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Optimism in DC

I'm glad Grunfeld and Jordan are optimistic about the Wizards, but I don't really see why "the return of Jarvis Hayes, who appeared in only 21 games last season" would play a role in that. I don't recall a single moment during the playoffs this year when I thought to myself "If only Jarvis Hayes was healthy..." and got that misty look in my eyes. Seeing as how the starting lineup already includes three (Jamison, Butler, Jeffries) small forwards, they don't really need a backup. I guess it looks different if someone decides they want to throw a lucrative offer to Jeffries.

June 30, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

Adam Morrison to the Wizards for Tom Selleck.

Posted by: Michael Jordan | Jun 30, 2006 4:15:10 PM

"I guess it looks different if someone decides they want to throw a lucrative offer to Jeffries."

I think you match whatever anyone throws at Jeffries. He's a valuable cog. You can't keep letting your best defenders saunter out of town.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 30, 2006 4:19:45 PM

Grunfeld's strategy of surrounding Gilberto with hordes of big man projects makes a certain amount of sense given Gilberto's age.

But it may not be reason for optimism next year in particular.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 30, 2006 4:23:28 PM

It certainly makes a certain amount of sense, but for it to work they'd have to try giving them playing time which Eddie Jordan seems disinclined to do since he's got a playoff team he doesn't want to screw up.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jun 30, 2006 4:27:01 PM

I think you match whatever anyone throws at Jeffries. He's a valuable cog. You can't keep letting your best defenders saunter out of town.

I tend to agree, but there's sort of no telling whether or not someone will decide to make a genuinely idiotic offer especially given the general lack of appealing free agents this offseason.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jun 30, 2006 4:28:35 PM

I didn't watch much of the Wizards, is Jefferies anything more than a decent SF/PF?

By comparison, is he equal to Nocioni? I was under the impression that Jefferies is an easily replaceable piece. Similar to Juwan Howard or Stromile Swift.

Posted by: a | Jun 30, 2006 4:49:47 PM

Jeffries is nothing special. He's not even an especially good defender. He just happens to be the best defender on a sub-par defensive team so it would be a bit of a problem if he left notwithstanding his severe limitations as a player.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jun 30, 2006 4:56:27 PM

"Jeffries is nothing special. He's not even an especially good defender."

Meh. You're selling him a bit short.

He is a good defender already, and he seems to have a good deal of easy improvement in front of him. He's still pretty awkward, but he seems to have a decent basketball IQ, which is a good sign for future improvement.

He's very quick and very long, and that's not a combination to be easily dismissed.

And he's a reasonably versatile defender, which is crucial in the matchup crucible of playoff series.

I'd want him on my team.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 30, 2006 6:53:20 PM

I'd take Hayes back starting at SG over Jefferies every day of the week and twice on Sunday's. Defensively I, personally, think they are basically a tie though Jefferies has 4 inches on Hayes. Offensively though Hayes is head and shoulders above Jefferies. No offense but I did think that having Hayes in the playoffs would have helped. Obviously the guy needs to stay healthy but he can be a solid NBA player. I'll be glad to have him back.

Posted by: Jake | Jul 1, 2006 1:34:30 AM

I think Hayes is easy to overrate offensively. Notwithstanding his good-looking shot and Jeffries' unfortunate habit of blowing layups, Jared has a better TS%. Besides which, the Haywood/Thomas-Jamison-Butler-Arenas-Daniels lineup is better offensively than Haywood/Thomas-Jamison-Hayes-Butler-Arenas if you want to sub Jeffries out in favor of a fourth scorer.

Now if Hayes and Jeffries really are equally good defenders, that obviously changes things. But while I don't really know how to make the argument, I think this is just mistaken. I think the versatility point is important. Clearly, ceteris paribus it's better to have Hayes than not to have him, since there's bound to be injuries, foul troubles, etc., but I think it would be a mistake to give him major minutes.

One possible exception is this: Sometimes against the Cavs the Wizards would go small with Jamison-Jeffries-Butler-Arenas-Daniels in situations where Igauskas was on the bench and that was workable defensively. It was, nevertheless, a very bad rebounding lineup. Jamison-Jeffries-Hayes-Butler-Arenas would be better in this regard. Potentially important if the small ball trend holds up.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jul 1, 2006 2:09:56 AM

I think -- despite being someone who grew up on Bill James and reads Baseball Prospectus daily -- that basketball stats are nowhere near the point where "TS%" resolves a debate.

Jeffries high basketball IQ leaves him aware of that which opponents know -- he's bad at the easy shots and takes very few others. Whereas Hayes.... Okay, let's use #s -- hayes shot better than once every 3 minutes in 2005-06 (Jeffries took nearly five minutes per shot attempt), despite dubious health, and was 4 times as likely to throw up a 3.

Granted, Hayes shots might be at times inadvisable... but I suspect the net effect is that his defender takes him FAR more seriously than does that same defender on Jeffries, with real ripple effects for the Wizards scorers (both in shooting and, presumably, turnovers).

Having a non-scorer out there -- even if they are Ben Wallace in all other respects -- costs you significantly. Hayes is an equivalent player to Jeffries, based off what they've shown thus far.

An underdiscussed key for the Wizards is to recognize Etan Thomas' value... and hope he stays healthy. Haywood's inconsistency on the boards is indefensible.

Posted by: Jeff H | Jul 1, 2006 7:41:05 AM

I agree with basically everything Jeff H said. While I still maintain that Hayes is a signifcant upgrade over Jefferies I will admit that part of my problem with Jefferies is my disbelief that a man who stands 6-11 can be so bad at finishing lay-ups and occasionally dunks. Frankly that baffles me.

Also, while jefferies can handle the ball decently, Hayes is a much better option to bring the ball up the court to take pressure of Arenas. Hayes is better at shooting the three and, thank God, he can make lay ups and dunks. That last part alone makes me want him in the lineup.

Posted by: Jake | Jul 1, 2006 8:17:13 AM

I guess my basic position on this would be to say that the Wizards offense was very effective last season so I don't worry very much about making changes that would "take pressure [off] of Arenas" or force defenders to take secondary players more seriously. The Arenas-Butler-Jamison troika is very solid offensively with minimal help, so one shouldn't put a huge amount of emphasis on getting them help. Nor would one want a better offensive player than Jeffries on the floor if the upshot was to wind up taking touches away from the Big Three.

By contrast, the team's defense and rebounding last season was poor, and I worry that more minutes for Hayes will make those things even worse. The key questions for the team really revolve around Thomas and Haywood and whether the former can stay healthy and the latter can step things up somewhat.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Jul 1, 2006 4:22:00 PM

1. I disapprove of the tendency to think that improvements where one are good are worth elss than improvements where you are weak. While the Wizards are good enough offensively, and bad enough defensively, to think that the marginal difficulty of getting better is lower on the defensive side... one shouldn't assume that knowable offensive improvements aren't of value.

And my point wasn't merely that hayes gives another primary option, but rather than he makes the troika more effective per possession by reducing defensive help.

2. It's too facile to leave offense to "the Arenas-Butler-Jamison troika," when one considers that they probably play at best 32 minutes a game as a trio -- for the other 16 minutes or so (and maybe higher), I'd assume at least one is on the bench resting... and that's assuming complete health.

3. Arguably, Arenas' defensive effort would improve if his offensive burden was less.

Posted by: Jeff H | Jul 1, 2006 11:35:57 PM

The problem with Jeffries is that his numbers have not improved. He had the same numbers last year he had the previous two years.

Posted by: anskkul | Jul 2, 2006 12:14:24 PM

50 wins is a pipe dream unless one of their draft picks surprises everyone. But the article was worth it for the references to "The Poet". Etan is a lock for the NBA All Bard team.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 3, 2006 10:13:48 AM

In implicit support of my ripping on Jeffries relative to Hayes, Hollinger writes,

"He supposedly is getting a lot of interest, which surprises me in light of the fact that he's not any good. Yes, he had some nice moments defensively against LeBron James in the playoffs, but he also went 36 minutes without scoring a basket in the clinching Game 6 and shot 39.5 percent for the series.

Besides, nobody's comparing him to Bruce Bowen, and he needs to be that good an on-ball defender because the rest of his game is so poor. Jeffries' career high in points per 40 minutes is a meager 10.4 in 2004-05. Also, he is nothing special on the boards, makes way too many turnovers and is worse than Tim Duncan from the foul line. Anybody paying the full midlevel exception for this package will end up horribly disappointed." http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=2512075&type=story

Posted by: Jeff H | Jul 8, 2006 3:27:16 PM

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