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Player Evaluation: DeShawn Stevenson

(language is not safe for work, aka NSFW)


Stats: Per-game: 31.3 minutes, 11.2 points, 3.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds,

Per-36: 12.9 points, 3.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds

Percentages: 38.6 FG%, 38.3 3PT%, 79.7 FT%, 48.7 eFG%, 52.9 TS%

Advanced (explanations): 12.6 PER, 15.5 AST%, 10.5 TO%, 17.4 UsgR, 111 ORtg, 113 DRtg, -2 WSAA (win shares above average)


Pradamaster: Other than a slight drop in shooting efficiency, DeShawn Stevenson was practically the same player he was in 2006/2007.  That's mostly a good thing.  His "Mister 50" shooting wasn't going to keep up, and there was genuine concern that his game would go completely in the tank following his putrid 2007 playoffs.  The playoff performance was enough for many to question the wisdom of signing him to a relatively small contract last offseason, but it now seems like pretty good value considering how he played this season.  He nearly duplicated his breakout 2006/07 year, all with his running mate, Gilbert Arenas, sidelined.  All in all, I think we can mostly be happy with his 2007/2008 campaign, even know his behavior prior to the playoff series against Cleveland made us look bad in the public eye.

The biggest question that everyone should be asking is how Stevenson's shooting percentage can fall below 39 percent just one year after it was hovering around 50 percent?  That seems like a major drop, but I don't think it's a huge concern.  Mostly, it fell because Stevenson shot two and a half times as many threes this season (413) as he did in 06/07 (183).  His three-point percentage dropped only slightly (from 40.4% to 38.3%), but all those shots hurt his shooting percentage.  Stevenson basically became a drive-or-three player, which is why it's so curious that his effective field goal percentage on close shots dropped from 56.3 in 06/07 to 47 in 07/08.  A minor concern, but not a major one.  He's effectively morphed into the three-point threat we've always needed in the Princeton, and if that means his shooting percentage drops a bit, it's a consequence we'll have to accept.

Otherwise, Stevenson became a far more complete offensive player.  He made up for the drop in his shooting percentage by becoming a better passer (increasing his assist rate to the second-highest total in his career) and a better ball-handler (his turnover percentage was the lowest of his career).  Interestingly, it was the Wizards' offense, and not their defense, that took a major nosedive when Stevenson exited the game. 

Of course, with every blessing, there is a downside, and for Stevenson, it's clear that he's not the elite defender he's made out to be.  Defensive stats are undoubtedly difficult to measure, but the above link shows that the Wizards' didn't suffer defensively with him out of the game.  Opposing shooting guards posted a 16.3 PER against the Wizards this season, which is basically the equivalent of playing Mike Miller every night.  Now, I'm not suggesting Stevenson isn't a competent defender.  He's at least competent, having been the only person able to muscle LeBron James in the playoffs.  He's just not elite. It's not good that he is your best perimeter defender. 

Worse yet, Stevenson's inconsistency is pretty frustrating.  He'd have games like the first New Orleans contest where his shooting would carry us to wins, but there would be several others where he would launch tons of three pointers and miss them all.  His shot selection, a huge key to his breakout 2006/07 season, suffered without Arenas in the lineup.

Put it all together, and you get a player that is certainly capable of being a solid role player on a very good team, but not much more.  We knew this last year too.  

But even those career highs tell the same story: that Stevenson is a backup-quality player starting in a key spot in the lineup.  He's exactly the type of player the Wizards need alongside Arenas, but he's not a good enough defender to start on a contending team.  Nothing he does is particularly extraordinary, which is fine if he was the 7th or 8th man, but not if he's a key starter.  At least offensive black holes like Jason Collins and Bruce Bowen are phenomenal defenders.  Stevenson isn't yet.   

Ideally, the Wizards would start Nick Young, move Caron Butler to the 2 and find a bona fide small forward or perhaps even move Gilbert Arenas to the 2, relegating Stevenson to the bench, where he can be a 20-minute situational guy that knocks down threes and plays a little defense, but we're not quite in that position yet.  In the meantime, there are worse fates than starting Stevenson.  He is certainly a capable starter who's production should remain fairly consistent over the next few years.  He's had two years in the Princeton, and his numbers could rise up again with Arenas' potential return, so it could be a lot worse. I just hope his minutes are cut to around 24-28 a game instead of being over 30.

JakeTheSnake: You know, it's weird with DeShawn.  Just looking at his numbers from last season compared to this season you'd say he had a down year, but all in all I'd argue that he played better this season.  Keep in mind how quickly and how sharply his numbers dropped once Gilbert and Caron went out.  This year he was able to keep those numbers respectable even when one or both of those two were out, so if nothing else, we know that he worked at improving his game when he's a bigger part of the offense.  That should hopefully translate to even better productivity once he returns to the 4th or 5th option that he's better suited for, but we'll have to wait and see.  If he cuts back on the heat check three's, he should be good to go.

It's a shame that the LeBron feud is going to overshadow his accomplishments this season (and probably the rest of his career) but he made his bed.  As long as it doesn't get to his head, I can live with all the overrated jokes.

Truthaboutit: If you were guessing which Wizard would have the best chance of surviving a season of Deadliest Catch, who would it be? Caron Butler, obviously.....especially since he grew up in the climate of Racine. But right behind Tuff Juice would be DeShawn Stevenson, this year's recipient of the Warrior Award. He made it through watermelon knee, grandpa's ankle, and pregnant woman's back without missing a game.....and while turning in the best season of his career.

Stevenson also provided a king's share of off-court fodder, while significantly boosting business for The Pride of Fredonia's Sports Bog. DeShawn dubbed himself the Lock Smith, had trouble keeping it real, lost feeling in his face, danced at his 80s birthday party the same night he sprained his ankle and lost to the Bucks in devastating fashion, led me to realize that he had something in common with Ricky Davis, and made trash talking history. And I'm not even mentioning last summer's gun play (which has seemingly been swept under a rug - DeShawn and Andray Blatche are the poster children for the perils of bringing hoes, and their male baggage, home), Black Card escapades, jersey tattoos and Lindsey Lohan solicitations.

I certainly appreciate some of DeShawn Stevenson's off-court antics. He makes the team more bloggable, which garners more attention....and the end result is better for the franchise in an 'any pub is good pub' manner. However, many times, I found DeShawn's on-court antics disgraceful and sophomoric. I know, I know....go easy on the guy, he's a warrior. But being a numb-faced hype man is one thing, acting as an incendiary device for opponents is another. If only DeShawn could find the balance between maturity and motivation.

But alas, Stevenson brings too many good qualities to not want him around. He was more than adept at filling in where needed in this latest tumultuous season. Who was going to replace Gilbert Arenas's 205 made 3-pointers from 06-07? Why, DeShawn 07-08, he drained 158 trey balls, just over 24% more than his previous seven year career total. It's really astounding how DeShawn went from hitting a trey every 157.9 minutes (an attempt every 41.4 minutes) in his first 6 seasons, to a made trey every 32.7 minutes (an attempt every 13.2 minutes) in 06-07, to a made trey every 16.2 minutes (an attempt every 6.2 minutes) in 07-08. I realize this is also indicative of offensive system, but the guy has obviously been working to improve his shot, aside from practice competitions with Gilbert Arenas.

Was the past season the ceiling for DeShawn Stevenson? Well, the guy is only 27. If he really has commitment to the game, there is no reason why he can't continue to improve. That being said, I don't see him ever being more than the 5th option when in the starting lineup....and in Eddie Jordan's offense, that's okay.

The top priority for DeShawn Stevenson this summer should be to continue working on his shot. His form would indicate a streaky shooter. I wrote this about him in a post during the playoffs:

DeShawn had 17 outings this year where he attempted four or more 3s and ended the game shooting less than 25% from deep. The total 3p% for those 17 games was .187 (17-91). On the other hand, there have been 26 games this year where Stevenson attempted four or more 3s and shot better than 40%. The total 3p% for those 26 games is .533 (98-184). DeShawn Stevenson shot 38.3% from beyond the arc on the season.

Being able to consistently depend on DeShawn to knock down shots would be an invaluable asset to this team and might land him a fat contract when he opts out (probably) of his current 4-year $15 million deal in the summer of 2010 when he's 29. Stevenson seems to mesh well with the current squad. Here's to continuance, health, and hopes that from the Lock Smith, the Wizards youth learn what it takes to be a warrior.