14 players in a new system: Fabricio Oberto

Also see: An introduction to the series | Mike JamesJavaris Crittenton | DeShawn Stevenson

Fabricio Oberto was lauded as the last piece of the puzzle by Ernie Grunfeld, but he's a piece that's coming off a pretty poor season with San Antonio last year.  After being a fixture in the Spurs' main rotation during their 2007 championship year and their 2008 run to the Western Conference Finals, Oberto saw his minutes fall to 12.5 per game and his production level off considerably.  He was also dogged by heart problems that kept him out of 28 games and took until the middle of the summer to get fully solved (crossed fingers). 

On the one hand, you'd hope his production gets back closer to normal if his heart troubles are indeed beyond him.  On the other hand, he's 34.  Yeah.  Sometimes, that's all that needs to be said.

Now, he joins a Wizards frontcourt that's pretty shallow in bodies and experience.  Brendan Haywood is great, but we've all seen how terrible this team plays defensively when Haywood is on the bench.  We're all expecting great things from young bigs Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, but Oberto provides a guy with experience that has been there deep in the playoffs.  Flip Saunders has historically found playing time for garbage men who may not do much scoring, but can be counted upon for consistent production. 

Then again, the previous paragraph presumes he's healthy.  Make the jump for an argument for/against Oberto getting a lot of playing time.

Why he might play: As mentioned above, Oberto can be relied upon every night for consistent ... something, as opposed to Blatche and McGee, who are still growing.  He's unselfish, a mean pick-setter and a pesky defender, which are all traits this team needs.  Oberto's game strikes me as being pretty similar to guys like Dean Garrett, Ervin Johnson and Theo Ratliff, all guys who found playing time under Saunders. 

Why he might not play: To put it simply, he won't play much if either Blatche and McGee makes the leap and becomes a consistent contributor.  He also won't play much if he's not healthy or if he's going to be forced to guard quicker, more athletic big men.

My best guess: I see one of two things happening with Oberto.  Either he plays a lot early in the season as the young guys develop and get accustomed to Flip's system and loses time down the stretch once the young guys mature, or he plays very little early in the season to give Blatche and McGee chances to play before playing more down the stretch once the Wizards make a playoff push. 

I hope we see the first one, because it means that Blatche and McGee have developed and Oberto is there for insurance, which should have been the point of his signing.  However, knowing how much Blatche and McGee can tease us with their potential, I would not be surprised to see the second scenario play out.

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