Five Offseason Concerns: No. 4

4. Do the Wizards keep the youngsters?

Will we be together again? (AP Photo)

An unforeseen injury problem opened the door for Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche, Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Javaris Crittenton and Oleksiy Pecherov to earn minutes with the Washington Wizards this season. Of the sextet, McGuire was the only player to provide consistent, reliable production for interim Coach Ed Tapscott, which resulting in him finishing the season as a starter.

Blatche was a starter for most of the season, but saw his minutes reduced after he suffered a knee injury in late January. He still battled with consistency, which proved to be frustrating given the broad range of production -- from double-doubles to disappearing. Blatche, the most experienced and second-youngest player on the roster, feels that he was unnecessarily blamed for a lot of the problems, considering that this was the first season he received consistent minutes.

Crittenton survived the backcourt attrition and finished as a starter, but his questionable decision-making and inaccurate jump shot give him a lot to improve upon if he wishes to be a regular rotation player next season. Young started showing signs that he can be more than a scorer, but he needs to become more of a student of the game to be a consistent contributor. McGee showed oodles of potential, and regularly drew raves with his athleticism, but he still lacks a non-dunking, go-to-move on offense and appears lost on defense. Pecherov was the most disappointing, because he was nothing more than a 7-foot, three-point shooter. That he couldn't make the rotation on nights when the team had just eight, nine players is a sign that he has a loooong way to go.

In the defense of the youngsters, they were all asked to assume roles that may have been bigger than their talents, and since they were often on the floor together, the mistakes were magnified. Surrounded by better talent, they might learn more and improve. But Grunfeld will have to decide if this was a good enough sample size to decide whether to hold onto Blatche, Young or Pecherov beyond this season. Saunders typically has a tight rotation of nine or 10 players, so the Wizards might need to include one of the young players in a trade in order to updgrade in other areas.

By Michael Lee |  April 20, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Previous: Five Offseason Concerns: No. 3 | Next: Five Offseason Concerns: No. 5


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Andray blatche would be the most ideal to move. Mainly because where we need the most help is at his spot... #4. It all goes to the idea of the type of pick we have. If we get thet #1 overall then we get griffin. Between Griffin,Jamison,Butler and Mguire, where is blatche fitting in?

if we get the #2 or whatever pick then the idea is to trade a top 5 lottery pick for a bona-fide big man like i mentioned several times, David Lee or even an Andrei Kirilinko, a hustle crash type player that will bang and can score inside. Blatche is just a "guard" in a big mans body. He is certainly talented and would be a nice compliment to a lottery pick along with an expiring contract.

Posted by: jasperhneyaolcom | April 20, 2009 3:00 PM

also the idea of the "youngsters" being put in certain positions their not ready for, i dont buy it. This is the NBA a league for Men, not Boys..if thier not ready then let them take their butts back to college. If you wanna get paid to play then learn the game and master your craft.

They have alot of work to do in the off season, especially Nick Young. he needs to start acting angry...hes too damn nice. I dont see Lebron Goofin or Kobe Goofin, especially when they are not winning. This team needs some serious leadership. I hope we do get Blake Griffin, because hes a Mans Man

Posted by: jasperhneyaolcom | April 20, 2009 3:03 PM

I disagree about Pecherov. The team had tons of injury and still Pecherov played less games this season than last season. He played too few minutes to make any assessments.

Posted by: MOrgil | April 20, 2009 3:08 PM

If they can get something of use back for Blatche they should move him. He's shown enough potential that I'm sure some GM will be interested, but by most accounts everyone on the team is sick of him. If they can trade him for a useful veteran role player who can contribute next season, they absolutely should.

Posted by: pondaz | April 20, 2009 3:11 PM

Clearly we should keep Crittendon (backup PG), Young (bench scoring wing), McGee (backup center), and D-Mac (defensive specialist) because they all add a dimension that the team currenly lacks. The question is what to do with Blatche and Pecherov. My preference is to keep them both and see if they can fulfil more of their potential. Ultimately though, the big question is what either big man can garner in a potential trade. If either behemoth can help bring in a young Big or a 2 who can both score and defend, then they're worth shipping out. According to the NBA-girlfriend message boards, we should also subtly slip some mouthwash with Blatche as we boot him out the door.

Posted by: Dellis2 | April 20, 2009 3:17 PM

McGuire and Crittenton are keepers. Crittenton has work to do, but he displayed a nice court sense and understanding of the team game that, other than McGuire, none of the other kids have. McGee stays because his combo of size and athleticism is rare and gives him a bit of a longer developmental leash. If they get Blake, Blatche becomes expendable as backup PF, but if he can toughen up enough to become credible primary C backup, then he's okay. But if he can be leveraged in a trade to shore up some other hole, bye-bye.

Young's a puzzle. He's got the most obvious talent potential among the kids, and he clearly knows how to play, he just seems to go for several game stretches where he either forgets or refuses to do it. On the flip side, he plays at the position where talented offensive players are easily the most plentiful throughout the league, both as established vets and incoming youngsters. Given the team's situation, if they can get a SG who's more able and willing to stay in attack mode when the team needs it, Young can go.

"Blatche, the most experienced and second-youngest player on the roster, feels that he was unnecessarily blamed for a lot of the problems, considering that this was the first season he received consistent minutes."

Was I hallucinating, or didn't Blatche play every game last season (07-08) in place of Thomas? Didn't he play basically the same minutes last season as he did this season? Wasn't he one of the first players off the bench last season (when he wasn't starting)? Man, the Blatche excuse train keeps on rollin'.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 20, 2009 3:48 PM

I'd trade ANY of the six in the right deal. McGuire's the least likely to go because he's signed so cheap and is mature enough to help now -- especially with a healthy Big Four.

You'd need a huge return to deal McGee, given his upside.

I'd give serious consideration to moving any of the other guys if it allowed us to improve the rotation. You hate to lose a cheap (signed for 3 more years at like $3M per season) talent like Blacthe, but he can probably fetch a good player in return.

I've seen enough of Blatche and Young that I think it's highly improbable that we trade them and they become all-star's elsewhere. I like Critt, but his ceiling is as an Antonio Daniels type player, and he has a long, long way to get there. (AD was what, the 4th pick in his draft class?)

Pech is a bust. Seems like a nice kid, but he wont see the court here next year either.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | April 20, 2009 3:54 PM

No, no, no! We should all recall the nice team that Detroit has had the last few years with Wizards players that were cast off too soon (and too young). At the least, there should be an intensive mentoring period during the off season - and they all should participate in the summer league -- before any decisions are made.

Posted by: Edgemoor | April 20, 2009 4:02 PM

Gotta keep AB, Critt and McGuire. As much as I like Nick Young's athleticism, his kind of play is a dime-a-dozen in the NBA. Finding a jack-it-up SG is not hard to do. AB, Critt and McGuire have qualities that are harder to find. AB may yet be the second coming of KG. Critt can become a really good pure-pass-first-PG while McGuire is just an all-around good player.

Posted by: tundey | April 20, 2009 4:41 PM

Blatche averaged 10 pts, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 24 minutes this season. Surely I would hope his rebounding number to be higher, but he has improved from his 7.5 pts average of last season.

Unless we can get someone good, I see no resaon for giving up Blatche. I'll put him in the same category as Young.

Posted by: sagaliba | April 20, 2009 4:57 PM

The fact that neither Blatche, McGee, or Pecherov, is a real center is the number one reason to take Thabeet if Wiz are in position to do it.

Griffin is still the number one pick, if the Wiz get it he's the man to take. Otherwise the biggest need on this team is a legit 5. Ernie has rolled the Dice with two mid first round picks and a second rounder trying to find a diamond in the rough big man.

Given the chance to take one, he still needs a 5 to develop. Haywood's the team's only true center and he's a 10 pt. 8 rebound guy at best and isn't getting any younger. Thabeet may take time, but he's got a higher ceiling then that. Possibly way higher.

McGee would be better defending 4's then trying to learn the nuances of lane positioning that a true 5 possesses. If McGee was 6'10", everybody would be calling him a great power forward. Look at his game, in the last post, trading for Lee was brought up. What can Lee do that McGee can't learn to do at the 4?

Adding Thabeet would make each of these other young bigs better. Suanders should thank Blatche for playing out of position at center for the last two years, and tell him I want you to battle for a starting job at the 4.

McGee should be asked to be a high energy combo guy off the bench, much like a young John Salley or Rodman in his early years with the Pistons. If a team's pick and rolling the Wiz to death send McGee to force defend that guard up top. His long arms can cause problems

And with a legit center behind him,Young shouldn't be afraid to get up in a guy's grill and defend because there's always going to be a big filling up the lane. McGuire will excell on a team that has a backline defender to block shots and spring the break.

These guys all have upsides, I'd agree with the notion that we've seen enough players blossom after leaving Washington. I wouldn't be quick to move out the young core. Only if a guy was needed to sweeten the pot to bring in a savvy vet like Hamilton.

Posted by: flohrtv | April 20, 2009 5:02 PM

Summer needs to be the time for growing. Young, McGee,Critt, Blatche and Pech come back stronger & smarter or don't come back.
There has to be much improvement from these dudes if there will be any competing for the East crown.
If they come back as is then it will be deja vu 2007&8.
Early exit from the playoffs.
Ernie should make them stay at the Phone Booth all summer.

Posted by: VBFan | April 20, 2009 5:22 PM

Well, it just depends. They all have qualities that make them worth keeping and someone has to play for this team 3/4/5 years from now. AJ - 33, BH - 30 (although I see him good til 35 as he has been relatively injury free and not played tons of mins), CB - 28?, Arenas - 28 (probably has had his career shortened even if healthy and might be looking at his last contract).

For all of Blatche's inconsistent play, it was his best season and he has put up some monster games across the stat sheet. That kind of talent combined with him still being very young is hard to completely give up on. He could be the player we would regret most getting rid of 2/3 yrs from now.

Mike, you questioned Critt's decision making? I did not see that considering the situation. I thought he ran the offense better than any player that ran the point this season with the exception of GA's two games. I question his jump shot for sure, but many players who work hard improve that part of their game in the NBA. I think he will do such. Maybe you confused him with Juan Dixon whose game has just sunk to an all-time low. Love the dude, but he could very easily be out of the NBA next year. Just a terrible year in all aspects for him!

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 20, 2009 5:40 PM

I think McGee, Young, McGuire and Critt are all keepers. You give those four the time that Blatche has had and I believe you will see return.
Young is one of three on the Wizards that can create his own shot. Towards the end of the season, we began to show flashes on defense. Its his 2nd year, calm down.

Posted by: vwilli1 | April 20, 2009 5:51 PM

So was Young's inconsistent minutes due to inconsistent play or was his inconsistent play due to inconsistent minutes. I think that Tapscott hurt his game drastically with the yoyo-ing minutes. Deshaun Stevenson was getting 30 minutes a game despite shooting 30% while Nick would get yanked at his first missed shot.

Posted by: bowiemd1 | April 20, 2009 6:05 PM

once they tied them selves to that 111 million contract they signed off on any hope for the near future.

Posted by: mrpjs1976 | April 20, 2009 6:05 PM

Young, Blatche and Pecherov should all be dangled.

Blatche is the hardest to give up on solely because of his contract. But neither he nor Young will amount to anything.

Blacthe is lazy, Young is stupid and Pecherov just sucks. If we dont get a top 2 pick they should be added to the pick to dump James and acquire a the necessary 4th starter.

id be down for pick (not top2), young, songaila (dont want to but need luxtux space) and james for mike miller and next year's pick.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 20, 2009 6:10 PM

Everyone on the team is tradeable, but I see no reason that any of the young guys MUST be moved. They are all talented and improving, which is what you want. Pecherov may be an exception, but he didn't get much time this year, and given all the injuries, if you can't earn minutes in such a down year, what does that say?

Posted by: disgruntledfan | April 20, 2009 6:46 PM

If you watch the playoff teams tonight you'll see how big a gap there is between them and us.

I see shots being made and moves being made automatically that the Wizzies just don't/can't make consistently. Improvements must be made to their games this off season or we'll just be donig it all over again next year trying to figger out how we can make the jump to the next level.

Posted by: VBFan | April 20, 2009 7:37 PM

Former Wiz Kids:
Rip Hamilton - Detroit
Sheed Wallace - Detroit
Ben Wallace - Clevland
Steve Blake - Portland

Where are these guys now?


Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | April 20, 2009 8:00 PM

Yes, you absolutely keep the youngsters.

If you don't it will be the SOS again. Good NBA players that we had now playing and excelling for somebody else.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 20, 2009 8:29 PM

Please send these knuckleheads Young and Blatche far, far away. McGee is a keeper.

Young and Blatche dont have the focused mindset to be great players, and dont have the right motivation to be solid pros. Teams who win have leaders and guys willing to put in work and focus. These two are polar opposites of that. Get them the heck outta here.

Posted by: Roman5 | April 20, 2009 9:04 PM

Trading Blatche just to get rid of him makes no sense. He can play 2 positions effectively, and even a third somewhat. The only players on the team with lower salaries are still on their rookie wages, and none of them were picked that high.

Yes, his dedication and maturity have been lacking (though maturity might have to do with still being one of the 2 youngest on the team), but you also have to credit some of the slowness of his development to bad coaching. For the past 2 seasons, he has been forced to play mostly at center. While capable of doing so, he is clearly not physically built for that position.

He more than plays up to his salary over the next 3 seasons, during which he'll be a bargain.

He made a million less than Stevenson, and 1.5 less than Songaila. Made less than half what James or Thomas get.

So if you're going to trade him, it should only be as bait in a package to get a good player in return, not to just dump him. Even if we do get Griffen. In 4 seasons, Jamison will most likely be done here, even if someone else is our starting PF, Blatche will only be 26, and a pretty valuable backup at a manageable price. Not to mention, we don't even know if we'll be able to keep Haywood after next season.

If you want to package him with our 2-5 pick, and an expiring contract or two, and get in return a good, starting quality player, who's definitely got a few year left of real production, then that's acceptable.

Posted by: segastyle | April 20, 2009 9:49 PM

Former Wiz Kids:
Rip Hamilton
Sheed Wallace
Ben Wallace
Steve Blake

Where are these guys now?


- - -

You forgot about Roger Mason.
This crew would have been a good starting 5 for the Wiz : )

Posted by: wiz_fan | April 21, 2009 5:26 AM

That knife cuts both ways. The Wizards got into the playoffs 4 straight years led by players that were cast of by Golden State. Players get traded and change teams. it happens. It's not really a big deal.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 21, 2009 10:18 AM

McGee would be better defending 4's then trying to learn the nuances of lane positioning that a true 5 possesses. If McGee was 6'10", everybody would be calling him a great power forward. Look at his game, in the last post, trading for Lee was brought up. What can Lee do that McGee can't learn to do at the 4?

Posted by: flohrtv

I would not bank on McGee's learning ability so fast. He hasn't improved from the start of the season to the end of the season. And don't attribute this to lack of playing time, he averaged 15.2 minutes in 75 games this season (1143 minutes logged). That's plenty of playing time for a rookie that was not lottery picks.

To me, if McGee were a couple of inches short, he would be more like Tyrus Thomas than David Lee. Ain't bad, but he is more the athletic type than the workhorse type. Well, time will tell, I suppose, but I would not bank the future on the notion that McGee will be turned into Lee.

Posted by: sagaliba | April 21, 2009 1:53 PM

People tend to forget. Besides the fact Blatche has a great contract for our cap. He would in the draft this year had he gone to college. I bet he would be top 5 in this years draft. If you think he is a bust then I guess Jermaine Oneil was a bust also. Give the man a break. If we gave Kawame Brown 4yrs we owe Blatch 6-7. unless we get a superstar in return for him.

Posted by: wizravterp | April 21, 2009 4:23 PM

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