Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Every Washington Sports Commentator Who Can't Stop Saying Nice Things about Antawn Jamison: Stop.

Listen, I like Antawn Jamison. I think he's a nice player who can score and rebound from the power forward spot, and I think the Wizards got a pretty good deal on him at $12.5 million per for four years. But he's not a superstar, and folks need to just calm down about him.

Yesterday, on my drive home, I heard the Sports Reporters talk about Jamison's value and continue to cite, over and over again, that he's a 20-and-10 guy (that's points and rebounds for those of you scoring at home). And he was. Last year, he was one of only four players to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

But that was the first time in his 10-year career. His career averages are 19.6 and 7.9. He's never had more than 45 blocks in any season (or roughly one every other game), and doesn't shoot a great clip from the floor. He does get to the free throw line at a decent rate, and is a solid outside shooter. But he's not a superstar. Valid comparison players for Jamison are Lamar Odom, David West, and Mehmet Okur. Good players, players you'd rather have than a lot of other guys. Not superstars.

But to listen to the guys on Sports Reporters, you'd think we just re-signed Karl Malone. Their analysis of Gilbert Arenas, while equally praising, was at least more valid. They acknowledged Arenas' recent injury troubles, and that his contract would be an albatross if he crashed, but seemed to believe that the investment was necessary in order to give the Wizards the best possible team this season.

That might be true. With Elton Brand seemingly likely to rejoin the Clippers after their addition of Baron Davis, the number of players more valuable than Arenas who may be available would drop down to Arenas' jersey number. While I'm not crazy about investing a ton of money into a guy who's missed most of the past two playoffs with injury and who is a generally quirky and unpredictable guy, at this point, with the Wizards having virtually no room under the salary cap after the Jamison signing, re-upping Arenas probably gives the Wizards their best chance to succeed.

That said, I don't see this team becoming a top-tier Eastern Conference team without major strides by Andray Blatche and a solid showing by the just-drafted JaVale McGee. I'm not crazy about trading second round pick Bill Walker to Boston for cash, but I trust Ernie Grunfeld as much as I trust any personnel man in sports, so presumably he knows what he's doing.

Here's hoping that Jamison's a late bloomer, and we've actually got a 20 and 10 guy.

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