Editor's Note: I'm back in college, so expect regular posts starting now. Only thing is that I'm off Sunday and Monday throughout the school year. Jake and Truth are in charge those days. -PM
While I was scrambling moving into my new apartment, I got an e-mail from blogmaster Matt Moore of Ridiculous Upside and Hardwood Paroxysm about the blogosphere's new Rug Burn tournament pitting the worst players on each team against each other. Matt's request to all bloggers was to find "the absolute biggest waste of space on your roster" and make the case for him winning the tournament.
In past years, this would have been very easy for me to do. After all, this is a franchise notorious for keeping underachievers on its payroll. As recently as 2006/07, Michael Ruffin and Jarvis Hayes were members of this team, but going back further brings to mind names like Jahidi White, Harvey Grant (the second stint), Isaac Austin, Mitchell Butler, Lorenzo Williams, Darvin Ham, old Rod Strickland, old Mitch Richmond and, of course, Kwame. Hell, back in the day, our franchise would have dominated this tournament.
But as I thought about which player on the current Wizards fits the bill, I couldn't come up with a name. Oleksiy Pecherov and Dominic McGuire struggled mightly last year, but they're young, hard-working and offer the potential to improve. Etan Thomas has an awful contract and feuds with our team's most underrated player, but when he was last healthy in 2006/07, he had an above-average PER and was the team's strongest rebounder. Darius Songaila has a long-term contract and plays the same position as our top prospect, but it's not like his contract is an albatross (not to mention that he played really well down the stretch last year).
Ernie Grunfeld deserves credit for this. Even when he's overpaid for role players, he's made sure to do so on guys who remain productive. More importantly, instead of filling the end of the bench with veterans who can't play (Ruffin, Calvin Booth, etc.), he's injected much-needed youth and potential into the unit. Who knows how Nick Young, Pech, McGuire and Andray Blatche will develop, but it's much more likely that they will become impact players who can help a team than someone like an old Ruffin or Booth. Those vets are nice to have around, but they contribute little on the court.
So as you follow this tournament and listen to fans debate the "merits" of Brian Cardinal and Jerome James, remember to appreciate what a competent GM has meant for this franchise.