2008/09 Player Evaluation: Juan Dixon

STATS

Per-game: 16.3 minutes, 5.2 points,  1.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 turnovers

Per-36 minutes: 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.1 turnovers

Percentages: 39.5 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 87.2 FT%, 44.3 eFG%, 47.8% TS%

Advanced (explanations): 9.3 PER, 22.7 AST%, 20.4 TO%, 19.1 UsgR, 92 ORtg, 114 DRtg, -0.5 WSAA (win score above average).

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Mike Prada: D.C. area basketball fans love to love Juan Dixon for what he did to bring Maryland to a title in 2002. I understand and I empathize with this, because I was right there with those fans celebrating. But at a certain point, we need to see Dixon not as a Final Four hero, but rather as an exceedingly mediocre professional basketball player that probably isn’t good enough to play in this league. This disastrous past season is only further proof of that.

With the injury to Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards suddenly needed guards, but Juan Dixon was not the type of guy they should have gone after. Dixon has a history of being an undersized combo guard who does not have point guard skills. True, his assist percentage picked up considerably in 2007/08, but so did his turnover percentage, showing that the only thing that changed with Dixon’s game is the number of dribbles he took to make a play. The "pure point" question would not have mattered as much if Dixon was an efficient scorer, but he’s never been. His career-best true shooting percentage for a season was a mediocre 51.8 percent in 2004/05, his last year with the Wizards before this season.

The Wizards were essentially getting a low-percentage gunner who needs the ball in his hands to succeed. Not exactly a prototype player to have. Making matters worse, of course, was the presence of Nick Young, a similar type of player who already was more efficient and less turnover-prone than Dixon. I suppose the hope was that Juan’s "professionalism" and determination would rub off on Young and push Young to work harder to keep his rotation spot. The problem is that it’s very hard to convince Young to become less of a one-on-one inefficient chucker when his potential replacement is exactly that.

Despite all this, Juan was actually pretty solid during the first two months of the season. He didn’t shoot well in November (36 percent) but he did post an outstanding 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, proving that he maybe could be a quasi-point guard. Then, in December, his shot returned, as his field goal percentage jumped all the way up to 48 percent. But it was all fools gold. Dixon’s last four months of the season were awful, as he couldn’t buy a bucket and was a turnover machine. We all remember the game against Toronto where he threw away that pass when Ed Tapscott was trying to call a timeout, but that was only the last part of a steady fall.

The numbers on Dixon are pretty staggering. He turned it over on a ridiculous 20.4 percent of his possessions, which is insane. One of every five Wizards possessions ended by Dixon was a turnover. He shot a career-low eFG% (save for his rookie year) and had a career-low PER. He did use fewer possessions, to be sure, but it sure didn’t seem like it. He was, deservingly, on the bench during most of the season.

The Wizards signed him hoping his practice habits would rub off more than his on-court habits. That’s proven to be a foolish thought; young players need to see proof of proper preparation rather than just seeing proper preparation. That’s particularly true of the Wizards’ young players, who aren’t exactly prototypical self-starters.

Dixon’s contact is up and the Wizards have 14 players already under contract, so he probably won’t be back here. I hope it all works out well for Juan Dixon, but I honestly doubt he’ll get another shot in this league. Unfortunate, of course, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The Wizards really never owed him extra shots anyway.

JakeTheSnake: I have a love-hate relationship with Juan Dixon.  I'm not a Terrapins fan so I could care less when people yammer on about his days at Maryland, but I have a great amount of respect for the guy's effort.  Maybe his relative lack of talent makes his effort more apparent to my eye, but for whatever reason his effort always sticks out to me.  If this was elementary school and I could just give him a good grade for outstanding effort, I would.

But as we all know, in a work market as competitive as the NBA, you can't get by on effort alone.  And as apparent as it was that Juan Dixon was trying his hardest to play well out there, it was just as clear that he's just not an NBA calibur player anymore.  Over his 7 seasons in the NBA, he's been able to squeeze every last drop of ability he could from his body and make a pretty good living doing it, but I just don't see how anyone would sign him this off-season.

I don't think I need to remind anyone about what happens when he tries to bring the ball up the court (see above video), his shooting percentage isn't great, and he turns the ball over way too much.  The defense was a little bit better with him on the court, despite the fact he's a bit of a tweener, but it doesn't make up for his shortcomings on the offensive end.

He's a nice guy, and I wish him well, but I think Juan Dixon is going to learn this off-season that effort alone can only take you so far in this league.

Truthaboutit: Juan Dixon seemingly fell into the right opportunity last year ... well, for him, not the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas goes down and signing Dixon, local kid made good via prevailing under abysmal childhood circumstances and a Maryland Terrapins national championship, seemed the perfect fit.

Dixon knew the system, having previously played for the Wiz under Eddie Jordan, and would presumably provide the same veteran guard skills and bench scoring punch that was vacated by Roger Mason, Jr. (or not really).

Unfortunately, so went the season, so went Dixon's recognizable contributions to the team. His play, when it saw the court, was inconsistent, and his lack of veteran poise drew the ire of many on Bullets Forever, especially after an embarrassing five turnover effort in a late season loss against Toronto. What did we expect from the guy? Well, we kind of expected better.

But when he wasn't experiencing a nagging injuring, Dixon never knew if he'd be playing from one night to the next. The were faint grumblings about playing time, both from Dixon desiring more and from some fans wanting less. Ed Tapscott had to speak with him about his minutes prior to an early December matchup with Chicago.

I can hardly blame Dixon for getting testy about his run. The Wizards were essentially the last chance for a soon-to-be 31-year old to get a swan song NBA contract. But he just wasn't able dispel the preconceived negative aspects of his game, unreliable offensive initiation and non-existent defense.

His sporadic play was not a large blemish on the season, rather a product of the unfortunate environment. 2008-09 Dixon, which resulted in his career low PER, will just be a blip on the franchise's historical radar.

Juan Dixon has been a better than expected human being, much less his unheralded success in basketball, college and pro. He came in, tried with good intentions, but things just didn't work out.

We thank Juan for his contributions. We thank him for being the always-ready consummate vet. He could very well prove me wrong, but I'd estimate that he plays overseas for a couple of years before putting the game of basketball behind him, moving on to bigger and better things, such as community outreach/service, which would be right up his alley.

Rook6980: I remember the discussions we were having in Training Camp when it came down to keeping either Juan Dixon or DeMarr Johnson for the 15th and final spot on the roster. Little did we know then that Juan would play 16 minutes a game for 50 games for an injury decimated team.

Juan is a tough, hard-nosed competitor and he suffered through a very strange year. He was used extensively in November, averaging just over 19 minutes per game. Then he rode the pine. He got some time for 6 games in December. Then he sat the pine again. He was called upon a bit in the early part of February for a few games. Then he sat the pine. Finally, he played significant minutes in the last 5 games of the year. During the Tapscott regime, if you weren't an "All-Star Forward", your minutes were subject to whim and chance.

Even given the weird way in which he was used (and not used), Juan had a sub-par Juan Dixon year. Statistically, this was his worst year as a Pro. His shooting percentages suffered, especially shooting 3-pointers, but might be expected considering the way he was used. His assists were up a bit, but his scoring was down and he turned the ball over too much. He ended up with the lowest PER of his career.

But even with the difficulties regarding steady playing time; and regardless if he was sitting on the bench for 4 or 5 games in a row, or playing more than 20 minutes a game, Juan always stayed ready, focused and into the game. Juan Dixon was a real Professional, with a Capital "P".

With the Wizard's roster and Tax situation, I doubt Juan will be back for a 5th season; but let's hope he lands somewhere that can use his services.

Thanks for the memories Juan.

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