Editor's Note: Bumped again. Bwoods is killing it recently. I'm also bumping this because I'm going out of town this weekend and I'm not sure how much I can post. We also all need something else to discuss since I think we all need a break from the impasse that's resulted in the previous thread. Let me be clear: I'm psyched by the discussion and I think many of you raised interesting points that I'm currently reconsidering, but we needed to move on.
More breaking down what Flip had to work with in his final Pistons season (07-08 EC Finalist) versus what he'll have this coming season. This time, the backcourt offense. I like what I see. (Which is good, since this team has stockpiled offensive guards.)
Starting PG: Chauncey Billups has been cited as the example of what Gilbert could look like (1) in a Flip Saunders offense, (2) if he loses some explosion from the knee injury but keeps the jump shot, and/or (3) if he plays "the right way" but remains a scoring pg. Statistically, Billups did not have his best season that year, but he had easily the best player-season on that team. He put up per-36 averages of 18.9 points, 7.6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2.3 TOs, and 1.4 steals per, while shooting 44.8% from the field (12.5 attempts per), 40.1% from three (4.9 attempts per), and 91.8% from the line (6.2 attempts per). He played 32 minutes per. That was good for a 23.5 PER and 12.8 win shares.
Can a relatively healthy Gilbert Arenas give you this? Generally, I think the answer is yes. Arenas will probably turn the ball over a bit more, but those %s are all doable at a minimum. The biggest question marks are probably (1) can he cut down on his FG attempts and (2) should he? I'm going to spin that out, as well as some more on the whole Chauncey = Gil thing, into its own post, but I think the answers to both of those questions are probably not. Zero > Big Shot, and you should let him be himself.
Starting SG: Rip Hamilton had probably the best overall run of his career under Flip Saunders. It was an amazingly consistent three-year period for him, with PERs ranging between 18.1 and 18.2 and Win Shares between 7.3 and 7.7. His averages (again, per 36) were 18.5 points, 4.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 TO, and 1.1 steals per. He shot 48.4%(15.3)/44.0%(2.1)/83.3%(3.3).*** As we all know, Rip gets his primarily from mid-range and by running around a lot. Watching him move around screens and up and down the baseline and on curls is fun; chasing him must not be for most players. Chauncey had the bulk of the 3-pt attempts while Rip took a lot of jump shots, though primarily from inside the line, and did not get to the free throw line all that much. 07-08 was Rip's best combination of % and volume from three in his career, but 2.1 attempts is pretty low for a 2 man these days.
The Wiz are getting something of a wildcard here. Mike Miller is coming off a mediocre season, but has done some good things in the past. That 05-06 sixth-man award winning season on a 49-win Grizzlies (yes, that's right, the Grizz won 49 games only 3 years ago, something the Wiz/Bullets last did 30 years ago) shows he can be a contributing player on a good team. It was, in his 25-y.o. season, probably the best overall of his career to date. He posted a PER of 17.2 and 7.1 Win Shares while playing nearly starter minutes (30.6 per), with only 9 starts. His per-36s: 16.1/3.2(ast)/6.3(reb) with 2.2 TOs and 0.8 steals. His %s 46.6% (12.1) / 40.7% (5.4) / 80.0% (3.3). Thanks to the higher volume 3-pt shooting while keeping a good percentage, that makes for higher true shooting % (59.5) and eFG% (55.7) than Hamilton has ever managed. And it wasn't even Miller's best shooting season. He has topped those from-the-floor stats since then. And those assists were actually the fewest assists he's had since his 3rd year in the league, so we know he is a capable passer.
His statistical body of work is very nice, and it gives a lot more confidence that he did have one good season on a good team. Also worth mentioning is that the man is really an athletic freak. He's listed at 6'8", 218lbs and is quick and agile. I can't imagine this Wizards team will set screens the way those Pistons did for Rip, but at the same time Miller is so much better able to get his own shot.
All of that said, he'll be 4 years removed from that season and may have picked up some bad habits on some abysmal teams since then. We'll have to wait and see. But, I think his ceiling is high-maybe very high-and he has shown he can contribute something comparable to what Rip gave Flip that year, but more of it will be from outside. He and a healthy Zero should Fill. It. Up. If he is given the opportunity to use enough possessions he might be the best candidate for an all-star bid from this team outside of Arenas.
*** These things helped earn Rip 5th place in Pradamaster's initial statistical sort looking for Arenas's ideal backcourt mate (http://www.bulletsforever.com/2009/6/17/912245/who-is-gilbert-arenas-ideal) and 9th in his revised ranking. In the same breakdown, Mike Miller started at 14th in the initial sort and got promoted to 3rd in the final. Probably worth keeping in mind during the angst over what became of that 5th pick.
Backcourt Reserves: The Pistons had rookies Stuckey and Afflalo, some arvis Hayes at SG (who also saw some SF), and got some temporary contributions from Juan Dixon, Flip Murray, and Lindsey Hunter. Dixon, Murray, and Hunter chipped in around the edges, I guess, but on the whole didn't contribute much to the effort and were basically waiver-wire-level fungible guards, so basically we are talking about 3300 minutes of Stuckey/Afflalo/Hayes. All three had below-average but not awful PERs (13.8/10.2/13.0). Stuckey got to the line some and had pretty good assist/TO #s. Afflalo was a decent rebounder for a guard but didn't do much else. Hayes shot a stunning 37.6% from three in 5.4 attempts per 36 minutes. (I am dumbfounded. I guess, just this once, I'll call him Jarvis.)
The Wizards would have to be pretty contented if they can get something like that out of Foye, Crittendon, and Young. Their respective last-season PERs were a surprisingly comparable 13.7, 10.3, 13.1. Foye is a better outside shooter but penetrates less than Stuckey did. Crittendon looks more than a little like Afflalo, which probably isn't very promising for his career, but isn't a death sentence. Young, I don't need to get into. So, while the Wiz might be content with their backups replicating those pistons #s, since our guards are all young and have already done that, there is some hope that they can do better. Foye in particular, as he progresses back from injury, has a shot at being league-average, especially as he'll have less load to carry than he did last year in Minny.
If Stevenson and Mike James are still here, they can probably supply whatever it was that the Pistons' scrubs (I mean veterans) brought to their backcourt.
Basically, if Arenas and Miller can stay healthy, this backcourt bench is probably good enough.