By Charlie Gibson
Follow me on twitter @cgibson1619
This early in the season folks can come up with some pretty strange statistics. For example, as of today DeMarucs Cousins is shooting a higher percentage from three than Chris Paul is from the field. John Wall is averaging more blocks per game than Andre Drummond, and Jeremy Lamb has a higher PER than Anthony Davis. I like to give it 20 games before I look into things too much.
While we wait for the stats to stabilize I’ve decided to create a team of the best Wizards of all time. What I mean by that is a team of the best players since Abe Pollin changed the name from the Bullets in 1997. The Bullets were a successful team, in terms of playoff success, while the Wizards, historically, have not been. Of course this is one franchise with two names, but the eras seem distinct to me because I have only loved the team under one name: Wizards.
I’ve picked the best single season each player had as a “Wizard” and am putting that player on my hypothetical squad, as if he took a time machine in the middle of that year.
PG: John Wall, 2014-15
17.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 10 apg, 2.3 blk/stl, 45-30-79%, 19.9 PER
The man was tasked with saving DC basketball from the day he was drafted. He has done so well that we named the blog after him.
SG: Gilbert Arenas, 2005-06
29.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.1 apg, 2.3 blk/stl, 45-37-82%, 23.8 PER
Oh Gilbert, I can’t say all the things I want to in just a paragraph. This man brought me so much happiness in my formative years. But I’ll hold off on too much sentimentality. In 2005-06 Gil made 199 three pointers and 655 free throws. The only other player to ever reach those totals in a season was James Harden last year. Gilbert was All-NBA and an All-Star in his age 23, 24, and 25 seasons. I was in the building for his MLK day buzzer beater against Utah, and it was the greatest human performance I’ve ever witnessed.
He was a good amount crazier than any current superstar in the league, which led to riveting ups and downs. He specialized in 30-foot shots, he dropped 60 on Kobe, and he pooped in Andray Blatche’s shoe. He said he’d drop 50 points on D’Antoni and McMillan for not choosing him for the Olympic team, and proceeded to score 54 points on the Suns and 9 on the Blazers. His playoff career included a game winner against the Bulls, and blowing a chance to ice the Cavs by missing two clutch free throws.
People say he was brought down by crazy, but really he was brought down by injuries. Gil was only at full powers for the playoffs twice: once losing to Shaq and Wade, and the other being narrowly out-dueled by young LeBron. I could complain about missed potential, but I prefer to just say thank you.
SF: Michael Jordan 2001-02
22.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.8 blk/stl, 42-19-79%, 20.7 PER
The-Greatest-of-All-Time couldn’t make the playoffs in his two seasons as a Washington Wizard. He took 20 shots a game, traded Rip Hamilton, and drafted Kwame Brown. But he also scored at least 40 points eight times and at least 30 points 25 times. In 2001-02 he was the only ever 38 year old to average 20/5/5, and he brought some NBA relevancy to Washington. One magical weekend in 2001 he dropped 51 and 45 points in consecutive games. The first NBA game I ever went to was with my Dad to see MJ, but Jordan was a last minute scratch due to injury. I can’t get too mad because I’m writing this blog today, but lets just say Jordan is the fifth starter on this make-believe team.
PF: Antawn Jamison 2007-08
21.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.7 blk/stl, 44-34-76%, 20.3 PER
Antawn was the fourth pick in the 1998 NBA draft and he was immediately traded for the fifth pick, Vince Carter. His accomplishments include back to back 50 point double-doubles with GSW, being named 6th man of the year with Dallas, and being a two-time All-Star with DC. He averaged 20 and 9 in his six seasons with the District, and put up 32 ppg in the ’07 playoffs (in four games…). Oh and did I mention he scored 20,042 career points? Every other player with at least 20,000 either is or will be in the Hall of Fame.
Jamison was the consummate professional, by far the most mature member of the Agent Zero era. He was a locker room presence and a team captain. He also had a wicked feel for the game. If he got the ball around the rim he could basically toss it in from any angle. He was the master of the weird flip shot, and the awkward timing on his release made him hard to block. He would grab an offensive rebound and release a floater before slower bigs even realized what had happened. He was a before-his-time stretch four who would be deadly on the current Wizards. And yes, maybe he was soft on D and didn’t offer rim protection, but he did use his “feel” to eat up the defensive glass. 20 and 10 players don’t grow on trees, but that is exactly what Antawn could be.
C: Chris Webber 1997-98
21.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 3.3 blk/stl, 48-32-59%, 20.9 PER
C-Webb played in Washington for four years, but 1997-98 was the only year he was a “Wizard.” When the Wiz traded 24 year old Webber it was like if the Kings traded Boogie Cousins right now, only if Boogie wasn’t crazy. That’s a long way of saying it was stupid. The team was over .500 with Webber there, but they went 0-3 in playoff games. Young Webber had all the physical tools, just maybe not all the mental ones. He was a top, top, top of the line talent, but not quite a leader. Simmons and Lowe have discussed how much talent and potential he had, and I would advise anyone to google what they’ve said instead of listening to me. After all, I was seven when he got traded.
Chris was a five time All-NBA player and the face of those iconic Kings teams. But he never made the finals or played all 82 games. Back when DC had him Webber was still figuring some things out. Even though he was near his athletic peak he shot 2.5 threes a game with Washington, something he didn’t do much or the rest of his career. But he also shot a good percentage from the field, ate up rebounds, used his quick hands to snag steals, and passed the ball like no other power forward. I wish you’d stuck around, C-Webb, but I’ll gladly have you anchor this fantasy team that is looking like it will score 200 points a game while giving up 199.
Jerry Stackhouse, 2002-03
21.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.3 blk/stl, 41-29-88%, 18.7 PER
Averaged 29.8 points per game as a 26 year old for the Pistons. Came to Washington to team with Michael Jordan but often had to be a lead man when Jordan sat out. While he wasn’t especially efficient, the man was a scorer. He was good at creating points and getting to the line.
Ben Wallace, 1998-99
6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.4 apg, 3.1 blk/stl, 58-0-36%, 16.2 PER
Came into the league as one of the least polished players ever. In his third year with Washington he averaged 8.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks/steals in only 26.8 minutes a game. He went on to become an iconic player, but I’ll still take 24 year old Ben Wallace on the squad.
Caron Butler, 2007-08
20.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2.5 blk/stl, 47-36-90%, 20.7 PER
Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.
Larry Hughes, 2004-05
22 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.7 apg, 3.2 blk/stl, 43-28-78%, 21.6 PER
Had a career year in 2004-05. He led the league in steals, allowed Gilbert Arenas to play some shooting guard, and helped win a playoff series. The Wizards let him walk when he became worth a huge contract, and he just wasn’t the same in Cleveland as LeBron’s sidekick. He’s the only player on this made up team to never be an All-Star.
Juwan Howard, 1997-98
18.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.7 stl/blk, 47-0-72%, 15.2 PER
The man won two championships with Miami, like, yesterday, but Howards lone All-Star appearance was back in 1996 with the Bullets. Unfortunately that season doesn’t qualify so we’ll go with the year he played 40 minutes a game and put up 18.5pts/7rbs/3.3ast with Wizards on his chest.
Mitch Richmond, 1998-99
19.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.5 blk/stl, 41-32-86%, 15.5 PER
Don’t really know anything about him. Had a disappointing overall time in Washington because the 33 year old shooting guard had to live up to being the return for trading the 24 year old Chris Webber. But the Hall of Famer did put up points as a Washington Wizard.
Rip Hamilton, 2001-02
20 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.8 blk/stl, 44-38-89%, 16.9 PER
Hamilton was traded for Jerry Stackhouse to help the win-now potential of the Michael Jordan Wizards. He then went on to be the leading scorer of a championship team in 2003-04. He was a pure shooter and a mid-range master.
Coach: Doug Collins
The only coach who had an above .500 record with the team is Bernie Bickerstaff. I don’t know who that is so I’m going with Doug Collins. Randy Wittman actually has the most playoff wins, but I just can’t do it. Collins is old school, but I like his personality.
Honorable Mention: Haywood, Gortat, Nene, Pierce, and Rod Strickland. Also if Beal keeps playing like he has this season he can have Jordan’s spot on next year’s iteration.