Ever since the Rashard Lewis trade brought us Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, we've been looking at quite the logjam at the forward positions, and the addition of Martell Webster only served to reinforce that logjam. This caused us to ask ourselves many questions, one of which was: who will the Wizards use as the designated stopper? Naturally, the name Trevor Ariza jumps to mind, but this may not be the best solution.
As jkahn15 writes in this article, Trevor Ariza is not a great isolation defender, although he excells on off-ball defense. In order for him to be our designated defensive stopper and thrive at it, that would have to change. But of course, Ariza is a veteran, and the chances of him flat out improving his game are slim at best.
So, obviously, the next name to come up is Chris Singleton. I mean the only reason Chris got drafted at all was his defense, so how could it not be him? Well, let me tell you this: as much as I hate Chris's offensive game, I hate his defense even more. In short, his defense is wrong.
In spite of what anyone might tell you, there is a right way to defend. It's not about a coache's philosophy or anything, it's all about the defender. To play good defense there are principles you have to uphold, plain and simple. It's called fundamental defense, and it's one of the basics of basketball. You have to squat into an almost sitting position, spread your legs to shoulder width, spread your arms and keep your back straight. Don't reach unless the ball is away from the attacker and within arm-lenght, and never cross your feet -- anyone with a semblance of a crossover will break your ankles if you do. There is a reason Shane Battier is still defending well while being in the process of fossilization. His defense is fundamentally perfect.
This is stuff I learned in JV, and Chris knows none of it. He reaches like a maniac, never squats, and is currently working on developping a new dance where you continuously cross your feet in repetitive manner. When Chris does squat, he looks like a hunchback, and he is always off-balance. I think this is because Singleton was such a dominant athlete in college that he excelled on defense while purely relying on his athleticism, so his coaches decided to omit their jobs as teachers.
Now despite all this, Singleton managed to be a capable defender at times last year. Can you imagine what would happen if Chris paired his superb athleticism (keep in mind, he is faster than John Wall) with defensive basics? We'd be talking about one of the best defenders in the league! If only someone on the Wizards coaching staff would remember what they're here for: coaching, no matter how stupid it might seem.
But anyway, all that's a long way down the road, if it's there at all. I'm looking for a more immediate approach.
There is one player on the Wizards who does have unnatural athleticism, and some of the basics of defending, and that player is Trevor Booker.
Trevor's defensive shortcomings in the post have been well documented, but one thing people tend to forget is how good a defender Booker can be on the perimiter. Don't forget, he pressed point guards (!!!) at Clemson. He is also faster than John Wall, and strong as a bull. Not to mention the fact that he squats (well, more than most) on defense, moves his feet well, and doesn't reach. It always amazed me that the Wizards' coaches never utilized this aspect of Cook Book's game, especially after he shut Carmelo Anthony down against the Knicks the only time he got to guard him (Melo went on to hit the game winning three but not before elbowing Book in the face to get open).
Simply put, I think if properly utilized, Trevor could be our best perimiter defender.
Of course, this brings up a whole new set of problems on offense, but I could definitely see a big lineup with Book at three and Vesely at four if he develops his mid range game. Spacing might be a problem, but such a lineup would cause havoc on defense, with John and Ves on the passing lanes, and get us a lot of layups.
Anyway, who do you think could fill the role of designated stopper for us?