Wizards 119, Pacers 117

It was like old times there at the end after Caron Butler drained a game-winning jumper over Danny Granger with 0.9 seconds to go, snapping a three-game losing streak and giving the Wizards and their fans some much-needed good feeling.

Butler, who missed the last two games with the flu and said he still felt weak today, was a total monster, scoring a season-high 35 points to go along with 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in 40 minutes. He scored Washington's last 15 points and hit two huge three-pointers late.

"I just got rolling and coach kept coming to me," Butler said. "It felt good to see that last one go down. We needed that around here."

Oddly, given how hot Butler was, Indiana Coach Jim O'Brien elected to not double team Butler on the final play. Danny Granger, who tied the game at 117 with a clutch three-pointer on Indiana's last possession, drew Butler and had a hand in his face but it didn't matter.

One reason is that Antawn Jamison, who scored a season-high 34 points and Nick Young, who scored 20, were also on the floor.

"Hats off to Caron," O'Brien said. "He was on fire down the stretch. We had our best defender, tallest defender on him at the end and he made the shot. [Butler and Jamison] are a tough twosome for us to handle."

One win won't change much, but it did make the team feel good for once.

Jamison; "It feels good to have a different atmosphere after a game. We'd like to have this feeling after a lot more games during the second half of the season."

Injury note: Andray Blatche was in uniform but didn't play. He told me that he wanted to go but was held back at least one more game. The good news is that his left knee is feeling better and he's coming along.


By Ivan Carter |  February 8, 2009; 9:49 PM ET
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Comments

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Don't come back too fast Andre. If the medical staff says one more game wait till after all-star break. We have the WORST medical staff in the NBA. The most important move for this team to make going forward is to fire the whole medical staff and start from scratch. The PHX staff is supposed to be pretty impressive, maybe we should grab one of there guys to start. I don't think the medical staff counts against our cap so there is no excuse for us not to get this problem fixed NOW!

Posted by: AWizinLA | February 8, 2009 10:11 PM

Best Wizards moment of the year thus far. After that embarrassment on national television, it felt great to pull one out. I was at the VC on Friday, and it was just disgusting. Did Buck even say "Dagger!" or was he so shocked that he missed the opportunity? Are we asking too much for back to back wins? And please Blatche, make sure your 110% healthy, it's not worth the risk, and there's no point in rushing back anyways given our situation.

Posted by: jslonaker12 | February 8, 2009 10:19 PM

How about those quotes from Ernie in this morning's paper!? He speaks.

A bit weird for him to be trashing Eddie still -- and invoking "lackluster" preseason basketball as a justification for canning EJ.

Ernie sounds like George Bush. No problems, no mistakes, it is all very terrific.

Posted by: SteveC28 | February 8, 2009 10:21 PM

Here is one invaluable stat, James and Crit combined for zero turnovers, impressive to finish the game with no turns from the point position, the squad only had ten for the entire game

Posted by: bford1kb | February 8, 2009 10:21 PM

Take the Wiz +5 and thank me later.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2009 5:34 PM

You're welcome.

Bang!

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2009 10:50 PM

"first game-winning shot since his drive and score at the end of a win over Cleveland in Game 3 of last spring's first-round playoff series" -IVAN CARTER

Sorry, Ivan. That was game 5. Not that you'll correct the mistake.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2009 10:51 PM

"Is it true that Stevenson might be traded to Cleveland?

Posted by: JPRS | February 8, 2009 9:40 PM "

For some biscuits and gravy? I'd take that trade.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 8, 2009 11:06 PM

Totally missed tonight's game, but one of the things that make you chuckle, as I watch the replays on the news, is Bucky's infamous "DAGGGERRRR!!!" as Caron hits the game winner.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 8, 2009 11:26 PM

Ivan, when has the last place team at the all-star break not been open to making a trade? I can't believe Grunfeld is willing to go on record saying "I like this team". Does he realize we're the WORST team in the league? Lately we've been getting blown out by last place teams like Memphis and New Jersey. I mean, what is Grunfeld thinking???

Posted by: twigmuffin | February 9, 2009 12:09 AM

"I mean, what is Grunfeld thinking???"

That aside from next season's expiring contracts (which won't really achieve full market value until next season) the Wiz don't have any trade assets that will yield significant upgrades in return, and tinkering with the margins isn't going to do this team any good.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 12:30 AM

Kalorama: "That aside from next season's expiring contracts (which won't really achieve full market value until next season) the Wiz don't have any trade assets that will yield significant upgrades in return, and tinkering with the margins isn't going to do this team any good."

Well (and simply) stated. I guess the question, why fiddle if you can't play a tune?

I only saw the second half, but I struck by how good Butler can be. Not all that many guys in the NBA who can take over a game like that. You get glimmers of why Kobe thought so highly of the guy. He looks like a pleasure to play with.

And Jamison was a warrior, and Young was hitting. Couldn't help noticing Mike James leading the team in assists. Wasn't he moved to shooting guard so he could his jumper back?

Wonder if anyone has ever done a study on scorers and their streaks. Scouts even go so far as to draw a line between 'shooters'-- the guys who hit the open jump shots -- and 'scorers', who run up the high averages. Example of the first type would be Kyle Korver; the second type would be almost everybody who's making a gazillion dollars in today's NBA. That's why there's hope for Nicky Young even if he never ever learns to play defense.

Coaches generally say a successful pro team needs two scorers on the court at all times. Detroit as usual has been something of an exception to this rule. So, oddly enough, have the Lakers and Cleveland, who have relied on superstars. Though you notice how much better a second scorer, Gasol, made LA. The theory is that if you've got only one main scoring option on the floor, the defense can take him out of the game for extended periods. With two, it's much more difficult.

I dunno -- what do you think?

Posted by: Samson151 | February 9, 2009 7:19 AM

To anyone who thinks AJ and CB are all stars, Kevin Martin and John Salmons have accomplished the same record with the Kings and they do not have a supporting cast.

When this team was healthy it could not win a championship. Gil will not even be even close to the player he was after missing two years and considering BTH was never a player who was in shape (like Howard) will take him 6 months of playing time before he is back to being an average Center.

This team needs to look towards the future and if they can trade anyone this year DO IT. Next year ET, MJ, BTH, OP have expiring contracts which could lead to trading some of them. They should pick up options on NY, JM, and JC, but not OP.

With a good draft pick and some smart trades this team may have a future in 5 years. Without trades and/or taking risks this team will be bottom feeders for the next 5 years with no chance of winning a championship.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 9, 2009 7:23 AM

One reason is that Antawn Jamison, who scored a season-high 34 points and Nick Young, who scored 20, were also on the floor.

Wow. You mean having three scorers on the floor at the same time is a GOOD thing?

All sarcasm aside, when will Tap realize that Nick Young is not only a fourth quarter blowout scorer. Having him in the game as the temporary third member of the 'Big Three' might actually benefit the 'Other Two'. Duh.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 7:37 AM

I forgot to add anyone who believes this team with Gil, AJ, and CB can win a chapionship; I have some real estate in CA I would be willing to sell you and I am sure Cheap Abe (one of the greatest con man Washington DC has ever seen) would like to sell you some season tickets.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 9, 2009 7:41 AM

Also, I saw Caron's postgame comments and after the obligatory cliches, he ended the conversation with an out of the blue "I AM an All Star".
So THAT's what got him playing harder tonight. He's feeling slighted. Too bad the all star game doesn't come in October. We might have a better record. Monster game by CB tonight. I can't take that away from him.

Final observations from close up:
I went to the game and sat in my buddy's seats up close and I can tell you...
Antawn works harder than anyone else out there on the offensive end. He carried us in the first half and was really working to get post position, set his man up, run around screens, etc. It's not easy to see on tv but he's really hustling..at least on defense.
Also NY plays effortlessly on offense. He can get a good shot off whenever he wants to and seems to be unable to stop. It's almost like he's by himself when he gets the ball and wants to shoot. Why he's not getting a third of the shots called for him, I don't know.
As much as I like JM, he really is clueless and gets regularly outmuscled under the basket. He gives up a lot of layups but also deters a lot of penetrators.
Songaila is completely useless defensively as a help defender. He's really good at muscling his own man and not giving up deep position but his teammates CANNOT rely on him for help AT ALL. He doesn't slide over, he doesn't jump, he doesn't foul unless he's trying to strip the ball. One thing he does very well is shoot open shots. Tap should have devised some sort of high post plays for him so that he can pick and pop or get some shots. He's very effective when left open. Why not cater to his skills?
Pech offers no resistance inside either. Not that I expected it but for a 7 footer, he's not gonna block any shots.
Finally, Crittenden is BY FAR our best pg and needs more time.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 7:48 AM

One more observation...

The halftime contortionist act was pretty amazing. I'd like to see someone do an Adam's Apple check on her, though. I'm not sure she wasn't once a he. Something to do with the bulging traps and boyish frame. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 7:51 AM

bulletsfan78: "To anyone who thinks AJ and CB are all stars, Kevin Martin and John Salmons have accomplished the same record with the Kings and they do not have a supporting cast."

Couple comments: First, the Kings and Wiz may have the same record, but would you really call it an 'accomplishment'? Not much of one, at least.

Kevin Martin is definitely an All Star caliber player, and Salmons is a valuable guy. The supporting cast doesn't look to me to be significantly worse than the Wiz. In fact, about even, with Arenas and Haywood out.

The individual numbers make the case for the two Wiz vets as All-Star candidates. There are arguments against, of course, but in my book, Butler and Jamison are competitive.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 9, 2009 7:54 AM

"I mean, what is Grunfeld thinking???"

He is thinking that his best players are injured this year!

He also said he was taking phone calls. So, I think that implies that he is listening as well.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 9, 2009 8:43 AM

In regards to Caron’s post game comments: He clearly was taking a “subtle jab” at Danny Granger. No secret there. He beat him for the game winner. Sure Butler is having a decent year, but his team sucks. All of the other players from losing teams on the roster are having better years than Butler. Plain and simple. I love Caron, and his confidence. But to suggest he deserves it over Granger is a stretch. Granger is on a lousy team but is averaging 6 more ppg than Caron. Truth be told, I’d take Granger over Caron any day of the week.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 8:48 AM

The "DO NOTHING and we'll win a championship next year!" group is really getting tiresome. You think we've lost 40 games by accident? And Antawn and Caron were playing big minutes in all the 40 losses so don't give me the "we're injured" garbage.

Other teams have injuries but they're not this bad, I think last year's Miami Heat would beat us and they were playing Chris Quinn and Ricky Davis- I mean one buzzer beater win at home over the Pacers and everyone's back on the CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT YEAR! bandwagon.

Posted by: twigmuffin | February 9, 2009 8:58 AM

Woke up this morning, must of had a dream, the Terps and the Wizards won games in the last second. It's been probably three years since that happened on the same night.

BulletsFan 78', Put a tandom of Thabeet, Haywood and McGee at center, with McGee getting some minutes at the 4 along with Blatche, Jamison, Pecherov, and Songaila.
Jamison, Butler, and McGuire at the three with Butler getting some minutes at the two. Arenas, Young, and Crittenton could form a three guard rotation with Arenas swinging back and forth between the 1 and the two.

That gives you 12 to dress when healthy, right now James, Stevenson, and Thomas are three contracts that the Wiz hold for next year that don't have a lot of longterm use for building a contender.

If Ernie could engineer a deal for a veteran three point shooter and dump one or more of those contracts in the process it could be a plus. Otherwise Stevenson or James could fill that role.

Etan probably would never sniff the inside of a jersey if the Haywood, Thabeet, and McGee stayed healthy. And Songaila would return to be strictly a spot player.

But really it's not a bad roster with the right coach.

Speaking of coaches, Adrian Dantley is a tough minded assistant that's spent time under Sloan in Utah and has some ties to DC. Not a guy that has a big name in coaching circles, but one that could pop up here.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | February 9, 2009 9:16 AM

Oh yeah, by the way, anyone happen to catch the UConn game this weekend? 17 & 12 & 6 blocks. UConn remains #1 is by far the best conference in the NCAA. Without Thabeet, UConn is a middle of the pack team. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for the Wizards to Draft Thabeet. For all you on the Blake Griffin band wagon, I sincerely hope UConn plays OK in the final 4. Al those hard dunks and BS putbacks would be at a minimum against Thabeet, and UConn would have their way with OK. Having a defensive minded, game changing center is exactly what the Wizards lack. His frame and athleticism gives him endless potential.

TWIGMUFFIN: Very good post above. There are many fans who blog here (who shall remain nameless), who tend to think this is a championship caliber team as is. They love to use the excuse of injuries to BTH and Gil. When healthy this team is a 1st round exit at best.

Draft Thabeet, dump BTH & Etan, and Mike James.
Move AB to the 4.
There will be some decent guards available in the 2nd round, (Christmas and Rice), try to snag one of them.
Try to work a trade involving AJ, DS, or Song. It will be tough, but worth a shot.
Bring in Flip Saunders.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 9:41 AM

For someone to suggest that this team has no trade assets that will yield significant returns is mind boggling. I can name 29 other teams who would take AB. Package AB, DS, and a conditional draft pick, this team could get something very valuable in return. AJ would be a great add on for many teams who want to make a run this year, but his contract hurts. Not saying the Wiz will make a trade, but they definitely have options.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 9:53 AM

cj658 - Thabeet performing well does not constitute a knock on Blake Griffin. At best, Thabeet is pushing himself to be bumped into the same category as Griffin, not the other way around (meaning Griffin is not playing down to a lower level).

This "weak" draft class may not end up as weak at all for the Wiz. And for the Wizards, this may be the best year to "tank" it, because outside of the top lottery picks, it doesn't look like there's much to work with. That makes having one of those top picks that much more valuable. If Rubio enters the draft, it may be that any one of those three (Griffin, Thabeet, or Rubio) could pay big dividends.

Posted by: psps23 | February 9, 2009 9:59 AM

"the Wiz don't have any trade assets that will yield significant upgrades in return"

Must not have read this article :P

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/07/AR2009020701943.html

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 9, 2009 10:00 AM

"Injury note: Andray Blatche was in uniform but didn't play."

Coaching note: Nick Young was in uniform and scored 17 points in the first half, but sat on the bench for the first 9:20 of the third quarter.

Posted by: emmet1 | February 9, 2009 10:05 AM

"Must not have read this article"

Must not have read what I actually wrote.

I never said the Wiz didn't have any tradable players. I said "the Wiz don't have any trade assets that will yield significant upgrades in return."

Two quite different things.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 10:13 AM

PSP: Oh contrar. I beg to differ. Outside of the top 3 picks, nothing in this draft class impresses me. Although I think there may be some second round steals, but it’s a stretch. I was not trying to knock Blake Griffin, I was simply trying to show what Thabeet could bring to this team. Griffin is a great player, and I think he will be a decent NBA player, although nothing special. Thabeet simply has the skillset and type of game that the Wizards need. Scoring should not be problem with a healthy Gil. Although interior defense will be. Playing in the same division as the Magic, it’s critical to bulk up in the middle. Thabeet is a defensive player, although his offensive game is coming along. He has great shot blocking instincts, which will only improve in time. He has improved greatly in each of his 3 years at UConn, which is a telling stat. His numbers have grown every year, which shows he is a good learner, and can adapt. He plays is the best conference in the NCAA, so he is no fluke. At 7’3 270, he has size that cannot be coached. According to Calhoun, he is a very coachable player, and he has stated that Thabeet will be a legit NBA center, hands sown. (this is coming from a guy who knows a thing or two about NBA talent). BTH is nearly 30, and coming off surgery. He had one OK year last year, and all of a sudden he is the key to our success?? He is a garbo center. We do not need our starting center fouling out in a critical Game 5 playoff game, after playing 31 mins, scoring 4 points on 1-6 shooting, and grabbing 5 rebs.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 10:31 AM

"the Wiz don't have any trade assets that will yield significant upgrades in return." - kal

i don't necessarily disagree with you in regards to individual talent, but trades could be made to perhaps get a better mix of players on the court for next year.

of course, knowing if arenas can still play AND who the coach will be would be good info to have before making trades for 'chemistry.'

Posted by: segastyle | February 9, 2009 10:35 AM

A NOTE TO TWIGMUFFIN: You're kidding right?The goofball GM kans the coach after eleven games and then has the nerve to try to defend the firing with his usual BS about lackluster pre-season play and then you post about Caron and Antwan being responsible for the Wizards train wreck of a season even though they are playing their guts out night in night out. Who do you think oppossing teams focus on when they play this team? let me enlighten you; its not Mike James or Nick LA/Smooth/Herky Jerk Young or anyone else for that matter.When Gil and Haywood were no shows for the season and Grunfeld further ruined the season by firing Jordan, Butler and Jamison became targets for every team in the league, and don't compare Miami with this team they got arguably one of the best players in the history of the NBA in Dwayne Wade and a brilliant draft pick in Mario Chalmers(34th)(props to DCMan88 for calling that one)and they got Shawn Marion in a trade, if the Wizards were at full strength they would be fighting for a playoff spot and would be 500+ ball club but as usual some of you so called fans want to blow the team up and then what? I'll say this right now; we blow this team up and you can kiss the playoffs goodbye for years to come.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 9, 2009 10:35 AM

To imply that Antawn Jamison would not yield any significant returns is downright idiotic. What would make someone suggest such a thing?

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 10:37 AM

Eddie Tap----Coach of the Year

What a job he did calling those plays down the stretch.

WOW!


Posted by: VBFan | February 9, 2009 10:42 AM

DARGREGMAG: When are you ever going to learn. The Eddie Jordan/Gilbert Arenas Rec League was not going to get this team out of the first round. Nobody is suggesting to “blow the team up”. The team simply needs a defensive minded big man, and a coach who can control his players. It’s really not asking too much. If CB and AJ are “playing their guts out” every night, then I truly wonder about their abilities. Most teams with two all-stars who are “playing their guts out”, would be a little better than 11-40, wouldn’t you think?

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 10:45 AM

Eddie Tap----Coach of the Year!

Did you see the way he called those plays down the stretch?

WOW!

Posted by: VBFan | February 9, 2009 10:48 AM

GM, I wish I were as confident about Thabeet as you were. There's a good chance he's a bust. I looked at the NBA Draft in each draft going back 10 years to 1999 and here is the list of guys that are 7 feet tall and up and chosen top 20...

Alek Radojevic 7'3
Frederic Weis 7'2
Chris Mihm 7'0
Joel Przybilla 7'1
Jason Collier 7'0
Tyson Chandler 7'1
Pau Gasol 7'0
Sagana Diop 7'0
Steven Hunter 7'0
Jason Collins 7'0
Brendan Haywood 7'0
Yao Ming 7'5
Nikoloz Tskitishvili 7'0
Curtis Borchardt 7'0
Darko Milicic 7'0
Chris Kaman 7'0
Robert Swift 7'0
Andrew Bogut 7'0
Andrew Bynum 7'0
Mouhammed Saer Sene 7'0
Oleksiy Pecherov 7'0
Greg Oden 7'0
Yi Jianlian 7'0
Joakim Noah 7'0
Spencer Hawes 7'1
Jason Smith 7'0

I didn't include this past draft because the book is still out on them. Looking at this list, I count only a few who, after the fact, are worthy of lottery status....maybe 4 or 5.

Drafting a decent big man is much harder than drafting a decent guard or forward. I'd err on the side of caution. Thabeet is a little risky in my book.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 10:58 AM

cj658, I'm not saying Thabeet is a bust but I'm seriously not trying to get another PJ Ramos in here. PJ had good height and was a pretty good athlete. I used to watch him during warmups and he moved like a smaller player. He just stank on the court and had no heart.

I need to watch Thabeet a few games but like I was saying the other day...even with Alonzo or Bill Russell in the middle, we'd have problems with defense. Teams would just set up outside and kill us from 3 point range. It's gonna take more than 1 player if we ever want to play good defense.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 11:05 AM

I also neglected one Kwame Brown from the above list.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 11:06 AM

"What would make someone suggest such a thing?"

The fact that he's a 32 year-old undersized jumpshooting PF with 3 more years on a deal that pays him an average of $12.5 mill.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:08 AM

Thabeet does one thing esp. well, and that's block shots. He's a subpar offensive player and a so-so rebounder for a guy his size. And that's in college, where he's almost always matched up with guys who are smaller and less athletic than him. To expect him to be a dominant force in the NBA, where the size, strength, athleticism, and quality of the competition will increase significantly is wildly optimistic.

Like Mark points out, big guys whose size is their primary asset tend to have a significant failure rate. It's the ones who come in with size coupled with significant skill who have the most impact. And Thabeet comes up way short on the skill meter.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:14 AM

everyone is assuming we're going with griffin or thabeet...but people are overlooking the fact that when our team is healthy, we have haywood at center, with mcgee backing him up...jamison and blatche at forward...but the biggest weakness i'd say on our team is the two guard spot, nick young is one of my fav. players...but it becomes increasingly clear that he doesnt care about defense and will just never play it...now as great as he is at offense...he doesnt play smart there either...like the time he tried to go 1 on three on a fast break instead of waiting for his teammates...he is slow to pass it...if he passes at all...i'm not saying that he will never get better...he might...but i think we might pick harden, especially if we end up with lower than a number one....if harden can play some decent defense...we'll be okay...and from all the scouting reports i've read...seems like his most underated skill is passing...which would allow gilbert to play off the ball some as well...btw jamison is another guy who just never passes

Posted by: jasonma1 | February 9, 2009 11:14 AM

"i don't necessarily disagree with you in regards to individual talent, but trades could be made to perhaps get a better mix of players on the court for next year.

of course, knowing if arenas can still play AND who the coach will be would be good info to have before making trades for 'chemistry.'

Possibly. but, as you imply, they need to know what kind of mix they actually have, which they can't find out until the team is healthy. Also, remaking a team like that takes more than one trade. It's basically a prelude to rebuilding, which (as evidenced by the re-signing of Jamison and Butler) the Wiz have no interest in.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:16 AM

"but people are overlooking the fact that when our team is healthy, we have haywood at center, with mcgee backing him up...jamison and blatche at forward..."

And, looking at that list, nowhere do I see a big, physical, skilled low post offensive presence. That's the Wizards biggest need and has been for a long time.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:18 AM

OrigMark: I firmly believe Thabeet would have an instant impact on this team’s defense. Not saying we would be top 5 in the league, but I’d say middle of the pack. That sure beats 28th or 29th. Having a guy in the middle like that will force teams to take jump shots. Right now teams can do either or (drive the lane, or settle for outside shots). People tend to forget how the Cavs beat us the past few years ,and it wasn’t by shooting jump shots all day. They drove to the paint at will, and outrebounded us badly. Taking a chance on a guy who is 7’3 265, and has played the past 3 years of ball in the Big East, and won the National Defensive Player of the Year award in the NCAA, and will like likely win it again this year. That’s a chance I’m willing to take. He’s not some high schooler, or some guy from international play. It is unfair to compare him to Ramos, who played a few years in the CBN (Puerto Rico League), hardly the Big East.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 11:23 AM

To list all the busts that were 7’0 tells nothing. I could name just as many players under 6’6 who were busts the past ten years, if not more. Guys are going to be busts no matter how tall they are, or what position they play. To say Thatbeet lacks skill is a pretty blind assement. He has improved every year at UConn, and his offensive game is progressing. But as I’ve state before, we do not need him for his offensive. Ever heard of Ben Wallace? I wouldn’t exactly call him a “skilled” center. But he was a hard-nosed, defensive machine in his prime. He crashed the boards, blocked shots, and clogged the paint. He was never a scorer, but yet he was a key cog in Detoroit’s success. The last thing the Wizards need is some offensive minded big man. With Gil, AJ, CB, & NY, we have enough firepower to go around. That’s easily 80ppg, just between the 4 of them (again, I am assuming everyone is healthy and can still play to their abilities, which is an honest assessment).

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 11:30 AM

The Wizards are a 45-37 team when Arenas, Haywood, Jamison and Butler are healthy.

I don't see all the sentimentality about 'holding down the fort' until this unit is reunited.

If the Wizards had won the NBA title in 2006 and then suffered all these injury problems, I could see the GM and Owner wanting to hang in there and try and make another run.

As it is, I don't think you can win in the playoffs with both Arenas and Jamison in the starting lineup.

Arenas and Butler work together, because Butler is willing to be physical and play some defense.

Jamison when added to Arenas puts the Wizards in the position of being a soft basketball team defensively, and everyone knows you win in the playoffs with defense and transition offense.

Having McGee on the roster develop into a defensive-minded center that protects the rim and delivers the hard foul may be something of a silver lining coming out of this horrible season.

God knows that Andray Blatche and Oleksiy Pecherov don't appear to be the answer the front court at C or PF.

If the Wizards could package a deal for Blatche I would be all in favor of moving him to another club.

In my opinion he is a teaser, a guy that will put up a 25/10 game and then disappear the next night.

This club needs more players like Butler, no-nonsense guys that come to work and consistently provide effort, even if they have off nights shooting occasionally.

The Wizards still haven't figured out that offense is not always there each night but defense IS and that's how the Celtics win games. That's how the Cavs win games. That's how the Spurs have won games.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 9, 2009 11:47 AM

The Pistons were a team that had a great overall defensive philosophy that the entire team bought into and executed. Wallace was great part of their defensive machine, but he was hardly the only working part. When he went to Chicago, a team that didn't cater to the style of play he thrived in, he was considerably less effective.

Thabeet is a none-dimensional shot blocker on a great college team. That's not the same as being a dominant force in the NBA.

"With Gil, AJ, CB, & NY, we have enough firepower to go around. That’s easily 80ppg"

Scoring 80 ppg doesn't win a lot of games in the NBA. Esp. when it's all on jumpshots.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:53 AM

Make that:

"Thabeet is a one-dimensional shot blocker on a great college team"

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:54 AM

"In my opinion he is a teaser, a guy that will put up a 25/10 game and then disappear the next night.",/i>

An opinion shared by many including, no doubt, GMs of other teams. Could the Wiz trade him? Sure. He's a young big with obvious talent potential. But the lingering questions about his attitude and commitment (and the relatively small size of his contract) make it unlikely that anyone will offer anything of real value for him.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 11:58 AM

cj658, this is what scares me...

"In man-to-man defense, Thabeet still has some major problems, however, specifically on the perimeter, where his high center of gravity and lack of balance disallow him from getting into proper defensive stance and moving laterally, leaving him highly vulnerable to face-up players. His length allows him to recover from behind on drives at times, but this won't be as reliable of a bail out for him at the next level. In the post, Thabeet can get pushed back with his lack of leverage, however he usually plays fairly smart these days, relying on his length and size and forcing opponents to shoot over him. He struggles with quick lateral movements, though."

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 12:01 PM

but on the plus side...

Defensively, Thabeet has already shown the ability to completely change the game with his shot blocking presence. He rotates quite well and is able to take up a ton of space in the paint with his mammoth size. Equally as impressive is his ability to swat shots away without committing a large number of fouls, averaging only 2.6 fouls per game as a sophomore. The potential impact that he can have on this end of the floor is unparalleled by any prospect entering the draft since Greg Oden came around in 2007."


- both from draftexpress.com

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 12:02 PM

Down the stretch against Michigan I counted 6 times a Michigan player had the ball in the paint and dribbled or passed out. That's with Thabeet playing with 4 fouls.

Can't say I've EVER seen that in a Divison I game involving teams from two major conferences. The guy had 6 blocks and then they just quit going in there.

Best thing of all in my book is he fouls hard and threw a wicked elbow in that game. Offensively he's not going to wow you one bit. His game there is mostly lobs, and putbacks.

My opinion is that Griffin is better then any of the power forwards to come out recently. I'm not putting the guy down one bit, in the right system he could play the 5 some. But he's not a defensive force. He's clearly the number one pick. But I'd strongly consider picking Thabeet over him if the Wiz landed the number 1 pick and couldn't broker a deal.

Thabeet looks to be developing into a defensive stopper, the kind of guy like Wallace or Motumbo were in their prime. Those guys don't come around real often, as Mark pointed out, lots of big guys are just big guys not big basketball players.

Thabeet could just turn out to be a run of the mill big, the risk is somewhat higher then with Griffin. But he fills a serious need for the Wiz. And would make McGee more effective because neither would have to worry about fouls. A healthy Haywood would provide veteran competition and they'd all push each other.

The string of games Thabeet has put together lately makes me think he's playing at a higher level then Oden was at Ohio State two years ago. He's not going to be an instant star in the NBA, but he reminds me a lot of Mutombo.

To run a team needs a defensive minded, shotblocking, presence in the lane center, to rebound, defend, and start the break.
He's the only guy I see that fills that bill.

Posted by: flohrtv | February 9, 2009 12:06 PM

"The Wizards still haven't figured out that offense is not always there each night but defense IS and that's how the Celtics win games. That's how the Cavs win games. That's how the Spurs have won games.

Posted by: leopard09"

It's never only one thing. Both the Celtics and the Cavs are in the top 10 offensively. And the best team in the league, the team that just beat both those teams for the second time this season, is the #1 team offensively.

The Spurs have Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili. The Lakers have Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum (or had Bynum). The Celtics have Garnett, Pierce, and Allen. The Magic surround Dwight Howard with 4 shooters at all-times. The Wizards are still missing the big-man piece.

Not only do those teams play good defense, but they also beat good defense. It has to go both ways.

Posted by: psps23 | February 9, 2009 12:13 PM

"To run a team needs a defensive minded, shotblocking, presence in the lane center, to rebound, defend, and start the break."

Not really. The Suns (under D'Antoni) and the Mavs (under Nellie) were both great running teams and neither of them had a great defensive big man in the middle.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 12:14 PM

“Scoring 80 ppg doesn't win a lot of games in the NBA. Esp. when it's all on jumpshots.”

Never said it does win a lot of games. Case in point is 80 poits between 4 guys means is good. No other way to look at it. Having 4 bonafied scorers on a roster does not mean you need to go out and get another one. There 8 other guys on the roster also, and the reasonable mind would think that those 8 guys can get you 25ppg. That’s 105ppg, which will win you a lot of games on the NBA level. Throw in a defensive minded big man with size and athleticism, you have a healthy mix. Blake Griffin is a scorer. He is going to want the ball. He is used to being “the” man at OK, and he is not going to “settle” for being defensive minded banger, which is exactly what the Wizards need. Between AJ, Cb, Gil, and NY, there is no room for another guy who wants to score consistently.

OrigMark: You’re right about his weaknesses, but all of those weaknesses can be coached. His size and athleticism are once a decade. I’m a believer.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 12:19 PM

EDIT: Case in point, 80 points between 4 guys by any means is good. And I know how to spell bona fide, just in a rush.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 12:22 PM

"There 8 other guys on the roster also, and the reasonable mind would think that those 8 guys can get you 25ppg."

No, actually, it's not. Putting aside the fact that not all 8 of those other guys are even going to be in the rotation, aside from the 4 you mentioned, there's not another player on the Wizards roster who can be counted on to consistently score points on a regular basis.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 12:25 PM

"Between AJ, Cb, Gil, and NY, there is no room for another guy who wants to score consistently."

Pure, unadulterated nonsense. There may not be room for another guy who needs 18-20 shots per game. but there's certainly room for a guy with legitimate, efficient low post offensive skills who can maximize the 12-15 shots per games he gets, esp. if his presence inside creates more open looks for the others.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 12:32 PM

Also, a guy with legit low post scoring skills who commands the occasional double team will almost certainly be higher up on the shot hierarchy than Nick Young.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 12:33 PM

Not to mention a low-post scorer that can draw just under 10 free throw attempts per game.

And some of the people here are insinuating that Griffin is some neglectful defender. He's not. No, he doesn't average 4 blocks per game, but he does muscle his opponents defensively and he's ferocious on the boards. This is not another Jamison. Griffin can do it all.

Posted by: psps23 | February 9, 2009 12:42 PM

On the flip side, everything I read about Griffin says that though he has the body to play defense, he is a average or below average defender. I can't say I blame guys for inflating offensive numbers because that's what gets you drafted high for the most part.
In crunchtime (tournaments), the competitiveness should come out and we'll really see who can do what. I expect Thabeet to try to score more and Griffin to try to defend.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 12:56 PM

And the Mavs and the Suns couldn't get past the team that had a big man in the playoffs. Uptempo is different then a true fast breaking team that springs the break off of a defensive stop.

Nellie and D'Antoni's idea was to wear a team down with tempo, they were content to trade baskets with a team until their offensive firepower ground them down.

It's really not a new idea, Doug Moe brought to the NBA in Denver. It was an old ABA staple, lead to a lot of 140 something to 130 something games. Paul Westhead had success with it in college and tried in the NBA too. Didn't work out.

Teams have trouble sustaining it, it wears their own players down, you need 10-12 guys that can run and shoot all the time. And that's harder to put together then it looks.

And then when they got to the playoffs it was harder to weardown a good defensive team that knows how to control tempo with all of the off days.

There is a big difference between a fastbreaking team that springs the break off of a defensive stop and playing uptempo offense like Nellie and D'Antoni.

Teams that break off of defensive stops have won countless titles going back to the old Celtics, Showtime Lakers and the Bird Celtics, Shaq and Kobe's Lakers up through today's Celt's and the Spurs.

Uptempo has won nothing, they are two completely different things. I thought the discussion was about how to build this team into a contender.

Building a team that can spring the break off of a defensive stop would combine the skil sets of existing talent on the roster, with a coach that understands the concepts of that style of basketball.

But it would require a defensive minded stud in the middle, of the players available Thabeet comes closest to filling the bill.

O'Mark, the reviews on Thabeet on draft express are nearly a year old. The update was in Dec. after Monroe made him look bad by playing the whole game away from the basket. If the Wizards would continue to play the pick and roll asking our center to chase a point guard 30' from the rim, Thabeet would be a poor choice.

The guy has played a very impressive string of games and is more then a pure shotblocker. Griffin has had an impressive stretch too, so they seem to be heading toward being 1-2 in my book right now. Just depends, do you want an offensive minded power forward, of a defensive minded center?
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | February 9, 2009 1:00 PM

'And the Mavs and the Suns couldn't get past the team that had a big man in the playoffs. Uptempo is different then a true fast breaking team that springs the break off of a defensive stop."

Even if that's true (and I don't buy that it is) you didn't make that distinction in your original post. You said that a team needed a big defensive presence in the middle to run. That's simply not true.

Moreover, to suggest that (A) being an "uptempo" team and being a "true fast breaking team" are somehow mutually exclusive or that (B) the Suns, who didn't have a defensive force in the middle, weren't a "true fast breaking team" is flat out wrong on both counts.

"Uptempo has won nothing, they are two completely different things. I thought the discussion was about how to build this team into a contender."

Exactly. The Wizards are a bad defensive team. Period. Adding a 1-dimensional shot blocker who brings no real effect on offense or isn't going to change that. His 2 or 3 blocks per game will look good on the highlight reel, but it won't remake the team. (For all of the people comparing him to Mutombo, how many titles did he power teams to?)

The teams that have won titles in recent years have done it with solid overall defense, which is predicated on the kind off solid man-to-man principles that yield results that aren't easily quantified on a stat sheet. They also all had a solid low post interior presence that allowed them to control tempo by slowing the game into a half-court set and created open shooting opportunities on the perimeter.

As you say, uptempo has never won anything. So fixating on a big man whose primary asset is that he will create more opportunities to run isn't exactly a logical argument for turning the team into a contender.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 9, 2009 1:12 PM

"Exactly. The Wizards are a bad defensive team. Period. Adding a 1-dimensional shot blocker who brings no real effect on offense or isn't going to change that."

While I agreed with most of that post, this I don't agree with.

McGee is a one-dimensional shot-blocker. Thabeet is a big-body space-eater that clogs the lane, is a very good interior rotational defender, AND is a shot-blocker.

On top of that, it won't just be Thabeet that gets added. Haywood also will be coming back, and adding two big bodies, and hopefully we'll see a nice improvement in McGee to improve to a 3rd defensive, big-man presence.

But in the end, I agree that it takes much more than just one defensive presence to win in this league. And it certainly takes a low-post scoring threat to create a dynamic and diverse offense to win as well.

Posted by: psps23 | February 9, 2009 1:28 PM

I agree with all three of you guys. Thabeet isn't getting it done alone any more than Duncan or Garnett or Ilgauskas get it done alone. The key to playing team defense is team defense. Sounds simple doesn't it?

As long as we have forwards that can't switch and help out and guards that can't close out on the perimeter, it doesn't matter who's in the middle.

Also, isn't Thabeet redundant with BTH, AB, and young JM? Tap has shown no inclination to play AB at the 4 so we have a glut of Centers. Trouble is only one plays defense.

It's gonna take major change to play D and not just at the C position.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 1:35 PM

I’m getting tired of having this argument. To suggest the Wizards have room for another guy who takes 15 shots a game is plain bologna. Blake Griffin is not going to fit in in Dc as long as Gilbert Arenas is running the show. He needs to go to a team with a true PG. I often wonder how successful Amare would be w/o Nash. Seriously. Guys like that need a real PG. Both of you seem to think that Blake Grififn is somehow going to be just as good in the NBA as he is at OK. Sure, he’s no defensive slouch, nut he will not scare anyone. The Wizards do not need a Blake Griffin. I think he is a good player, just not what this team needs.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 1:46 PM

It still seems like many of you are playing Eddie Jordan Monopoly, where Park Place is finishing .500 and Boardwalk is making the 1st round of the playoffs. If you truly want to see this team make strides towards getting to the next level, you will hop on the Hasheem Thabeet bandwagon fast.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 1:48 PM

I wouldn't consider Thabeet to be redundant since no one else the Wizards have is a true space eater in the lane. Haywood is the closest thing the Wiz have and he's not truely a space eater. I'd say he's slightly above average.

Sorry I didn't spell it out for you Kal. Since you always assume to be the smartest guy on the board, I thought you knew something as basic as the difference between fastbreaking off of a defensive stop and playing uptempo.

That starts with having a center that can defend his man in the lane without a lot of help defense which the Wizards are doing now. Thabeet has shown the ability to have the physical strength to defend in the paint.

Good defense almost always starts from the inside out, right now McGee is a one dimensional shotblocker that you're talking about and we're seeing the results.

Thabeet is also a strong positional rebounder, he's a guy that battles in the lane for rebounding position. Those are the kind of guys that help a team sweep the boards, teams always have to account for them on the glass.

Thabeet will not single handedly change the Wiz into a good defensive team. But to make the conversion, the Wiz need a defense first guy on the inside because good defense starts from the inside out, a new head coach and a new commitment from the guys on the roster.

As I've said a 100 times now, Griffin is the #1. But Thabeet is the better defender and is a center. At 7'3" 265 lbs. I see no other player on the roster that would deem him redundant.

In fact the more I see of McGee I consider him to be a 4-5 combo guy and that him and Thabeet could play side by side in some cases and would actually make each a better defender.

Posted by: flohrtv | February 9, 2009 2:02 PM

"Both of you seem to think that Blake Grififn is somehow going to be just as good in the NBA as he is at OK."

Just as you seem to think that:

(1) Hasheem Thabeet will be as dominant defensively in the NBA as he is at UCONN.

(2) Gilbert Arenas will return in the same form that he was prior to his 3 knee surgeries.

(3) That Gilbert Arenas is incapable of sharing the ball, despite his entire tenure with the Wizards being part of a "big 3" of all-star caliber offensive players.

Eddie Jordan will not be the coach next season. Neither will Ed Tapscott. There will be no loyalty coming from an outside coach. Whichever philosophy or combination of players that give the Wizards the best chance to win will play. It's a terrible argument to think that "there is no room" for Blake Griffin on this roster, especially considering there isn't one player that comes even remotely close to bringing his skillset to the table.

Posted by: psps23 | February 9, 2009 2:03 PM

I hear you GM but I still have a little bit of a problem with a monster sized guy like that getting only 10 rebounds per game. He's 15th in the nation right now.
Usually you can tell if a guy is able to be a rebounder at the pro level by how he does it at the college level. It doesn't always correlate because some guys do it in college but not pros (see Durant). But rarely do you see a guy that doesn't rebound well in college do it professionally. He's ok as a rebounder in college. He'll be ok at best in the pros probably.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 2:16 PM

FLOHRTV: Very well said.

Posted by: cj658 | February 9, 2009 2:20 PM

By contrast, Dikembe averaged 12.2 rebounds his senior year, Tim Duncan 14.7, David Robinson 13 and 11.8 his last 2 years, Hakeem 13.5, etc.

I didn't look at other rebounding leaders' stats because they were in high school or small colleges.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 2:24 PM

I'd rather take Blake if only because it would force AJ to the bench as a top reserve. It would strengthen our defense and our bench presumably. I also don't see us losing in the rebounding area. In fact, AJ would still get his 7-8 off the bench. That is, if the new coach has the stones to bench AJ.

Posted by: original_mark | February 9, 2009 2:27 PM

I think EG's strategy is to do the opposite of Orlano - Spread the floor with Arenas/DSteve/NY jacking up shots on the perimeter and complement them with other players who cover lots of ground on the interior and get shots off very quickly or athletically in an unclogged lane - like Butler and Jamison. In addition Jamison and Butler jack up perrimeter shots and make way for the gurads to scrap for long rebounds instead of backing up for D.

Same on D: they want to push the ballhandler waaaay out and overplay one side of the floor to force the skip-pass for the open long jumper contested by a defender running at him from 15 feet away.

The strategy is weird, and is comically bad right now because our non All-Star players are too slow to flash into the lane on offense or rotate & chase on D.

But if that's what we're building, we should be consistent and draft the player with the most freakish quickness and lateral speed available, regardless of position.

It's silly enough to see Etan fumble pases slowly while the D collapses ot defend his eventual shot or Dsong's lumbering rotation help on D. Thabeet is way too slow - perhaps so is Griffen.

Curry, Rubio, Hardeen or trade for a superfast vet makes the most sense in our unusual scheme.

When it works, the strategy is more entertaining than the booring schemes in Cleveland and San Antonio.

Posted by: cballer | February 9, 2009 3:12 PM

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