Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Wizard's highlight reel should include this trade

Former UNC Tarheel Antawn Jamison was traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. In exchange for Jamison, the Wizards give up another Tarheel in Jerry Stackhouse and former Duke Blue Devil Christian Laettner. And oh yeah, the Wizards also include their 5th overall pick in today's draft.

At first glance, this deal looks to benefit the Mavericks because if nothing else, they now have even more to dangle in front of the Lakers as they try to acquire Shaq-Fu. But in the long run, this deal may prove to be the best thing to happen to the Wizards in a long time.

First, consider how the Wizards three previous first round draft picks have faired:
Year Name Min/G FG% Pts/G
2001 K. Brown(1) 14.3 .387 4.5
2002 J. Jeffries(11) 14.6 .500 4.0
2003 J. Hayes(6) 29.2 .400 9.6
Of the three, only Jarvis Hayes had what I would consider an above-average rookie season. Both Brown and Jeffries could conservatively be labeled as underachievers (although Brown did improve in the 2nd half of the 2003-04 season), but they're not even in the same category (in terms of 'underachievingness')as the marquee player in the Mavericks trade -- Jerry Stackhouse. He missed most of last season with a knee injury and then after his comeback declared a Derek Bell-esque "operation shutdown" for the season.

So not only do the Wizards get rid of a malcontent in Stackhouse, and an average player in Laettner, but they also ship their 5th overall pick to the Mavs. This all but solves the problems associated with the Wizards drafting some stiff who probably won't pan out; and instead they get maybe one of the best small forwards in the East to team up with Arenas, Hughes, Brown and Haywood. Here's what Jamison did last season with the Mavs:

Year Name Min/G FG% Pts/G
2003 A. Jamison 29.0 .535 14.8
And these numbers were in limited minutes (Jamison was the 6th man of the year in 2003-04). Given the opportunity to start, Jamison should have much more of an impact than either Stackhouse or Laettner (at least in the sense that Stackhouse is oft-injured and always complaining), or a first rounder that would in all likelihood struggle in the foreseeable future.

For a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in some two decades, this may be the best news since the return of MJ.