First of all, if you’ve got $10 to spare, I’d definitely recommend picking up (or really, loading down) a copy of Basketball Prospectus 2009-2010. It’s well worth the dough for over 350 pages of statistical projections and detailed analysis, and in particular, Will Carroll’s feature piece on microfracture surgery. In the interest of full disclosure, I did contribute a blurb for the Mavs section. That said, Kevin Pelton, Bradford Doolittle, and all the contributors have put together a fine, fine book, and I’d consider any NBA fan’s preseason preparation to be incomplete without it.
Second, Kyle Weidie from Truth About It was kind enough to do a Q&A swap with me in anticipation of tonight’s game against the Wiz. You can see my answers to Kyle’s Mavs-centric questions here, and here are Kyle’s answers to my queries:
Rob Mahoney: Who should get the start at shooting guard for Washington?
Kyle Weidie: Well, he’s probably one of the least popular choices in D.C. these days (outside of anything the Redskins do), but I’m going to go with DeShawn Stevenson over the other contenders of Nick Young, Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Because of the other options to backup Arenas at the point (Mike James and the currently injured Javaris Crittenton), Foye will have to fill that role coming off the bench. Miller would be my second choice to start, but his diverse talents will be better served with him being a facilitator for the second unit. And with Young, scoring is not a problem … so I’d rather him pack a punch in that area supplanting the efforts of the Big Three (Arenas, Butler, Jamison).
Stevenson, if fully recovered from back surgery this past off-season … and it’s been so far so good with him, fits well with the Big Three. Partially because he’s started alongside those guys before, but mostly because if he doesn’t try to do too much, he can keep lanes open with his ability to knock down spot-up threes, and since he’s probably the Wizards’ best perimeter defender, he can help alleviate concerns in that area from Arenas and Jamison.
RM: I’ve often considered Brendan Haywood to be one of the more underrated centers in the league. If you were creating a comprehensive list of all the centers in the NBA, where would Haywood rank?
KW: I’ve asserted that Haywood is a top five center in the East with the potential of being in the top 10 league wide. Overall, he’s an underrated player and is the key to the Wizards defense, especially since he’s such an intelligent player who knows how to communicate. On the offensive end, Haywood has been rather robotic in the past, but evidently has developed a mid-range jumper this summer, which is available for bigs in Saunders’ offense, and could really open up the floor for his teammates.
In the East, I’m only putting Shaq, Dwight Howard and Al Horford 100% above Haywood. Sure, we could start arguing when you drop names like Tyson Chandler, Kendrick Perkins, Brad Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez, and Andrea Bargnani. But I think Haywood wins out because of a variety of issues that each of those guys face (durability, one-dimensional, inexperienced, not really a center, etc.).
Haywood was coming off a career year before he missed most all of last season with a freak injury to his wrist ligament. This being a contract year for him, he has even more reasons to prove himself. All I’m saying is…. keep an eye on him.
RM: Gilbert Arenas has made it very clear that he intends to be all business this season. Does it hurt the Wizards’ marketability/fun-factor to have a less eccentric Gil?
KW: It may hurt his personal marketability, but as far as the team, winning is that end-all-be-all of cures. Winning is fun, marketable, and will help ease Abe Pollin’s pain of paying the luxury tax. I mean, it’s not like Arenas can’t be funny … he has an upcoming TNT/NBA spot with Rainn Wilson … but so far, he’s been all business on the court and off … and when it comes to dealing with local media (he refuses to talk to any media, actually).
I think a lot of it is with him being out so long, Arenas wants to get his swagger back on the court before he kicks his marketing swagger into gear. But even with being out for the past two seasons, his jersey is still the 15th most popular in Europe and 14th in China. In the end, just like the team, winning will bring Arenas back to relevancy. And as soon as that happens, the folks at adidas will be very happy.
RM: Antawn Jamison remains one of the lone bright spots from the Mavs’ 2003-2004 season, even if he never really had a proper place in Dallas. It’s unmistakable that the 2004 trade that sent Jamison to Washington has significantly affected the fates of both franchises, but given everything that we know, would you be for or against the trade of Devin Harris/Jerry Stackhouse for Jamison?
KW: As great as Devin Harris has turned out to be, I still do the trade 100%. Not only is Jamison a good ‘character’ guy, but without him, the Wizards would not have made that four-year playoff run between ’04 and ’08. Surely other moves would have been made had Grunfeld not made the trade, but Jamison fits well with the current unit of Arenas and Caron Butler. Plus, the guy is still a highly capable rebounder and scorer, with a tricky offensive game that will diminish at a much slower rate than most players his age (he turned 33 in June).
RM: Which non-Dirk Mav do you anticipate will give the Wizards the most trouble?
KW: I’m probably going to give Shawn Marion the nod over Jason Terry. The Wizards got killed on the boards, especially offensive rebounds, against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. Marion is tough to keep track of and hard to block out. On Thursday, Flip Saunders said he was going to let Nick Young come off the bench to chase Terry around … and that will be a very difficult task for the third year player still trying to learn the ropes on D. However, I think not allowing second chance points is more key to the Wizards’ success.
Many thanks to Kyle, and check back with him at Truth About It for more on tonight’s game.