2009-10 Washington Wizards Season Preview
Prior to the start of the 2008- 2009 season, most thought that the Washington Wizards (19- 63) would be a contender. But the wheels fell off the bus fairly quickly as star guard Gilbert Arenas was out for the season after just two games. Coach Eddie Jordan was fired when the team started at 1- 10 and new coach Ed Tapscott was unable to lead the team. Then more injuries were heaped upon the club and the Wizards found themselves on the way to recording the worst 2008- 2009 record of any NBA team. Washington’s “D” was perhaps the worst in the league. They allowed more baskets via assist, more three-point attempts and the third-most three-point completions in the NBA. After such a disastrous season, the Wizards did something very smart. They hired coach Flip Saunders. Saunders, a winner, has a NBA record of 587- 396 and has taken Detroit and Minnesota to the conference finals. With Saunders on the bench, things are looking up in D.C.
The frontcourt starters look to be Antawn Jamison (22.2 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.17 SPG) at power forward, Brendan Haywood (9.7 PPG, 7.3 SPG, 1.3 APG, 2.50 BPG) at center and Caron Butler (20.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.58 SPG) at small forward. Jamison is a total player, who can hit from outside or post up and drain it. Along with Butler, he has a solid three-pointer. Butler possesses a clean shot and is also a fine defender. Haywood, a dependable veteran, is finely skilled. Forward Fabricio Oberto (2.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 APG) and center Andray Blayche (10.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.7 APG) are quality guys off the bench.
The backcourt is talented. Point guard Gilbert Arenas (13.0 PPG, 10.0 APG, 4.5 RPG) is the ultimate playmaker. He can generate offense from anywhere on the court, and he’s also a fine outside defender. The one problem is his tendency to take control of the ball rather than taking control of the game. He’ll dish off often but he’ll also, at times, try to do too much. Shooting guards Randy Foye (16.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.3 APG) and Mike Miller (9.9 PPG, 4.5 APG, 6.6 APG), both new additions, bring amazingly accurate shots.
This is a team that will be able to create high percentage shots and hit them. Arenas is a master at this and will be essential in the process. Other players, such as Butler and Jamison, know how to consistently find the open area from which they can hit. The down side of this club is its defense. For years, the Wizards have been weak in this area. Can Saunders help make them tougher on “D.” if anyone can, he can.
Saunders is an extremely knowledgeable coach who understands the subtleties of the game. Low turnover rates and deftly played zone defense are two of his hallmarks. Arenas is back and looks healthy. The additions of Miller, Foye and Oberto will also be a big help. There’s a fine core of talented, young players, some solid vets and overall well-founded enthusiasm. What will make the Wizards and their fans forget about last season will be a trip to the post-season. Third-place in the Southeast and sixth in the conference look to be attainable in things go their way.