By Brian Fraze
The Wizards essentially had two choices entering this season - either rebuild or hope they could finally get healthy. Given the Wizards' offseason moves, they clearly want to give the Big Three of Arenas, Butler, and Antawn Jamison at least one more chance. The Wizards brought in a new high-profile coach in former Timberwolves and Pistons head man, Flip Saunders. Then the Wizards shipped the fifth pick in the 2009 draft and Darius Songaila, Olexi Pecherov and Etan Thomas to the Timberwolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. The Wizards also added depth along their front line by signing center Fabricio Oberto. If the Wizards can stay healthy - the biggest question surrounding the team in the last 2 1/2 years - then they will be one of the deepest teams in the conference and should be able to get back to the playoffs.
JaVale McGee: McGee was not projected to play much as a rookie, but injuries forced him into minutes last season. He actually showed a fair amount of promise and some flashes of brilliance, along with some usual rookie ups and downs. McGee will probably post similar numbers to last season's unless Saunders prefers to give more backup-center minutes to Blatche and the less talented but steady Oberto.
Fabricio Oberto: Oberto is a solid role-player type who should get spot minutes at center for the Wizards as necessary.
Antawn Jamison: If Jamison wasn't his usual consistent self last season, the Wizards might not have cracked double-digits in victories. Jamison has been a model of consistency for the Wizards over the years at power forward as he is generally able to stay healthy, play heavy minutes, and average around 20 ppg and about 8-9 rpg. Jamison is also a very good three-point shooter, and though he is not a great defensive player he still manages to get a fair amount of steals (1.1 spg for his career) to go along with his rebounding prowess. Jamison will be 33 at the start of the 2009-10 seasons but he still looks as though he has a couple more good years left.
Mike Miller: Miller's one year in Minnesota after several in Memphis did not fit with the rest of his career in that he just stopped shooting - which is odd considering he is known as one of the NBA's best shooters, even if he shot a sub-par (for him) 38 percent from three in 2008-09. Apparently he and the Wolves decided he would best serve the team if he focused more on setting up his teammates (he averaged a career high 4.5 apg last year) and rebounding. But Miller only averaged 9.9 ppg in 2008-09, easily the worst scoring average in his career. Chances are the Wizards will ask Miller to shoot more this season.
Andray Blatche: Although he has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his short career, he has never quite lived up to expectations, in part because of his questionable work ethic and decision-making on the court. Apparently Blatche has been training hard this offseason, but unless injuries strike the team again it is doubtful he will be able to play 24 mpg again this season. Blatche is very versatile as he can play all three forward positions and is a decent scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
Dominic McGuire: McGuire, a versatile player who can play power forward, small forward and even shooting guard, was another one of the young Wizards players that benefited greatly from the team's injuries in 2008-09, as he wound up taking over as the team's small forward when the Wizards moved Butler to shooting guard when Stevenson was lost for the season. McGuire is a very good defensive player that will contribute in hustle categories, but not in terms of scoring. McGuire will most likely go back to the bench in a much more limited role as a spot defensive stopper this season.
Randy Foye: There is a chance Miller, and not Foye will end up in the Wizards' starting lineup but likely it will be Foye. Foye is coming off his best season as a pro and is certainly an upgrade over the incumbent starting shooting guard Stevenson as he is a better scorer and just as good defensively. Starting Foye would allow the Wizards to have two backcourt starters that are interchangeable between point and shooting guard.
Nick Young: Young is a talented but inconsistent young swingman who showed some flashes of offensive firepower last year. Young is purely a scorer at this point in his career - he really does not bring much else to the table - but he is the type of player who can bring instant offense off the bench, so he will see some time in 2008-09, but less minutes than last year.
Javaris Crittenton: Crittenton is a young and developing player at point guard. He is quick and a good defender and ball handler. He is a bit raw, but as the team's only true point guard, he should carve out a role for himself.
DeShawn Stevenson: Stevenson will be affected significantly by the trade for Foye and Miller. He should no longer be the Wizards' starting shooting guard and will struggle to get minutes. He'll see occasional run as a hustle and energy guy, and he'll also be out there for three-point shooting.
Mike James: James, who started 50 games out of necessity for the Wizards in 2008-09, is a scoring point guard who doesn't even do that very efficiently these days. He is a decent long-range shooter and can at times be a pesky defender, so he can bring some occasional offense and energy off the bench.
Article first appeared on 9/21/09