The Wizards may have finished the year with a forgettable 23-59 record, but Washington Times beat writer Carla Peay found a few players who had seasons worth remembering:
Most Valuable Player: John Wall
The consensus runner-up for NBA Rookie of the Year (behind presumed winner Blake Griffin) finished with averages of 16.4 points, 1.8 steals, 8.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds and was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month the last four months of the season. At just 20 years old, Wall became the team captain, a leader and the face of the franchise. He is the centerpiece the team plans to build around for the next decade. Wizards coach Flip Saunders compared Wall’s potential to a future superstar he once coached - Kevin Garnett.
Best Trade Acquisition: Jordan Crawford
Acquired from the Atlanta Hawks in February, Crawford can play the one or the two, has already developed strong backcourt chemistry with Wall and is a cold-blooded shooter who never saw a look he didn’t like. Saunders sometimes wants to rein in the 22-year-old rookie when he decides he wants to put up 50 shots per game, but the ultraconfident Crawford is already showing that when Wall takes a rest, the team doesn’t have to miss a beat.
Best Sixth Man: Trevor Booker
This 23-year-old rookie, a first-round pick acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves, logged some heavy minutes until he broke his foot in late March. Praised all season for his hustle and effort, especially on the defensive end, Saunders referred to Booker as “one of our junkyard dogs,” the ultimate compliment to a defensive standout. “Book played well for us again,” became a Saunders postgame catch phrase.
Best Surprise: Othyus Jeffers
Signed from the D-League’s Iowa Energy, energy is exactly what Jeffers brought the Wizards after joining the team in mid-March. Jeffers rebounds, is a tough defender and plays with an aggressive style that gives the entire team a spark. Listed at 6-foot-5, Jeffers might be 6-2 but has the attitude of a power forward. If he were 6-8, he could crack the starting lineup of a half-dozen NBA squads.
Most Inconsistent: Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee (tie)
Blatche is a six-year veteran, and while he has put up monster stats at the end of the past two seasons, it’s long past time for him to move out of the “great potential” stage and become a great player all season. McGee is a dunk highlight machine and can block a shot into the second row, but he sometimes forgets he’s a 7-footer and tries to channel his inner point guard, to the frustration of fans and coaches alike. Both players must develop a more consistent game if the Wizards are to improve.
Most Improved: Nick Young
Young’s scoring talents were unleashed (along with his hair) once Gilbert Arenas was traded and he got the chance to start alongside Wall before being sidelined by a knee injury in late March. Young’s scoring average improved to 17.4 points per game this season, and he can give you 30 when he’s got his stroke. Young is a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, but he can be streaky. Young must develop a more all-around game so he can still be an asset when his shooting touch is off.
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Carla Peay keeps you up to date on the Washington Wizards and the NBA.
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