the paint, i'm sure blatche and javale must have just been exhausted after their 16 minutes apiece, so jamison got to bring the thunder, how does jamison not say to tap "this will never work, play a center" the squad has to hate tap for repeatedly proving he knows nothing and force feeding them losses, the fourth quarter collapse is happening for the same reasons, we concede the paint late always, songaila gets the majority of minutes at five in the fourth always and we always give up easy buckets the other squad has no business getting if we were to play a real center, the only one we have javale, giving up extra possessions left and right and making sure to foul reliably to send the other team to the line for free looks at the rim, a tried and true way to win against nba ballers. Message to tap, length and athleticism are both positives in this wacky game of round-ball, songaila and jamison do not fit the bill and by using them as a tandem front line we will always lose leads late, pathetic

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Another score for EG??

Clearly the pro-Ernie Grunfelders here are plants from the Wizards pr operation. Grunfeld is the new Isiah Thomas.

The way things are going salary-wise Genius won't be able to re-sign Butler. In 2011 -- Arenas gets 20M and a 36 yr old Jamison is slotted for 15M.

This organization is doomed as doomed can be.

Posted by: SteveC28 | January 15, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

(A) That's absolutely untrue. Players can and do improve their vertical leaps through strength and conditioning training. That is an indisputable fact. Now, players with absolutely no lift can't become skywalkers, but incremental improvements are certainly possible. Of course, that's all irrelevant because (B) You clearly misinterpreted (willfully or otherwise) what I said. I neither said nor implied that Blatche needed to work on increasing his vertical leap through training. Anyone who watched him play the past couple of years knows he can get up (and up and down the floor) with great athleticism. What I said was that his athletic ability has been undermined this season by his poor conditioning and added weight.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 2:26 PM

(A) I've never witnessed a player gain any significant boost in jumping ability at the pro level through strength training at the pro level. Rookies with hops don't tend to significantly increase their hops over their next few years. My impression is that the jumping ability an athlete is born with is the jumping ability they maintain. I'd be interested in knowing what you know, if I'm missing something.

(B) AB cannot get up with great athleticism. When he gets a running start or a drop step, then he gets some lift (still not anything remarkable...). Other than that, he cannot jump very well (which includes man-up D and rebounding). I'm not surprised that you hold that position, I've pointed that out to several people who hadn't noticed it before.

And that's one of the reasons (besides desire) he's not especially good at rebounding, and he's a much better help-side shot blocker than man-up shot blocker.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

But Magic only used his size down low infrequently. He was more valuable up top where he could see the whole court and Riley recognized that. In the Finals when he played C his rookie season when Kareem got hurt, sure. Otherwise he was purely a perimeter and fast break player.
I watched practically every game they played on tv at 11:30 at night on CBS.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

losing weight and gaining leg strength will improve leaping, simple physics

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, cj658. Strength for a finesse player is not a must have. Lower body strength helps out with holding position for rebounds but conditioning is more important for a guy like AB.

Maybe if he had been playing the right position (pf) he wouldn't have been asked to gain so much weight and he wouldn't be in poor shape?

just a thought.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

And lack of hops is also part of the reason AB has the finger roll game. He struggles to get lift on his offensive moves too.

His game has adapted to his physical abilities. That will never be broken. So what he (and his coach) has to do is maximize what he has. Not concern themselves about what he doesn't have (like EJ did).

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag,

Jordan was nothing special. Poor sub-patterns, Mind games with AB and BW, etc..
I'm not saying ET was going to be better, I just think a change was necessary.

Plus, I explained how he was successful. Every year he had 3 all-star caliber players (LH, GA, AJ then GA, CB, AJ), except last year when he had 2, but Haywood developed as did Deshawn/Mason. If he was on the Timberwolves the past 5 years I guarantee you that team would be failures because he only would've had KG to work with. EJ needed to go plain and simple

Posted by: BurgwithaU | January 15, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

losing weight and gaining leg strength will improve leaping, simple physics

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 3:08 PM

Of course, but please, translate that to real world results for me. I'm simply not seeing it. I need some examples.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Once we lost Haywood, that exposed our defensive deficiencies even more.

Posted by: BurgwithaU | January 15, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it about time that teams start employing full time year round trainers and forcing players to work out year round?

Seems to me that since conditioning and strength play major roles in the players output, the team should shoulder some of the blame if a guy shows up out of shape. Why is it a surprise? They should be monitoring it.

Football teams sponsor conditioning programs. Why can't basketball teams? How much could it cost to hire 3 full time trainers (or even one per player) for the summer? Blaming a player for not being in shape s like blaming a kid for not doing his homework. Most will do as little as possible to get by.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

jones-y, I don't know of any players that improved dramatically in the league either. You almost have to be physically superior to most ppl to get in the league as it is. There's only so much room for improvement in some areas. You can gain strength, sure. But improving vertical?
I don't know if I've ever seen an appreciable difference through training,
either.

Side note: Barkey said that he used to jump back and forth over the fence in his yard to improve his vertical when he was a kid. I think most ppl can improve when they're younger but are pretty close to maxed out by the time they reach the NBA.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Mike Fratello, Jeff Van Gundy, Hubie Brown, Doug Collins (when they've called games over the years), Avery Johnson (when he coached Dirk), Larry Brown (when he coached Okur) to name a few."

WOW, that's a lot of names! I don't believe they are that stupid that they will want Dirk and Okur to change their game. It's not their style and it is NOT Blatche style.

"And, again, none of what was said about them has any bearing on Blatche, because he hasn't shown any sign of having their outside touch."

Exactly! And Blatche will never be a Malone or a Barkley playing inside. He will be and always be a finesse player. And you can be an effective 7 foot finesse player in this league.

Posted by: Dave381 | January 15, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

“Maybe if he had been playing the right position (pf) he wouldn't have been asked to gain so much weight and he wouldn't be in poor shape?”

OriginalMark, very good point. That is why I am so high on the Wiz doing whatever it takes to draft Thabeet. Put AB at the 4 where he belongs, develop a good 2 man rotation with Thabeet and JVM. Kiss BTH and Etan good-bye. They are aging, and coming back from injuries. Quite frankly, they have multiple chances in the Wizards uniform to be productive, and neither have produced. Times up. Out with the old, in with the new. Period.

On another note, someone suggested that “players don’t have to have bulging biceps to be strong”.

That statement is absolute hogwash. Would anyone else on this blog consider Durant, Rip, Tayshaun, or Gasol “strong” players. Of course not. They look weak and they are weak. With the exception of KG, most players are strong as they look, and as strong as their weight suggests. Kevin Durant could not bench-press 185 lbs once during pre-draft workouts. That is horrible (strength-wise). Yet, does anyone question Durant’s ability to play? Of course not. Bottom line is, put AB at the 4, ane let him play ball. His problem is CONDITIONING, not strength. Strength is irrelevant to his game, just like the aforementioned players above.

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"losing weight and gaining leg strength will improve leaping, simple physics

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 3:08 PM"

Although I agree that Blatche definitely needs to get stronger, this proposed method, or any training method to increase a vertical is nearly negligible. The only thing that's truly effective is correcting form, and I don't really see that being an issue for Blatche.

Still, building strength would absolutely increase his ability to box-out, hold his ground, and fight for the ball while it's in the air. All those things are extremely significant to a player's ability to rebound. Arguing otherwise is nonsense.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

real world results? are you kidding me, how about the center at texas, he lost around a 100 pounds, 100 pounds ago he didn't see the floor, now he plays as much as his stamina or foul situation allows, now i wasn't at the gym measuring his leaping but i'm willing to wager that it improved by losing 30% of his weight and yes it is very rare that an nba player isn't close enough to his physical potential when arriving to improve drastically in something like leaping,but on the opposite side shawn kemp jumped out of the building before he got fat, then he looked like a mini robert traylor afterward

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"Would anyone else on this blog consider Durant, Rip, Tayshaun, or Gasol “strong” players. Of course not."

----

Pau Gasol is absolutely a strong player. 100% without a doubt. Watch when he plays how much trouble defenders have holding their ground against him.

Same with Tim Duncan. No muscle tone, but definite strength.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

jones-y, I don't know of any players that improved dramatically in the league either. You almost have to be physically superior to most ppl to get in the league as it is. There's only so much room for improvement in some areas. You can gain strength, sure. But improving vertical?
I don't know if I've ever seen an appreciable difference through training,
either.

Side note: Barkey said that he used to jump back and forth over the fence in his yard to improve his vertical when he was a kid. I think most ppl can improve when they're younger but are pretty close to maxed out by the time they reach the NBA.

Posted by: original_mark | January 15, 2009 3:20 PM

Yeah I agree that if you're 20 and you're in the league, you're already a physical specimen. So incremental improvement is all that's realistically possible in many areas of physical ability.

I made the argument because there was a link made between AB tipping the ball to himself on rebounds (as opposed to jumping and snatching them) and the fact that he eschews off season strength and conditioning work.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

PSP23: I sincerely hope you are joking. Pau a strong player! HAHHAH! Man, I seriously almost spilled my tea all over my desk. Did you watch him play against the Wizards? He struggled to gain position on our bigs all night. He relies on his outside shot, and finesse to score. Rarely do you ever see Pau muscling anyone down low. He is weak and it shows. He is VERY fundamentally sound player who knows how to utilize his length and soft touch VERY WELL. He is crafty around the basket, but strong? Man what did you drink on your lunch break?

Posted by: cj658 | January 15, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

real world results? are you kidding me, how about the center at texas, he lost around a 100 pounds, 100 pounds ago he didn't see the floor, now he plays as much as his stamina or foul situation allows, now i wasn't at the gym measuring his leaping but i'm willing to wager that it improved by losing 30% of his weight and yes it is very rare that an nba player isn't close enough to his physical potential when arriving to improve drastically in something like leaping,but on the opposite side shawn kemp jumped out of the building before he got fat, then he looked like a mini robert traylor afterward

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 3:30 PM

I said real world my friend, and you reply with statistical anomalies. A player losing (or gaining) 30% of their total weight is your response?

Of course fit Shawn Kemp can jump higher than fat Shawn Kemp can... We agree on that. Show me how that theory extends to the average NBA player, and how ABs inability to 'get up' and snatch rebounds is somehow related to his strength.

By the way, physics is based on theories backed up by reproducible observations. What I was asking was for you or kalorama to show me where theory (more strength and better conditioning = more hops) was backed up by reproducible observations (a number of professional athletes doing so).

A number of athletes, not a couple of anomalies.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

cj658 - Yes Pau Gasol is fundamentally sound. But you don't get to be as good as Gasol in the post without strength. It's almost laughable to think he's not strong.

Antawn Jamison is fundamentally sound too. Tell me he's as strong or effective in the post as Gasol.

Posted by: psps23 | January 15, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"His game has adapted to his physical abilities. "

No, he's adapted game to his physical condition, which is a completely different thing. In previous years, before he put on weight (which he has undeniably done) and lost conditioning, he was more explosive and athletic. By allowing his conditioning to deteriorate, he's limited his abilities as opposed to maximizing them. If he were in better shape, he'd be more athletic and more explosive, much like he was last year, when he was one of the league leaders in blocked shots, despite limited playing time.

Given that he's not even 23 years old, it's ludicrous that he should be in a position to have to adapt his game to a declining physical condition. It's just another example of his lax work ethic spilling onto his performance on the court.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I find it beyond mind-boggling that anyone would even attempt to argue that improved strength and conditioning would not be a benefit to a professional athlete. That's easily one of the most backwards arguments I've ever heard.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"Blaming a player for not being in shape s like blaming a kid for not doing his homework. Most will do as little as possible to get by."

I'm guessing you didn't do a lot of homework when you were a kid. I'm also assuming that you don't out in a lot of overtime at work.

Athletes are paid professional adults with a responsibility to their employers. If your job requires you to be alert and awake, is it your boss' responsibility to send somebody to your house to make sure you get enough sleep at night?

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"His game has adapted to his physical abilities. "

No, he's adapted game to his physical condition

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 15, 2009 4:21 PM

You misunderstood me. I'm speaking of the process that happens during adolescence and the teen years as a kid becomes more involved in organized sports, and more serious about it as he realizes he has physical gifts, and begins to craft his game around those gifts.

So as I said, AB's game developed around his physical ability. Developed being the key word, which I thought would convey the message I was trying to express (which is that this happened in high school and before).

And I see no one arguing that more strength is not beneficial. What we are debating is 'how beneficial'.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, I'm talking about a process that happens over the course of the better part of a decade.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

All else being equal, the stronger athlete wins. That being said ballers need explosive stength, the ability to generate enough power over a short amount of time to move their bodyweight. Stengthening the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your calves, hips, and legs will help this. I have no specific examples but I'm sure if you ask most big-time college or pro players, they have spent time doing sprints and plyometrics to improve this way.

Earl Boykins was/is 140lbs. The fact that he was much stronger and explosive than your average 140 pounder explains why he played in the NBA for a good while. He supposedly can bench 315 lbs.

Posted by: uptownjive | January 15, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I hate to rag on D.C.'s new favorite adopted son, but our beloved tough juice looks like he's mailing it in. I know that the season is all but over now, but when i see the "young guys" ; you know the ones who need to be separated from each other in the locker room and admonished through the newspaper, diving for loose balls and closing out on shooters, and our "all stars" not matching their effort. AJ and CB are the veteran "leadership" on the team. However, AJ is visibly salty everytime Nick young gets the ball. CB would rather rush a 3 pointer or jack up a medium range shot rather than drive it to the hole or give it up. It may be just me, but this season AJ and CB both looked like they expected to be treated like all stars, and that they were good enough to carry the team. That's not even close to the case and both of them have been exposed this season. AJ is a slow oversized 2 guard with a suspect jumper and no hops. CB isn't as quick as he was and not even daring to drive the ball the way he did to earn his all star spot. All in all, seeing what i've been seing for the past couple months, i say you trade both AJ for a real Pf and shop CB, Mike J, and Etan for another pick or a quality young big man.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

AB will have to decide if he wants to be KG/Al Jefferson/Chris Bosh or if he wants to be Jerome James/Darius Miles/(throwback alert) Bullets Kevin Duckworth. I was at one of the first games blatche played. He caught a rebound and in one motion windmill dunked the putback. That type of atheleticism is what's missing from AB's game. The wizards need a front office that expect and enforce a strong work ethic.It seems like no one is putting their foot down. Look at it this way, shaq has been the most dominant player in B-ball for most of the past 10 or so years and is a future hall of famer, yet everone from teamates to coaches to gms have told him to lose weight and get in shape. Someone needs to do the same to this extremely gifted 22 year old knuckle head to get in gear or he can open a car wash with Latrell Sprewell.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 15, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"how ABs inability to 'get up' and snatch rebounds is somehow related to his strength."
What is there to understand? being stronger than your opponent aids you in your quest for rebounds my friend. the fact is there simply isn't a large number of guys with much room to grow with there physical abilities being near their peak at the age they enter the league,the influx of incredibly young talent in the league has changed this somewhat, i.e. blatche came from high school where he certainly didn't need the strength to shame his opponents, but in all circumstances being stronger helps, basketball requires skill but oden probably out muscles illgauskas for positioning and the subsequent, highly elusive, rebound don't you think? there is contact on the interior constantly and strength is the biggest factor in gaining and holding good positioning which will yield the highest number of rebounds.

Posted by: bford1kb | January 15, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The man can't jump all that well without a running start or a drop step. There is no amount of strength and conditioning training that will change that to any significant degree. That's all. .Maybe you are misunderstanding me bford1kb, but that is my entire point.

I agree that strength and conditioning will help most other aspects of his physical ability, and hence his game, but it will not help him jump higher to any significant degree.

That's all. And that's why 'get up' was bracketed in your above quote of me. Because 'get up,' or jumping ability, is my point, my whole point, and nothing more than my point.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

If JM comes back next year in better shape than AB, Dray's career is over. JM is a much more explosive active player on both ends he doesn't take many bad shots and seems coachable. I'd luv to see all the young guys stay with the team, but right now Blatche is not good enough to not work hard. All that being said Taps is an idiot for not playing JM more, a moron for not playing your best offensive player NY (yeah i said it) at all in the first quarter and a fool for not watching the film of his sunshine boy AJ fold like oragami paper in the fourth quarter of most of these games. It's like Taps looks at the stat sheet and as long as AJ and CB get their numbers it's all good. AJ is the biggest pot of fools gold next to Darko, avg 20 and 10 but not involved in any important game outcomes, unless you count bad 1 on 1 defense, even worse help defense, poor fourth quarter scoring and rebounding and this crazy patented under the defender's arm flip layup in the clutch helping the team to lose on a nightly basis. I know it's not all AJ but that dude irks me, at least gil won us a playoff series all Aj has done is throw up a couple 40 point games when the other proven scorers are out.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 15, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

And half of his blocks last year and this year have come from either helpside defense or fast break defense. Where he can either drop-step, or he has a running start. The rest of them were against slow footed centers who couldn't jump, or smaller players. Of those blocks where he didn't have the advantage of a drop step or a running start, he wasn't that high off the ground when he made them, and he didn't need to be.

He is who he is as an athlete. Strength and conditioning will make him a somewhat better player, but there is no rebound-gobbling, shot-blocking, power-dunking, defender-posterizing beast of a power forward lurking inside him, trapped in by laziness. There's just not.

Posted by: jones-y | January 15, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Blatche is getting so much love in here...lol. He is playing alright these days although still too much on the inconsistent side, but how many players have been with our 7 wins. Even CB has been fairly inconsistent.

Can you become a better "athlete" with better conditioning? Absolutely! When I still played the better shape I was in the better I could jump and more importantly the longer I could keep that same level of performance. EJ, in particular, always commented/hinted that Blatche's inconsistencies started with him being "out of shape" on an NBA level. It is also very possible that Blatche could change his game/body. Remember Karl Malone his first 2/3 years in the league? He looked nothing like one of the best power forwards ever his first few years and would probably never have been if not for his love of the gym.

Why can't we all just agree on the following: EJ was not a great coach.
Tap is only a temporary replacement who IS playing the younger guys more.
Injuries did in this season no matter the coach.
The Wiz DO have some very good talent going forward.
Discussing sub patterns etc after games is now pretty much a moot point in this lost season!

Posted by: rphilli721 | January 16, 2009 3:00 AM | Report abuse

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