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Player evaluation: Antonio Daniels

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Antonio Daniels has all the characteristics of a wily veteran.  He's pushing 33 on a middling team, and his salary is up there.  Considering all that, it's hard to believe that he was once one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history, when the Grizzlies took him fourth instead of getting this guy.

Still, AD's a class act, and he filled in admirably after Gilbert Arenas' injury.  As a fan, it's a bit tricky to evaluate AD, because I genuinely like him.  Along with Jamison, he represents the veteran presence on this team, and he has always been a stand-up guy.  He's relatively frail, yet he throws his body around with reckless abandon while driving to the rim.  Clearly, on a team that lacks strong complimentary parts, AD is a key cog.

That's why this passage from the Draft Express Market Watch surprised me a bit.

Antonio Daniels has to be a major disappointment for the Wizards thus far. Daniels was masterful as an offensive/defensive sub off the bench for Seattle before coming to Washington two seasons ago. But Daniels hasn't been able to effectively duplicate that same type of success during his Wizards tenure.

To his credit, Daniels stepped up big-time once the injuries devastated the team. His ability to playmake was evident once he got the ball in his hands and was able to lead on the court. The Wizards would be wise to leverage that value now to move him as the team just isn't built to give Daniels the type of role that maximizes his value. He's a quality backup combo point off the bench, but Arenas doesn't ever come off the court and Daniels needs more responsibility to be at his best.

Has Daniels really been a major disappointment?  


(WS refers to Win Shares.  All data from Basketball Reference)

The numbers don't really prove it.  His numbers the past couple years have been around his career averages, and that includes the first two months he was here in 05/06, when he was gawd-awful.  I guess if we're talking recent history, AD is a bit of a disappointment.  His two years in Seattle (04 and 05) were phenomenal.  His 2004 PER was higher than Rashard Lewis', and in 2005, AD was the key member of the fantastic Seattle bench.  But looking at his career, those two years look kind of flukeish.  For most of his career, AD's been an average combo guard, which is exactly what he's been here.

But the question of whether he really fits into the Wizards style does have merit.  AD, like a lot of failed college star guards, is most successful with the ball in his hands.  We saw that at the end of the year, when he ran the point smoothly in the playoffs, but as long as Gilbert Arenas is here, AD won't be the primary ballhandler.  AD never was a good outside shooter, and he's become even worse here despite having many open looks.

On the other hand, some of AD's strengths mean more to this team than anyone else.  AD's the only guy that is a pass-first point guard, and he continually has one of the highest assist to turnover ratios in the league.  That's important on any team, but on the Wizards, who pride themselves on a great offense despite not having great shooters, it's doubly important.  Without great shooters, you must limit turnovers, and few do that better than Daniels.  He also gets to the line a ton, which helps define the trademark of the Wizards offense.

Still, AD's trade value has never been higher, and his relatively high contract runs for the next 3 years.  At 33, he's not going to get any better, and it's far more likely he'll decline significantly, especially with all the pounding he takes.  Trading him would rob the Wizards of their best bench player, but if they can get back a package of decent players, the bench will be okay.

Personally, I think the draft matters here.  If the Wizards go for a wing like Nick Young, I think AD stays.  If they go for Acie Law or Javaris Crittenton, AD definitely goes for a taller wing.  If they go for someone like Jason Smith or Tiago Splitter, it's still up the air, but I wouldn't be shocked to see AD moved at all.  The tricky thing is that he contributes equally to the Wizards strengths (limiting turnovers, getting to the free throw line) and their weaknesses (defense, so-so jump shooting).

It would certainly stink in the short term to trade him, because, other than Gil and Caron, he's probably my favorite player.  But AD's turning 33, his contract runs until he's 36, and the Wizards are running in place in the standings.  It might be time to see what they can get for him.

Maybe the Jazz would be interested, just so they can guarantee they won't have to re-live this moment.


Do you think the Wizards should consider trading AD?  If so, who should they be targeting for deals?