Player Evaluation: Antonio Daniels




Previously:

Stats: Per-game: 30.4 minutes, 8.4 points, 4.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds

Per-36: 9.9 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds

Percentages: 45.9 FG%, 23 3PT%, 77.6 FT%, 47.8 eFG%, 54.9 TS%

Advanced (explanations): 13.7 PER, 24 AST%, 14.3 TO%, 13.5 UsgR, 117 ORtg, 112 DRtg, 2.5 WSAA (win shares above average)

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Pradamaster: AD's season was a tale of two conflicting emotions happening at the same time.  On the one hand, he finally started to show his age.  Normally one of the league's most durable players, he struggled all year with a wrist injury, severely limiting what he was able to provide from game-to-game.  On the other hand, however, AD may have been the one player who saved our season once Gilbert Arenas went down.  He stepped in and provided a ton of stability, and he should get some credit for the strong seasons from Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

Statistically, AD really fell off this season, mostly because he broke down from playing additional minutes.  His outside shot, never a particularly consistent weapon, completely deserted him this season, which really hurt because the Princeton offense works best with lead guards who can shoot.  He turned the ball over more frequently this year than in any year since 2000.  He shot far fewer free throws, which mostly explains why his PER dropped to his 2005/06 level this season.  Worst of all, because of his poor outside shot, he wasn't much of a scoring threat unless teams ignored him. 

But even though his production fell off, the fact that he was even able to provide that much was a huge reason why this team didn't completely fall off.  He provided consistent play from the point position for as many games as possible.  He was unselfish, and displayed a mastery of positioning in the Princeton offense that he hadn't displayed in his first two seasons here.  It's hard to really go on without resorting to silly cliches, but that was AD this year.  Undoubtedly, the Wizards are much worse off if he is the starting point guard next year instead of Gilbert Arenas, but he remains an incredible backup point guard.

To me, the defining moment of AD's season was Game 5 against Cleveland.  Caron Butler was the star, sure, but the Wizards don't win that game without AD's contributions.  He was getting into the lane, bailing out the Wizards whenever the offense bogged down, and playing outstanding perimeter defense.  At his age, and with his wrist injury, he shouldn't have been able to be that effective, but he was anyway. 

Once he returns to a backup role, I expect his production to return to his 06/07 level.  Even though he's getting older and he has a six-million dollar contract, the Wizards shouldn't consider trading him.

JakeTheSnake: The great thing about Antonio Daniels is that you know what you're going to get from him every single night.  He won't screw up the game plan, he'll get everyone involved, he'll fall down a lot, he probably won't score in double digits, someone will mention some intangible buzz-word to describe him during every broadcast, etc.  I was curious to see if this season anything would change since he was thrust into the starting role an entire season for the first time in his career, but it didn't.  Other than a decrease in production near the end of the year (partly because of Gilbert's return took away some of his minutes, partly because of the extra wear and tear from playing so much) I'd say he stayed right on mark this year.

Needless to say, I'm expecting pretty much the same thing next year.  Just keep on keepin' on AD.

Truthaboutit: Antonio Daniels is my Catch-22. I love his steadying veteran presence. He fills in wherever needed and does whatever is asked of him without thinking twice.  Daniels has been a model of consistency during his 11 year NBA career.  This past season was no exception as Antonio Daniels was asked to sub for an injured Gilbert Arenas. In doing so, AD started 63 out of 71 played games for the Wizards. In his previous 10 seasons, Antonio started a total of 149 out of 722 games.

In Daniels' 07-08 starts, he contributed about nine points, five assists, and three rebounds in just over 30 minutes a game while only turning the ball over 86 times total (a 1.36 average). So, I'll throw around terms such as admirable and will give AD a big 'thank you' because without him, I highly doubt that the Wizards would have achieved 43 wins.

However, there's a Sir Mix-a-Lot sized 'but'........Antonio Daniels can neither shoot nor defend. As his career 30.9% from 3-point land would indicate, AD is not one for distance buckets. Now, he is no where near Rajon Rondo bad, but throughout the season, opponents proved more times than not that they were willing to risk leaving Daniels open to protect the paint. And AD did not disappoint by hitting only 17 of 74 attempts from beyond the arc. My expectations of Daniels in this area have always been tempered, but I still have wishes that he could keep defenses honest. But alas, it is what it is.....if Antonio hasn't improved his shot to date, then it's probably never going to happen. Old dogs don't learn new tricks.

Compounding AD's conduciveness to the constrictive nature of the opposing defenses is his inability to on-ball defend. I suppose you could dub his quickness as adequate....for a 33 year old. AD won't get you many steals, his one per game this past season was a career high. But he has the smarts and desire to limit gambles and to try staying in front of his man. However, in many cases those attempts end up futile.

Yet, I'm willing to look past these transgressions because of the character of Antonio Daniels....a man in the community. His number one goal is to initiate Eddie Jordan's offense, and being 10th in the NBA in Assist-Rating , I'd say AD is pretty adept at that priority. And I haven't even mentioned the fearlessness he displays when driving to the basket. Either his body does not know it's age, or does and simply doesn't care.

Maybe AD falls short in major team areas of need. And I'm not exactly thrilled that the Wiz are still on the hook for two more years and $12.8 million....for a backup point guard. But I guess we're paying for a little more than what is produced on the court. What the deuce?....It's not like Grunfeld is going to be able to easily rid himself of AD's contract before next season, so we have no choice but to welcome Antonio back with open arms.

 

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