When he's not needlessly attacking Kevin Martin (good rebuttal here), Steve Weinmann at the NBA Source (formerly Taking it to the Rack) is usually very insightful, though I wish he'd take it a little easy with the rhetoric. After all, he, even before me, said the Wizards would be fine after their slow start.
So I read his latest post about fixing the Wizards with renewed interest. His solution? Bench Stevenson, replace him with Blatche, move Caron to the 2, and go big. Basically, start tall-ball and move DeShawn to sixth man.
An interesting proposal, and one I'm sure a lot of people here could understand. Ultimately, I think this is really all semantics anyway; we'll see a lot of both tall-ball and conventional-ball anyway.
But allow me to respectfully disagree with this line of thinking. The argument Steve makes is that any team like the Wizards who were only average with their best player needs to change styles without him. Furthermore, without Arenas, there's not enough firepower to continue with conventional-ball, and so thus there needs to be change.
Implicitly, it seems Steve is saying that the Wizards need to remake themselves as a phyiscal, defensive team, which is all fine and good, but they need Stevenson playing a lot to do that.
I agree that Stevenson has stunk it up offensively, but no one player has benefited more from Randy Ayers than him. Okay, maybe Brendan Haywood has, but seriously, the one thing DeShawn desperately needed was a defensive coach that limited his reponsibilities. Last year, he was told to fight through every screen, contest every jump shot, and still somehow stop all penetration, all against some of the best scorers in the league. No defender in the world can do that, not even Bruce Bowen, who is blessed to have Tim Duncan behind him. But now with Ayers, Stevenson only has to funnel penetration, instead of totally stopping it. Oh sure, he still has to fight through screens, but now, he can contest shots more easily, because there's always someone behind him.
The results have been dramatic. Check out these on/off court stats. It's still very early, but thus far, the Wizards' defense is nearly 15 points better with DeShawn in the game than when he sits out. His man defense really has never been better. Ask Joe Johnson, who shot 6-24 in a double-digit loss. Ask Jason Richarson, who was never a factor the other night, Ask Brandon Roy, who shot 2-8 when the Wizards played them on Saturday. Again, it's not like Stevenson has gotten any better defensively, but Ayers has clarified his responsibilities, and you're now seeing the defender you should have seen last year.
The other thing is that the Wizards' deepest position is shooting guard, so I don't see the point of bringing DeShawn off the bench. Behind DeShawn, they already have Nick Young and Roger Mason, and Caron can always shift to the 2 if needed. Up front, though, there's Haywood, Blatche, and Darius Songaila, but until O-Pec gets healthy, that's it. Literally. Unless you want to play Dominic McGuire at the 5.
Blatche's primary value at this point is his versatility, both in his game and in his position. He can play the center spot when Haywood's out, and he obviously can play the 4. Meanwhile, Songaila's pretty much exclusively a 4, and Antawn Jamison's really a 3.5. Blatche can play both, so Eddie can use him depending on the matchups (though he's only showing now that's possible). Starting Blatche therefore eliminates that versatility, because now, you're thrusting him into an estblished role instead of using him differently in each game.
This is by no means to suggest that Blatche shouldn't be used, but if you're going to make anyone the sixth man, it should be Blatche. He can fill in at a lot of positions, and because he's mostly a jack of all trades, he can give the team a lift wherever they need it. If you need Blatche to score, he can do that, as evidenced by his performance against Philly. If you need him to rebound, he has the capability of doing that too, as he did against Charlotte. He can always block shots, and though his jumper and on-ball defense is still developing, he can do those as well. Starters' roles should be more concrete than sixth men, so why force your jack of all trades into an established role of a starter, while simultaneously moving your one real role player to a jack of all trade slot?
Just my two cents, but I don't see the point of making a starting lineup shift. Stevenson's playing a lot better than people think.