We all love Calvin Booth. (Although I think BF takes the cake). Actually, let me slightly amend that. We love Calvin Booth, but not the basketball player Calvin Booth. For two years, he's been our curiosity, following in the immortal footsteps of Jahidi White, Lorenzo Williams, and Jim McIlvane. In a season of many highs, his three-pointer against Houston was still one of my favorite moments. As a basketball player, though, Booth contributed little -- his perceived value came mostly from buzzwords like "professionalism," "experience," and "savvy."
But even though Booth wasn't a key player, his departure illustrated the Wizards' theme this offseason: getting younger. Gone are 30+ year-olds in Michael Ruffin and Booth, as well as a 25 year old, Jarvis Hayes, with 40-year old knees. In their places stand Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, and Oleksiy Pecherov, all rookies. To recap; in a summer one year before Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison are to become free agents, the Wizards' principle additions are all guys who have not played a single minute in the NBA.
And yet, I'm comforted. Sure, losing Booth will force Pecherov to be the third center right away, and that doesn't bode all that well considering the first two are an injury-prone poet and a lazy space cadet who is benched repeatedly despite being a better player than said poet. And yes, while we all love the potential of Young and the summer league performance of McGuire, it is asking a lot for them to be consistent bench players in their first seasons in the league. But I do think it's fair to say that the Wizards will be better for their Eddie-pet purge, and not just in the future, but also in the present.
It's a common NBA adage that championship teams generally have veteran role players, and it's one that's generally correct. But while that adage is generally correct, the adage that is always correct is that teams contend with good players, young or old. Basically, we're asking Pecherov, Young, and McGuire to fill the void left by Ruffin, Booth, Hayes, and Roger Mason. That's a quartet with PERs of 4.4, 9.6, 10.7, and 7.2 respectively. Three of those guys had plus/minus numbers below negative 8. Both Mason and Hayes ranked higher on the team in usage rank than effective field goal percentage. Point is, we're talking about bad players, players' who's production could easily be replaced. Even if Young, Pecherov, and McGuire were to all be big busts, their individual production should be better.
Now, obviously individual production does not unilaterally equal better team production, but there's a high level of causation. More importantly, you cannot possibly tell me that the Young/Pecherov/McGuire trio does not offer more potential down the road than the Ruffin/Hayes/Booth/Mason group. To sum it all up, the youngsters obviously will be better than the Eddie-pets down the road, and there's a solid chance they'll be better even this season. What's the downside here?
Will those three put the Wizards over the top? Probably not. More likely, we'll just see marginal improvement. But could they eventually put this team over the top? Clearly, they have a better chance of doing so than the old geezers do. We've lived far too long as Wizards/Bullets fans with cerebral, crappy veterans on our bench. It's time we actually roll the dice with some potential.