Wizards Report Card: Mike James

Mike James has been what Mike James is.

That's about the best way I can summarize the season turned in by the journeyman guard, who arrived on Dec. 10 in that three-team trade that sent Antonio Daniels to New Orleans and brought Javaris Crittenton from Memphis for a conditional future draft pick.

In 52 games with the Wizards, James has started 49 games and averaged 9.5 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 36 percent from three-point range. He's never been a pure point guard and hasn't been with the Wizards.

Instead, he's a guy who can periodically knock down a long jumper and occassionally drives to make one of those floating runners he likes. He's an OK passer but seldom gets into transition, he seldom gets to the free throw line (only 80 attempts in 1,534 minutes as a Wizard) and doesn't do a whole lot of creating for teammates by breaking the defense down in the halfcourt.

Though he did have a season in which he averaged 20.3 points with the lottery-bound Raptors in 2005-06, that has pretty much been James throughout a nomadic but ultimately enriching career that has included stops with Miami, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston (twice), Toronto, Minnesota, New Orleans and now Washington.

Not bad for a guy who wasn't drafted out of Duquesne and had a to scratch and claw his way to a fat contract that Kevin McHale gave him after that season in Toronto.

Like Darius Songaila, it's hard to knock James because he's been asked to fulfill a role he shouldn't be in this season. But that's how it's been for the Wizards.

As for his future, James holds a $6.46 million player option for next season. No chance he walks away from that so, barring a trade, he'll be a Wizard.

Given that he's been durable, professional and pretty much done what you could have expected at this stage of his career, I'll give James a C.

By Ivan Carter |  March 24, 2009; 1:06 PM ET Wizards Report Card
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Ivan, grade inflation is an epidemic in this country; if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Mike James gets a D at best. Yes, he's being asked to play above his role but he's making over $6M and is just a terrible NBA basketball player.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | March 24, 2009 1:57 PM

funbunch: "Yes, he's being asked to play above his role but he's making over $6M and is just a terrible NBA basketball player."

Nah, he's just an NBA role player who seems to have misplaced his shooting touch. You know how some players make the other team members better? Maybe the Wiz are a team that manages to be less than the sum of its parts.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 24, 2009 2:03 PM

This year's draft is especially opportunistic with quality guards in all sizes;

Davidsons - Stephen Curry
St Mary's - Patrick Mills
Syracuse - Jonny Flynn
North Carolina's - Ty Lawson
Kansas - Sherron Collins
UConn - AJ Price
VCU - Eric Maynor

and I'm sure I'm missing a half dozen others on the Big size (6'5" plus);

Memphis - 6'6" Tyreke Evans
NC - 6'5" Wayne Ellington
UCLA - 6'6" Demar DeRozan

One of these guys in the second round, plus first rounders Griffen or Thabeet in the middle will make for a nice draft. At some point you've got to cut the wastewood and go with what keeps the boat afloat and steaming towards the playoffs.

Posted by: liveride | March 24, 2009 2:14 PM

Great analysis, Ivan. We'll miss you.

Posted by: joe2chase | March 24, 2009 2:24 PM

I'm with the D' crowd. Get him outahere'.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 24, 2009 2:27 PM

another vote for the D. he is selfish and dribbles way too much. he almost never passes and tries to do things he is not capable of. Get him out of here and give the young guys his PT. What a waste

Posted by: WizardsExtreme | March 24, 2009 2:35 PM

lets pray mike and etan get traded their great character guys but they dont belong on a basketball court, at least not for the wiz if we r tryin to win a title ...

Posted by: redstick2 | March 24, 2009 2:37 PM

Yes, James has him moments where he hits a sick 3 and brings our hearts to our knees but come onnnn! I respect his contributions to the team this year (really, I do), but the man drives me nuts. His pass into thin air last night was one a player with his experience should not be making. And him starting over Crittenton while putting up such abysmal numbers is insane. Come on Ed, do us all a favor and drop the man from the starting roster at the very least.

Posted by: mallorygrauer | March 24, 2009 2:39 PM

Mike James couldn't start for my Rockville Sportsplex league

Posted by: nmccray | March 24, 2009 2:40 PM

I wonder did EG know what he was getting when he traded for this guy or is that what it took to get Crittendon. I don't know, but to me, this guy is as selfish with the basketball as they come. He shoots like crazy whether it is a good shot or not. I hate the Wiz are stuck with him. Hopefully they can trade him out of here. The problem is who will he have to be packaged with in order for someone else to take him at that price. He is definitely not worth it and no wonder the Hornets wanted to get rid of him.

Posted by: ivyleague | March 24, 2009 2:47 PM

The players Wizards need to shed the salary: Etan and James, the #4 and #5 highest paid players on the team!

Posted by: sagaliba | March 24, 2009 2:49 PM


We swapped AD and our conditional pick for JCN to get MJ and Javaris. AD and MJ's contracts were a match. AD was due 6 million next year anyways so the player option that MJ has is moot. We basically got a free Javaris because that conditional pick was never happening anyways. By the line he had lastnight, I'd say Javaris is a keeper to back up gil. Its a perfect combo, Gil is shoot first while Javaris is pass first. Sounds good to me.

Posted by: BurgwithaU | March 24, 2009 3:09 PM

The difference is that at least Daniels has some skill. James is...ugh.

Posted by: mallorygrauer | March 24, 2009 3:22 PM


AD- limted offensvively
MJ- shoots the three but thats it

All in all
I'm glad we got javaris!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | March 24, 2009 3:24 PM

"Mike James gets a D at best."

Exactly, he's a true ball hog. I hope he goes somewhere else next year.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 24, 2009 3:29 PM

James deserves a better grade than Dixon but he has been bad. I won't miss him when Arenas returns.

Posted by: Chad32 | March 24, 2009 3:33 PM

BurgwithaU, I've gotta agree with you on the Javaris thing. The man is skilled :)

Posted by: mallorygrauer | March 24, 2009 3:35 PM



I hate his defense at point guard. Totally incapable of stoping any legit point guard in the league. He talks about 'd' but cant perform it. Whats worse of coarse is our coach puting him on point without Crit or Jaun on the floor to cover the point guards and to run the 'o'.

Posted by: Beltwayman2 | March 24, 2009 3:39 PM

Forgot to mention that his selfishness is creates losses. I truely believe we'd have 10 more wins if he was less selfish.
Putting him at the 2 would have helped, but learning how to share would have been better (at his age, unlikely to learn).

Posted by: Beltwayman2 | March 24, 2009 3:43 PM

Is there any chance we could buy Mike James out of his contract? Even if we just paid him the full amount to go away. If we exceed the salary cap, don't we pay a 1 for 1 penalty anyway so can't we just buy him out at full value and use that money to sign someone else?

Its unfortunate that James has drawn the ire of fans for being a journeyman player with an enormous salary. Blame the Wolves, not James, for that salary. Lets also not forget that Ernie didn't trade for James. He had to take James to get Crittenton. Critt was the guy we really wanted.

Posted by: jonathan30033 | March 24, 2009 4:53 PM

I don't think it was that simple, jonathan30033. Remember, at the time of the much of the talk about the team centered around the lack of offensive production out of the backcourt, with both Stevenson and Daniels struggling. The Wiz guards were routinely getting blown out on the scoreboard, putting even more pressure on Butler and Jamison. Certainly Grunfeld looked at Crittenton as a solid long-term prospect, but in the short therm he went after Mike James with the idea that he could provide an offensive boost at PG and maybe help prevent the team from falling into huge deficits from to opening tip because off the backcourt's inability to score points.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 24, 2009 5:09 PM

At the start of the season AD was looking nowhere near like the player of even a season ago.

The logic behind the move was sound. At worst, he would be a healthy veteran body At best he might have regained his touch. Turned out to be the worst, but still a bad James was better than a broken Daniels.

And I'm not sold in Critt as anything more than a backup, but that's a lot better than a phantom draft pick. So if the AD/MJ swap facilitated the Crit/pick deal, all the better. The deal grades out OK. But we're not grading Grunfeld here.

James is one of the worst starters in the league. He did just enough to stay ahead of Dixon on the depth chart and not annoy Jamison or Tappscott. If we're grading NBA players, D- is generous.

I think the grading of James is a is a way of looking at Nick Young.

Nick Young must be a world-class idiot if he couldn't get that spot away from James. It's not even about PG skills because McGuire brings the ball up the often court as it is. Every night Tappscot is thinking, "boy Mike James isn't very good. Do I start the guy who can't shoot but at least acts like a pro and doesn't make dumb decisions or do I play the stupid idiot who occasionally makes his shots...Screw it, I don't wanna deal with stupid. Mike James it is."

Posted by: cballer | March 24, 2009 5:53 PM

You're grading on a curve. All Mike James seems to be good at is dribbling away most of the 24 second clock and jacking up long jumpers that clang on the rim. Javaris C. may not be able to shoot anything but a driving layup, but he consistently gets into the paint and sets other guys up.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | March 24, 2009 6:01 PM

You have to look at what we got vs what we gave up. AD, who is a good player and a great gentleman and teammate, essentially burned himself out (and played his heart out) to help the Wizards get to the playoffs as a fifth seed last year. There was no way he was going to play those kind of minutes with those outcomes this season, which would have left us relying on Juan Dixon at the point (and much as I hate to say this, if you think James is a poor point guard, Juan is just an awful one). So trading AD's contract (the money is a wash as has been mentioned) for Mike James's basically got us a player who could eat up minutes in a lost season and occasionally puts up ok numbers (he had one truly fine home game against the Knicks, for example). PLUS, coupling this trade with the return of the Memphis phantom first rounder seems to have gotten us a very promising rotation guard in J Critt, who turned in the kind of game against Chicago that should make fans breathe a bit easier about our backcourt strength going forward.

C-/D+ whatever, we got exactly what we should have expected with Mike (who made my fantasy team a killer a couple of years ago with the numbers he put up for the Raptors), no more, no less.

Posted by: khrabb | March 24, 2009 6:02 PM

IM going to make this short, simple, and sweet...MIKE " JACKEM UP " JAMES is a certified bum!! He dribbles most of the 24 second shot clock, jacks up wild shots, plays horrible defense and plays very selfish basketball. Combine all of that with a coach and/or coaching staff that cant coach, J-Crit, a much better option than JACK UP JAMES!! I truely believe, if J-Crit had started and played more minutes this season, the wiz would have won more games than what we have. But that all goes back to the coaching as well. J-Crit drives the lane and sets up everyone else. Thats what makes Gilbert so special because he can not only shoot, but he drives to the basket, sets up everyone else and commands attention, something MIKE JACK EM UP James cant do! If we dont get the first pick, I say trade ETAN,Mike James, and the first round pick for a solid vet that we need. Need Proof that J-Crit is a much more valueable player than Mike James? Look at the numbers, J-Crit doesnt have as many turnovers as MJ, as well as he can create and run the offense much better and plays EXCEPTIONAL defense outside of DOM!! He gave d-rose fits last night when he was in the game unlike MJ getting blown by nearly every play he was on the floor last night!! Cant wait for MJ to hit the road....he's pathetic and severly over paid for his production and his play for the minutes he's getting! SUCH A BUMMMMMMM!!!

Posted by: rf2litenva | March 24, 2009 6:39 PM

And to give him a grade of a "C", what Mike James are you watching? I say a D+ with a player vote option of an "F" at Best!!!

Posted by: rf2litenva | March 24, 2009 6:44 PM


Mike James is a bum. At least we got Crit...

Posted by: MEssex | March 24, 2009 6:48 PM

Hmm, Mike James for 6.5 mil, or Roger Mason....

I'll let you guys figure that out.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | March 24, 2009 8:54 PM

It's all about Javaris. Maybe it wasn't when they made the trade. But Javaris is one of three Wizards this season who have shown true upside (the other two being Javelle and Damon).

Javaris is the real deal. He's as a fast as any guard in the league. He's a good defender. He's got great ball control skills. He can pass, jump, and he's got a ton of energy.

Let's hope they get Blake Griffin next year -- then I would start Javaris at point, Gilbert at two, Caron at three, Griffin at four, and Brendan in the center. Antawn comes of the bench as sixth man (like he did in Dallas). Other players in the rotation: Damon, Javelle, Darius, and Nick. They shouldn't bother to play James, Etan, or Pech. Dixon is gone.

Posted by: goosey | March 24, 2009 9:52 PM

I like that lineup except you forgot Blatche coming off the bench too. That would actually be a very good starting lineup with a very solid backup except you would have to slide Gilbert over to the point when resting Javaris. I just don't think Jamison would sit well with coming off the bench. Too bad for him ! It should be what is best for the team !

Posted by: jfleming209 | March 24, 2009 11:17 PM

Seriously, does Mike James have a broken hip and club foot? I've never seen a point guard in the NBA look more disabled, or appear in more pain just to dribble up the court than James. Mike James couldn't shake my 87 year old grandmother. He is slow, prodding, predictable and yes, terrible.

As far as the draft, I think Gil is served best returning at the 2 spot. So I'd love us to draft a quality PG. If we're not going that route, then a center/PF makes sense with Haywood going down and even when he was playing, not being a viable offensive threat. That sets the stage, hopefully, for homeboy GReg Monroe out of G'Town to be drafted

Posted by: storers1 | March 25, 2009 4:49 AM

I would add that Mike James is a good ball handler who is not turnover-prone, and has the strenghth to hold his ground defensively, if not the speed to be an effective one-on-one defender at the point.

Posted by: BennyFactor | March 25, 2009 11:44 AM

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