The Wiz are in biz

Sept. 30, 2002, midnight | By Calvin Anderson | 18 years, 3 months ago

New acquisitions will lead team

On Oct 30, the Washington Wizards will start their run for the seemingly elusive NBA playoffs. With the departure of Rip Hamilton, Hubert Davis and Bobby Simmons, the Wiz will begin this season with three new starters. They have a young, inexperienced frontcourt consisting of Kwame Brown, Eton Thomas and Brendan Haywood, so the Wizards' playoff hopes lie mostly in the hands of newly added superstar Jerry Stackhouse.

The Wizards have traded in last year's up-and-coming team for more experience. By adding former Jazz forward Byron Russell, they have a legitimate starter at small forward and can guarantee that MJ will be coming off of the bench for what should be his final year. Russell has averaged 9.2 points per game throughout his career. In this offense, nine points a game should be enough with Stackhouse leading the squad and with MJ, the most prolific scorer in NBA history, as his backup.

Chris Whitney, who has started most of the past three seasons at point guard, will lose his starting spot to Larry Hughes, who puts up 12.3 points per game. Hughes is an accomplished player who should add more firepower to an already explosive offense.

Stackhouse will be the team's starting shooting guard. At 6'6" he is tall enough to dominate the glass, powerful enough to drive to the hoop and skillful enough to get to the free throw line. Stackhouse is a complete player and was one of the biggest free agent acquisitions in the NBA. He brings with him all the tools to take the Wiz to the next level, including veteran leadership and the ability to teach young pupil Juan Dixon.

The biggest question of the season will be the development of the three second year frontcourt ballers: Brown, Thomas and Haywood. The acquisition of future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing as an assistant coach should help. Ewing won't be limited to work exclusively with the big men, but his expertise will be an added boost.

Brown, the Wizards' number-one pick from the 2001 draft, needs a great season to bring back the hype that once surrounded him. He has all of the physical tools to become a dominant power forward in the NBA, but he is still raw talent. If Brown has a productive preseason and can hold off Thomas for the starting four-spot, this should be his breakout season.

Haywood will be the team's starting center with no competition unless the Wizards bring in a free agent. Last season's center, Jahidi White, is injured and will be out until mid-November. Most likely, Haywood will be playing well enough by that time that he will remain the starter.

Cal's Call: Losing Rip Hamilton hurts, but the pain will go away once Stackhouse starts dropping 25 points a game. With a new and improved backcourt, proven veteran Russell at small forward and Ewing coaching the young big men, the Wiz will make the playoffs. Even without MJ's return, the team would still have been formidable. If they can pull it all together, this would be the year for the Wiz to storm the East because other than the Nets and possibly the Celtics, no other team is a lock to make the playoffs.

While the Wizards will make the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, they will lose in the first round. But next year will be the year for the Wizards. By then they will be able to pick up another big time free agent because of how much money they were able to free up. This year will be mainly a growing but entertaining year.

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Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »

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