2005-2006 Senior Class Superlatives
The 2005-2006 Wizards... the year that was...
(As voted upon by the Wizards fan-base. Results verified by Ernie Grunfeld, Principal, and Eddie Jordan, Dean of Students.)
Most Likely to Succeed: Gilbert Arenas
Despite missing the potentially game-winning FTs in Game 6 against Cleveland, Gilbert Arenas proved without a doubt in this year’s playoffs that he is a key member of the next wave of NBA superstars (along with LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul – all are under 25). His unreal 30-footer at the end of regulation was one of the best shots in Wizards/Bullets history, and his back and forth battles with LeBron will hopefully be continued in future playoffs.
Cutest Couple: Antonio Daniels & Caron Butler
After the free agent defection of Larry Hughes, there was legitimate concern that we wouldn’t be able to replace his production. It didn't help matters at all when Daniels got off to a horrendous start and Butler had to come off the bench while he struggled to grasp the offense. By the end of the season though, the duo was the heart and soul of the team. Caron’s aggressiveness and toughness was indispensable (as a 5-loss stretch without him showed) and AD was as reliable and productive as ever after the All-Star break (14 points and 5 assists per game). Meanwhile, Larry Hughes missed extended time with an injury for the 7th time in 8 seasons, and his scattershot jumper proved to be a poor compliment to LeBron James in Cleveland.
School Spirit Award: Jared Jeffries
Jared Jeffries did everything and anything that his Wizards teammates and coach Eddie Jordan asked of him. No matter whether it was playing shooting guard or center, or covering point guards or power forwards, Jared Jeffries was always up for the challenge and brought an immense amount of energy to the floor. Although his role in the offense sometimes bordered on hilarity, Jeffries never got discouraged, and he always attacked his responsibilities with limitless effort.
Most Dependable: Antawn Jamison
One of the eldest members of the Wizards rotation (although he’s only 29) proved as reliable as he’s ever been during his pro career. Tawn averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds (top 20 in the NBA in both), as well as 40.1 minutes per game (9th in the NBA) and 35 double-doubles (8th). Except for a brief slump in December, Jamison could be relied upon for a steady 20 points and 10 rebounds night in and night out. Although he could stand to work on his defensive fundamentals a bit... (cut off the baseline!!!)
Most Artistic: Etan Thomas
This award goes to The Big Poet in a landslide. Don’t forget to buy his book on amazon.com. Hopefully this off-season he focuses more on training than on poetry. This past season, an ab injury prevented him from fully preparing for the beginning of the season. If he can’t live up to the contract we gave him 2 years ago, we’re going to need to dangle him to teams in need of interior help.
Girls' Choice of Brother: Antonio Daniels
Antonio Daniels’ smart decision-making and steadying influence was crucial to the team’s success over the last half of the season. He was especially indispensable as a counter-balance to Gilbert Arenas. He often took the pressure off Gilbert by taking over the ball-handling responsibilities and creating opportunities for teammates. In the playoffs, when Gilbert was shadowed tightly by Larry Hughes, Daniels was even able to step up and fill the scoring void. AD should be an instrumental veteran leader of this team for years to come.
Biggest Flirt: Brendan Haywood
In his 5th NBA season, Wood was as maddeningly inconsistent as ever. Some games, he flashed his tremendous potential, as an intimidating presence on defense and an aggressive force attacking the basket on offense. Other games, I had to cover my eyes so as not to see a 7’3” man shoot another fade-away. At age 26, I have to believe that “what you see is what you get” when it comes to Brendan. With his reasonable contract, relative youth, and the dearth of quality NBA bigs, he could be our best trade-chip this off-season.
Class Clown: Gilbert Arenas
I have a new Gilbert Arenas story (at least it’s new to me) to pass on to you all. Yet again, the victim of Agent Zero’s hijinx was rookie Awvee Storey. I’ll let the Washington Post’s Ivan Carter handle this one. From April 27th: “Before the last game at Philly, Gilbert had the ballboys betting whether he'd lay a flying drop kick on Awvee Storey. So a little while passes and Awvee's sitting there doing an interview with a guy from Philly when I notice Gilbert with his head poking around the corner of the trainer's room, watching Awvee. He had this goofy grin on his face and then he sprung out and got Awvee right in the chest. One of the ball boys paid up.”
Most Respected: Caron Butler
Caron brought a toughness to the team, a relentless attack attitude that is missing from many of our players. When he went down with a thumb injury at the end of the season, we completely collapsed. But once the trainers finally let “Tough Juice” back on the floor, we immediately returned to top form. His gritty performances in Game 5 and Game 6 of the Cavs series were especially impressive. In Game 5, he fought through a horrible start and rough shooting night by swarming the passing lanes, attacking the basket for easy transition opportunities, and crashing the boards with abandon. In Game 6, he continued his tremendous effort on the interior, pulling down an astonishing 20 rebounds. I expect a HUGE year out of Caron next year, entering his prime at age 26, with a year under his belt as a Wizard.
Gone, But Not Forgotten: Jarvis Hayes
On nights when one member of the Big 3 struggled, Jarvis Hayes’ wing-scoring prowess certainly would have been useful. Hopefully the former lottery pick can put his knee struggles behind him and make an impact for us next year.
Best Dressed: Andray Blatche
Our lone rookie draft pick, Andray Blatche spent a fair amount of time looking dapper on the bench in a suit. But when he did play, he looked even better. His skill set in a man his size is exceedingly rare. The only real NBA comparison for his size and game is Lamar Odom. Ernie Grunfeld found Michael Redd in the 2nd round in Milwaukee, and I'm optimistic that he's done it again.
Best Hair: Party John, of course
Hopefully his game will some day be as sexy as his hair.
Best Looking: Michael Ruffin and Calvin Booth
Michael Ruffin's offensive game is as ugly as his mugshot, but he's a tremendous defender, a strong physical presence, and a terrific rebounder. There was no pretense of involving him in the offense, as was often the case with Etan or Haywood, so Gilbert/Antawn/Caron could focus on scoring, while Ruffin focused on cleaning the boards. By the end of the season, I thought he was our most effective big man. As for Calvin Booth... well... that's just not a handsome man.
Most Studious: Billy Thomas
Billy Thomas graduated from Kansas in 1998, and after 7 years of hard work in Europe, he finally seems to have found a spot in the NBA. He has crafted his game in the Bruce Bowen mold (3-point shooting and defense), and he has become an Eddie Jordan favorite.
Shyest: Donnell Taylor and Awvee Storey
The rarely utilized underclassmen of the team should have ample opportunity this summer to work on their games, play a leading role on our summer league team, and come back in 06-07 as mature contributors to the squad.
(And yes, I know I'm pretty much the worst photo-shopper ever. It's part of my charm.)