In lieu of a normal recap, I want to address an issue that has been percolating on BF and was addressed by both Coach Flip Saunders and the players following tonight's game. Following the emergence of Jordan Crawford, many seem ready to call and end to the Nick Young era in Washington and give the reins over to the exciting rookie shooting guard. Now, I don't want this post to temper any enthusiasm that one might have for Jordan Crawford. The argument I would instead like to put forth is that it might behoove us to stop thinking of Crawford/Young as an either/or situation and rather one that can be leveraged to bring out the best in both players.
Coach Flip Saunders looked likely to initially refute my statement in his postgame conference. For the third time this season Saunders invoked the name of Wally Pip the famous New York Yankee who took a game off, only to be replaced by Lou Gehrig and never regain his starting position. However, Saunders was quick to take a step back from his comments and use another player as an example of how competition can only be beneficial to a team:
It should prove to our veterans and guys who aren't playing at times that hey if you play hard you give yourselves a chance if you play as a team...but yet, you've got a guy in O who was playing in the NBDL two weeks ago. Now he is starting and playing 30 minutes and being very productive. And he's not playing like the is someone behind him, he's chasing someone, he's hungry, and our guys are playing like that and that's a positive...competition is good, competition is really good. I give credit to our guys, I give credit to JaVale tonight. He played a great game and in the last few minutes we went with Yi...so I give credit to JaVale for stepping back because of the situation. That's what you're talking about as far as maturity in young guys.
And now from Othyus on what drives him:
I mean that's what the team pays me for. They pay me to go out there and get after people. And hopefully it works out and I can last longer...I'm not doing nothing that I'm not supposed to be doing. I'm supposed to be working this hard. I'm trying to make it here. I'm supposed to be doing this. The little things that other people don't want to do, I should doing this. So I don't look as if I'm different from anyone else on the team, I should be doing it.
And even Andray Blatche got in on the action:
I feel good to back. I just wanted to have fun out there. The whole time I was out it made me see don't take nothing for granted. So when I came back I just came back with a lot of energy and I'm just happy to be playing again.
Othyus Jeffers is playing like a man who knows his job is on the line. He references the fact that he know that his time in the NBA may be short, and he wants to make the most out of what may be one of his final opportunities. He is going to keep pushing and keep pushing until the league tells him to go away or he finally makes it on a team.
Andray Blatche can see that with the slow emergence of a new low post threat in JaVale McGee, his up and down play throughout the year, and the likelihood of a high Wizards draft pick that his PT in Washington might be under threat. Perhaps he is recalling the work that he had to put in to finally push towards decamping Antawn Jamison from the starting PF spot. Maybe he see the work that Jeffers, Martin and Crawford are putting in and it has turned on the lightbulb. But tonight, we received the most complete Andray Blatche performance of the year from a guy's whose demeanor was a bit less cocky and miles more businesslike.
Which brings me back to Jordan Crawford and Nick Young. It would be nice to know right now which shooting guard will be the best fit with John Wall for the next several years. The performances of each over different periods during the season has led us to anoint each as the SG of the future. But would it be a bad thing to have both players going into next year? Would it be so terrible to have both players going into camp without knowing their starting role, leading both to work extra hard during the summer? Further, would it be such a terrible idea to throw the minimum at a player like Jeffers who would push both players in practice each and every day?
I don't have the answers to these questions at the moment. However, I rather go into next year's training camp with the ability to entertain that question rather than make a snap decision on Player A being better than Player B. For right now, I'm content that the Wizards have two young exciting options at SG. Because at this time last year, the franchise didn't appear to possess one on the roster.