As great a game as Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood played tonight, I'm not going to harp on them much. Seattle is woeful defending opposing centers (20.5 average PER), and Damien Wilkins is no match for Butler on the wing. No, the bigger story is that, hopefully, Eddie Jordan has learned not to start Jarvis Hayes at power forward.
Let's analyze today's game. Hayes, predictably, was getting abused by Chris Wilcox inside. Wilcox finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds, many of those coming with Hayes guarding him. It also wasn't like Hayes was tearing it up offensively. He had his typical one good shot/two awful shots type of night, and he wasn't doing much else. The Wizards were down 10 points midway through the third quarter to a Sonics team that, to be polite, stinks.
Then, Eddie Jordan inserted Calvin Booth into the lineup instead of Hayes. Those who watched the game know what happens next. The Wizards completely took control of the game, and when Booth went out ten minutes later, the crowd was on their feet. On their feet cheering Calvin freaking Booth. They may as well have been cheering Jarvis Hayes for sitting out.
So was Booth really doing anything incredible? Umm...no.
During that ten minute stretch, Booth hit one field goal, grabbed one rebounds, and blocked two shots. The blocked shots were nice, but Booth's main contribution seemed to be his "energy;" essentially a codeword for "We don't know what he did, but he did something." Booth's +20 plus/minus rating was accomplished simply because he wasn't Jarvis Hayes. He was an actual power forward that had a chance stopping Wilcox, and he wasn't jacking up bad jumpers early in the shot clock with nobody under the rim to rebound. That doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?
Starting Jarvis Hayes at power forward is simply a horrendous decision. Hayes is a shooting guard in a small forward's body. He shoots only jumpers, and doesn't rebound. This makes him the complete opposite of a power forward. It boggles my mind that he keeps getting major minutes in that spot. Don't be fooled by the love Booth's getting. Anyone would have been better than Jarvis Hayes in that spot.
Tuff Juice being efficient (AP Photo/ Haraz N. Ghanbari)
That's not to say there weren't positives in this game. A couple things in particular really impressed me. First, it's clear the Wizards learned their lesson from the Lakers game, because they were attacking the basket and drawing tons of fouls. Understandibly, Seattle is known as one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but the Lakers aren't a great defensive team either. Had the Wizards performed offensively like they did tonight in Saturday's game, the result would have been different. The Wizards 41-17 free throw advantage basically won them the game, because Seattle was shooting the lights out on the other end.
The change in offensive gameplan was most evident with Butler. The difference between Butler's offensive gameplan today and Saturday was night and day. He was attacking the rim, shooting makeable shots, and was, dare I say, efficient. He was everything he wasn't in the Laker game. Butler's huge game meant that it didn't matter that Gilbert Arenas continued his shooting slump.
The other real positive today was Andray Blatche, who came out of nowhere to score 14 points, grab seven rebounds, and block a shot. With Jamison out, Blatche should be playing 15-20 minutes a game. Now is the best time to get game-time experience, and when he plays, he's shown that he can be tremendously effective. I don't think he should start at power forward - Booth or Darius Songaila would be better - but he should be splitting time with them. He's a much better option than Jarvis Hayes.
Finally, I need to give props to DeShawn Stevenson, who was a rock tonight. Along with Booth, Stevenson's +20 plus/minus rating today was tops on the team. Defensively, he did a pretty good job with Ray Allen, holding him to 40 percent shooting. Offensively, he's now scored in double figures in every game since Jamison went out. Basically, he's doing exactly what the Wizards need him to do with Jamison on the shelf.
Seriously though, with San Antonio coming into town Wednesday, I implore you Eddie. DO NOT START JARVIS HAYES AT POWER FORWARD. PLEASE!