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2011/12 Wizards Road Map: Projecting Lineups in the John Wall Era

Talking about minute splits is a pointless exercise without discussing them in the context of prospective lineups.  While Rashard Lewis' contract's eligibility for use of a purported amnesty clause in a labor agreement that has yet be drawn up is attractive for the minutes it would free up, especially for Chris Singleton, there are a few questions that need considering before we give that option serious thought.

  1. Is Ted Leonsis going to set $36 million on fire to get rid of anyone who isn't pre-Memphis Zach Randolph?  Rashard has been no problem child, and will probably want to ease onto the court post-injury.  I could see this for a free agent desperate franchise with no cash flow problem a la the pre-Amar'e Stoudemire Knicks, but that just doesn't seem like the brand we're building.
  2. Is any NBA owner going to do that while claiming massive and continuous losses and then use that cap space?  Media backlash, anyone?  Yes, I think hypocrisy would be an issue for Ted.
  3. There's been a lot of concern over the youth of the roster, is everyone that hot to jettison our only veteran?  I understand the size of Lewis' salary guarantees him serious minutes and most of us would be fine with a journeyman brought in for the veteran minimum.
  4. The partially guaranteed nature of his contract has a lot of value in the 2012/13 season, especially as the trade deadline approaches.  There are rumors salary matching may become less restrictive, but do we think Ernie Grunfeld is going to sign off and amnesty away his only cap sweetener with no other certain trade assets available?  There would be some serious implications if that were the case.
  5. And as Mike said and Rook reminded us earlier this week, that doesn't begin to take into account the issue of a salary cap floor.

For now, I'll say the Wizards keep Lewis, because until the new agreement is on the books, too many potential obstacles/drawbacks are unfocused to make visiting that possibility especially productive.  That said, let's take a look at some of the lineups Flip Saunders might be putting on the hardwood next season.

The Starting Lineup

PG - John Wall

SG - Nick Young

SF - Rashard Lewis

PF - Andray Blatche

C - Javale McGee

Primary reserves are Jordan Crawford and Trevor Booker.  A few thoughts:

  • No surprises here.  This is last season's go-to group, and my money's on Flip staying with what he knows (especially with the lockout likely eliminating training camp and exhibition).  There's room for movement here.  If Rashard's knee is not 100 percent, I think Flip will take it easy rather than play him into surgery as a few might contend he did late last season.  If the worst does happen for his knee, then Chris Singleton is probably next in line behind Jan Vesely, because...
  • Trevor Booker's got the most to lose in this instance.  If he has a working jump shot, that will give him some staying power, but last year's fan favorite is stuck between the incumbent Rashard Lewis and front-office darling Vesely (with Singleton breathing down his neck).  I won't be surprised if Flip makes Trevor the primary backup at power forward and puts Jan directly behind Rashard shortly after things get rolling.
  • Some may feel Nick Young (if he returns) has more to lose with Jordan Crawford stalking him, but I don't buy it ... yet.  There are two important dynamics to watch here.  One is NY's man defense versus JC's energy defense and which Flip happens to value more at the moment.  The other is whose brand of shot creation works best with which players.  That will be crucial to establishing the pecking order as the season wears on.
  • Kevin Seraphin can get in on the action here, but it depends quite a bit on what kind of progress he's shown up to that particular game time in practice, and of course his conditioning.  Otherwise, it's spot duty in the early goings.  If he's unable to spell JaVale reliably as the season progresses, the doubters will be out in force.
  • Shelvin Mack may get some time here if Flip pulls John and Nick at the end of a quarter, or someone gets into early foul trouble.

Small Ball

PG - John Wall

SG - Jordan Crawford

SF - Nick Young

PF - Trevor Booker

C - Andray Blatche

Primary reserves are Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton.  A few thoughts:

  • Hey, we haz reserves for this lineup now, that's new, and the reserves are rocket-fueled.  This lineup is going to be fast.  Especially if ...
  • Competition is intense in the front court.  In a true small lineup, Singleton can handle the 5 and from there some combination of Nick, Trevor, and Jan will likely be manning the 3 and 4.  If John, Trevor, Chris, and Jan get out in the open floor, it will be a beautiful thing ... long as you remember not to blink.
  • It's possible the SG battle between Young and Crawford spills over here, especially if Flip decides the combination of Trevor, Chris, Jan, and Andray can hold down the 3, 4 and 5.
  • Don't expect to see Shelvin Mack here ... his skills are more oriented to the half-court, but where you should expect him most is ...

The Garbage Time Gang

PG - Shelvin Mack

SG - Jordan Crawford

SF - Chris Singleton

PF - Trevor Booker

C - Kevin Seraphin

Primary reserves are Hamady N'Diaye and Jan Vesely.

  • Well, having a group of guys who know how to set picks should make life easier for Shelvin Mack in these situations, but the lack of shot creation in this bunch may be too much even for Jordan Crawford to compensate.  But if that P&R comes to life, Shelvin may see more than garbage time.
  • Singleton gets the nod here over Vesely by a hair.  It's going to be more difficult for him to see court time, and I don't think Flip will want to stunt his growth.  But I could easily see this depending on how much Vesely's seen the floor that particular game, and if it isn't much, I expect to see our lottery pick Czech'ing in.
  • Of course, Larry Owens will see more time here than Othyus Jeffers will. Jeffers is the wild card in every lineup, our most well-defined spot duty specialist.

Special notes:

  • When Othyus Jeffers was in the game last year, he seemed to bring that grit that Wizards lineups often seemed to be lack, and the team simply looked more competitive.  I can see him appearing in any lineup Flip throws on the floor where he's not quite satisfied with the level of effort.
  • If Jordan's flashes of playmaking skill becomes consistent and Nick's shooting recovers to its former blistering pace, the Wizards will be poised to make a splash before the trade deadline.  It will be interesting to see who Flip is favoring as the All-Star break approaches.
  • Of course, these are just a few vanilla lineups we're fair well guaranteed to see as the season goes on.  I've missed an obvious one or two (or three) like as not, so have at it below.