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Open thread: Midseason grades

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Here's how this thread is going to work.  Below the fold, if you click "Read More," you can see my grades for every player, Eddie Jordan, and Ernie Grunfeld.  In the comments section, you can then make your own grades, whether you read mine or not.  You can grade as many or as few people as you like.  Just keep it clean, keep the subject of your comments to midseason grades (any Gerald Wallace talk should go here), and respect each other.  Cool?

Alright then, here are your grades for each player.  Remember, to a certain degree, they're based on preseason expectations.  Antawn Jamison is clearly having a better season than Calvin Booth, but that was to be expected, so Booth's grade is higher.  At least that's my grading platform.

GUARDS

Gilbert Arenas: I guess you could consider Arenas' season like a sandwitch.  He's sandwitched two poor stretches early on and as of late with a smoking hot stretch in-between.  His field goal percentage and eFG% have also gone down from last year, although much of that has to do with his two bad stretches.  Still, Arenas has clearly raised his game, and it's gotten to the point where you can legitimately consider him one of the top superstars in basketball.  He's starting to learn how to best get off his shot, and it seems that I'm not lamenting his shot selection quite as much this year.  His PER took another jump to 24.82, and he's turning the ball over less while simultaneously getting more assists.  More importantly, Arenas has become Mr. Clutch, as he's won numerous games at the buzzer.  He's over the two missed free throws against Cleveland, from what it seems.  GRADE: A-

DeShawn Stevenson: After coming over for the veterans minimum, Stevenson has been a revelation.  He's provided solid perimeter defense and has become a significantly better offensive player.  His shooting percentage has jumped to nearly 50 percent, and his true shooting percentage has jumped 5 spots to 55 percent.  The knock on Stevenson in past years was that he shot too many long jumpers and controlled the ball too much, but this year, his usage rate is at a career-low, and his shooting percentages are at a career-high.  The Wizards defense as a whole has suffered this year, but you can't pin that on Stevenson because he plays a different position than the departed Jared Jeffries.  He's also given the Wizards another ballhandler, and his assists per game and assist rate are at all-time highs.  He could improve defensively, and his offense tends to be inconsistent from game-to-game, but overall, the Wizards have to be happy with their investment last offseason.  GRADE: A

Antonio Daniels: After struggling mightly for the first four months of 05/06, Daniels has picked up right where he left off.  He's basically been the same guy that was the Wizards' ace sixth man at the end of last season.  Daniels currently leads the league in assist to turnover rate, which is astounding considering he doesn't really pick up that many asissts.  His production has varied from game to game, but I attribute most of that to Eddie Jordan's odd substitution patterns.  Daniels is scoring less this year, as he's averaging a point less per 40 minutes, but he's also distributing more, as his assist rate has risen to nearly 30 percent.  Defensiely, however, Daniels is becoming more of a liability, and the Wizards could use a more athletic backcourt mate for Daniels in the second unit.  GRADE: B

Roger Mason: He made the roster out of training came, and has had his moments this year.  I think Jordan should give him more time, but he's clearly limited.  I wish he was a better defender, but as it is, he's merely another shooter and offensive-minded guy.  A poor man's Daniels.  GRADE: B+

Donnell Taylor: He's uncharacteristically been playing a lot in key moments recently, but his production hasn't been very good.  Taylor is going to have to learn to play the 1 to stick around in this league.  GRADE: C

FORWARDS

Caron Butler: Butler's raised his game significantly this year, especially on the offensive end.  He's emerged as a bona fide #2 threat, and he's also been the most consistent Wizard, having scored in double figures in every game.  His percentages are up, he's dishing more, he's grabbing more rebounds, and he's scoring more.  Teams now have to fear Butler, and he's become one of the premier one-on-one players in the game.  The only reason he doesn't get an A is because his defense has not improved one bit, but overall, we can't ask for much more from Tough Juice. GRADE: A-

Antawn Jamison: Expecting Jamison to duplicate his 05/06 year is asking too much, and his decline on the offensive end has been insignificant when you factor in Butler's emergence.  Jamison continues to move towards being a perimeter power forward, as his true shooting percentage has risen significantly from last year at the same time his rebounding rate has fallen.  He actually has the best PER in his Wizard career, but he's become even worse defensively and is showing signs of fatigue.  At this point, it hasn't been a bad season for Jamison, and he's been about what we expected, but he needs more rest, and he needs it fast.  GRADE: B

Jarvis Hayes: Ugh.  Nobody on this site has hidden their distaste for Hayes, and the numbers show that he's regressed in every category this year.  He's struggled mightly to come back from a knee injury, but the Wizards have waited too long for excuses like these.  He's shooting under 40 percent on the season, and while his usage rate is down, so are all his other categories.  He's rebounding has fallen off significantly despite playing more minutes than ever at power forward.  Defensively, Hayes has become a liability, a factor of trying too hard to score and get into a rhythm he never reaches.  It's time to cut him loose after the year, and it's time to limit his playing time to at most ten minutes a game.  GRADE: D

Darius Songaila: Hasn't played a game, which is too bad because I really liked this signing.  Great fit for the system, can potentially play center if Jordan wants to go small, and will give Jamison some rest.  Jamison's fatigue is tied to Songaila's absense.  GRADE: Incomplete

Andray Blatche: Every time it seems like Blatche has turned a corner, he finds himself back in Eddie Jordan's doghouse.  Blatche is best used as a backup 4, but the Wizards have not used him much in that regard.  When he is in there, he's been incredibly inconsistent.  He'll follow up a big rebound or block with a moronic offensive play, or vice versa.  I'd expect him to be futher along at this point, but part of that is not getting enough minutes.  GRADE: C+

Michael Ruffin: Has not played much this year, and when he has, he's looked worse than ever.  Maybe it was because he was hurt, but more likely, he wasn't any good to begin with.  GRADE: Incomplete

CENTERS

Brendan Haywood: To his credit, didn't spend much time pouting after Etan Thomas took his job.  He's gotten back into the lineup and played pretty well, although not as well as he did in 04/05.  He's still prone to a ton of lapses on the glass, and his inability to grab defensive rebounds really hurts, but he's also learned to crash the offensive glass to get scores instead.  Interestingly enough, the trio of Arenas, Butler, and Haywood has the best plus/minus on the team.  I'd like him to improve on the defensive glass to get an even better grade.  GRADE: B

Etan Thomas: Has provided a nice lift when healthy.  He gives the Wizards the closest thing they have to a post defender, and has been solid on the defensive glass.  He's not someone who should start, but he's quietly having as good a season as he had in 03/04.  His PER is up over 16 (higher than Haywood), his rebounding rate is at a career high, and he's shooting the ball extremely well.  I'd like to see him play better defense - he has a lot of highlight plays, but struggles with rotations.  Otherwise, couldn't be happier.  GRADE: B+

Calvin Booth: Is clearly a limited player, but has provided a nice lift when in the lineup.  I'm hoping he'll play ahead of Michael Ruffin when Ruffin comes back.  GRADE: B+

James Lang: Hasn't done much, but this is probably a project the Wizards should have done away with.  He's so limited on both ends and is prone to lapses in concentration that would make even Haywood look good.  GRADE: C-

MANAGEMENT

Eddie Jordan: On the one hand, he's helped to instill a confidence in the team, and they're winning a ton of close games.  On the other hand, he's fallen in love with the small lineup, makes questionable substitutions, and hasn't gotten the team to play better defense.  In terms of pure coaching, Jordan isn't doing a very good job.  He's installed the offense and gotten the right players, but to get to the next level, the Wizards need him to become a better in-game coach.  This Real GM article said it best.  "The Wizards are in first place and Eddie Jordan needs to coach like it. Right now he's coming up short." GRADE: C

Ernie Grunfeld: This offseason wasn't as good as last one, but he still managed to find a great rotation piece in DeShawn Stevenson and one that would have been in Darius Songaila, had he not gotten injured.  Letting go of Jared Jeffries was also a good move, as he's struggled mightly in New York.  I can't give him a great grade though because it's clear he messed up the draft.  Pecherov might be a good player someday, but with that 18th pick, management should have gotten someone more useful.  This team could really use either an athletic power forward or a true point guard, and guys like Rajon Rondo, Marcus Williams, Jordan Farmar, Kyle Lowry, and Josh Boone were still on the board.  Rondo would have been a great fit in this system, and he would have allowed Daniels and Arenas to slide over to the 2 more often.  All in all, it's not a horrible mistake, but Pecherov was a wasted draft pick.  GRADE: B