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Oct. 22, 2004

Wizards season preview

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Another winter in Washington arrives with the Redskins continuing their nosedive, another winter with the Capitals getting crushed (oh, right, they're not playing anymore, thank goodness). And of course, another winter with the Wizards failing in the pitiful Atlantic conference.

Well, maybe not this year.

For those of us who have given up on professional teams in the Washington area making the playoffs, the Wizards may have the best chance of actually getting there. Let there be no mistake-the Wizards possibly making the playoffs has very little to do with the actual players, but everything to do with the team switching into the Southeast Conference. The teams in that conference are: Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando and Washington.

The only team in the conference that is substantially better than the Wizards is the Heat, due to the addition of Shaq to go along with last year's rookie sensation Dwayne Wade. However, other than Miami, no team in the Southeast has more talent than the Wizards.

Orlando comes close with Steve Francis, Hedo Turkoglu and Cuttino Mobley, but if Grant Hill doesn't play, Orlando will lose a lot of close games because they don't have enough depth coming off the bench. Atlanta is really in trouble after trading away star point guard Jason Terry, Alan Henderson and a first-round pick for Tony Delk and overrated, injury-prone forward Antoine Walker. The Hawks should not win more than 25 games this season. And finally, we come to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Second overall pick Emeka Okafor will be a star in the future, but he will experience growing pains and until the Bobcats young team gets some experience in the league, they will struggle to score. However, if the Bobcats stay tough on defense and hustle on every play, I see no reason why they can't win 20 to 25 games this year.

Now we get to the Wizards lineup:


Antawn Jamison (F): The best player on the Wizards at the moment, Jamison was in a reserve role in Dallas last year averaging almost 15 points and 6 rebounds a game. Expect these numbers to increase greatly as he plays in the Eastern Conference this year. The Wizards will only go as far as Jamison can take them, but Jamison who used to be a teammate of point guard Gilbert Arenas in Golden State, seems to be equal to the task.

Kwame Brown (PF): The Wizards first pick from 2001 is now entering his fourth year and the time for him to live up to his high draft pick has arrived. Brown showed tantalizing flashes of talent all throughout last year while averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds a game. Brown will be out with a toe injury until the end of November, but after he comes back expect him to average around 15 points a game to go along with 8-10 rebounds. If Brown can consistently put up these numbers, there's no reason why the Wizards can't compete for the eighth spot in the playoffs.

Samaki Walker (F/C): Samaki Walker was added to the Wizards roster from the Mavericks and his biggest contribution to the team won't be his three points and rebounds a game, but his experience in the postseason as a member of the Lakers and Mavericks.

Jarvis Hayes (SF): Last year's tenth pick averaged 10 points and four rebounds to go along with 1.5 assists a game. Minutes for the emerging player will be hard to come by, however, with Jared Jeffries and veterans Etan Thomas and Samaki Walker cutting into the 29.2 minutes Hayes got last year. Hayes has a great mid-range jump shot and is that rare big man who has the ability to pass the ball. If both Hayes and Brown pan out, the Wizards could legitimately have the best young one-two punch at forward in the East.

Jared Jefferies (SF): Jeffries averaged six points, five rebounds and an assist per game for the Wizards last year in a reserve role and is now looking to crack the rotation. Jeffries has always been a favorite among Wizards coaches for his hard work ethic and hustle. All that will translate into more and more minutes on court for the young bruiser out of Indiana.

Brendan Haywood (C): Haywood is another role-player that needs to step up for the Wizards to get to the playoffs. A big man with a nice, soft touch around the rim, Haywood has often been criticized for not going to the glass hard enough. In all likelihood, Haywood will split time with Samaki Walker and be motivated to outperform the seven point, five rebound averages he put up last year.

Etan Thomas (F/C): Thomas is a personal favorite of Coach Eddie Jordan who loves Thomas' willingness to crash the boards and his effort on defense. A key reserve for the Wizards, Thomas and his nine points and seven rebounds a game will be instrumental in winning close games against physical opponents.

Michael Ruffin (PF): Ruffin is mainly a rebounding reserve for the Wizards, much like Thomas. He averages two points and five rebounds a game.

Peter John Ramos (C): The Wizards second round pick is a 7-3 center who played for Puerto Rico's Olympic Team.


Gilbert Arenas (PG): The Wizards eccentric point guard wowed crowds with his explosive scoring ability last season, but also frustrated them to no end as with four turnovers to go along with his 19.6 points per game. If the Wizards want to be good, Arenas needs to learn the Princeton-offense Jordan has installed and must make better decisions on court. For all of his quirks, however, Arenas has the talent to be a legitimate superstar in the league.

Larry Hughes (SG): Hughes was amazing last year in the 61 games he played in, averaging 19 points per game to go along with a 34.1 three point percentage. Hughes also gets almost two and a half assists along with two steals a game. Hughes is entering his prime, as hes only 25 years old, so he should improve upon his numbers from last year.

Anthony Peeler (SG): Much like Walker, Peeler was brought in more for his experience in the playoffs rather than his numbers (5.7 ppg, 1.7 apg). Anyway, expect Peeler to groom young sharpshooters Hughes and Dixon as he fades into the twilight of his career.

Steve Blake (PG): Steve Blake, one half of the Maryland backcourt that won the 2001 NCAA Championship has looked right at home in the NBA. Blake is a rare "old-school" point guard who looks to pass first and shoot later. He ranked fifth among all rookies last year in assists with almost three a game. As one of the only true point guards the Wizards have, expect Blake to improve upon those numbers this year.

Juan Dixon (SG): The other half of the Maryland backcourt that won the NCAA Championship in 2001, Dixon is a Baltimore native who contributes 9.5 points and two assists a game.


Eddie Jordan: An assistant with the New Jersey Nets during their back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals, Jordan is credited with installing and successfully running the Princeton-offense which utilizes cuts and many passes to result in wide open looks for the offense. He is also credited for keeping the Nets from fracturing under the tension between Jason Kidd and then Nets coach Byron Scott. In his first full season as a head coach last year, Jordan guided an injury-plagued Wizards team to a 25-57 season.

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  • what is this? on October 22, 2004
    this is pathetic, do some research! u wrote barely anything on juan dixon! how bout something a/b his defense, 3-pt shooting, hard work, nething?! and seriously, thats all u could get a/b peter john ramos?! considering that this guy was a potential 1st rounder, played extremely well in puerto rico, and could become a good player in this league, i would like to know more about him than that hes 7-3 and puerto rican!
  • ralph (View Email) on October 22, 2004
    s. walker was acquired from the heat and not from dallas. walker does not shoot three points either...seem to me you are reading from compiled data than a real knowledge of the game...
  • pratik bhandari on October 22, 2004
    Yes, Ramos has a lot of potential, but until he can play well in the NBA, I can't really say how good he is. Remember, he only got two points against the US when they played Puerto Rico and only seven points overall in the whole of the Olympics. Until he starts becoming a factor in games, he isn't really a major part of the team.

    Juan Dixon is a hard working player, but his three point percentage is only 29.8.
  • b on October 23, 2004
    he meant that Samaki Walker only averaged three points a game last year
  • what is this? on October 25, 2004
    u cant say how good he is? well u cant back up anything else ur saying here either! its a season preview, the season hasn't started, so its all just predictions anyhow. how do u think ppl make up scouting reports for rookies, huh? also, heres some more errors that I noticed but didnt bring up last time so u wouldn't look completely incompetent, but I will now. antoine walker injury prone? in his entire career there's only been one season where hes played less than 78 games. jared jeffries bruiser? the main reason he wasnt drafted higher was b/c he was so skinny. in case u forgot, during the md ncaa championship game, lonny baxter and chris wilcox, who are much stronger, dominated him. also in 2000-01, the 1st season in 10 yrs that Dallas was over .500, Samaki Walker was in San Antonio. and since when does being a 6-7 small forward qualify you to be a "big man"? and walker and etan thomas will cut into jarvis hayes playing time b/c they play SF alot. also, noticeably absent from the roster is gerald fitch, an undrafted rookie guard from kentucky who has impressed with his defensive ability. also, u neglect to mention orlandos talented rookie combo of dwight howard and jameer nelson, although i guess thats not surprising given ur propensity to ignore neone that hasnt played in the nba. u also ignore the depth provided by solid veterans tony battie, stacey augmon, kelvin cato, pat garrity, and deshawn stevenson and 2nd year man keith bogans. while hill would improve their depth, its not nonexistent. honestly, how do these articles get printed? im a/b to go to sleep and im doing better research than u. oh, just noticed one more thing, u say that okafor WILL be a star in the future, but u cant say nething bout ramos. write a better article next time cuz rest assured i will be back to point out all the errors.
  • John Willmott (View Email) on October 26, 2004
    It's a season preview, but doesn't offer any sort of prediction for the season to come?
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