And this time, it's personal.
In my other basketball life I'm a Wizards fan, so with this team I know of what I speak. With the Wizards players, anyway. I still don't know much about Tywain McKee. To bring you up to speed about where the Wizards are in this process, prior to the draft they traded the #5 pick in this year's draft, Darius Songalia, Etan Thomas (and his dumb contract) and Oleksiy Pecherov (and his 2010 expiring contract) to the Timberwolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. That left them with only four big men on the roster out of 13 players. That is not hyperbole. Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, that's it. The team also traded its second round pick to the Rockets and passed up an opportunity to draft DeJuan Blair. The Wizards have said they're not going to be very active in free agency, and there's a chance they'll throw all or part of the MLE to a guy who may not (or will not) be worth it.
So with all of that as prelude, I'd been hoping that the Wizards would invite some solid D-League big men to camp, with the idea that they could act as both a solid backup and a bridge to next year or the year after, when McGee may be ready to start. That, uh...that didn't happen so much, as you'll see after the jump.
Also I finally remembered to include a poll, so there's that.
Nick Young (6'6" G) - The press release announcing this roster listed Young as a G/F, but I don't think any observer could really call him a forward. Young's goal this year will be to start acclimating himself to the new Flip Saunders offense, which facilitates a lot of mid-range jumpers, as well as show that he can fit into any kind of team offense rather than just trying to take his man off the dribble. He could also stand to work on his defense. All of that said, he's a decent scorer and he has a really nice (and very effective) dribble-between-the-legs-then-step-back jumper/move. His playing time got jerked around a bit by Eddie Jordan and Ed Tapscott, so maybe he just needs some stability (or a different system).
JaVale McGee (7'0" C) - There are some quotes floating around out there that suggest that McGee may still be growing. He's very, very athletic, though he's also very, very skinny. He's been working on adding 15 pounds to his frame this offseason, and he could use some tutoring on post defense. He still tries to block just about every shot that comes his way, but he gets to a fair amount of them. Personally I think McGee might actually be a next-generation power forward (PFs played worse against him last year than Cs did), but for now he seems to be slotted into the pivot.
Dominic McGuire (6'9" G/F) - McGuire, or "Taser" as he's known to Wizards fans, came into the league as kind of a tweener forward who could rebound and defend with a lot of energy. He can still do those things, but he also enjoyed some success when Tapscott made the initially-headscratching decision to start him at SG. Not that he can shoot the ball very well, in fact he's pretty terrible at it, but he acted like a de facto point guard playing next to Mike James, and had several games with double-digit assists. McGuire works his tail off, but aside from his shot he needs to work on being a smarter defender in addition to being a physical one.
Javaris Crittenton (6'5" G) - Crittenton came to the Wizards as part of the Antonio Daniels/Mike James trade, and showed some signs of improvement after being buried on the bench with both the Lakers and Grizzlies. Crittenton's a decent rebounder for a point guard, though he has no real outside shot to speak of and his free-throw shooting can best be described as "terrible," though he's a decent distributor and could develop into a really solid backup point guard.
James Lang (6'10") - He's been here before, having played with the Wizards for a bit in 2006. He spent a chunk of last season with the D-League's Utah Flash, though NBA assignees and a dissatisfied coach put him on the bench towards the end of the year. He's...okay, I guess, though I wouldn't really consider him a "rotation big man," though he has decent size for the position. As I do every time his name comes up, I will now mention that he grew a Freeway beard last year.
John Edwards (7'0" C) - Edwards played about two dozen games in the D-League last year, and while I tend to use this phrase a lot, "all over the place" really does describe his performance. He'd have14 points and 10 rebounds one game and 2 points and 4 rebounds the next. Edwards was part of that Kent State team that made it to the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA tournament, and he made his name blocking shots. If he's producing that inconsistently six years out of college, though, I have doubts as to whether he'll stick in the NBA.
Josh Heytvelt (6'11" F/C) - Heytvelt's still pretty raw, though he missed some time at Gonzaga both to foot injuries and to a drug suspension. He's a decent finisher around the rim and gets up and down the floor pretty well, though I wonder if there will be any future foot injuries that limit that He's not a great individual defender and needs to work on his rebounding, though despite not being of any immediate help he could develop into a decent player with a few years' work.
Tyrese Rice (6'0" G) - Rice was a solid point guard in college, able to score at the rim fairly easily, but he doesn't really have the attributes that will allow that to translate to the NBA, at least without some additional work. He also turned the ball over quite a bit, though that was partly a function of Boston College's offense. He's also not a great defender. This will be a recurring theme, but the Wizards already have a ton of guards so it's hard to see any of the ones they brought in make the roster.
Jimmy Baron (6'3" G) - Baron was a three-point specialist in college, but to immediately repeat myself, the Wizards don't really need any more guards. Still, Baron did well at the Portsmouth Invitational, and he's playing for at least one other Summer League team so NBA clubs must think there's something there.
Alex Ruoff (6'6" G) - Ruoff played mostly point guard for West Virginia, though DraftExpress thinks that his size will allow him to play "any of the three perimeter positions." But then they go on to talk about his poor first step and inability to guard athletic wing players, so who knows. He's a decent ballhandler with a solid jumper, though, and a smart player.
Tywain McKee (6'2" G) - I found some stats for McKee, but not really any descriptions of what he's like to watch as a player. He's an okay three-point shooter, hovering around 36 percent, but he shot 43.8 percent his junior year, so it's possible he could improve there. His per-minute number fluctuated slightly throughout his college career rather than steadily improve, so it's possible that he can't do much more.
Alade Aminu (6'10" F) - The Wizards brought Aminu in for some pre-draft workouts and obviously saw something they liked. He came off the bench for the last half of his senior season or so, but there are some questions as to whether that was because of his play or an inability to use his talents effectively. He's GM Ernie Grunfeld's favorite type of big man - very athletic, a decent ball-handler for his size, but without any polished post moves and not very strong as of right now. He also was a bit turnover-prone.
Ryan Ayers (6'7" G/F) - Ayers is the son of former Wizards assistant coach (and former Philadelphia head coach) Randy Ayers. He primarily played guard at Notre Dame, and he's a decent shooter, but if he wants to be a swingman he'll need to improve his rebounding. It sounds like he's planning on going to play in Europe in the absence of an NBA deal.
Diamon Simpson (6'7" F) - Simpson is a bit undersized to play power forward, his college position, though Houston has done fairly well with similar players so it's not out of the question. In fact, he sounds a bit like Dominic McGuire, a hustle guy who gets his points around the rim and a fair amount of rebounds, and he has the tools to be a decent defender, though he's not as quick on the perimeter as McGuire is.
Kyle Spain (6'5" G) - Spain played well against weaker teams and inconsistently against better ones in college, but he showed an ability to score. He's not a great ball-handler or very efficient, but he's a good catch-and-shoot guy and, interestingly for a guy with his profile, gets to the free throw line fairly often. He's likely a D-League-type guy, who might need a year or two to work on the non-shooting parts of his game before breaking into the NBA
Jason Rich (6'3" G) - Rich is listed as a rookie in the Wizards' press release, but he spent last year playing in Italy after graduating from Florida State. He doesn't appear to take many outside shots, though he made 39 percent of them. He's also not much of a passer, averaging 1.5 assists per game. He gets a decent number of steals, though.
Brandon Wallace (6'9" F) - Wallace is another guy listed as a rookie who really isn't. Wallace was on the Boston Celtics' roster at the start of the 2007-2008 season, beating out guys like Dahntay Jones and Jackie Manuel, though he didn't see any in-game action and was cut in December of 2007. He spent two games in the D-League that year, but since 2008 he's been playing over in Turkey. He had a slow start to the year there, and he's still probably more toolsy than anything else. He has no real outside game to speak of, though occasionally he'll hit a three-pointer or two. He's a decent rebounder, though, and he seems to avoid foul trouble pretty well.